Update from Appalachian State University
This week has brought exciting updates about the progress of our institution and our plans for the future.
Earlier this week, Chief Sustainability Officer Lee Ball shared a comprehensive overview of universitywide sustainability and resilience initiatives with campus. From the academic enterprise, to daily business decisions, to the university’s strategic plan, App State is building on its accomplishments, making improvements in our current practices and working to ensure lasting and positive outcomes for our campus and region.
Yesterday, I met with Provost Norris and representatives from the Faculty Senate Chancellor’s Advisory Committee for a discussion about the faculty research and creative activities enterprise. Each semester, I meet twice with this group. We had a great discussion, and I look forward to meeting with the committee again later this semester.
At last week’s annual Spring Faculty and Staff Meeting, Provost Norris shared many examples of the iterative, open and transparent process for advancing the academic affairs of our institution. I join her in thanking the many faculty, staff and students from across all divisions and colleges who continue to collaborate in the planning for App State’s strategic plan, General Education program, Quality Enhancement Plan, and our growing research and creative activities enterprise. I also thank those working with Hickory area leaders to determine the best ways our Hickory campus can meet the academic needs in that region.
This important work benefits the entire state and region, and garners trust and support. We see confirmation of this in the increasing number of admissions applications, in our above-average retention and graduation rates, in legislative support for our institution — as evidenced in the best budget in university history, in financial support from individuals, in external funding support, and in the accolades earned by our faculty, staff and students.
- Vice Chancellor Jane Barghothi’s most recent fundraising report indicates that of the $20.8 million raised so far this fiscal year, $15.7 million is designated for academic and cultural programs, and $5.1 million is designated for athletics scholarships and support.
- Provost Norris shared that last year’s external funding from grants and contracts totaled nearly $37 million — an institutional record.
- For the second year in a row, App State topped U.S. News & World Report’s list for Most Innovative Schools. We earned number two slots in undergraduate teaching and best colleges for veterans, and placed third among top public schools in the South. U.S. News & World Report has also named App State to its “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs” and “Best Online Master’s in Education Programs” lists. The Princeton Review recently named the Walker College of Business in “The Best Business Schools 2022” list and ranked App State seventh on its “Best MBA for Human Resources” list.
Statewide and locally, we are beginning to see the downward trend in COVID case counts that has been predicted. This is also true for our campus:
- As of Monday, our five-day new positive case counts had decreased by 105 cases, or 57%, from the previous week, and we expect this trend to continue.
- Other encouraging signs include a decrease in campus positivity rates for last week.
Nevertheless, Watauga County remains an area of “high” transmission according to the CDC COVID data tracker, and vigilance is the key to reducing transmission. Studies continue to support the importance of the COVID vaccine in reducing the severity of the illness and reducing the likelihood of hospitalization and death from COVID. In addition to getting vaccinated, health experts recommend wearing well-fitted face coverings, staying home if you don't feel well, and frequent handwashing or sanitizing to help reduce transmission.
- Our campus vaccination rates of 81% for students and 90% for employees are making a difference on our campus and in our community. Getting boosted ensures you have the highest level of protection. Our campus Student Health Service offers Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines and boosters, and we continue to provide $50 Amazon gift cards to students and employees who get vaccinated or boosted on campus.
- Each Friday, you receive “real-time” resources via emailed campus operations updates. In addition to my weekly messages, these weekly operations updates may be found on the Latest Updates page of the university’s COVID website. They provide you with quick reference guides based on the most frequently asked questions of our COVID response team, including what to do if you test positive or are exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID.
Please mark your calendars for App State’s 37th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration, which, after a weather postponement, will take place March 1 at the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts. Bakari Sellers, CNN political analyst, author and former Representative from South Carolina, is the featured speaker for the event. The MLK Day of Service has also been rescheduled for Saturday, Feb. 26. I know we all look forward to the opportunity to come together for these celebrations of the life and legacy of Dr. King. Thank you to the staff in Intercultural Student Affairs for your work in planning — and rescheduling — these signature events for our campus.
Each day, App State faculty, staff and students demonstrate dedication to making real and powerful differences on our campus and in communities across the state and region. Your pride in your work and your accomplishments are both evident and inspirational.
Sheri Everts, Chancellor