Western Carolina University began the fall semester and the 2019-20 academic year with a new chancellor, new residence hall and new enrollment numbers, possibly exceeding 12,000 students.

Hundreds of volunteers from the student body and faculty and staff, known as the “Welcome Team,” banded together Friday to help freshmen and their families move the students’ belongings from curbside to their residence hall rooms. Many of the university’s upperclassmen moved back into the residence halls over the weekend. Classes began Monday.

University officials are predicting that, based upon current counts and historical August enrollment patterns, WCU should experience record total enrollment for the seventh time out of the last eight years. Gains are expected in student populations such as transfer, distance and continuing students.

“We will see total headcount approach, and quite possibly exceed, the 12,000 mark for the first time ever,” said Phil Cauley, WCU’s assistant vice chancellor for undergraduate enrollment. “WCU should also experience record total undergraduate enrollment. Last year, the undergraduate total eclipsed the 10,000 threshold for the first time, and last year’s record of 10,027 will be broken. Currently, headcount is up on graduate and distance enrollments as well.”

The official fall enrollment numbers will be established Friday, Aug. 30, the census date as specified by the University of North Carolina System.

The newest fixture to open on campus is the 600-bed Levern Hamlin Allen Hall, a residential facility named for the first African-American student to attend the university.

Allen made history when she chose to attend Western to seek a post-secondary certification in 1957, just three years after the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.

“Week of Welcome” activities for students continue through Sunday. 

More information about start-of-fall-semester events at WCU is available at wow.wcu.edu.