Remarks from the June 12, 2019 Meeting of the Board of Visitors

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Board of Visitors Meeting
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Hampton Inn & Suites
Downtown Raleigh

Remarks by Sheri Everts, Chancellor

Good afternoon. Thank you for your time today and for your continued support and advocacy for our university.

Jake and Kevin, we welcome you to the Board of Visitors and appreciate your willingness to serve Appalachian in this very important capacity.

May’s commencement ceremonies were a momentous occasion for the nearly 4,000 students who crossed the stage, a proud milestone for their families, and a very special celebration for the faculty and staff who taught, mentored and supported them along the way.

Governor Byers for the 3rd (yes?) year in a row won the title of most amusing speaker. Thank you Philip.

Your efforts are also key to the success of this newest group of alumni.

This dedication was exemplified in early May by your participation in the university’s 6th iBackApp Day.

Your contributions are testimony to your support and leadership. Thank you! You will hear more from Randy in a few minutes — and please know that I greatly appreciate your contributions and recognize how important they are to the event’s success.

Not quite one year ago, we opened the 203,000-square-foot Leon Levine Hall of Health Sciences — the first completed project of the 2016 Connect NC Bond and a tribute to the support of North Carolina’s taxpayers.

More than 2,300 Beaver College of Health Sciences students completed their first academic year in these state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories. The interprofessional collaboration that takes place in this building prepares our students to serve North Carolinians in a changing and dynamic workforce with increasing demand. Health care professions represent our state’s largest employment industry, and, particularly in rural areas, have been designated as a workforce area of critical need by the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

Appalachian now has more than 130,000 living alumni, and more than 75% choose to stay in North Carolina after graduation. This means our graduates are helping meet the needs of the citizens of North Carolina in this – and other – critical workforce areas, contributing to our communities and the economy in valuable ways throughout the state…. Paying taxes; for example.

I will spend the greater part of my remarks today updating you on a key event that took place on our campus in mid-March: Appalachian’s hosting of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors’ March meeting.

The Board of Governors’ visit to our campus was a tremendous opportunity for Appalachian. This board (of course, a different Board of Governors) has not met on our campus since 1999 — a time when our enrollment stood at 12,000 students.

Their visit gave us the opportunity to showcase how we’ve changed — not only in numbers, but also in the ways we teach the leaders of tomorrow and serve the state of North Carolina today.

With help from Student Ambassadors, we took several members of the Board — as well as colleagues from other System campuses — on a campus tour.

  • We showed them Sanford and Wey Halls and their level of disrepair;
  • We brought them to Levine Hall, so they could see how we deliver a building on time and on budget when given state resources; and
  • We showed them the site of the Innovation Campus, so they can envision what is in our future.

Through one-to-one and group interactions, our Board of Governors learned about our university from the perspectives of:

  • Students on our Solar Vehicle Team;
  • Student Yosef Club members;
  • Student Veterans;
  • Student Police Cadets; and
  • The Appalachian Community of Education Scholars.

Deans, students, faculty and staff shared accomplishments from their colleges, research and updates on special projects. Notably:

  • Chief Sustainability Officer Dr. Lee Ball shared ways our university’s sustainability efforts are making economic, environmental and social impacts on our state.
  • Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Cindy Barr shared data from our first-year confirmed students for Fall 2019. Of this pool, we have realized significant gains in key populations.
    • We have confirmed nearly 10% more rural students than last year;
    • The number of first-generation college students is up almost 13% over last year; and
    • The number of traditionally underrepresented students is up more than 18%.
  • Dr. Robin Groce, who serves as Appalachian’s director of planning and implementation for the Appalachian State University Academy at Middle Fork, our K-5 lab school, reported that the Academy 5th graders achieved an 81% increase from their 4th grade scores on their pre-assessments for the North Carolina End-of-Grade Reading Comprehension Test. You may have seen a recent story about the success of Middle Fork in Carolina Journal, but if not, I believe Matthew is providing you a copy, which was featured on the front page of this month’s printed edition, and there is more press about the Academy coming (they just did an interview with Education-NC on Monday). We are so proud of these students’ accomplishments, and we are looking forward to seeing End-of-Grade test scores later this summer, but as you will see shortly, we know test scores tell only part of the story of successes at Middle Fork. Although an increase – 81% - wow!

    Last week, 48 Middle Fork 5th graders received their first Appalachian degree. We hope to see them cross the stage again in Boone in 2030, if not before.

We also made sure the Board of Governors knew our enrollment numbers, our retention rates and other accolades that support my assertion that we are the premier, public undergraduate institution in the state… and should be funded accordingly.

Finally, we shared with them this perspective of how Appalachian is helping shape the educations of young people in our state — from kindergarten through college.

I do not think it is an overstatement to say this was an enormously successful visit for Appalachian. We placed our university on the map for many of the individuals who make critically important decisions about our future. They all now have a key frame of reference for making choices in the future affecting Appalachian. (Two saw realtors; several had never been here.)

The future of our university is being shaped as I speak, with a number of exciting projects underway. As I am sure you have read in our university magazine, we are building our infrastructure and empowering human potential.

You can find the latest information about construction projects and key university initiatives on our “Appalachian’s Future” website, which you can access from the university’s homepage:

I hope you will visit it often, as we update it at least once each week.

I invite you to follow our progress! I also invite you to follow me on Twitter and Facebook for a more informal look into the daily highlights of life at Appalachian.

I am so proud of our university. It is easy for me to advocate for Appalachian, and your voice in your respective communities is vital to our success. Thank you for your time today and for your service, which all of us at Appalachian value so very much.