Accountability

App State has made many advancements in diversity and inclusion work in recent years. There is still much to be done to elevate the voices and representation of marginalized populations on our campus, and we are committed to persevering as these cultural and systemic changes take hold.

An accountability team, convened by Chancellor Sheri Everts and composed of students, alumni, faculty, staff, administrators and members of the Board of Trustees, helps our university remain focused and accountable.

During regular Diversity and Inclusion Accountability Team meetings, members of the Chancellor’s Cabinet report on progress and challenges related to the initiatives within their areas of responsibility. The accountability team provides feedback, discusses challenges, and helps celebrate successes. Summary reports from these meetings are posted below.

Our work builds upon the many good efforts that have been underway across our campus and helps shine a light on the initiatives and individuals pushing this work to the forefront. Each change helps foster a more inclusive, welcoming environment for underrepresented populations that ultimately benefits our entire campus community.

Diversity and Inclusion Accountability meeting updates

Nov. 11, 2021

Presenters: Dr. Neva Specht, Jamie Parson, Dr. Jennifer Burris and Dr. Tracie Salias

Related accountability review points:

  • All departments outline and make public how their hiring and tenure processes work.
  • Allocate additional funding and support to faculty and staff of color researching social justice, anti-Semitism, and anti-racist work.
  • Tenure processes should recognize mentorship and service.

Summary of presentation:

  • All departments in the colleges, as well as the Hayes School of Music and University Libraries, have documents on their website showing their promotion and tenure guidelines. Most include an explicit statement on service; some include mention of mentoring.
  • Research Forums, which first began in September 2020, are held three to four times per year. Each year, the first forum is devoted to scholarly and creative work on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • The Scholarship of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Grant began in 2018 and currently gives three to five annual awards of $2,500. These research projects support research projects that explore issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion and must involve student researchers.
  • The Center for Academic Excellence established an early career and mid-career mentoring program.
  • The Office of Research established a research mentoring program.
  • The ADVANCE grant will provide resources for underrepresented mentoring programs in STEM.
  • Mentoring programs across campus have been mapped.

Next steps:

  • Establish new mentoring programs for underrepresented faculty through the ADVANCE grant and ASPIRE Alliance.
  • Establish training for mentors
  • Work with departments to recognize mentoring in annual reviews and P&T documents.
Oct. 28, 2021

Presenters: Nancy Crowell, Shelley Leder, Alyson Ebaugh. Director of Human Resources Mark Bachmeier was present for the discussion.

Related accountability review points:

  • Increase the percentage of Black and Brown tenure-track faculty, upper administration, and full-time staff by no less than 25% by 2023.
  • All departments outline and make public how their hiring and tenure processes work.
  • Implement exit interviews for students, faculty, and staff of color regarding their university experience. Compile data, publish the report.

Summary of presentation:

  • This presentation provided an update on university employee recruitment and hiring practices as related to efforts to increase diversity across the App State workforce.
  • Human resources has two main initiatives:
    • Recruitment — Attracting diverse pools of highly qualified applicants for our vacant positions.
    • Evaluation and Selection — Providing for the fair and equitable evaluation of all applicants for employment without bias or conflicts of interest.
  • The presentation also discussed current data available to inform our understanding of the university experiences of faculty and staff of color and goals for improvement of this data collection.

Next steps:

  • Develop and implement a new and effective employee exit interview process to help us better understand factors affecting voluntary turnover.
  • Engage campus affinity groups proactively to help assess and improve the experience of underrepresented faculty and staff.
  • Expand learning and organizational development programming with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion to positively impact inclusion.
Aug. 26, 2021

Presenter: Dr. Alex Howard

Related accountability review points:

  • TeleHealth services that aid and support our vision of increasing accessibility to Black Medical Professionals with no student fee increase.
  • Expand access to more diverse mental health providers through our expanded use of telehealth services.

Summary of presentation:

  • The presentation centered on the following departments: Counseling and Psychological Services; M.S. Shook Student Health Service; and Wellness and Prevention Services.
  • The content of the presentation focused on services provided by these departments, as well as a demographic breakdown of those served during the academic year 2020-21 — a year in which the overwhelming majority of services were provided via telehealth.
  • Additionally, a review of existing and emerging strategies to increase diversity and representation within these departments was provided.

