Update from Appalachian State University — week of June 8–12
The extraordinary confluence of a global pandemic
and recent displays of deplorable racism is
rightfully forcing the evaluation, assessment and
reconfiguration of the most basic tenets of our
lives. Now, our thoughts, our words and, most
importantly, our actions define us and determine our
path. We are coming back together to safely make
in-person connections during the two most important
issues that have hit higher education in our
lifetimes. Beginning next week, I will be meeting
with small groups across campus to hear your
thoughts and ideas as we work together on safely
reopening and progressing forward together during
this difficult and painful time.
The voices of Appalachian have been loud and clear,
standing in solidarity with our Black faculty, staff
and students. This week, the UNC System established
a six-member Equity
Task Force — a special committee of the Board
of Governors that will meet with student, faculty
and staff groups to discuss issues of race and
equity in the UNC System. On campus, my leadership
team is increasing the work of their divisions,
digging deeper into their systems and processes to
help unearth and remedy the disparities that result
from centuries of systematic, nationwide oppression.
We have made great strides, yet recognize they are
small in comparison with the necessary systemic
change that must be made. We must — and will —
continue progressing forward.
Dr. Willie Fleming, who many of you know is
Appalachian’s first Chief Diversity Officer
specifically tasked with Inclusive Excellence,
champions this work taking place on our campus.
Beginning next week, he will share regular updates
broadly with campus, and will also make this
information available on the university’s website
dedicated to diversity and inclusive excellence.
- Black-identified students can connect with one
another and engage in meaningful conversations
about the impact of race-based stress and trauma
through a virtual Racial Trauma Healing Space
developed by the Department of Wellness and
Prevention Services. Register
- Daily Zoom sessions offered by Counseling and
Psychological Services are offering informal and
confidential opportunities for students to problem
solve, gain perspective and obtain resources. Find out
- Additional resources and assistance for students
is available by contacting
the Office of the Dean of Students here.
Faculty and staff can find
employee assistance resources here or access
services for faculty and staff here.
We are working each day to manage the significant ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its financial impact on our campus has hit our receipt-supported areas the hardest. Athletics in particular, has faced a significant budget shortfall, which is projected to be at least $5 million as a result of this pandemic. This week we took an extremely difficult step, informing Athletics staff of mandatory furloughs that will impact every full-time employee of the department, a total of 106 employees. By implementing furloughs, it is our goal to protect as many jobs as possible as we navigate the financial consequences of this pandemic. The furlough plan will reduce the hours worked by most Athletics employees over a 90-day period. A smaller number of employees will be on continuous furloughs, but for shorter periods of time. All employees will retain health insurance and other employee benefits. Athletics has implemented operating budget cuts, sport reductions and changes to scheduling and travel strategies. We are hopeful this will be the last step we need to take to address their significant financial challenges.
Furloughs are limited to receipt-supported areas, and Human Resources and Business Affairs have been diligently engaged in finding ways to protect as many jobs as possible. To avoid additional furloughs, I asked that people in other receipt-supported areas, including Campus Dining, be reassigned to the important work of safely returning our students, faculty and staff to campus.
Committees across campus are working diligently on
a phased return to campus, always with the health
and safety of the community guiding our every
- Next week, our Project Management and Implementation Team will begin weekly progress reports to campus.
- This week saw our Child Development Center and
Lucy Brock Child Development Laboratory Program
begin phased reopening plans, and I am grateful to
these staff and faculty for their diligence in
returning these important services to our campus.
- We have a range of personal protection equipment, including plexiglass shields and face coverings. Three reusable face coverings will be provided to every student, faculty and staff member. Face coverings will be required to be worn in accordance with CDC guidelines whether at work, in class or in public areas on campus.
- Classroom plans are being developed; we have
identified additional classroom space for use as
needed; cameras and microphones, projectors and
other equipment are being purchased, and air flow
systems are being maximized to allow for increased
outside air exchange.
All of these efforts are taking place thanks to
faculty, staff and academic leadership, and I would
like to thank our academic department chairs, our
faculty, and our Environmental Health & Safety
and Emergency Management, Building Services and
Facilities Operations staff in particular for their
incredible work in this regard.
We are first and foremost a university, a center
for learning. Appalachian’s faculty, staff and
students continue to elevate the Appalachian
- Throughout the month of June, our Student
Orientation Undergraduate Leaders (SOULs) are
dedicating their time and efforts to one-day virtual
orientation sessions for more than 5,000
incoming students, ensuring they feel connected to
the university and prepared to start their
- Faculty in the Walker College of Business
collaborated with faculty at Kristu Jayanti
College in Bengaluru, India, to provide a two-week virtual study
abroad experience for students at both
- Reich College of Education faculty members shared advice and
insights into how to make the most of online
teaching and learning, and how to engage students
in virtual spaces.
I am thankful to work alongside Mountaineers who
are invested in the success of the entire
Appalachian Community. We have and will continue to
adapt for the pandemic, and we will work harder and
more deliberately to eradicate institutional racism
Sheri Everts, Chancellor