Update from Provost Norris - April 12, 2024

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

I had this message planned for yesterday, but in light of the stabbing incident that took place outside Peacock Hall, I postponed sending it. Our thoughts are with the injured student and everyone who was affected. Please know full information about the event and resources are posted at appstatealert.com, and additional resources are listed below.

On Monday, I met with the Faculty Senate and shared academic updates related to the Hickory campus, faculty salaries, Wey Hall, emerging LGBTQ+ concerns, campus free expression space and expected Board of Governors policy revisions. Student Body President J.P. Neri and Study Body Vice President Margaret-Ann Littauer, as well as Graduate Senate Government Association President Alby Clendennin were there representing their student constituents. The Faculty Senate passed a resolution that was sent to my office on Tuesday afternoon, and I understand it is being circulated to faculty.

You can read my full remarks to the Faculty Senate here. I’d like to share three key updates related to my remarks with you.

Wey Hall

You may be aware of recent safety concerns and associated actions taken related to Wey Hall. I want to thank the student, faculty member, and department chair for their action in reporting these concerns. As a result, the university was able to take swift action to close the building, investigate, take action and, after multiple independent inspections, safely reopen the building with additional oversight in place.

I want to also thank Dean Campbell for her leadership and advocacy for the Art Department students, faculty and staff. In her messages and personal interactions with Art Department students, faculty and staff, Dean Campbell shared a sincere and heartfelt apology and explained the immediate steps the university took to ensure building safety following the failure of contractor personnel to follow the established safety plan. She also arranged for a dedicated webpage to serve as a central location for sharing updated and accurate information.

It bears repeating that we take the concerns raised about safety and the educational experience of our students very seriously, and we remain dedicated to finding solutions that ensure the best possible academic experience for our students while we complete the renovation of the building. We are actively engaged with the Art Department regarding planning for next semester. Yesterday, Vice Provost Mike McKenzie, Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities Management Nick Katers, Dean Campbell and Associate Dean Jason Miller met with Wey Hall faculty and staff to discuss facilities for next semester. Next week, they will meet with the full Department of Art faculty and staff; then they will share the results of these meetings more broadly with students.

At the request of Dean Campbell, Academic Affairs is dedicating additional investments so she can facilitate high-impact, additive experiences that go beyond the facilities to continue to achieve the department's mission of "cultivating students’ abilities to see, think and respond in visually creative manners through involvement with a broad range of practical and theoretical issues.”

LGBTQ+ Emerging Concerns

I also spoke in Monday’s Faculty Senate meeting to some of the emerging concerns that have come up regarding members of our LGBTQ+ community.

I want to be very clear about one concern that has been raised: There is absolutely no concerted effort at App State to terminate LGBTQ+ employees. Per North Carolina law, the university does not collect or maintain LGBTQ+ status in employment records. App State also has a clear nondiscrimination policy.

When any employee is discharged from employment, regardless of their classification, they are provided with information on how to file a grievance concerning the discontinuation of their employment. Employee separations, whether voluntary or involuntary, can impact members of our campus community, particularly if they were part of our underrepresented communities. If there are faculty, staff or students looking for support, we encourage reaching out for campus resources. I’ve listed some of those below.

Regarding the Spring Fest activities that took place last week, I shared with the Faculty Senate a recent communication from Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs J.J. Brown to students regarding the event series, affirming that the Student Affairs Division is committed to continued conversations regarding name and programming for next year.

Free Expression Space

Vice Chancellor Brown’s recent communications to students have also included information about a Free Expression Space on campus, and he has committed to taking the responses from our students into account as we move forward.

This week, he began a series of meetings and listening sessions with a volunteer working group, who want to participate in finding a solution for a physical location for free expression on our campus. Led by Jamie Parson and Jeff Cathey, the university’s designated Free Speech Officers, this group will engage in discussions regarding engagement in options for free expression. Meetings and listening sessions will continue throughout the semester and beyond as needed.

Next Steps

I’ll continue my meetings with faculty and will be joining Vice Chancellor Brown in meetings with students and student leaders. I’ll also be working with my colleagues and leadership team to provide additional opportunities for dialogue, and will share updates as we move forward. 

In closing, I want to be clear  we are unequivocally committed to the success of our students and we recognize their individualized needs.

I am proud to be part of a university community in which we all share in the commitment to support our students. Necessarily, our support looks different given the various roles we hold.  I want to especially thank our faculty and staff whose roles allow them to interact with our students each and every day. Your work with our students is what allows us to carry out our mission of educational access and excellence, and to foster a caring community of extraordinary, dedicated educators and learners.

I’ve shared a list of resources below that are available to faculty, staff and students.


Free Speech Responsible Officers

Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Plan and Policy

Henderson Springs LGBTQ+ Center

Student Health Service

AppCares Resources website

University Tutoring Services

Academic Strategy Instruction

University Writing Center

University Ombuds Office

Office of Diversity

Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for Student Success

Counseling Center for Students

Employee Wellness

Employee Assistance Program

Published: Apr 12, 2024 3:01pm