App State’s College of Fine and Applied Arts names trio of department chairs

BOONE — The College of Fine and Applied Arts at Appalachian State University has welcomed three department chairs: Jim Toub in the Department of Art, Scott Welsh in the Department of Communication and Michael Helms in the Department of Theatre and Dance. The three professors began their respective chair appointments Aug. 1.

“It’s an exciting time for our college and for our students as we welcome new leadership,” said Janice T. Pope, FAA’s interim dean. “All three of our new chairs are recognized leaders within their faculty, excellent teachers and mentors to our students and are well prepared for the challenges ahead as we expand the way we deliver our courses.”

Toub joined the Department of Art’s faculty as a professor in 1992. He previously served as the department’s interim chair (August 2019–July).

“Jim has brought compassion, attention to detail, a sense of humor and a dedication to equity during his time as interim department chair,” Pope said. “I’m happy to be able to say the Art department is in good stead with him in this role.”

Toub received his Ph.D. and M.A. from Boston University and his B.A. from Hampshire College. He is an accomplished artist, with a number of paintings and drawings selected for juried and invited exhibitions in the United States and France.

Toub, who has taught more than 30 classes at Appalachian, is a recipient of an Appalachian State University School/College Award conferred by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. Additionally, he has received the Student Government Association Excellence in Teaching and the College of Fine and Applied Arts Excellence in Service awards.

He is a longtime member of the selection committee for Appalachian’s Chancellor’s Scholars and one of the faculty leaders for the Honors College’s short-term study abroad program in Vienna, Austria.

Before coming to Boone, Toub taught art history and studio art for nearly eight years in Aix-en-Provence, France, at the Institute for American Universities and the Marchutz School of Fine Arts. He has also taught at the University of Angers, in Angers, France, and Hampshire College.

Before being named chair of Appalachian’s Department of Communication, Welsh served as the department’s interim chair (August 2019–July) and prior to that served as the department’s assistant chair.

“Scott is a strong leader, a thoughtful intellectual and he cares deeply about the education we are providing our students,” Pope said. “The Department of Communication and our student media outlets and communication agency — The Appalachian, WASU-90.5 FM, AppTV and Second Story Media — are fortunate to have his guidance as we face unprecedented challenges ahead.”

Welsh joined the Department of Communication in 2007, after teaching for a semester at Wabash College. He has written a book — “The Rhetorical Surface of Democracy: How Deliberative Ideals Undermine Democratic Politics” — and authored numerous scholarly articles.

Additionally, he has been a mentor for students in Appalachian’s Honors College and served as first reader on Honors College thesis projects. He holds a doctorate and a master’s degree in communication and culture from Indiana University and a bachelor’s degree in communication and philosophy from Taylor University.

Helms, who chairs the Department of Theatre and Dance and has served at Appalachian since 2009, is a professor of theater who specializes in scene design, stage technology and lighting. He is also the resident scene designer for the department and for the Ensemble Stage in Banner Elk.

“Mike is a strong advocate for our Theatre and Dance faculty and has been a great mentor for students participating in our stage productions,” Pope said. “I welcome his leadership as the Department of Theatre and Dance makes plans to meet the challenges of performance in a time of social distancing.”

Since coming to Boone, Helms has worked as the lighting and scene designer for 38 theater and dance productions at Appalachian. He also has lent his talents to Hayes School of Music performances and other local and regional theater venues.

He has been the lighting and technical director for the Nevada Ballet Theatre and the production manager for the Utah Shakespearean Festival. Helms holds an MFA in scene design and stage technology from Brigham Young University and a BFA from Utah State University.

Hendren named director of App State Research Institute for Environment, Energy and Economics

BOONE — After a national search, Christine Ogilvie Hendren has been named director of Appalachian State University’s Research Institute for Environment, Energy and Economics. Hendren, who began her new position Aug. 3, also serves as a professor in Appalachian’s Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences.

Appalachian’s RIEEE, established in 2008, facilitates opportunities for faculty, staff and students to engage in research and scholarship in the areas of environment, energy and economics — especially the points at which these subjects intersect. The institute is an umbrella organization for the Appalachian Energy Center, the Center for Economic Research and Policy Analysis and the Southern Appalachian Environmental Research and Education Center.

