Sheri Everts

Sheri Everts serves as the chancellor of Appalachian State University.

BOONE — The Appalachian State University Board of Trustees voted unanimously to pass a resolution of confidence in the leadership of Chancellor Sheri Everts during a special conference call meeting held July 6.

“Whereas, the COVID-19 global pandemic, recent acts of racism and inequities in our country and on our campus require strong leadership and action,” the resolution begins, followed by a lengthy list of actions taken by the chancellor and her leadership team.

With regard to the university’s COVID-19 response, the actions listed included the transition of 2,600 course sections from face-to-face learning to online instruction last spring; the development of support programs for students impacted by the pandemic; developing new work shifts to comply with social distancing; adjustments to spending and budgeting due to COVID-19 impacts; the creation of the Recovery Strategy Leadership Group and the Project Management and Implementation Team; and regular meetings with multiple staff, faculty and student groups on campus, among others.

“In a time of unprecedented uncertainty, the chancellor and members of her leadership team have been in constant communication with the UNC system office to relay and address concerns expressed by faculty, staff and students, provide updates on campus needs and resources and to request assistance with health and safety planning and logistics,” the resolution stated.

With regard to diversity and inequities, the resolution notes that during Everts’ tenure, the proportion of ethnically diverse students has risen 46.6 percent, to 17.4 percent during the 2019-20 academic year. It notes that Appalachian’s overall retention rate is nearly 88 percent, “well above the national average,” and that the retention rates for under-represented students is 87 percent and for black/African American students is 89 percent.

Since spring 2019, it said, 90 percent of the university’s academic departments have hosted trainings on implicit bias, and currently, 32 percent of new faculty hires are from underrepresented populations.

“Chancellor Everts brings her experience in diversity and inclusion from numerous other educational institutions and recognizes successful diversity initiatives must ‘go beyond the numbers’ and include broad cultural changes that foster inclusive excellence,” the resolution stated.

According to university spokesperson, the resolution was proposed by Trustees Chair John Blackburn, with input and edits from other trustees submitted in writing and by phone prior to the meeting.

"The actions and leadership of Chancellor Everts and her administration — including in particular, Interim Provost (Heather) Norris — have inspired our unwavering confidence in their ability to lead Appalachian State University through an unprecedented global crisis," Blackburn said. "Now more than ever, we need strong, collaborative leaders at Appalachian’s helm. The board is certain that Chancellor Sheri Everts and the leadership team she has developed are expertly providing this leadership and will continue to do so."

The meeting was announced on July 1, with a closed session “to prevent the disclosure of privileged or confidential information” and “for the purpose of consulting with the university’s attorney” as the only agenda item listed.

Following a 40-minute closed session, the trustees returned to open session and voted to amend the agenda to consider adoption of the resolution. Trustees Vice Chair Scott Lampe read the resolution aloud, and the trustees then passed the resolution unanimously.

"Like all resolutions, the purpose is to be clear about our opinion and have a public record of such," Blackburn said. "These are incredibly challenging times, and we feel it is important to definitively state our confidence in Chancellor Everts and her leadership team."

The resolution comes as a number of Appalachian State faculty are questioning plans to return to in-person teaching this fall. The university has also been the subject of some criticism during recent online events organized by the group Black in Boone, with one person referring to perceived “structural racism” within the university. Earlier in the day on July 6, a group called Black at App State sent a list of demands to Appalachian administrators.

The full text of the resolution can be read at wataugademocrat.com.

Recommended for you

(12) comments

yosefisdying@gmail.com

It's funny how the BOT gives Everts credit for the work and accomplishments of the faculty. Like she had anything to do with faculty moving their classes online. She's really good at reading the writings of other people from index cards, but beyond that, nobody would notice if she took the year off.

thechaosaysmuuuu

Or simply left entirely. I'm not fully convinced that she's not just a hologram, considering that in the 5-6 years she's been here, I've only actually seen her in-person *once*

On second thought, no, I think it would be noticed if she left entirely, as things would get a heck of a lot better!

ericsthomas@hotmail.com

The very fact that they felt the need to do this is an indication of severe internal problems. Academia in general has jumped the shark.

joescholar01@gmail.com

Yes, it's jumped the shark, but why? It's because unqualified people have taken over universities. BOT use to be a passive advisory board as a recognition of donations, but for some reason they think that they, despite not having any qualifications, should run the place. This is a general problem that has really harmed the focus and effectiveness of universities. It's a big reason universities have lost their way.

