By JESSICA ISAACS
With open arms, the Appalachian State community welcomed Dr. Sheri N. Everts to her “Alma Mater in the hills” on Friday during a memorable ceremony through which she was installed as the institution’s seventh chancellor.
Students, friends, family, alumni and distinguished guests filled the Holmes Convocation Center to observe the ceremony, which began with a message from Thomas W. Ross, president of the University of North Carolina.
A sea of color formed before the stage as faculty members in academic regalia filed in to take their seats. During the procession, and directed by Dr. Chung Park, the combined Appalachian Symphony and Repertory Orchestras performed Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance, No. 1.”
The Appalachian ROTC performed the posting of the colors, and Dr. John Ross led the Appalachian Wind Ensemble in a performance of the national anthem.
Appalachian Board of Trustees Chairman Bradley Adcock, ASU class of 1976, delivered an introduction to the ceremony.
The combined Appalachian University Singers, Chamber Singers, Gospel Choir, Treble Choir and Appalachian Chorale performed Gustav Holst’s “Homeland” — a patriotic British song that pays tribute to heritage and history — led by conductor Dr. Stephen Hopkins.
Presiding over the ceremony, Ross called this milestone “a time for reflection, celebration and anticipation.”
“We gather as a university family to celebrate Appalachian’s proud history and acknowledge the growing and critical role it plays in this region and statewide,” Ross said. “We celebrate with Chancellor Everts and the larger Appalachian community the new beginning signaled by this ceremony.”
Ross welcomed a long list of state, local and university leaders to the podium, allowing each one the opportunity to deliver to Everts their own personal greetings.
GREETINGS TO THE CHANCELLOR
On behalf of the citizens of North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory was the first to address the new chancellor.
In its rise from humble beginnings to an internationally recognized institution, McCrory said Appalachian has served as “a role model for how a university can prepare students for future careers and stands as a valuable resource for the region, the state and the nation.”
McCrory referred to Everts as the newest chapter in a history of visionary, enthusiastic leadership at ASU.
“Dr. Everts, your journey from the one-room elementary school you attended as a child to the president’s office has been one of enlightenment, challenge and outreach,” McCrory said. “I’m sure that the knowledge and experience you’ve gained in every classroom during that journey has prepared you well for the presidency here at Appalachian State.”
McCrory announced a proposal recently submitted to the legislature for $2 billion in bonds for transportation, infrastructure and education. $70 million of that would be directed toward a new facility for the school of nursing and health at ASU — one for which the college has been seeking funding and would be located adjacent to Watauga Medical Center, a release from ASU explains.
He noted that the proposal will be taken next to the voters in the upcoming November election.
Other guests and alumni who delivered personal messages included Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC); Rep. Joseph Nelson Dollar (NC-36), class of 1983 and ’85; UNC Board of Governors member Scott Lampe, ’94; Boone Mayor Andy Ball; ASU Faculty Senate Chair Dr. Andy Koch; ASU Staff Senate Chair Amy Sanders, ’08; ASU Alumni Council President James K. Reaves, ’93.
At the podium, ASU Student Government Association President Carson Rich said he first met Everts when a group of students traveled to Chapel Hill on the day she was announced as the chancellor elect.
“She immediately started taking selfies with students,” Rich said. “People were smiling and laughing, and it was a moment where I knew, in my heart, we were in good hands.”
He explained that Everts later met with him in the SGA office to express how much she values student opinion and how important it is for the administration and the students to work together.
“That, my friends, was very encouraging. So, Chancellor Everts, on behalf of SGA and an undergraduate class of over 16,000, thank you,” Rich said. “We’re excited to be a part of the amazing things you are doing and will continue to do here at Appalachian.”
“True to the mission statement of the university,” ASU Graduate Student Association Senate President Mason Calhoun said he has been transformed by the institution’s “inherent culture” rooted in “service, integrity and community.” He’s confident that Everts embodies the ideals of the Appalachian family, he said, and that she will continue to do so as she fulfills her tenure at ASU.
“Going forward, each of us should remember that we are responsible for upholding the ideals of our Appalachian culture,” he said. “It is my hope that each of us will continue to exhibit these ideals by supporting Chancellor Everts as she is officially installed as the leader of our community. Remember that, despite our differences, we are all mountaineers — we are all part of the Appalachian family.”
INSTALLATION OF THE CHANCELLOR
Professor of creative writing Joseph Bathanti, North Carolina Poet Laureate 2012-2014, then read to the audience, “Brooks Brothers Shirts” — a poem he wrote about the hard work and selfless dedication that each generation invests in the success of its children.
“The very first conversation I had with Dr. Everts was about our parents. The chancellor is deeply indebted to her parents, as I am to mine,” Bathanti said. “This poem is especially for her, and for all the parents and children on their special day; and for faculty out there and all the teachers in our lives who made sure we’re sitting here today.”
Everts took her oath of office under Judge Gary L. Henderson of North Carolina’s 26th district, ASU ’92 and ’94, before addressing her new Appalachian family.
“Since arriving on the Appalachian campus, I have been deeply impressed by the dedication of the people of this university community who put students first in this life-changing enterprise that we all have the privilege of serving,” Everts said. “You are people who each and every day embrace the challenges and complexities of connecting with students by teaching, learning their needs and wants, listening and counseling toward our ultimate product — a brighter future.”
Everts said she’s honored to serve as Appalachian’s seventh chancellor and humbly accepts “the task entrusted to her by students, faculty, staff, the University of North Carolina system and the great state of North Carolina.”
In closing, the audience joined the combined choirs in singing the university’s alma mater:
Cherished vision of the Southland,
Alma Mater in the hills;
Thou dost point our minds to wisdom,
Till the truth our spirit thrills.
Appalachian, Alma Mater of our hearts the joy and pride;
Lead us ever, lead us onward,
Vanguard of the Hero’s side.