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An Interview with Chancellor Sheri Noren Everts – Courtesy of HighCountryLivingNC

Editor’s Note: The following article comes courtesy of HighCountryLivingNC.com. Piedmont Federal Savings Bank unveiled the new website, highcountrylivingnc.com, in August to help potential High Country homebuyers become more aquainted with the area. The website fills a niche, providing information not for tourists, but for those who want to make the High Country their home. The user-friendly website includes must-know information, anecdotes about the area, photographs and a section dedicated to real estate. Visit the website for yourself here.

Dec. 11, 2014. A cold wind is blowing through the valley in Boone that Appalachian State University calls home as we arrive for our interview with Chancellor Sheri Noren Everts. In the reception area, we notice two students leaving Everts’ office. They are excited and talking with one another as they leave. We make a note to ask Everts about the students.

Within a minute of our seeing the students leave, Chancellor Everts welcomes us into her office. She has a relaxed, but on-task demeanor. Having taught at middle school, high school and university levels early in her career, Everts knows something about using every minute wisely. She has worked in university administration for 14 years, serving most recently as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Illinois State University.

ChancellorEverts 2A Native of Nebraska, Everts jokes good naturedly with us about our comments regarding the cool fall day.

“Today is not cold,” Everts said smiling. “In Nebraska, we have two seasons: summer and winter. Boone has four distinct seasons, all of them beautiful. The sunrises and sunsets here are really something to behold. I’ve already asked neighbors if you ever grow accustomed to them. The heartfelt answer is ‘no.’ This area really becomes a part of the students. Time and time again, I am hearing how much graduates welcome their opportunities to be back in Boone for visits and some of them for longer. It’s not hard to see why.”

Settling into the conversation, we ask Chancellor Everts about her early experiences at Appalachian State.

“Very early on, I recall many people greeting me by simply saying, ‘Welcome Home,'” said Everts. “The warmth in that phrase and the manner in which it was delivered put me at ease. Appalachian State University is a special place with a charm all its own. Even beyond the university, the people of Boone have been so welcoming to my husband, Jay, and me. With their help, we have gotten acclimated quickly.”

The greater Boone area is known for its lifestyle, beautiful surroundings and friendly people. We asked about Everts’ favorite venues.

“Jay and I really enjoy going out and exploring, but we have not had much time to do so yet,” she said. “Earlier this fall, we spent fifteen minutes on the Blue Ridge Parkway; just long enough for us to be intrigued but not nearly enough time. We’ll be back there soon. Time is tight, but I would not have it any other way. One area where we have had early experience is with the great restaurants in Boone and the surrounding area. There are so many, each with its particular specialty and unique style.”

Not wanting to forget about the two students that we had seen just earlier leaving Everts’ office, we ask if she could share something about that meeting. Everts smiled brightly and proceeded to spend more time on this question about students than any other question we ask.

“Both individuals are leaders in student government,” Everts said. “Their enthusiasm and ideas are just extraordinary. The meeting was a follow up discussion regarding how we as a University can ensure that students from under-represented groups or segments of our student Selfiepopulation can be better represented and heard. The two student leaders were asked to develop ideas to help in this area. I was really humbled by the strength of their thinking and the spirit that they brought to the effort. Students tend to be free thinkers and good problem solvers. It’s really about entrepreneurialism. The two individuals that you saw leaving my office are perfect examples of that. The continual dialogue with students is so important in university administration and development.”

Everts is an award-winning educator with quite varied technique teaching and university leadership experiences with progressively higher levels of responsibility. We asked about those varied experiences and how they have impacted her career.

“Actually, there is a lot in common with the overall process of teaching at different levels. It’s all about preparing students to transition to successively higher levels of education and capability. In my career, I have worked to transition from position to position in order to have a positive impact on more and more students. They are the focus of education and my career.”

Everts became chancellor in July 2014. A few months into the chancellor role, we asked what she can tell us about her plans for the University.

“One of the most important things that I have been doing is listening. Listening to what students, faculty, alumni, and community members love about the University and would never want to see changed. I have really enjoyed hearing the stories from people regarding how the University has impacted them and how they love this place and the time that they spend here. We have a clear focus on excellence in education here at Appalachian State, a service learning experience for students, and research opportunities throughout the University. We are also clearly mindful of bridging the transition from the university to careers.”

Every profession seems to have a significantly expanding body of knowledge. We asked Everts what is most important for students to take away from an undergraduate experience.

“When thinking about undergraduate education, I often come back to the phrase, know what to do when you don’t know what to do. I think it is so applicable to education. We need to teach our students to think critically while developing confidence so that they can reason through options and challenges in order to make good decisions. Lifelong learning is clearly important as well. Our staff here at the University models that continuing education and development process for students.”

We couldn’t leave a university campus without asking Everts about what books she has been reading.

“I love to read. At times I am reading as many as ten books. I keep them around me in various rooms and with me at all times so that I can fill any downtime with reading. Last night I was reading, Think Like a Freak. And I have to say that while the tablets and e-readers definitely have their place, I am still partial to books. They’re easier to leave in all of those places for quick reading opportunities.”

Think Like a Freak is by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. In summary the book is about how to think more productively, creatively, and rationally.

A few months into her tenure here at Appalachian State, we asked what Everts would most like for people in the University and greater Boone area to know about her.

I want everyone to know how thankful Jay and I are for the warm welcome we have received here at the University and in the community. It has made a real impact on us and we are really grateful.

We draw the interview to a close mindful of Chancellor Everts’ schedule. She wishes us well and encourages us to get involved at Appalachian State emphasizing the importance of a partnership between the University and the community. A quick look back reveals Everts already back at her desk working intently at her PC.