At Appalachian, the campus administration makes things 10x worse. They are largely clerks with no concern about the purpose of the university. Hardly any are actual academics that even know why universities exist. They've explicitly admitted that they view the university as a revenue maximizing operation, not a public institution charged with education and research for the greater good. And in response to questions about all the money propping up football, they actually responded with “well research doesn’t pay for itself either”. Seriously?! That is the most disturbing and ignorant comment from an upper administrator ever spoken. (well except when they said that testing is meaningless 5 minutes after the result. That was beyond dumb). And it exemplifies the reason for Appalachian’s decline.

Universities have lost focus because they’re increasingly run by unqualified people that don’t really care about the purpose of the university. BOT are notoriously wrongheaded, but at Appalachian the upper administration is just as bad. Together they are transforming Appalachian to be less like a highly regarded university, such as Davidson and William & Mary, and more like a degree mill, such as Louisiana Monroe and Troy. App use to be like William & Mary, but it's not like UL Monroe..that's pitiful!! If things don't change immediately, Appalachian will never recover from the disastrous Everts, Norris and Forte years.

andy@andybrowning.com

No one will ever surpass the contributions of chancellor peacock. Seems like we’re bowing to the “diversity at all costs” mantra instead of hiring based on merit.

yosefisdying@gmail.com

Safe places not learning spaces is what this administration cares about.....and football of course. Poor kids will not be prepared for life.

joescholar01@gmail.com

This is laughable. The BOT doesn't know what a good Chancellor or a good Provost looks like. Faculty have been around long enough to know the current leadership is a disaster because it has seen good leadership. Let’s remember the good old days of good leadership.

The previous chancellor started the College of Health Sciences. The previous provost created a nationally recognized general education program. The previous administration created the first research institute on campus and invested in recruiting and retaining the best faculty because they understood that was the foundation of a quality university. The previous administration elevated Appalachian's academics and reputation.

In stark contrast, the current administration has not completed or even started a single major academic initiative in more than six years! Think about that for a minute. That level of neglect of the university’s mission is simply stunning. Absolutely stunning failure.

But the administration has actually harmed academics. It has decreased relative funding for academics. It has decreased investment in recruiting and retaining quality faculty. It has dramatically lowered admission standards and graduation standards. Retention rates are declining. Graduation rates are declining. The best faculty are leaving. It’s done the easy thing of curating the mix of students. Easy to do when you increase the acceptance rate from 60% to 95%. This administration has destroyed a once special campus.

Another comparison is interesting. The previous administration was honest with faculty and engaged with faculty. There was trust and mutual respect. And when faculty raised concerns, the previous administration listened and responded. In one meeting, after hearing critical feedback from faculty, Chancellor Peacock actually said "Thank you. If we get off track, we want you to tell us." It was a functional administration that served the university well.

Chancellor Everts? Provost Norris? They don’t answer questions. They are not honest or transparent. They’ve repeatedly lied to faculty. Their actions created the distrust and discontent. But often they don’t seem capable of answering questions. It’s embarrassing how many times the chancellor and provost say "Paul, can you answer that question?"

So comparing the current administration with the previous administration, you begin to see why the campus is concerned about the continued decline of the university.

For COVID-19, while other universities have an approved reopening plan that includes risk management strategies like testing. This administration is floundering without a plan and without any intention of key risk management actions like testing. Comparing this administration with others, we see why the campus is upset.

Incompetence hurting academics is reason for concern, but incompetence threatening lives is on another level. But the Chancellor and BOT don't care about faculty. They proved that again today. Instead of making any serious attempt to address legitimate concerns of faculty, the Chancellor skips the faculty meeting to get a pat on the back from the BOT. They are examples of horrible leadership. And Appalachian is suffering from it.

njambisan@gmail.com

So the BOT likes the Chancellor. No surprise there. BOT member John Blackburn took the Chancellor and pals on a trip to the Middle East. Upon return the university has a new Interim Provost who went on the trip and the other Provost is ousted. Hire your friends, fire the people who disagree with you. This is a pattern. Hm, maybe it's the administrators who need the diversity and inclusion training. BOT member Mark Ricks could have given $10 million dollars to academics, but he chose to support athletics and now we have the Ricks Athletics Complex. And is it ever fancy. Leather club chairs with embroidered logos. Gold toilets. Huge elevators that work. Nice offices.  Meanwhile academic facilities are hurting for new equipment and with such poor academic facilities the students cannot get the education they deserve.  Buildings where all freshmen take classes don’t even have air conditioning and working elevators. Other buildings have leaking roofs and flooding.  But you walk into the Athletics building and see how the other half lives. Make no mistake, all that luxury comes from state funds and student fees given to athletics. Donor dollars and ticket sales are a small piece of their budget. Students give more money to athletics EVERY YEAR than the $10 million that Ricks gave. And Ricks had a choice, he didn't have to borrow money to pay for it.

