Leadership Update


Dear Colleagues,


I am pleased to announce that Dr. Neva J. Specht has been named Vice Provost for Faculty Policies and Development, effective October 11.

Neva brings to the position a wealth of experience in policy and development through her many years of service on university-wide committees such as the University Academic Assessment Committee, Strategic Planning Committee (UPPC), Deans and Provost Councils, and Athletics Council. Her service provided her the opportunity to work on difficult policy and strategic initiatives as well as learn how to build consensus among those with different viewpoints on contested and controversial ideas.

In her progressive leadership roles, Neva has provided unwavering support for faculty professional development in her college and campus-wide. As dean she created and supported several opportunities to enhance and support both faculty and staff as they pursue research and pedagogical goals of their own, including the SAFE (Student and Faculty Excellence) fund for faculty scholarly activities, which provides, among other things, funding for online course development or enhancement.

Neva’s own teaching and research are inclusive, incorporating a variety of experiences and a multiplicity of voices through text, film, and discussion. Her scholarship focuses on race, gender, and religion in community and identity formation. Her commitment to diversity is reflected in her service and her leadership as dean. She led the college’s work on diversity and inclusion efforts including developing a college diversity statement for the website, weekly Diversity and Inclusion emails, supporting inclusive hiring practices, and implicit bias training for faculty and search committees. As a humanist, Neva’s academic training will bring an additional perspective to the Academic Affairs office.

Neva has served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences since 2017 and as a professor of History at Appalachian State University since 1996. Prior to becoming dean of the college, she served as assistant chair in the Department of History (2007-09); associate dean (2010-13) and senior associate dean (2013-17) in the College of Arts and Sciences. For six years, she served as the university liaison to the Blue Ridge Parkway. She has been a trustee and board chair for the North Carolina Humanities Council. Locally, she has served on the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum’s (BRAHM) Board, Blue Ridge Parkway 75 and on the Town of Boone’s Cultural Resource Advisory Board.

Neva received her Ph.D. in United States history and material culture studies from the University of Delaware, where she also earned her Master of Arts in United States history with a certificate in museum studies. She received her bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College, with a double major in history and American studies.

A national search for the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences will be conducted. Dr.  Michael Madritch has agreed to serve as Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences until the national search has concluded. Mike joined the Department of Biology at Appalachian State University in 2009 as an assistant professor, and was promoted to full professor in 2019. He has served as Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences since 2020.

Mike’s scholarship focuses on linking aboveground forest biodiversity and canopy chemistry with belowground ecosystem processes. On campus, Mike has worked with experts in Facilities Operations to certify App State as a Tree Campus USA by the National Arbor Foundation.

Mike holds undergraduate degrees in biology, biochemistry and chemistry from North Carolina State University. He earned a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Georgia before postdoctoral work at the University of Wisconsin. 

 Please join me in thanking Mike for serving as Interim Dean of CAS, and congratulating Neva on her new role as Vice Provost for Faculty Policies and Development. 

A press release is forthcoming.



Heather H. Norris, Ph.D.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Appalachian State University
B.B. Dougherty
Boone, NC 28608

Published: Oct 7, 2021 2:00pm