Jackson County native Michael T. Byers, formerly an associate vice chancellor for business affairs at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, is the new vice chancellor for administration and finance at Western Carolina University. Byers, who previously was responsible for the campus enterprises unit at UNCG, succeeds longtime WCU administrator Robert Edwards ’77, who retired in December after serving as vice chancellor for administration and finance since 2011 (see story on Page 48).
In his previous role at UNCG since 2009, Byers oversaw a variety of university business and auxiliary enterprises, including the institution’s Capital Facilities Foundation, community relations, property acquisition and leasing, purchasing, parking and transportation, campus identification card office, warehouse, and postal, dining, bookstore, vending and printing operations. He was responsible for annual budgets of more than $30 million and a staff exceeding 350 employees.
“Mike Byers is a proven leader in higher education administration with a diverse skill set and broad base of experience, much of which he gained in the University of North Carolina system,” said Chancellor David O. Belcher. “He inherits a strong Division of Administration and Finance, which has benefited from Robert Edwards’ exceptional leadership, and he is the right person to continue the division’s growth and development as an innovative unit that facilitates the work of the entire university.”
Byers is no stranger to WCU and Western North Carolina, as he grew up in Webster and graduated from Sylva-Webster (now called Smoky Mountain) High School in 1981. “Having spent the first 18 years of my life in Webster, I consider WCU an outstanding fit for my career aspiration to serve as the chief business officer for a reputable institution. This is an opportunity for a welcome homecoming,” he said.
“With the challenges facing higher education, I understand the importance of engagement through close collaboration and inclusiveness, both across divisions and across town,” Byers said. “I look forward to joining the team at WCU and providing stable yet innovative leadership for the Division of Administration and Finance, and contributing as a member of the executive team toward the mission and focus of the institution.”