Update from Appalachian State University — week of May 10–14
App State’s Spring 2021 Commencement was momentous, with more than 3,600 graduates honored during 13 in-person ceremonies over the course of five days, in addition to a virtual conferral of degrees. The heart of our commencement was captured by the excited smiles of our graduates, and the pride radiating from their many supporters and loved ones who were celebrating from near and far.
The photos capturing the celebration help tell the story of our graduates marking a most defining moment in their academic careers. We are so very proud of the Class of 2021, particularly for the determination they exhibited under historically challenging circumstances. Their experiences at App State have taught them new ways to innovate and persevere, and I am certain as alumni they will continue to make real and powerful differences in their communities and beyond.
Our in-person commencement ceremonies were attended by 4,420 individuals and viewed, via livestream, more than 30,000 times. While faculty and staff participation was limited due to COVID-19 safety restrictions, each academic college also held celebrations for the Class of 2021, and we were pleased to be joined in the Holmes Convocation Center by mace bearers Paul Orkiszewski, Drs. Robin Byerly, Rodney Duke, Beth Fiske, Barbara Howard, Marie Huff, Jeff Vahlbusch and Sandra Vannoy, and Appalachian Police Department Capt. Johnny Brown. I am very grateful to Drs. Mark Bradbury and Jay Jackson, who carried the university banner and read the names of our graduates as they crossed the stage. I was also pleased that Dr. Caroline Smith, associate professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science, was recognized by UNC Board of Governors representative C. Philip Byers for being App State’s winner of the UNC Board of Governors’ 2021 Excellence in Teaching Award.
Our celebrations helped mark the end of a year of incredible campus-wide efforts managing the many impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. While we recognize this work will continue, we do feel a sense of optimism, driven not only by recent guidance and announcements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as Governor Cooper, but also by our campus data, which show our collective efforts to get vaccinated and to follow safety guidelines are effective. We closed out the academic year having conducted 57,370 COVID-19 tests on campus, having administered 4,340 COVID-19 vaccines to faculty, staff, students and the general public, and having only two active COVID-19 cases — the lowest number of active COVID-19 cases since June 2020.
Our next operations update will be sent to campus on Monday, and will reflect any changes necessary in light of Governor Cooper’s announcement today.
The end of the academic year and our Spring 2021 Commencement ceremonies remind us of all we have accomplished during a most challenging year. Thank you to each of our faculty, staff and students — you all overcame incredible difficulties with grace and unwavering resilience.
Sheri Everts, Chancellor