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SunTrust Gift Marks a First for WCU's Catamount Club

June 20, 2007

Cullowhee, N.C. - The check wasn't in the mail. This time, the check was in the handshake, when Catamount Club president Tobe Childers recently accepted a gift of $25,000 from E. Jerry Coleman III, executive vice president for private wealth management with SunTrust North Carolina in Charlotte.

The contribution represents the first installment on a pledge for the next five years from SunTrust.

The check also mark SunTrust's first such gift to the Catamount Club, and it is the first time a financial institution has contributed to the club, Childers said.

"SunTrust is interested in developing a relationship with Western Carolina University and helping it grow," he said.

With the commitment, SunTrust will become the official sponsor of Western's Annual Student-Athlete Awards Banquet. The gifts also will be used for general athletic scholarship support, professional development for staff and other programmatic support to benefit student-athletes, said Chip Smith, director of athletics.

"Through the contributions of individuals and corporations such as the major commitment made by our friends at SunTrust North Carolina, we can continue to make improvements in our athletics program, and provide the support and facilities that our student-athletes deserve," Smith said.

The pledge comes as the university is in the midst of The Campaign for Western, a three-year effort to raise $40 million in private support for scholarships, professorships and programmatic resources. The first comprehensive fundraising campaign in university history was officially launched in February after an initial "silent phase."