Kelli Brown will officially take the helm of Western Carolina University as its 12th chancellor on July 1.

It’s a big deal.

Chancellors, as a rule of thumb, don’t come and go. They tend to stay for years and leave an indelible footprint on the institution.

Brown will be the first woman to officially lead the university, but she won’t be judged on her gender. She’ll be judged on her accomplishments.

Those accomplishments lie down the road. In the meantime, Brown will be the subject of much pomp and circumstance as she ascends to fill her official duties.

In May nearly 70 years ago, it was Paul Reid who was the focus of the speeches and fanfare as he became the fourth president of Western Carolina Teachers College.

The Sylva Herald’s coverage of Reid’s inauguration provides a snapshot in time of WCTC, its ascension as an institution and its importance to the community. From May 4, 1950:

“Western Carolina Teachers College will observe a very important date and chalk up another milestone in its march of progress toward becoming one of North Carolina’s leading 4-year colleges of higher learning on Saturday, May 6, when it has the formal inauguration of its fourth president, Paul Apperson Reid, who was elected to head this institution by the new board of trustees last summer. President Reid began his work last fall.

A number of outstanding people will appear on the inauguration program, and many distinguished educators from many schools and colleges throughout North Carolina and the entire South will attend.

United States Senator Frank P. Graham, himself a former president of the Greater University of North Carolina, along with Governor Kerr Scott, will be the principal speakers for the occasion.

Senator Graham will deliver the main address in the inaugural program, which will be held at 10:30 a.m. in Hoey Auditorium. On the same program Governor Scott will bring greetings from North Carolina.

Governor Scott also will speak at a special luncheon for delegates and distinguished guests in the college dining hall at 1 p.m. W.E. Bird, Dean of the College and Chairman of the Inaugural Committee, will preside. Following the luncheon at 2:30 p.m. a band concert will be given by W. Glenn Ruff, assisted by the Sylva, Bryson City, Franklin, Waynesville and Canton bands.

At 4 p.m. a reception for the president will be held in Moore parlor, and at 9 p.m. the Inaugural Ball in Breese Gymnasium.

On Friday evening, May 5 at 8 p.m. the College Chorus will present a concert in Hoey Auditorium. Several hundred delegates from the foremost colleges of the country have already accepted invitations to attend the program, among them being: E. Emmons Corcoran, The Citadel; President Raymond W. Fairchild, Illinois State Normal University; Marvin R. Farley, Mercer University; Alvin M. Fountain, N.C. State College; President Henry H. Hill, Peabody College, Nashville Tenn., Lamar Hocker, Texas Christian University, and many others.”

The Herald contained an editorial on the matter in the same edition, which reads in part:

“The College will be honored in having a man of Mr. Reid’s character and qualities inaugurated as its head. They will both be honored in the presence of hundreds of leading educators and presidents of some of the country’s big colleges. Saturday will truly be a red letter day in the history of Western Carolina Teachers College and a day on which Paul Apperson Reid can feel with pride the success he has made in the field of education. Our most sincere and hearty congratulations and best wishes to President Reid and his splendid helper, Mrs. Reid.”

To say Reid had a good run is an understatement. He served twice as president, from 1949 to 1956 and from 1957 to 1969. Western Carolina saw a huge expansion in both facilities and enrollment during his leadership.

Reid’s inauguration was a big deal.

As will be Brown’s.

We wish her success and look for big things.