Remarks from the 2024 Spring Faculty and Staff Meeting - February 2, 2024

Remarks from Provost Heather Hulburt Norris:

Good afternoon, and welcome to the Spring Faculty and Staff meeting!

It’s great to see everyone here today, and a special welcome to the faculty and staff joining us via livestream from the Hickory campus.

My remarks today will include updates on several areas:

  • key findings from the University of North Carolina System’s Return on Investment (ROI) study;
  • the Foundations of American Democracy project discussed at last week’s UNC System Board of Governors meeting;
  • plans for collaboration with the UNC System’s Project Kitty Hawk; and
  • the NC Innovation initiative.

As part of the update from Academic Affairs today, I’ve also asked members of my leadership team to provide information on the Academic Programming Strategic Plan, Student Success initiatives, the Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Strategic Plan and the Quality Enhancement Plan. Additionally, Associate Vice Chancellor Nick Katers will provide an update on academic facilities construction and renovations. 

I’ve also invited the Faculty Senate and Staff Senate chairs to share updates. Stella and Clint, thank you for being here today.

As we move forward together into the university’s 125th year, we have much to celebrate and much to look forward to. My leadership team and I are working to ensure that our students are successful in completing their degrees with a full slate of academic resources available to them, and that our faculty and staff have the support needed to be successful as you provide the outstanding educational experience that is a hallmark of App State.

Return on Investment Study

In November of last year, the UNC System Board of Governors discussed findings of a study to measure the return on investment for students who earn degrees at a UNC System institution. The study was commissioned by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2021. 

The study was conducted by the Higher Education practice at Deloitte Consulting and is officially called the “University of North Carolina System Evaluation of University Programs.” It estimates the financial return on investment of the current programs at each constituent institution of the UNC System — 724 undergraduate programs and 575 graduate programs across the UNC System. 

The ROI calculations isolated the additive value of a UNC degree by comparing the expected lifetime earnings of UNC graduates against the expected lifetime earnings of those without a college degree for undergraduate programs or for those with a bachelor’s degree for graduate programs — as measured by the American Community Survey. In their presentation, the consultants noted they did not measure other positive outcomes associated with earning a college degree — such as civic engagement, mental well-being and overall health — due to a lack of consistent data for those variables across UNC System Institutions.

Overall, the results shared are overwhelmingly positive and clearly demonstrate that UNC System graduates — and all North Carolina taxpayers — benefit from their public educations.

  • The median lifetime earnings of UNC System graduates holding bachelor's degrees are approximately $1.2 million — with graduates making about $500,000 more during their lifetimes compared to lifetime earnings without a degree.
  • The median lifetime earnings for graduate degrees are $2.1 million — with a median lifetime return on investment that is $938,000 over those with only bachelor’s degrees.
  • On average, students break even on their educational investment in less than 10 years.

Additional highlights worth noting from the study show that:

  • 94% of undergraduate degree programs have a positive ROI for graduates.
  • 91% of graduate degree programs have a positive ROI for graduates.
  • Nearly 90% of low-income students experience upward economic mobility.

At the end of last year, we saw national headlines showcasing the results of the study and reinforcing with empirical data much of what we know to be true: across the nation, North Carolina is known for its excellent public higher education system, and, as one of the best-funded public university systems in the country, this investment continues to pay dividends.

While this study has been several years in the works, the timing of the results is important. They come at a time when there is growing skepticism about the value of higher education — both in terms of its relevance and ROI in today’s world. The national spotlight on this ROI study made the case that a degree from a North Carolina public institution not only helps boost graduates’ lifetime ROI, it also leads to increased tax revenue, new businesses, new jobs and more philanthropic giving throughout the state.

As Chancellor Everts shared, each UNC System Chancellor received guidance last month regarding the review of some of our individual academic programs. In accordance with this guidance, each UNC System university is reviewing its ROI study results and developing action plans to address programs with low ROI results. They will then report those action plans to UNC System President Peter Hans and the Board of Governors.

