Message from the Chief Diversity Officer
Dear App State Community,
I was excited by the enrollment news Chancellor Everts shared on Sept. 8, as App State’s enrollment broke records for first-year, online and underrepresented students. While the population of full-time students living in Boone remains essentially the same, our most diverse student body ever includes 19% racially and/or ethnically diverse students, 31% first-generation students and 31% rural students. Each of us brings talents, perspectives and ideas that enrich the App State Community, inform conversations and deepen our understanding of one another and the world.
When we intentionally bring people with diverse identities together, we foster a stronger sense of belonging and community, and the best ideas and solutions emerge from a wider universe of possibility. We know that for diversity to flourish, we must create an environment where everyone can voice their opinions and express their differences — in the spirit of mutual respect and with the goal of greater understanding.
App State is committed to cultivating and supporting a welcoming university community and an academic culture of collaboration and respect through education and inclusive practices. In the last academic year, we did a lot of great work as a university community that is aligned with the App State and UNC System strategic plans. This includes developing a new Office of Diversity tagline this summer: Be Here. Be You. We want all members of our community to be present and engaged as their authentic selves in the events and activities we have planned for the 2023-24 school year.
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
Last week, Governor Roy Cooper proclaimed Sept. 15-Oct. 15 as Hispanic Heritage Month to honor and celebrate the history, culture and achievements of the Hispanic/Latine communities across North Carolina.
App State will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month this year in Hickory and Boone. On September 24, we will participate in the 2nd Annual Todos Somos America (We are All America) Celebration from 4-7 p.m. at Hickory Under the Sails downtown, co-hosted by Centro Latino and the City of Hickory. On our Boone campus, App State’s Latin Hispanic Alliance (LHA) will host a Hispanic Heritage Month festival on Oct. 6 and will share more details as that celebration draws near. In addition, the Hayes School of Music will present the second of two National Hispanic Heritage Month Concerts on Oct. 1 in Rosen Concert Hall. Celebrating the rich musical heritage of the broader Spanish speaking world — Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America — the concert can also be viewed via the Hayes School of Music live-streamed Performances page.
Recruiting and Supporting Hispanic/Latine Students and Employees
Chancellor Everts has shared that, as a state university, our population should reflect that of the state of North Carolina. Included in the university’s five-year performance metrics is the campus-selected goal of making progress on the 4-year graduation rate equity gap for Hispanic/Latine students. App State’s campus-based goal to increase the four-year graduation rate for Hispanic/Latine students allows the university to intensify its collective focus on serving one of the fastest-growing segments of the population — not only at App State, but also within North Carolina and the nation.
Attracting talented employees from this demographic goes hand in hand with recruiting outstanding students. Toward that end, the Office of Diversity is partnering with the Office of Human Resources in a series of outreach efforts to increase awareness about employment opportunities at App State among the local Hispanic/Latine community.
This summer, the Office of Diversity hosted the LatinxEd Fellowship Reception for the App State Community and special guests from LatinxEd — an educational initiative in North Carolina providing targeted, multiyear support to Latinx students and immigrant families striving for higher education and greater opportunity. At the reception, we celebrated the LatinxEd Fellows and hosted a diverse group of panelists from App State and our community for a discussion about leadership lessons, as well as challenges and opportunities to achieve greater equity in education and workforce development. Earlier this month, Diversity Office staff members along with App State faculty, staff and students attended the two-day LatinxEd Summit in Greensboro, North Carolina. The annual event is a statewide gathering of Latinx leaders and education champions focused on building collective action, developing new strategies and mobilizing resources to address the educational challenges Latinx students face in North Carolina.
Highlighting Key Initiatives and Resources
I am pleased to highlight a few key initiatives in the regular communications I send to faculty, staff and students at App State.
- Campus Climate Support Program: In spring 2022, the Office of Diversity convened a group of faculty, staff and students to discuss a reporting protocol for bias-related incidents and hate incidents. The program is designed to educate our campus on these kinds of incidents and support those who experience them, while fostering a constructive campus dialogue that encourages diverse viewpoints and preserves free speech. By recognizing and reporting these incidents, we can advance an even more inclusive campus environment where all members feel welcomed, supported and accountable to one another.This effort aligns with App State’s 2022-2027 Strategic Plan, which seeks — among other goals — to “cultivate and support a welcoming university community.” As the culmination of this effort, we will launch the Campus Climate Support Program later this month as part of App State’s Safety Awareness Month activities. It also supports the UNC System Strategic Plan goals of access, student success, and excellent and diverse institutions. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks.
- Faculty Search Committee Training: In August, the Office of Diversity once again partnered with the Office of Human Resources to provide faculty search committee members with training in guidance, strategies and inclusive hiring practices. We will host more of these in-person and online workshops in the spring and will share details for those activities later this semester.
Announcing Two New Series
I also would like to point out two new series we will introduce to our campus community this year along with our signature events.
- Discover Disability seeks to build connections, community and visibility for and about the disability community on campus. One of the events in this series, a film screening for Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, will be hosted on both our Boone and Hickory campuses.
- Let’s Get Started is a series of online interactive workshops designed to introduce students, faculty and staff to key concepts about diversity, equity and inclusion.
Welcoming New App State Community Members in Hickory
I am excited to work in my Hickory office on Tuesdays and Fridays this year and look forward to getting to know our new faculty, staff and students on our new campus. Members of our Hickory campus community can also schedule time to meet with me there.
Jamie Parson, J.D.
Chief Diversity Officer