Provost’s Remarks to Faculty Senate Monday, Dec. 5, 2022

Provost Heather Norris' Remarks to Faculty Senate


Good afternoon. It was great to see so many of you at the holiday celebration for faculty and staff last week. I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today. 

As we approach the end of 2022, I am grateful to our faculty for your steadfast commitment to App State’s mission — to deliver educational access and excellence through teaching, research and service. 

I’m proud of the milestones we’ve accomplished this fall and am confident we’ll put the finishing touches on a successful semester in the coming days.


Highlights from Recent Chancellor Message

In her newsletter Friday afternoon, Chancellor Everts summarized the remarks she made to the Board of Trustees earlier that day. 

One of the exciting topics she covered is App State’s six-year prioritized capital improvements plan. That plan includes:

  • the Walker College of Business building,

  • the Innovation District, 

  • the App State @ Hickory Campus, and 

  • the demolition and replacement of I.G. Greer Hall with a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math facility.


As she shared with the Trustees and as you know — the best biennial budget in university history allocated nearly $123 million in funding for App State’s capital, repairs, renovation and initiative support.

Wey Hall and Duncan Hall are two examples of the much-needed repairs and renovations we will be able to complete — thanks to more than $43 million included in the budget for App State. The biennial budget also included $25 million for renovations to our Peacock Hall. 

I sincerely appreciate Chancellor Everts’ tireless advocacy for our university. These capital improvements will enhance our faculty’s ability to deliver state-of-the-art educational experiences that are affordable for our students.

As a reminder, App State’s Board of Trustees meetings are always live streamed. I encourage you to watch them — where you can hear the Chancellor’s remarks in real time. You can also view the recordings and read her remarks posted on her website.


Updates on Hickory Campus Planning

At the board of Trustees meeting on Friday, I shared the following update about our academic plans for Hickory. I’d like to thank Chancellor Everts for her leadership and guidance as my academic leadership team and I have worked to develop a plan that meets the needs of the Hickory area.

We have held listening sessions with a variety of App State and Hickory community members. From those sessions, we synthesized more than 400 individual comments to date. We are truly grateful to all of these groups and individuals for the time and insights they contributed to our planning effort.


We are excited to welcome students to campus next year. In the fall:


  • High school students who want to get a 4-year degree at App State will be able to do so at the Hickory campus without paying room and board expenses.

  • Students with Associate degrees who want to earn a business degree will be able to do that on the Hickory Campus.

  • Adult learners who have started a degree but had to “stop out” of college before completing their degree will be able to take the classes they need in Hickory to graduate from App State.


We plan to expand our academic program offerings at the Hickory campus over time. Beginning in Fall 2023, we will offer:


  • Basic education courses for students who want to get an App State degree while attending classes at the Hickory campus.

  • Business classes, to include:

    • accounting, finance, information technology, management, marketing and supply chain management; 

    • a supply chain management program; and 

    • a broad-based professional studies program for those who want to design a 4-year degree, complete a degree they have begun with a specialization in business, or turn their Associate degree into a 4-year business degree.

  • Elementary education teacher preparation for those who wish to complete a degree they have begun with a specialization in teaching or turn their Associate degree into a 4-year elementary education degree.


Over time, we will expand our academic offerings to include:


  • Business courses in the areas of data analytics and financial literacy, hospitality and tourism, and more advanced accounting, information technology, marketing and management offerings.

  • Health sciences programs, including nursing, public health and social work, and programs focused on rural health care to meet the needs of the region.

  • Programs and courses offered through the Departments of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment and Applied Design/Digital Fabrication.

  • In accordance with demand, we will offer general education courses, as well as major-specific courses needed for students to complete their degrees efficiently, and for those who transfer in with Associate degrees.

  • Engineering, cybersecurity and aviation are also in our long-term discussion — and we are reviewing our current academic offerings to evaluate current courses as foundational pieces for these programs in the future.


In addition, we will offer a range of services on site at the Hickory campus. These will include admissions, advising and transfer student services, tutoring and career development, and support for students who wish to take online classes. 

We will also provide interprofessional clinical services for the area through App State’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Institute for Health and Human Services.

Our discussions about future additional services include child care and on-site student health care, performing and visual arts, a data science center, and opportunities for community and corporate engagement.


We currently have two dean searches underway. And I’m pleased to report good progress on both of them.


  • The search committee for the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences has started reviewing applications.

  • The search committee for the dean of the Cratis Williams School of Graduate Studies has been formed … and they have finalized the position description. It will be posted in the next day or two.


I also bring an update on the comprehensive travel review project that was announced earlier this fall by Vice Chancellor of Finance and Operations Dan Layzell. The university has initiated a review of all travel policies and processes with two goals:

  • first, identifying the key pain points and related issues associated with business travel, and 

  • second, developing recommendations and strategies to address them. 

The Travel Policy and Process Review Working Group has already begun its work. This working group includes representatives from our faculty, the Office of Academic Affairs, and the Office of International Education and Development among others. The group will submit its recommendations to the Vice Chancellors in the coming weeks … and then incorporate the VCs’ feedback into a final implementation plan in January. I sincerely appreciate the participation of those individuals in this important initiative.


I continue to be amazed by and grateful for the academic excellence of our faculty and students.  At Friday’s Trustees meeting, Chancellor Everts highlighted two stories that underscore the importance of the work underway by our faculty. I’d like to share those with you now.

At the fourth annual Research and Creative Activity at Appalachian event in October:


A committee of faculty members representing each academic college and University Libraries selected the recipients for their superior achievement in their fields.

In addition, this fall, three App State students and a faculty member received 2022–23 NASA-funded North Carolina Space Grants to conduct research relating to aerospace and aviation fields. Under the guidance of Dr. James Sherman, professor of physics and astronomy — senior physics major Ethan Barber and engineering physics graduate students Matthew Allen and Samuel DeMay will apply the grant’s one year of funds to enhance their research activities. Their efforts will culminate in final reports and poster presentations at the North Carolina Space Grant Symposium in 2023. 

A heartfelt congratulations to these faculty members and students for their well-deserved recognition. 

At a time of year when we pause to reflect on those things we are most grateful for — I give thanks for the outstanding faculty at App State. 

I sincerely appreciate your tireless and creative efforts:


  • to inspire our students inside and outside the classroom, 

  • to discover solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems, and 

  • to selflessly serve our campus and surrounding communities.

I wish you all a wonderful winter break.


Click here to view the slide presentation.

Published: Dec 5, 2022 4:55pm