It’s important to note that while the benefits are broad, the emphasis of this phase of the study is the return on investment our students are making in their educations, so the action steps recommended by the System are, appropriately, focused on student outcomes.

Recommended actions from the System include:

  • lowering the cost to students in the identified programs;
  • improving alignment between program learning outcomes and the needs of employers; and
  • providing additional career services to support students in the identified programs.

These dovetail nicely with the preliminary insights we have gained from the Academic Strategic Planning listening sessions, as well as the organizational structure changes within University College made last August, to optimize the student experience at App State — with a focus on ensuring student success and a high-quality educational experience. You’ll hear more about both of these initiatives in the upcoming presentations in a few minutes.

Last month, I shared with the Faculty Senate the work App State has underway.

We have assembled an ROI Response Committee, which is working with faculty to review the ROI study results for App State and has begun developing our action plan to report to the president and Board of Governors. That team has representatives from:

  • the Provost's Office;
  • the Deans Council;
  • Associate Deans;
  • the Council of Chairs;
  • Faculty Senate;
  • Career Development, and
  • Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning.

Vice Provost of Academic Program Development and Strategic Initiatives Mike McKenzie is managing the process to review the low-ROI programs — defined as those below zero — and develop action plans.

  • He has already spoken individually to the deans of each of our low-ROI programs — explaining the response form from the System that must be completed for each program.
  • Vice Provost McKenzie and the Deans have also met individually with the department chairs of the relevant programs — and those chairs are in the process of meeting with App State’s Career Development Center — as well as IRAP — to review and apply data these areas have that could be helpful.
  • The Chairs and faculty members of the identified programs are working together to complete response forms and then submit them to their deans. The Deans will review and approve those forms, and then they will be reviewed by the ROI Response Committee.
  • The ROI Response Committee will begin reviewing them and submit them to me.
  • I will review the final response forms with Chancellor Everts and other members of App State’s leadership team, as appropriate.
  • The final action plans for each of the low-ROI programs must be submitted in the form of a report to President Hans in March.
  • As Chancellor Everts has shared, the Board of Governors will report comprehensive results of the System institutions’ program reviews to the General Assembly in April.

UNC System Policy Update: Foundations of American Democracy Project

Another key topic of discussion by the Board of Governors that Chancellor Everts has shared with campus is regarding a proposed update to Section 400.1.5 of the UNC Policy Manual, which is more interestingly entitled the Foundations of American Democracy project.

The proposal was developed with guidance from a faculty working group that included UNC System Faculty Assembly Chair Wade Maki, as well as History and Political Science faculty members from across the UNC System.

Under this proposal, UNC System Institutions would require that students successfully complete at least three semester credit hours in foundations of American democracy as an undergraduate graduation requirement, which would include two key learning outcomes: 

  • summarize and analyze key concepts, principles, arguments and contexts in the founding documents of the American Republic, including the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers; and
  • summarize and evaluate key milestones in progress and challenges in the effort to implement the founding ideals and form “a more perfect Union,” including the arguments and contexts surrounding the Gettysburg Address, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Letter from Birmingham Jail, as well as other texts that reflect the breadth of American experiences.

The proposal includes possible exemptions, including transfer and advanced placement courses.

Earlier this week, UNC System Chancellors received a request for comment from each institution, with instructions to provide a single, combined campus response. Chair Maki will provide one, consolidated response from the UNC Faculty Assembly.

Responses are due back to the System office Feb. 14.

We expect the Board of Governors to continue their discussion of the proposal during the Committee on Educational Planning, Policies and Programs, and hold a vote of the full board at their April meeting.

Under the leadership of Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Mark Ginn, I’ve created a working group that includes representation from First Year Seminar and General Education, as well as the Departments of History and Government and Justice Studies, and Faculty Senate. This group is evaluating options for meeting the proposed criteria, with an expected implementation date of fall 2025.

