Remarks from the June 24, 2016 Meeting of the Board of Trustees

Friday, June 24, 2016

Board of Trustees Meeting
Friday, June 24, 2016
Plemmons Student Union, on the campus of Appalachian State University

Remarks by Sheri N. Everts, Chancellor

Chair Adcock, trustees and guests, before I share a brief update about a few of the exciting things happening at Appalachian, I would like to let you know that I have asked Leonie Kruger to serve in the role of recording secretary for this meeting. Thank you, Leonie.

We have some new board members with us today, so I would like to frame my remarks with a short statement about the vision of the university. At Appalachian, we promote a spirit of inclusion that inspires students, faculty and staff to form relationships well beyond graduation. Our students and alumni think critically and understand the responsibilities of community engagement. I am heartened by the passion of the Appalachian Community and invite anyone to talk with me in person about the future of our great university.

Appalachian’s identity is built on the university’s tradition. Since inception, the university has had one vision – putting students first by providing access to a quality education. Conceived by the Dougherty brothers over a century ago, this vision has been built upon by each successive chancellor. This tradition is important to me, and I have worked to honor it by working with the entire Appalachian Community to continue building upon our distinctive identity and core values.

Ultimately, the reason our stellar faculty and staff come to work every day is to realize this vision, which can be summed up in one key phrase: we put students first, always, and together we are building a bright future.

Yesterday was a great day for Appalachian as we broke ground on a new home for the Beaver College of Health Sciences (and thank you, Anna, for getting that story up on the Watauga Democrat website before 5pm yesterday!) Again, I would like to thank President and CEO Richard Sparks, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System and their Board of Trustees for their gift of the land for this new facility. Together, we will continue our great collaborative work in support of regional health care.

An Appalachian Summer Festival, celebrating its 32nd season, has risen in stature to become one of the nation’s most highly respected summer festivals. With an audience of 27,000, the festival has been named one of the “Top Twenty Events in the Southeast” by the Southeast Tourism Society. I hope you will be able to take in some of the stellar offerings this summer.

July 18-20, Appalachian hosts the 5th Appalachian Energy Summit. The annual energy leadership gathers colleagues from UNC’s 17 campuses and many colleges and universities from across the country. The summit is a one-of-a-kind event that convenes academia, industry, and students in a transformational effort that is truly delivering meaningful ecological, financial and social benefit. This year’s keynote speaker is internationally acclaimed author and environmentalist Bill McKibben.

As we began the academic year in August 2015, I charged our campus with implementing 14 recommendations from the Chancellor’s Commission on Diversity. Over this year we made great progress on supervisor training, implementing a Bias Incident Response Team, creating mentoring programs, and other initiatives that support the recruitment and retention of a diverse community of students, faculty and staff. While there is much to do, our community is committed to supporting diversity because it makes our campus better and that difference ripples out to our community, state and beyond.

In addition, we fulfilled an earlier recommendation from the commission when we brought Dr. Willie Fleming back to Boone as our Chief Diversity Officer. Dr. Fleming comes to Appalachian from Gardner-Webb but has a deep connection and history with our campus. Willie is an Appalachian alumnus and a former minority student advisor and director of African-American Students, founder of the Appalachian Gospel Choir and the Black Student Association, and a founding member of the Black Faculty and Staff Association. Fleming also was instrumental in bringing Black Greek Life to Appalachian and was a charter member of the Pi Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He has remained actively connected with alumni and the Willie C. Fleming Endowment Fund was established in 2011 to support qualifying first year students who demonstrate a desire to promote cultural diversity and a verifiable need. Willie will be partnering with Bindu Jayne and together they will continue to focus on these very important initiatives.

Today is Vice Chancellor Susan Pettyjohn’s last trustee meeting and I would like to recognize her tireless dedication to Appalachian and our students, faculty and staff. Susan provided leadership for the most successful campaign in Appalachian’s history and her efforts have put our university in a stronger position to meet our mission.

I would also like to recognize Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Development Leroy Wright. With more than 18 years experience in student affairs administration, Wright received a bachelor’s degree in human resource management and a minor in multicultural relations from Ferris State University and his master’s degree in counseling from Northern Arizona University. Most recently, Wright served as the dean of student life for 10 years at Ferris State University in MI after serving as an assistant director of housing and residence life for 4 years. Leroy brings a wealth of experience in multiple areas of student affairs.

We have a few additional leadership announcements that you most likely read about yesterday. Randy Edwards will be serving in the role of interim Vice Chancellor of Advancement. Randy will supervise development operations, the Appalachian State University Foundation, Inc. and Alumni Affairs and Annual Giving. He will continue to supervise Auxiliary Services, University Sustainability, Small Business and Technical Development Center and New River Light and Power until the new Vice Chancellor of Business Affairs begins work on campus. Debbie Covington will serve in the role of Acting Chief of Staff and Director of Marketing for the University. University Communications will report to Debbie.

Hank Foreman will take on new responsibilities as both Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Arts and Engagement and Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives.

These leadership changes leverage the expertise of these individuals while producing budget savings during this time of transition. The enhanced emphasis on university marketing and the arts directly supports our vision of creating a transformational educational experience for our students. Students are at the heart of what we do and we will do a better job in telling the story of who we are off the mountain.

Because students are our focus, I would like to share just a few accolades garnered by our students in recent months:

  • Sixty-one Appalachian State University undergraduates representing 25 different academic departments presented their research at the 30th Annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research at UNC Asheville.
  • Two-hundred and twenty-two students were named to the athletics department's academic honor roll for the 2016 spring semester. Those honored included 143 student-athletes and 35 student athletic trainers, managers, cheerleaders and support staff. To be included on the academic honor roll, a student must have a 3.25 or higher semester GPA while enrolled in a minimum of 12 hours.
  • Six new Wilson Scholars were chosen for Appalachian’s most prestigious full-ride scholarship, making the total number of recipients of this scholarship, which emphasizes academic excellence, leadership and service, 14. The scholarship is now in its third year and these students are having a tremendous positive effect on our campus.

Our campus is strong and vibrant and boldly moving towards a bright future. I thank each of you for your dedication and commitment and for all you do every day for our university.

Mr. Chair, this concludes my remarks.