Here's an idea: While you're renaming buildings on campus, why don't you rename the Ricks Athletics Complex the STUDENT LOAN DEBT ATHLETICS COMPLEX.

yosefisdying@gmail.com

Not surprising. The BOT jumped the gun with an unnecessary and divisive act. The BOT is a group of donors that have purchased their positions because they have no experience or expertise in higher education. This group moves in to provide false confidence in a failed leader, revealing their own failed leadership. And they only shined a bright light on the failure of the Chancellor. The BOT showed that the Chancellor needed them to prop her up because she was unable to regain the trust and support of the faculty after her many blunders. She’s failed with the people on the front lines, and they are trying to provide backup from their distant perspectives.

The Chancellor should not find solace in getting support from non-academics that share her support for football and her disregard for academics. They donated their money to athletics instead of academics, just like the Chancellor directs university money to athletics instead of academics. But this is not serving the mission of the university, which is the disconnect.

The fact is that after years of failed leadership and rising frustration, the faculty raised concerns about the direction of the university. The faculty are those committed to the mission of Appalachian, and among this group the Chancellor she little support. Who supports you and who doesn’t is very telling. The Chancellor shows little support for academics. And the BOT approved all of her bad decisions, so they’re part of the problem. During a pandemic, the BOT approved a renovation to a basketball court floor (nearly $1million) and a bookstore renovation ($2million)! And almost simultaneously, the BOT was quoted that we face near certain budget cuts and even layoffs of staff and faculty! The Chancellor is irresponsible, but the BOT approved.

This BOT approved the Chancellor’s ridiculous requests to (a) reduce funding for academics, (b) lower faculty pay from the 75th to 50th percentile, (c) dramatically lower admissions standards, (d) move the university from a high quality selective university to an open-enrollment university, (e) engage in intimidating tactics to fire or quiet anyone critical of her, (f) divert money from a condemned bathroom to pay for bulletproofing her office, (g) give her BFF Chief of Staff, Hank Foreman, an enormous raise while ignoring the plight of faculty and lower-end staff, (h) generally oversee incompetence across middle management offices, (i) diminish the reputation and value of an Appalachian degree, (j) diminish the desirability of Appalachian among high school graduates, (k) incrementally destroy the long-standing positive vibe on campus.

This Chancellor has destroyed any semblance of an Appalachian Family. And the BOT just approved.

thechaosaysmuuuu

Huh, that's funny, because Everts was absent during this afternoon/evening's open faculty senate session where she was supposed to be present addressing faculty concerns directly. It will be interesting to see what plays out during the closed faculty senate session afterwards RE: "confidence," because speaking as someone *directly* impacted by the decisions of this abomination of an administration, I have *zero* confidence in this Chancellor. Nada. Zip. Zilch. No Confidence.

Something tells me that the Board of Trustees is trying to get out ahead of something here with their 100% needless resolution. And interesting that the Watauga Democrat chooses to wait until this exact moment to post this needless article, considering the resolution was passed on the 1st.

Who in their right mind (other than a bunch of sycophantic toadies) even passes a resolution IN confidence of someone?

By the way, who gives a rat's a** what a bunch of corporate lackeys and hacks thinks? Y'all don't even work at the University, why should you have a say in *any* of this? I know why y'all voted this way, because most of you have invested in Athletics, and if there's one thing this Chancellor *loves* to throw money at, it's needless Athletics projects...

sickofstupid

I think you are on to something. They are trying to get ahead of and control a narrative. Notice the meeting was "secret." The integrity of the university is being destroyed by the actions of a few. The Chancellors' decisions have also affected the infrastructure of our once quaint town of Boone. Dare I say Greed is the motivator? University employees have powerful, relevant voices. It would be wonderful if, collectively, we could fight back!

thechaosaysmuuuu

You may dare say that, and I'd be in 100% agreement. This administration has been systematically destroying this great university and our wonderful town, all to line their personal pockets and those of their friends.

Boy do I wish we had more of a collective voice. It disturbs me how often so many faculty, especially those with tenure, keep quiet and only discuss their disdain for the administration in secret. If anything, it's these folks with tenure that should be leading the way, as they've got the greatest job protections. As much as I would love to see *all* university employees standing up, I'm certainly not going to hold a poorly-paid staff member just trying to put food on their table (who can easily be fired/replaced) with a tenured faculty member who really has nothing to fear.

Alas, it does seem like we might be reaching a breaking point. The fact that the BOT felt the need to pass this resolution makes one thing very clear: the administration is scared.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.