Collaboration with the UNC System’s Project Kitty Hawk

You may recall that, in 2018, Chancellor Everts co-chaired the Higher Education Task Force for myFutureNC. This broad range of key educational stakeholders examined the state’s current and projected workforce needs and launched a statewide conversation about economic competitiveness, workforce development and educational attainment. The result was a goal of 2 million North Carolinians gaining a high-quality credential or post-secondary degree by 2030. It quickly became apparent that to meet this goal, colleges and universities in the state must attract adult learners.

In 2021, the state budget passed by the North Carolina General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Cooper appropriated $97 million to launch Project Kitty Hawk. This project was designed as a full-scale resource to help UNC System institutions better attract, retain and meet the needs of adult learners over the age of 25 through workforce-aligned, online education.

Last year at around this time, a delegation from Project Kitty Hawk, hosted by Chancellor Everts, shared information about their goals and the resources they could make available to UNC System institutions.

As the program became more established statewide, a number of additional meetings have taken place with university leadership, including Vice Chancellors, Deans, Associate Deans and Program Directors of areas that have shown interest, as well as alignment, with the goals of Project Kitty Hawk.

Later this month, we will again host a group that includes Project Kitty Hawk implementation experts, as well as members of the UNC System senior leadership team, for a two-day visit. We’re looking forward to further exploring strategic opportunities for expanding online enrollment for nontraditional learners who are currently not enrolled — or who are enrolled with out-of-state providers — in App State programs.

NC Innovation Project Update

Last April, Chancellor Everts hosted a group from NCInnovation, a not-for-profit, rural economic development and research support initiative. The NCInnovation group is made up of academic, financial and philanthropic leaders who are working with UNC System institutions to develop and optimize innovation networks — connecting academia, industry and entrepreneurs regionally.

In October, representatives from NCInnovation returned to the Boone campus for a follow-up visit with members of the academic leadership team. Interim Vice Provost of Research and Innovation Christine Hendren led a daylong session that included tours of our research facilities, presentations by faculty and a robust discussion of current research and innovation projects and their potential for securing funding and creating partnerships.

This group has expressed an interest in developing a closer partnership with App State, and Interim Vice Provost of Research and Innovation Christine Hendren is taking the lead on this, facilitating more connections with this group, as well as guiding additional project concepts and collaborations.

This ties directly into our Strategic Plan for Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities. You’ll hear more from Interim Vice Provost Hendren about this plan shortly.

Accreditation Update

Before I turn the podium over to Senior Vice Provost Specht for an Academic Strategic Planning update, I want to note that representatives from our accrediting body — the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges — will be visiting campus in early March. As a member institution seeking continued accreditation, we are in the process of a reaffirmation committee review. Part of this process includes the implementation of a Quality Enhancement Plan, which you’ll hear more about from Vice Provost McKenzie in a bit.

Thank you.


Remarks from Senior Vice Provost Neva Specht:

Thank you, Provost Norris.

Good Afternoon.

I’m offering an update regarding the Academic Affairs Strategic Plan.

Associate Vice Provost and Dean of the Cratis School of Graduate Studies, Ashley Colquitt, and I were charged by the provost this fall to develop a process for collecting ideas, thoughts and wants about the future of academic affairs over the next three, five and 10 years and then creating a draft Strategic Plan for Academic Affairs through a collaborative process.

During the fall, culminating with a final session in January, we completed 12 listening sessions attended by 140 faculty and staff members on both the Boone and Hickory campuses and online. Those sessions were very interactive, and we came away with many great ideas, suggestions and questions.

Ashley and I created a preliminary set of strategic directions using the materials gleaned from the listening sessions.

So far, we have shared preliminary information with the deans, vice provosts and Council of Chairs, as well as an update from the Provost last week to the Faculty Senate.

We used these prompts during the listening sessions to begin understanding from the faculty and staff what will be needed for students, faculty and staff in the coming years.

We touched on skills students will need for future student success, new types of programs that we should consider, how our own disciplines will evolve, and how we will keep up with new technologies such as AI. We also asked about resources, training and the barriers and hurdles that must be overcome. I would like to note, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for Student Success (CETLSS), with its reorganization two years ago, will have an important role in working with faculty as teaching and learning evolve. For example, CETLSS has been coordinating workshops on AI since January 2023.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to these listening sessions for your time and engagement in those sessions.

