State of the University: Chancellor and leadership address faculty and staff Jan. 27

Friday, February 3, 2017

Appalachian State University’s chancellor, provost, faculty senate chair and several vice chancellors gave a state-of-the university address Friday, Jan. 27, in Plemmons Student Union.

Speaking were Chancellor Sheri N. Everts, Provost Darrell Kruger, Faculty Senate Chair Paul Gates, Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs Paul Forte, Interim Vice Chancellor for Advancement Randy Edwards and Vice Chancellor for Student Development Leroy Wright.

The chancellor led with her comments, stating the Appalachian Community has “spent the last three years working hard as a community to advance many important initiatives as defined in our 2014-2019 strategic plan. Not surprisingly, our initiatives reflect those recently advanced in the UNC system’s strategic plan: access, affordability and efficiency, student success, economic impact and community engagement and excellent and diverse institutions.”

“Our work at Appalachian,” she continued, “is rooted in a deep and lasting commitment to sustainability” as defined by: affordable access to an excellent education; efficient use of funds and resources; graduation, in a timely fashion, of students who not only succeed, but lead; community engagement as witnessed on this past Martin Luther King Day of Service, and a diverse and accepting community.

READ: Chancellor's full remarks from the Spring 2017 Faculty and Staff Meeting

In his remarks, Gates stressed the need for resources to ensure retention, recruitment and development for the university’s faculty and staff. He acknowledged the university’s “important headway” in the form of campus-funded tuition increases directed to faculty salaries over the last three years, but chastised the state’s 1.5 percent increase granted last fall, saying it was “not enough” in light of the improved state economy.

He reported all three primary sources of revenue (taxes, sales tax and corporate income taxes) for the state are up and that recovery from the recession is forecast to outpace the nation in 2017. He made an appeal for even broader involvement in the governance of Appalachian by the faculty to ensure academic freedom. He pointed out the institution of tenure is under attack and said, “like a hot-house flower, [tenure] requires constant tending. It’s health and the health of the professoriate and the health of the university overall needs your attention through your service.”

READ: Faculty Senate chair's full remarks

The provost reported spring enrollment is higher than ever in Appalachian’s history, hovering around 17,000, including on-campus and distance learning populations. New student enrollment for spring is also the highest in history at over 600.

Kruger gave some detail about the Inclusion/Infusion Project, a number of initiatives put forth by the UPPC embracing diversity of thought, beliefs and community. Kruger defines inclusion “as conditions in the university that reflect practices and relationships that are in place to support a well-rounded student body, faculty, staff and administration that produce a state of being valued, respected and supported.”

He encouraged the faculty and staff to participate in an upcoming focus group and survey from which data will inform inclusion models for the university. The purpose of this assessment, he said, is to determine the need for and the extent to which inclusion is a part of the curriculum and student, faculty, staff and administrative experience and how these goals can be encouraged. The data will be used for inclusion training modules and will be included in a research report.

He reported nine searches are underway for five deans, three associate vice chancellors and the vice provost. He also said two initiatives he introduced in October had come to fruition: a 5 percent increase in part-time faculty salaries and, starting in 2017-18, contracts for special faculty appointments may be extended up to three years.

Forte, who has been with the university for five months, said in his assessment Appalachian is “a financially strong, well-run institution” and his hope is “to utilize that strength to obtain the resources and facilities we need.” Most immediate are construction of Winkler Hall, plans for parking and public transport to and from the wellness district, the area around Watauga Medical Center and the site of the new Beaver College of Health Sciences, and a new elevator for Sanford Hall.

Although subject to change, he said current plans for the millennial campus property that is adjacent to Kidd Brewer Stadium, will include a mixed-use facility with housing, academic space, dining, Yosef Club and club seating, a sports medicine performance center and team store. He stated further that P3 (private/public partnerships) would factor in the design and construction and should ensure the project is self-sustaining.

Edwards announced several new hires in advancement, including a new director of corporate foundation relations, an associate director for development, who will supervise and mentor the development officers, and a development officer for the College of Arts and Sciences. He encouraged faculty and staff to “use their networks” and share potential supporters.

Edwards said his personal Appalachian story included a “transformational experience” – a professor “who had confidence in me that I did not have in myself” and encouraged him to become a teacher. He also shared the success story of Brandy Hopkins Hadley ’09 ’11, a scholarship student who was also a first generation college student and a single mother in “severe financial need.” Hadley went on to earn her Ph.D. and will join the faculty in the Department of Finance, Banking and Insurance within the Walker College of Business, in the Fall 2017 semester.

In his remarks about student development, Wright reiterated the university’s “commitment to provide services and opportunities that empower students to make responsible life decisions that enhance their health, safety and well-being, through our programs, services and facilities.”

He listed the following as success points:

  • Funding for training in an innovative, evidence-based suicide prevention program for the university’s Counseling and Psychological Services Center and the Assessment, Support, and Counseling (ASC) Center
  • The retention of a new psychiatrist who joined Student Health Service, Jan. 3
  • Repurposing of space in the Miles Annas Student Support Building to provide students with easier access to Wellness and Prevention Services

Wright announced the development of the Speech Summit to be held March 26-31. The summit will present opportunities to engage with two leading experts around topics of free speech, hate speech, diversity and inclusion, social justice and first amendment rights on campus. The summit also will include Ferris State University’s Jim Crow Museum’s traveling exhibit, “Them: Images of Separation.”

Toward the university’s strategic initiative “preserving faculty and staff excellence,” Wright said his division has “implemented a robust professional development series that focuses on introducing the work of student affairs professionals for our 40 first and second year graduate students based on NASPA/ACPA Professional Competencies (technology, assessment, leadership, advising, etc.) It has also implemented a Coffee and Conversation series that engages new and seasoned professionals around topics important to navigating critical issues in student affairs.