Message from Interim Chancellor Heather Norris

Friday, April 26, 2024

Dear Members of the App State Community, 

Thank you for being supportive and patient during this time of transition for the university. As I get used to the roles and responsibilities of being interim chancellor, I will continue sending weekly updates through the remainder of this semester.

It’s been a whirlwind of a week, and I’ve really enjoyed getting out and engaging with so many people. It’s been fun to attend events with so many faculty, staff and students. Today’s Faculty, Staff and Student Appreciation celebration on Sanford Mall is underway, and I hope to see many of you there!

In the last week, I have been able to:

  • Hear members of the Chancellor’s Appalachian Leadership Development program present their Big Ideas — a culmination of their yearlong professional development program.

  • Present to the Hickory Campus Advisory Council on the progress we’ve made with academic programs and building construction at the Hickory campus over the last year.

  • Attend a dinner with App State’s Student Government Association, during which I was able to meet our new student body president, Kathryn Long, a senior communication sciences and disorders major from Seaboard, and vice president Amarah Din, a senior political science major from Cary. I look forward to working with them in their new roles.

  • Celebrate the incredible winners of App State’s most distinguished awards at the annual Awards of Distinction ceremony, during which my colleagues and I had the privilege of recognizing the exceptional achievements, service and leadership of App State faculty, staff and students.

  • Welcome leading employers from across the region to an Employer Summit, designed to strengthen important relationships and ensure we are working together with industry partners to prepare our students for their next steps after graduation.

  • Later today, I look forward to attending a reception honoring scholarship recipients and donors in the Beaver College of Health Sciences and a Faculty Club reception, as well as the College of Fine and Applied Arts Apparel Design Management showcase tomorrow.

To update you on a few ongoing matters:

  • The Free Expression Working Group has been meeting to discuss options related to the tunnels renovation project, and I expect a final report from them soon. I was so impressed with the thoughtful ideas and feedback we received from students who have engaged with this group, and I appreciate their time and dedication to finding a solution. I’ll share more information about this next week.

  • Regular safety inspections continue in Wey Hall, and in the last two weeks, Vice Provost of Academic Program Development and Strategic Initiatives Mike McKenzie and Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities Management Nick Katers have met with Art Department faculty to share information about the locations for classes for the remainder of the construction period. To help share the information as broadly as possible, they recorded a Campus Construction Update Podcast episode, which has been shared with Art Department students and which is available for anyone who is interested in learning more about the project.

  • I attended the April Board of Governors meeting, and, like my colleagues at App State and throughout the UNC System, I’m engaged in numerous discussions about the proposed repeal and supersede to Section 300.8.5 of the UNC Policy Manual, on which the Board will vote during its May meeting. While there are a lot of unknowns, and we cannot answer questions about specific implementation details at this time, I can assure you our university’s commitment to supporting all of our students is unwavering, and we remain dedicated to providing a compassionate, high-quality college experience that is focused on student success.

Mountaineer students are one week away from beginning final exams. For graduating seniors walking in our Spring Commencement on May 10 and 11, they have just two more weeks of school left.

Next week, Board of Trustees Chair Mark Ricks and I will host a pizza party to help celebrate the end of the semester and offer a study/work break before the final crunch sets in. Look for an invitation to come soon!

Heather Norris
Interim Chancellor