Finally, as we continue to work on the strategic plan, these are the next steps:

  • more discussion with deans, department chairs, faculty and Academic Affairs staff;
  • review strategic directions and begin to create and finalize action items; and
  • review the plan and roll it out by the summer of 2024.

Please look out for future messages about how you can contribute to the Academic Affairs Strategic Plan.

Thank you.


Remarks from Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Mark Ginn:

Good afternoon, all. I am delighted to be here this afternoon to talk to you about a topic that is near and dear to almost all that I do: student success.

Whenever I am asked to speak about student success, I like to begin with this question, “What is Student Success?” Ultimately, the true measure of student success is “how well students are prepared to accomplish their current and future academic, personal and professional goals.” Hopefully most, if not all, of what we do is designed to help our students meet this definition of success. One of the challenges with this definition is that to measure how well we are meeting it, we have to see how successful our students are at meeting their future goals, and that is both hard to do and takes years to measure. 

As a result, the student success “industry” has come up with several proxy measures that allow us to measure how we are doing in a shorter time frame. As you can see, most of these revolve around helping students progress toward a college degree, hopefully here at App State, but if not, a degree from somewhere is usually seen as the goal. I guess the unspoken part, that is really harder to measure, is the value of the degree once a student gets it. Provost Norris talked about the ROI study which is one attempt at measuring that, but I will let others lead that discussion.

One of the nice things about looking at these metrics is we tend to stack up pretty well against others when looking at them. We are well above national averages in virtually all of them, and are third in the UNC System in four-, five- or six-year graduation rates and first-to-second year retention rates, far outpacing many schools and only lagging behind the two flagship institutions. So please congratulate yourselves on the great job that you do in helping our students to successfully complete college. 

While that is great, I assure you that now is not the time to rest on our laurels. For one reason, the UNC System’s funding formula now bases some of the funding on how we do on these metrics, and while we do great in comparison to other institutions, they compare us to ourselves in the funding formula, so we have to show improvement.  

In case you haven’t noticed, students are changing. Nearly all of our current students were either high school or college students though the pandemic, and in case you didn’t know it, all of the students behind them were as well. At a national level there are well documented learning deficits in today's high school graduates. According to ACT scores by subject area, between 5% and 8% fewer high school grads are prepared to be successful in college level classes in 2023 than just four years earlier in 2019. This deficit seems about the same in eighth graders based on the i-Ready math test and is even larger among fourth graders on that test. So, the learning deficit is real and doesn’t seem to be going away. We have to think about ways to help. After all, it’s not the students’ fault that they may have learning deficits caused by COVID schooling.

So, what can we do about it? How can we affect student success? How can we help students make up for their learning deficits?

A first step in analyzing this question is to consider why students leave the university without a degree.   

The answers to that question are varied. Last spring, Joseph Jakubek’s Applied Sociology Seminar did an analysis of the Intent Not To Return forms submitted by App State students when they left over the last few years. I will go into some detail about those results at our Spring All Advisors meeting, but for now let me just say that nationally, the top five reasons are stress, mental health concerns, cost of attendance, academic difficulties, and skepticism of career value.  

So, what can we do to help?

This slide is a typed up version of what was scribbled on the marker board in my office a few summers ago in an attempt to think of what we, mainly in Academic Affairs, can do to help our students be more successful.

Hopefully, if you look at this chart you can see yourself somewhere. First, for almost all of us at least a part if not all of our jobs are to help our students to be successful.  According to the literature, a big step forward in that can be in giving our students a sense of belonging here at App State and a sense of belief that they can be successful.  I like to tell students at orientation that if they have that belief, and work with us to develop the skills they will need to be successful, they all can be. And if it seems hard, that may just mean they are doing it right!

