Video Recording 

Go here to watch the video recording of the event. 

About the Event



May 19, 2021 at 7pm


The Charles Koch Foundation

The American Council for Education 

The Center for the Study of Economic Mobility 


Streamed live from John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Performance Hall on the Western Carolina University campus to the American Council on Education page.

About This Event: 

How can your campus harness cross-disciplinary research to get back to basics on economic and community development? Learn how university centers can advance faculty and student development while giving back to their communities by registering today for this event, generously supported by the Charles Koch Foundation.

Hear from an urban HBCU and a rural regional comprehensive university  that found innovative ways to advance their institutions’ missions as community-engaged universities. You’ll be able to ask questions of the speakers and take part in live polls.

Both centers convene faculty and students to raise new questions, build understanding, and bridge insights from across academic perspectives. Both centers also embrace the challenge of exploring data-driven questions and publishing quality work to helps solve vexing social problems.

Discuss combining rigorous research with storytelling to capture people’s imaginations and emphasize the importance of this work that affects us all.

Presentation Topics:  

Welcoming Speech: WCU Chancellor, Dr. Kelli Brown 

Presenter 1: Edward Lopez on Center for the Study of Free Enterprise at Western Carolina University

Presenter 2: Craig Richardson on Center for the Study of Economic Mobility at Winston Salem State University

Registration is required. 


Professional headshot of Sean Mulholland

Kelli R. Brown took office as the 12th Chancellor of Western Carolina University (WCU) in July 2019, becoming the University’s first permanent woman chancellor. She previously served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Georgia College & State University. She has held academic leadership roles at the University of Florida, University of South Florida, Illinois State University, and Western Illinois University.

Since her arrival, Chancellor Brown has highlighted several priorities: an institutional emphasis on quality and excellence; a commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence; and a focus on the University’s role as an engine of economic development for its communities. Under Chancellor Brown’s stewardship, WCU continues to capitalize on the opportunity to be a thought leader in regards to how regionally engaged universities can maintain a student-centered focus, with high levels of teaching innovation.

Chancellor Brown earned her doctorate from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale; her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Toledo; and an associate in applied sciences degree in dental hygiene from Michael J. Owens Technical College in Toledo, Ohio.

She is originally from the Midwest, and she and her husband of 32 years, Dennis, live in Cullowhee.

Edward Lopez is director of Western Carolina University’s Center for the Study of Free Enterprise. At CSFE, the central question involves research driving progress: How can the work of faculty and students from different perspectives be coordinated into workable ideas for holistic community and economic development?

Through our Faculty Affiliates program, we serve as a hub for faculty across the disciplines and as a platform for their work to access the public. For more about an enduring example of this, visit WCU’s multimedia website. This site shows the many ways that research can be integrated with and have a positive impact on ordinary people’s lives. CSFE’s work continues with this same formula to address post-Covid recovery individually, socially, and economically.

Craig Richardson is director of Winston-Salem State University’s Center for the Study of Economic Mobility. The central question for CSEM is: How do we identify and rebuild the rungs of the economic ladder for those at the bottom end?

The answers, as this talk will disclose, involve innovation and inspiration from individuals, the public and private sector. More about CSEM can be viewed in this clip, from the feature length documentary, “Rigged – Wealthism in U.S. Higher Education and the Betrayal of the American Dream”- produced by CollegeNET and narrated by Jim Wolfston. The clip highlights the innovative ways WSSU and CSEM are improving social and economic mobility for their students and the community.