Welcome to the Spring 2017 semester!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dear Members of the Appalachian Community,

Welcome to the Spring 2017 semester! It is a pleasure to see the campus re-energized after the winter break. I hope you are all renewed and ready to jump into what promises to be a spectacular semester. I extend a special welcome to the newest members of our Appalachian Community, those faculty, staff and students joining us for the first time.

Those of you just joining our community may have heard stories about the frigid Boone winters, but as I have learned, winter here is anything but predictable. On the first day of classes for 2017, I spotted one of our students walking across campus wearing flip-flops and shorts. Last week it was well below freezing. Welcome to our wonderful Mountaineer world!

Our spring calendar is already loaded with opportunities to celebrate, gain new skills, listen and learn. The upcoming annual MLK Challenge speaks to our students’ amazing energy and deep commitment to serving the community through volunteer work and service-learning. You will see more about this event and the benefit it brings to our community in a story on the university homepage next week. And, be sure to mark your calendar for the 33rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, featuring Kamau Bell on Thursday, Jan. 26. Bell will share his perspective on our country’s many subcultures with candor, humor and grace. I hope you will join me in hearing his address to campus.

I would also like to encourage each of you to get in the habit of checking the appstate.edu homepage regularly for the latest news about our faculty research, student successes and sustainability endeavors. There is a remarkable story this week on a promising approach to helping young people with autism and intellectual disabilities improve speech/language skills. The research is interdisciplinary, involving the departments of Communication Sciences and Disorders and Theatre and Dance, and the students – both ours and the ones participating in the project – are inspiring.

Throughout the year, I will continue to share more about the developing strategic plan for the University of North Carolina system and how our sustainability, diversity, community engagement and research initiatives – so rooted in our campus values – mirror the system's. I have had the pleasure of developing, along with Chancellor Dubois at the University of North Carolina Charlotte and Chancellor Woodson at North Carolina State University, system-wide strategies around affordability and efficiency. As many of you know, North Carolina is one of the few states that mandates an affordable education for all in our constitution.

As to efficiency, for too long the expectations around efficiency have been ‘do more with less.’ My mantra is: Let’s do more with more!

And, speaking of more, construction on the new Beaver College of Health Sciences is progressing nicely. I invite you to trace the evolution of the facility and watch the building progress live. Appalachian’s project is the first underway funded by the Connect NC bond, and it is gratifying to know that the citizens of western North Carolina will soon reap the benefits of their investment in the future of health care.

I am excited about the work before us in 2017. I want you to know I – and my cabinet – will continue to work to support faculty and staff and the academic experience; promote wellness, health and safety, redouble our funding efforts to support professorships, scholarships, facilities and professional development, and nurture sustainable and affordable enrollment.

Wishing you a successful and rewarding semester,

/s/ Sheri N. Everts

Sheri N. Everts