We can also look at the policies we place on students and think about which ones are really necessary to achieve our goals, and if they aren’t necessary, get rid of them. In the last few years, we have gotten rid of policies that students must have 50 hours at a senior institution and that their last 30 hours have to be at App State, policies that the vast majority of our students achieve but that we would waive for some that didn’t. We have asked our Undergraduate Advising Council to continue looking at other policies that might slow down a student unnecessarily, or even cause them to leave and see if we can’t make them less draconian. We must consider our curricula, curricular structure, prerequisites, teaching methods, even our assignments — are they clear?  Are we giving students feedback clearly and frequently in a manner that they are accustomed to? Do we let students know about career options in their disciplines? Are we helping them attain job skills they can recognize as helpful and apply early and often? (Remember, one reason they leave is perceived lack of career options.) If they are struggling, what are the resources we have to help? How can we reach out to the people who can help and let them know about students who are struggling? I can keep going all day …

But then I would get booed for going on too long. So, I will close by pointing you to resources on this topic. My colleague, Dr. Shernita Lee, our Assistant Vice Provost for Student Success, has put together this website,, to help you and your students learn about the resources we have on campus to help them be successful.  

If you want to learn more about how to reach today's students in the classroom, I encourage you to talk to the people in CETLSS, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for Student Success. And if you want to hear more about this topic and other issues in advising, I invite you to the All Advisors Meeting in two and a half weeks.

Thank you for your time, and thanks for all you do to make our students successful!


Remarks from Interim Vice Provost for Research and Innovation Christine Hendren:

As the Provost mentioned, last fall we shared App State’s first Strategic Plan for Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities or “RSCA.” Rooted in the University Strategic Plan, the Strategic Plan for RSCA was created through an iterative and inclusive process informed by a broad range of campus stakeholders as well as external reviews from two leading national professional organizations in research development and administration.

What emerged was a universitywide Strategic Plan for RSCA, with implementation coordinated out of the Office of Research and Innovation, but importantly, with distributed agency and engagement in research, scholarship and creative activities throughout all of App State. As you may have seen, the plan is organized by Goals, drilling down to Strategies, Action Items, and specific Recommendations, which we expect to expand with your input throughout the plan’s implementation.

Information about the implementation of the strategic plan can be found on the RSCA Implementation webpage, linked in my email from Tuesday, Jan. 30. In the implementation document, you will find all of the goals, strategies, action items and recommendations of the strategic plan for RSCA organized into priority areas and aligned to the four years of implementation timeline.

You will also find Year 1 implementation priorities shared in detail.

Because the implementation of App State’s RSCA Strategic Plan is designed to be a dynamic and engaging process, this effort will advance and evolve in collaboration with campus partners and individual contributors. We will communicate opportunities for engagement in the process throughout and will share annual updates and detailed implementation priorities at the beginning of each year of the plan.

Today I’ll share three opportunities for ways you can engage with the plan, by inviting me to a meeting you’re already having, proposing an area of excellence, and providing direct feedback and personal context on the plan and its implementation.

As Interim Vice Provost for Research and Innovation, I will be glad to schedule a visit to a department or unit meeting you are already having to discuss the plan, and to understand your questions and RSCA support needs. You can follow this first QR code to make a meeting request.

You can also directly provide feedback on the strategic plan and its implementation — as mentioned, this is a living document and we hope you will add your own recommendations, tell us about your successes and where you may already be having impact in these priority areas, and volunteer to participate directly. You can follow this second QR code to reach the feedback form.

Finally, we are excited to invite your submissions for “Areas of Excellence.” This is a call for you to express areas of established or emerging strength where App State research, scholarship and creative activities make us shine and where we either already lead or stand poised to lead. There are two tracks — one to propose areas of distinction or prominence in an area of study or discipline, and one to propose critical topics, likely spanning multiple disciplines, which App State is well positioned to address.

This call will remain open until May 2, to allow groups of colleagues across the university to collaborate and contribute to the collective articulation of App State’s RSCA identity, helping tell the powerful story of who we are and illuminate what big things we can make happen together.

Thank you.