Hendren said RIEEE is well positioned to drive Appalachian’s recognition as a “world-renowned center of excellence” — one that is sought after for impactful scholarship and called upon to solve complex issues that affect human culture, the environment and the economy.

William Anderson Jr., professor in and chair of the GES department, said Hendren brings with her an impressive environmental research record, which includes investigations into environmental risks and hazards associated with nanomaterials — nano-sized chemical substances or materials (think smaller than the width of a human hair) — and hydrofracking, a technique that uses water and other chemicals, at high pressures, to extract oil and natural gas from the Earth’s surface.

“Her research expertise will complement and enhance our current research efforts, and we foresee many future collaborations on these and other environmental topics,” said Anderson, who also serves as a research adviser for students in Appalachian’s Honors College.

“The excellent faculty, unique infrastructure and natural setting, deep cultural commitment to sustainability and engagement of students throughout the research lifecycle make Appalachian a special place. I’m thrilled to be joining this community,” Hendren said.

Freshman from Avery County receives Golden LEAF Scholarship

BANNER ELK — Lees-McRae College freshman Brooke Ingham is part of an elite group of students chosen to receive a Golden LEAF Scholarship. Ingham was one of just 215 students selected to receive the scholarship out of a pool of more than 2,200 applicants.

The Golden LEAF Scholarship Program was established 20 years ago as a way to encourage students from rural counties to return to a rural community after college graduation.

As part of the application process, students must explain their intent to return to live and work in a rural North Carolina community. A graduate of Avery High School, Ingham has plans to give back close to home. “Even though I live in a rural community, there are still many people that need help that I hope I can give to them,” said Ingham.

Centered in the Appalachian Mountains, the rural-focused health care programs at Lees-McRae will help Ingham reach her ultimate goal. “I want to become a nurse practitioner because it will give me a great opportunity to show love and care to some people who have never received that before,” said Ingham.

Ingham will receive $3,000 each year for up to four years of study at Lees-McRae. Ingham chose the college because she loves being in the mountains. “I also chose Lees-McRae because I had been to many events on the campus before I came to college, and loved the environment and the excitement I felt when on campus.”

She is excited about the start of the school year. “I am most looking forward to all of the new experiences that college brings and getting to start the next chapter of my life,” Ingham said.

Russ named to UA Deans List

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Tameron Russ, of Banner Elk, was named to The University of Alabama Deans List for spring 2020.

A total of 16,470 students enrolled during the 2020 spring term at UA were named to the Dean’s List with an academic record of 3.5 or above or the President’s List with an academic record of 4.0 (all A’s). The UA Dean’s and President’s lists recognize full-time undergraduate students. The lists do not apply to graduate students or to undergraduate students who take less than a full course load.

University Post Office staff assemble bike for first-year student

BOONE — When Madeline Ryan, a first-year sustainable development major from Chicago, shipped a bicycle to Appalachian State University’s post office, she didn’t anticipate three of its staff members would go above and beyond to help her by assembling the bike.

Ryan said she bought the bike “on a whim,” and when it arrived unassembled, she knew she was “going to struggle putting it together.”

“I ended up leaving it at the post office so I could figure out a plan,” Ryan said. “I was so stressed because I had just moved in and really needed the bike for transportation.”

Little did Ryan know, Tim Norris, Matt Story and Daniel Greer — administration support specialists in the University Post Office — were ready to solve her dilemma.

Story said Ryan was by herself when she came to pick up the package and it was “obviously way too big for one person to carry.” After she left, the staff members saw the package contained a bicycle.

“We called and asked her if she wanted us to put the bike together,” Story said. “That way she wouldn’t have to carry that huge box, and it would save her some time by not having to put it together. Plus, we had all the tools here, including the air compressor to pump up the tires.”

Ryan said she was “so grateful and appreciative” when she received the call.

“As I reflect, I realize it was a much larger and loving sentiment as to why I chose App State and why I’m falling in love with it here,” Ryan said. “I know it sounds cheesy, but it was such an important act of kindness to me during a pretty difficult transition. It truly meant a lot to me.”

“We try to go above and beyond to help out students as much as we can,” Story said, “whether that is letting them borrow a hand truck, or helping them with bigger packages, or just trying to get them a better deal on shipping rates. We also recycle and reuse packaging as often as possible.”

University Post Office Director Greg Foster said, “We have a very talented crew, and they often go beyond the call of duty to help out.”

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