Office of the Provost Remarks to Faculty Senate - Dr. Neva J. Specht
Thank you, Louis, and good afternoon.
As Provost Norris shared with the Faculty Senate Agenda Committee members, she is unable to attend today’s Faculty Senate Meeting due to business travel.
She asked me to share several items with you in today’s report:
- First, she wanted me to let you know that she and Vice Chancellor of Finance and Operations Dan Layzell will meet with the Faculty Senate Budget Committee members on March 31 to address questions related to the Hickory campus budget.
- Second, she wanted me to provide an update on our efforts in Hickory.
- Finally, I’ll give a quick update on Faculty policies and handbook.
As Chancellor Everts shared in one of her messages earlier this month, she convened a meeting of the App State Hickory Campus Advisory Council on March 10. At that meeting, Chancellor Everts, Provost Norris and Associate Vice Chancellor Nick Katers provided an update on Hickory campus developments and progress.
This council — which represents business, education, government and civic leaders from Hickory and the surrounding area — has been key to our efforts to ensure the academic programs we offer at the Hickory campus will meet the area’s educational needs. The council heard updates on renovation progress for the facility and the educational programs and student support services that will be available to Hickory students when classes begin in the building in August.
I’ll share some highlights from that meeting now.
Progress on Building Renovations
In his update, Nick shared the latest progress we have made on renovations to the Hickory facility.
Legislative support has been very strong — thanks to Chancellor Everts’ tireless efforts to advocate for additional funding. She often reminds members of the General Assembly of App State’s strong track record of providing an unparalleled, affordable, public college education while also being an excellent steward of state resources. There is a lot of excitement across the state about the Hickory campus and its potential to continue providing access to higher education, helping make the future brighter and local economies stronger.
As Nick shared in his update, he and his Facilities Operations team have been very busy, putting to good use the nine-million-dollar state budget allocation for the Phase One renovation to the Hickory campus.
As he reported, some of the most visible exterior changes include resurfacing and painting the parking lot and installing exterior signage.
As you can see from this photograph, the signage is clearly visible — especially as you drive north on Highway 321 — a clear symbol of our commitment to the area, as well as a showcase for the Boone campus.
Even as the Facilities Operations team ensures our campus in Boone stays functional, beautiful and vibrant, they are making great strides to renovate the Hickory facility. Each week there is more progress in the building.
Efforts are currently focused on the main floor, which will house the classrooms, offices, library and common areas that will be online in August.
They have pulled down wallpaper, applied fresh paint and carpet, and replaced lighting fixtures with new, energy-efficient LEDs, resulting in cost as well as energy savings. Of the first 10 classrooms, seven have been upfitted with new classroom technology.
With the first allocation of nine million dollars:
- We are spending about one-third on immediate repairs and replacements to the HVAC system, the complete changeout of the remaining building lighting to LED, and replacing the building automation and obsolete fire alarm and control system. We are also in the process of contracting with a local Hickory business to assist with the remaining first-floor renovations, including construction of three new classrooms and some basic repairs of the plumbing and electrical systems.
- About another one-third of the nine million dollars is going toward significant IT upgrades to the building — as almost none of the IT infrastructure in the building was usable for a modern academic setting. By the time classes begin in August, we will have completely replicated the student experience from the Boone campus. This will include high-speed wired and wireless access, as well as student spaces that have the latest in collaborative technology. This is a huge undertaking from our IT team, which is ensuring the Boone campus IT remains seamless even as they install all new infrastructure throughout the building.
- The remaining third of the Phase One renovation funding will be used to replace the 30-year-old roof with a new, energy-efficient membrane roof that is designed to accept future solar arrays. This work will begin in about seven weeks and will be done before the start of the fall semester.
This gives you a snapshot of the dozens of renovation activities that are going on every day here at Hickory.
As Chancellor Everts has shared with campus, she asked for additional funding in next year’s state budget — per our Six-Year Capital Plan — to begin the advanced renovations of the remaining building, to include additional classrooms and student spaces, as well as lab facilities. Work on the exterior of the building will continue by completely recladding it with energy-efficient panels to seal and control the building environment while giving the building an updated, modern exterior to last another 30 years.
Update on Our Promotional Efforts and Marketing Materials
Provost Norris’ remarks to the Hickory Campus Advisory Council included an update on our promotional efforts and marketing materials for Hickory.
As you know from Chancellor Everts’ weekly campus messages, we are actively recruiting students. These efforts include direct mail, traditional media and billboard advertising, as well as targeted digital and social media outreach — and of course our Hickory website.
We have also held several information sessions for prospective students and their families, as well as area high school guidance counselors and community college counselors. Our next information session is tomorrow night, and we’ll have an open house event on April 22.
Update on Academic Programming and Student Services
In terms of the academic programs we will offer this fall, we are working individually with each student as they apply and enroll. Our goal is to ensure they understand the quickest and most efficient path to degree completion, based on the major they decide to pursue among our more than 100 program offerings.
We will continue adding classes and degree offerings at the Hickory campus each year, with a goal of ensuring that our Hickory students can take all the classes they want to at the Hickory campus.
We have already begun offering on-site admissions and enrollment support services, including financial aid counseling and advising.
By the time classes begin in August, support services will include:
- Advisors dedicated solely to App State Hickory students,
- A library facility in this building for student use,
- Lots of study areas,
- Student recreation,
- Health care and counseling services,
- Tutoring, success coaching and career development services, and
- Technical support and computer labs.
All of these services will be available in the Hickory building, augmented by virtual connections to our campus in Boone.
We are admitting students to the Hickory campus on a rolling basis. Students are receiving their admission decisions within two weeks of completing their applications. AND, as Chancellor Everts has noted, the first 500 students will receive the $2,000 Hickory First Scholarship for their first year of attendance.
In addition to the new building, all of these efforts are creating a lot of new excitement about our presence in Hickory. The Academic Affairs team is excited about the future of App State in Hickory and about our role in helping to fulfill App State’s mission of increasing access to education for North Carolinians.
Update on Faculty Handbook and Policies
Finally, as you know, I have been engaged in the Faculty Senate’s handbook review/revision process — and would like to thank Sandie Gravett and Stella Anderson in particular. Your vote at the last meeting completes the Faculty Senate’s stage in the process.
You may be aware that the UNC System office is conducting a system-wide review of policies related to faculty. Once we have the System review in hand, Academic Affairs will continue our review of this body's recommendations regarding the App State faculty handbook. We will provide additional updates as the process progresses.
Thank you for your time.