Remarks from Vice Provost of Academic Program Development and Strategic Initiatives Mike McKenzie:

Good afternoon. I am here to talk briefly with you about our Quality Enhancement Plan, or QEP. As Provost Norris mentioned, as part of our SACSCOC accreditation, we must perform a QEP. The topic selected was climate literacy, and our QEP is named Pathways to Resilience. I want to thank our partners at UComm for our official QEP logo, and we will soon have a website we will share with you with more information.

At this time, we have two main QEP Committees. The QEP Advisory Council is a group of 20 campus leaders from faculty and staff who will help the QEP succeed by working with units and departments under their purview.

The QEP Implementation Committee is about 50 faculty, staff and student champions.  These folks are really the ones committed to the QEP and its success and are advocating for it within their units. As a side note, we have an interest in adding more students, so if you know a student who may be a good addition or if you yourself are interested in becoming a champion, I’d love to hear from you.

As you can see, QEP leadership has been on an extensive outreach campaign. Meetings have occurred with faculty, staff and student leadership groups on both the Boone and Hickory campuses. In the current spring semester, we would love to have conversations with interested campus academic departments about how to incorporate the QEP into your curriculum.

As an unofficial kickoff, we will welcome world-renowned scientist Dr. Britt Wray from Stanford. Dr. Wray will be here April 25 and 26, as you see on the slide. I’d like to highlight her public talk on April 25 at 6 p.m., currently in the Blue Ridge Ballroom in the Union. Dr. Wray is a leading researcher on combating climate change while maintaining mental health. Changing climate anxiety into climate agency is important, and I believe Dr. Wray will bring valuable lessons for us all. I’d like to publicly thank all the sponsors you see listed here who are making it possible for us to bring Dr. Wray to Boone.

If you have specific ideas or questions about the QEP, you can always reach out to me directly, or Shea Tuberty, the QEP Director, or Laura England, the QEP Associate Director.

Thank you for your time and attention on this important topic.


Remarks from Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities Management Nick Katers: 

Good afternoon. It is my pleasure today to give you just a snapshot of some of the 40 capital projects we have underway worth almost $350 million in active planning and construction. 

We have started and completed more projects in the last three to four years than App State did in the previous 10 years. For many years, this campus did not get the capital attention it needed. Chancellor Everts’ advocacy changed all that and brought millions to the campus and began to address the backlog of deferred maintenance for our beautiful campus. There is also much credit due to the office of Planning, Design and Construction, led by Jeff Pierce, for taking the vision and turning it into reality.

I am going to take a different approach today. Rather than showing pretty PowerPoint slides, I am going to take you through a brief look at the website and how we report our construction progress. Daniel Lightfoot is going to navigate the website while I talk.

From the main page you will go to the Future site and then go down the page until you see Building the Physical Infrastructure.

Once you get here, you are able to look at the latest updates for the current projects as well as the major projects that have just completed. Each current project link will have a summary and status of the project, the latest pictures, how it is funded and other key metrics.

Today we are going to hit on just a few of the major projects that are underway.

As we all know, App State Hickory opened last August for the very first time. We have put the original $9 million in state funding to great use to transform this building from corporate offices to state-of-the-art academic spaces.

The first floor is fully functional with a new health sciences center, library, 10 new classrooms along with student spaces and faculty and staff offices.

We have resurfaced the entire parking area and completely replaced the roof and made it ready for solar in the near future.

We are currently working on the first phase of the second floor and will have a general science lab, a computer lab and a cybersecurity lab to open in the fall of ’24 with the rest of the second floor done for the fall of ’25.

The legislature has provided us with an additional $41 million beginning in July ’24 and over the next four years to complete the transformation of this building. 

Our boldest project is the Innovation District on the site of the old Broyhill Inn. This includes a public-private partnership along with Radnor Property Group and Harrison Street Investments.

Phase one of this concept includes a state-funded academic building and a faculty staff housing area all tied together with a zero-carbon energy district. The housing and energy district are being financed completely with private equity. The energy district will consist of new wind, solar and geothermal technologies to heat, cool and power the entire district. This is truly innovative within the UNC System and has the secondary goal of being an incubator for energy research. 

