By Madison Fisler Lewis
Oct. 10, 2014. Appalachian State University’s Chancellor Sheri N. Everts addressed the community during a Wake Up Watauga broadcast this morning from the Daniel Boone Inn at 8:20 a.m. More than 50 community members attended the event, including Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, where the chancellor introduced herself to the High Country and spoke about Appalachian, its connection to the community and her priorities for the future.
Dan Meyer, president of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, introduced Everts.
“It is my pleasure to be able to introduce our new chancellor at ASU,” Meyer said.”The university represents 50 percent of our economy. One third of Watauga residents are affiliated in some with with the university…Our best product in the High Country? Graduates who go out and sell the univesrity, who sell the community. What would we be without App State? She [Everts] has been a listener, that has facilitated her introduction into the community.
“Education is big stuff here in the High Country and our chamber is delighted to promote that. When Sheri came, she said she could identify with Boone because she was from Nebraska and they have football and corn. I said ‘well, we have football, but we drink our corn!’ Everyone I have talked to, faculty, staff, students, have just loved the way Dr. Everts has blended it and picked up the baton and is running with it. I am delighted that Dr. Everts could be here with us. Let’s give a warm welcome to our new chancellor.”
Everts took the stage after a lengthy round of applause, and thanked the Chamber of Commerce for hosting the event.
“Thank you really, so much for the privilege of sharing a bit about me, who I am and why I am so pleased to be working with the great students, alumni, faculty and staff,” Everts said.
” I am a literacy scholar, a faculty member, former middle and high school English teacher, reader, writer, first generation student and graduate. I have learned firsthand the value of higher education.”
After acknowledging that Appalachian has many challenges to face, Everts applauded her colleagues at the university.
“A university campus is an amazing place of confluence, where great leaders and ideas emerge for the betterment of society,” Everts said.
“Our university has a core academic mission and we are recognized nationally as a leader in education. Our faculty is to be applauded and rewarded, Appalachian has built a strong foundation of academic excellence. This intersection of classroom learning and real-world experience is a very powerful education combination. I truly believe that this partnership of campus and community has also contributed to Boone being named one of the top ten safest cities in North Carolina.”
Everts continued on to speak about ASU’s transition into the Sun Belt Conference and what it means for the community.
“It means more opportunities for our student athletes, and that is exactly what they are – students first,” Everts said. “Athletics can play a valuable role in supporting our academic mission. This increased visibility can help group a pool of prospective students.”
After speaking for a few minutes on the arts at ASU, Everts addressed her current priorities for the university that will extend out into the community as well.
“Many of you have asked about my goals and priorities for Appalachian,” she said. “I am intentionally spending these initial months listening and learning,”
Her stated priorities include the following:
Health and Safety
“The safety and health of our students is of the highest priority for me and our campus. A safe and healthy environment is key for our students’ ability to focus on their education. I commend Appalachian’s leadership on this important work and support the collaboration with our UNC colleagues.”
“Appalachian’s leadership in sustainability is also known nationally. Our three-branched approach asks us to consider if actions are sustainable economically, environmentally and equitably. These three areas often intersect to create a deep and rich sustainability.”
“Another emerging priority is diversity. I feel at home on a campus that lists promoting and valuing diversity in our strategic plan and works to alter those numbers in that regard.”
“The crucial role that Appalachian can play with access to health care in our community is another priority that has become evident. The College of Health Sciences has seen phenomenal growth, the number of majors has almost doubled since 2008…Funding this building is critical to the university’s future and will take creative planning and private research to accomplish.”
Everts explained that even though she has risen through the ranks, she came from humble beginnings. Her parents were farmers in Nebraska, her father, Herman, had achieved a high school education and taught her the importance of creativity.
“He was a unique combination of a published writer and at the same time a successful farmer,” Everts said. “My mother was only able to complete the eighth grade. Her family lost the family farm during the Depression and she had to go to work at 13 cleaning other peoples’ homes. She was a reader her whole life. She made sure we all had library cards to our local library. She took us there every Saturday morning while she got groceries across the street. She may not have had a formal education, but she taught me by example the importance of reading.”
Everts mentioned that she has lived and learned that education changes lives. She along with her seven siblings have higher education degrees, due to the sacrifices of her parents.
Everts noted that one of the key priorities she has identified is ensuring financial support for the school to ensure that education can continue to change lives.
“A key priority for me is to ensure strong financial support for the work of these talented and accomplished people,” she said of her university colleagues. “The importance of private donation increases every day and the Campaign for Appalachian is on its way to reaching and surpassing its $200 million goal by the end of December. What an amazing accomplishment! This is the largest campaign in the university’s history and it stands to make a real difference for students, faculty and staff. An institution where its own employees believe in it is a great testament to the strength of that organization, and this is evidenced by the more than $4 million contributed by faculty and staff.”
While also thanking faculty and staff, Everts also stressed the importance of the community to the university, and spoke of it as a symbiotic relationship.
“You [the community] support our students in so many ways,” Everts said. “You mentor our students, you hire [interns and graduates] and in countless other ways you make a difference in the world one student at a time. I can’t emphasize how important that is. When you take the time to support our students and make an investment in them, you are also making an investment in the importance of an Appalachian education. As we move forward together, building on the vision and mission of Appalachian, I want to thank you for allowing me to introduce myself to you and I want to thank you for all you do to support our students.”