Update from Appalachian State University

Friday, January 26, 2024

This week, members of my leadership team and I traveled to Raleigh, to attend the University of North Carolina System Board of Governors meeting. In his remarks to the Board, UNC System President Peter Hans discussed education for democracy — key to the mission of the UNC System.

President Hans said it was no coincidence that North Carolina chartered the first public university in 1789, the same time period during which our state’s lawmakers ratified the U.S. Constitution, “because preparing a rising generation for the rights and responsibilities of self-government was exactly what North Carolinians had in mind when they created the university.” 

This was a key topic in the meeting of the Committee on Educational Planning, Policies and Programs, which discussed a proposal — developed with guidance from a faculty working group with expertise from across the UNC System — to ensure that all UNC System graduates have a shared foundation in the principles of American democracy. The faculty-led working group developed two student learning outcomes that focus on documents, concepts and efforts related to America’s founding and ideals, with wide latitude for different approaches. Campuses will have an opportunity to share feedback on the proposal for consideration prior to the committee’s meeting in February, with a full board vote expected in April. Provost Norris and I view this as an excellent opportunity for App State to engage in the critically important work of preparing our students to thoughtfully participate in the democratic processes of the state and nation — and our university. The Provost will provide additional information at the Spring Faculty and Staff Meeting on Feb. 2, and we look forward to engaging App State faculty and staff in this discussion. We will keep you informed on opportunities for input at App State.

Provost Norris has shared that she will also provide key updates from the Division of Academic Affairs at the Feb. 2 meeting, including an update on the process and timeline for App State’s action plan in response to the return on investment (ROI) study commissioned by the North Carolina General Assembly, which I referenced in my messages to campus on Nov. 17, 2023, and again last Friday. I encourage you to attend this meeting, which will be held at 2 p.m. in the Grandview Ballroom of the North End Zone Facility on the Boone campus, and via livestream in the Hickory campus Library and Information Commons. I’m pleased to provide a reception in the Grandview Ballroom after the meeting and boxed lunches for Hickory campus faculty and staff prior to the meeting.

Also during the Board of Governors meeting, the Committee on University Personnel reported that new career banding salary ranges for SHRA employees, which were unanimously approved by the State Human Resources Commission earlier this month, are at the final stages of approval with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. These new salary ranges, which had not received a comprehensive review since 2008, will align SHRA employees at UNC System institutions with comparable state government compensation levels. As with all salary actions, we will receive implementation guidance from the UNC System. I will be sure to keep our employees updated as this process gets underway.

On Monday, App State’s Hickory campus hosted a delegation from Estonia, including Estonian Ambassador Kristjan Prikk, and many state and government leaders, including NC House of Representatives Speaker Tim Moore and Hickory Mayor Hank Guess, to commemorate the official opening of the Honorary Estonian Consulate and installation of Honorary Consul Tommy Luckadoo. The Hickory campus is now home to one of 13 Estonian Honorary consuls in the United States. App State is regularly recognized for academic excellence, and hosting the Estonian Honorary Consulate is just one example of our commitment to global education and engagement.

App State continues to be named among national leaders in education abroad. We offer faculty-led education abroad programs in 54 countries and rank fifth in the nation among the top comprehensive master’s degree-granting institutions for the total number of students who studied abroad for academic credit in 2021–22. More than 40% of our undergraduate students enroll in a global learning course. Extraordinary international educational experiences are not achieved alone. They are the results of important partnerships and investments that elected officials, community leaders and our educational systems make in the interests of our futures, each and every day.

Earlier this week, we learned the Reich College of Education has once again — for the eighth consecutive year — been recognized by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards for having the most alumni in the country who are National Board Certified Teachers. Preparing quality educators is a cornerstone of App State’s past, present and future, and the influence of App State educators is strong in every corner of the state. This distinction speaks to App State’s dedication to not only preparing future educators to serve the communities where they live and work, but also continuing to mentor and guide our alumni with professional development opportunities, especially in their early careers. Thank you to Dean Spooner and the College of Education team for your hard work and devotion to our current students and alumni. Congratulations to our alumni who have achieved National Board Certified Teacher certification! We admire and celebrate your drive, passion and dedication to teaching excellence.

App State’s men’s and women’s basketball teams have been heating up Holmes Convocation Center this year with huge crowds, plenty of fan excitement and unprecedented media attention. The men’s team celebrated a solid win over Georgia Southern last night, and both teams take on James Madison tomorrow — the women’s team on the road and the men’s team at home in a nationally televised game. We’re all looking forward to double wins!

While we’ve had no lack of rain in Boone or Hickory this week, I hope the milder weather is helping everyone get into their spring semester routines, and I hope you all enjoy the weekend.

Sheri Everts