The faculty and staff housing component of the Innovation District will create 156 new units which help meet App’s housing needs and begin to overcome the shortage of non-student housing and help attract new faculty and staff to Boone. Construction began last June with faculty and staff moving in before the fall of 2025.

The academic building will be called the Conservatory for Biodiversity Education and Research and is the third component of the Innovation District. It will be a new 50,000-square-foot academic building being funded by a $54 million appropriation from the state but still integrated into the energy district. 

The conservatory will be a real showpiece for the university and occupy the old footprint of the Broyhill Inn. It will have three different climate zones, classrooms and meeting spaces and a full suite of biology research laboratories.

Facing south from the conservatory will be research and public outdoor gardens for the entire community to enjoy. This building will be the first public academic research building in the state to be built to the Living Building standard. Local contractor Green Construction will partner with Charlotte-based Muter Construction to bring this building to life. Construction on this building began last summer with completion in the fall of 2025.

The Holmes Convocation Parking Deck is well underway to greatly improve the parking congestion on campus. This new 600-car deck being built as a design/build project by New Atlantic Construction is being built on the site of the old surface lot behind Holmes.  Construction is right at 50% today and on schedule for completion by the fall of 2024.

Kenneth Peacock Hall is home to the largest undergraduate college of business in the UNC System. They have literally outgrown their walls. App State has received $40 million in state funding to add onto this 33-year-old building. The design calls for the addition to expand out from the plaza and into the Peacock Lot. This will provide numerous new classrooms, labs and special use areas to allow the growing college space for years to come. As we continue to work through the design, we have selected Vannoy Construction to be the builder. This is the first of three steps to accomplish the goal of daylighting the Boone Creek. We are working concurrently with the Town of Boone and the Army Corps of Engineers to complete a daylighting study of the Boone Creek that will allow us to replace the parking areas lost with a future deck and open the creek. This will be an exciting change to the campus creating new green spaces and greatly improving our stormwater management.

Wey Hall is home to the art department. This 54,000-square-foot building was built in 1976 and is the oldest building on campus that has never been renovated. The state has provided $21 million in funding to give this building all new studios, labs and a new external elevator tower. 

The most exciting part includes a premier art gallery that will really allow us to showcase the work of our students. The second and third floors are already under renovation and the first floor will begin at the end of the current academic semester.

Renovations will be complete in the summer of 2025.

Edwin Duncan Hall is a 98,000-square-foot building built in 1965 and is the former home of the College of Education. Our state funding of this renovation will allow it to become the new home of the College of Fine and Applied Arts for many years to come. The renovation will include a complete exterior facelift and a restructure of the interior floor plan to allow for more modern classrooms and offices for the college. Charlotte architect McMillian Pazdan Smith is providing the inspiration and local builder Vannoy Construction will do the work. Vannoy Construction recently finished the total renovation of Sanford Hall.

Renovation is underway and will be completed in the summer of 2025.

This is just a snapshot of the over 40 active projects we have going on across campus.  There are links on this page to recently completed projects that I would normally brag about, but I have limited time. The other big action of great interest is the kickoff of the new Campus Master Plan, which got rolling earlier today. We will be reaching out soon to pull in all the various constituents from campus to make this a meaningful and visionary plan for App’s Future.

Thank you.


Remarks from Provost Heather Norris:

Thank you to the Vice Provosts, Associate Vice Chancellor Katers and the Faculty and Staff Senate Chairs for your participation in today’s presentations. Before I close today’s meeting, I’d like to highlight just a few points of distinction that underscore the important work we do every day to transform lives and communities in our region, state and beyond.

This spring, App State’s online Bachelor of Science degree in veterinary technology program will graduate members of its first cohort. The four-year program, which launched in fall 2022, is designed to benefit veterinary professionals, animals and the broader industry. It was developed through a partnership between App State and Banfield Pet Hospital — the leading provider of preventive veterinary care in the U.S. and part of the Mars Veterinary Health family of practices. As part of the partnership, Banfield made a multimillion-dollar commitment toward the development of the veterinary technology degree program at App State. 

The latest rankings of several notable publications affirm that the Walker College of Business is a national — and international — leader in preparing the business executives of tomorrow. The largest undergraduate business school in the UNC System has been named a “Best Business School” by the Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report and CEO Magazine for its in-person and online undergraduate and MBA programs.

For the eighth consecutive year, Appalachian State University leads the nation for its number of alumni who are National Board Certified Teachers. App State was first on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ list of “Top 50 Alma Maters” for 2023, with more than 2,300 alumni earning the national credential to date. The certification is achieved through a performance-based assessment that typically takes one-to-three years to complete. North Carolina continues to lead the nation in the number of teachers who have become board certified, accounting for nearly 24% of all teachers nationally who are National Board-certified — thanks in large part to App State alumni!

As is the case with so many of our academic programs, the College of Fine and Applied Arts has award-winning students and faculty. One example is App State’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, which secured first place in the 2023 Mountain Man Memorial March, marking the eighth consecutive year the program has won the competition. The event — which consists of team and individual, heavy and light and full and half marathon marches — has more than 300 participants each year who honor the nation’s fallen service members and their Gold Star families. App State brought four teams to the 2023 competition, three men’s teams and one women’s team, as well as many individual racers.

This fall, App State’s Beaver College of Health Sciences will welcome students to two new master’s degree programs: the in-personMaster of Science in occupational therapy program and the online Master of Public Health program. The OT program will help address a critical lack of occupational therapists in Western North Carolina. Currently, only three public universities in the state offer a comprehensive, entry-level clinical degree in OT. The MPH program will develop new generations of leaders ready to respond to public health needs through service and capacity building in rural North Carolina. In collaboration with state and regional partners, it will also support local public health efforts, with a goal of advancing health outcomes for underserved communities. 

In the Hayes School of Music, students helped install a new Dolby Atmos immersive sound system in the Robert F. Gilley Recording Studio. The experience offered students an opportunity to learn about a technology that is becoming a prominent force in a variety of professions. This is just one example of the hands-on experience they are gaining with state-of-the-art technology that will help prepare them for a future in a rapidly advancing music industry. 

This academic year marks the 39th anniversary of App State’s Chancellor’s Scholars Program. The university’s oldest and most academically competitive merit-based scholarship is designed for students with ambitious academic goals, and Chancellor’s Scholars must also be admitted to the Honors College. Since its establishment, this four-year program of study has supported hundreds of students, covering full institutional costs. Chancellor’s Scholars are provided with numerous classroom and experiential research opportunities, as well as academic mentoring in a living-learning community and study abroad opportunities. Typically, 10 first-year students receive the scholarship each academic year.    

App State’s University Libraries’ Makerspace was utilized nearly 10,000 times by students, faculty and staff in 2023, who took advantage of the various fabrication tools available for projects. Additionally, students were able to check out 19,000 tech items, including iPads, MacBooks and digital cameras — resulting in more than $6 million in avoided costs. And a new 3-D scanning service has facilitated full digitization of many special collection items, including the Merlefest archives — which trace the history of Appalachia through music and culture — allowing for greater public access.

App State’s Williams School of Graduate Studies is among the best in the nation for 2023-24, according to U.S. News & World Report and its latest “Best Graduate Schools” rankings. The rankings are based on expert opinions about program excellence, and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school’s faculty, research and students. The Master in Public Administration, Master in Business Administration and Master of Social Work programs were specifically noted in the rankings.

As we adjourn, please carry these points of pride, as well as the many, many others we didn’t have time to highlight today, with you. We all share in these accomplishments and you can find and share them at!

Please be sure to join us for the reception, where we’ll be available to answer questions and continue conversations about what you’ve heard here today.

This concludes today’s meeting. Thank you for joining us!

Published: Feb 2, 2024 5:29pm