Next steps:

  • App State will maintain its commitment to understanding the needs of students, providing services directly or when appropriate, facilitating an efficient and effective referral, developing and modifying policies/processes, being good stewards of student fees, and maintaining honesty and transparency.
July 29, 2021

Presenter: Dr. Lee Ball

Related accountability review points:

  • Appalachian State University adds an initiative to its Strategic Plan that commits the university to make a conscious effort of supporting marginalized black-owned businesses when accepting/negotiating bids and, or negotiating external contracts for university services and needs below or equal to $5,000
  • Annual report of contracted services allotted to marginalized-owned (i.e. businesses owned by Women, Black-Indigenous, and Persons of Color-Owned) businesses to display the institution’s commitment to supporting and uplifting marginalized groups
  • Formation of a menu committee with Appalachian State University’s Campus Dining to plan out menus a year ahead, looking at trends, collaborating with nearby businesses to offer students culturally authentic food by the academic year 2021-2022. In addition, receive input from students when adding culturally authentic food to campus dining on a rotation and markets. Serving culturally authentic food on campus would expose students to cultures that they might not have previously experienced. It is important to note that culturally authentic food should not be appropriated or tokenized.

Summary of presentation:

  • The presentation outlined current App State efforts and challenges to meeting these goals.
  • Challenges include market competition and a low number of local Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUBs). Finding staff with the background and experience needed to prepare culturally authentic food is also challenging.
  • Current successes: Campus Dining utilizes its Student Advisory Board to advance these efforts. Last year, Campus Dining worked with SGA and the Office of International Education and Development to recruit advisory board members to include a cross-sectional and more diverse representation of students.
  • Currently, 25% of campus food purchases are locally sourced.
April 29, 2021

Presenter: Dr. Susan McCracken

Related accountability review points:

  • Provide resources and support for students of color in career development and better prepare them for graduate school.
  • Create a listserv for Black and Brown students to receive notifications about events and support opportunities.
  • Implement Mandatory Culturally Responsive training for all student affairs professionals in order to better advise and serve students.

Summary of presentation:

  • The presentation shared a survey that was completed by the Career Development Center where students expressed they wished they had known about resources available to them sooner.
  • Dr. McCracken discussed App State’s 12 career fairs offered this year: Lead Your Way, Inclusivity Matters, Identity Matters, Careers for Impact, Career Connector program, Career Programming for Student-Athletes, and Resources for Underrepresented Students.
Feb. 25, 2021

Presenters: Doug Gillin, Pierre Banks, Makini Thompson

Related accountability review points:

  • Athletics immediately draft and institute action plans that focus on education, retention, and mentorship in order to end the exploitation of Black student-athletes.
  • Athletics hire more coaches, faculty, staff, trainers, and administration of color.

Summary of presentation:

  • Gillin reported that the Athletics Department uses a 12–18 month operations plan, instead of a traditional strategic plan, so they can more quickly respond to the changing needs of the university and student-athletes. He said the department has created opportunities, particularly recently, to hear directly from student-athletes — citing the Real Talk forums in which students speak and administrators listen.
  • As a result of the Real Talk forums, referenced by Gillin, the staff created the Bridge Builders Mentoring Program, which pairs a student-athlete with an alumnus, faculty or staff member, or community member.
  • Athletics is collaborating with the App State Alumni Association on an alumni-specific mentoring program, and with the Career Development Center to create a series of athlete-specific events, including Career Meetups and a Pro Day career fair and networking opportunity.
  • A career coach in Career Development provides weekly office hours specifically for student-athletes.
  • The department created a Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the first priority has been to amplify underrepresented voices. For example, they created the Black and Gold Tribune to share stories of their student-athletes.
  • The department implemented the Real Response communication platform in response to requests from student-athletes for an option to anonymously share concerns with athletics staff.
  • Gillin concluded the presentation by sharing notable statistics and superlatives:
    • The percentage of underrepresented App State Athletics staff members has increased from 8.6% in 2015 to 18.3% in 2020.
    • 36% of App State student-athletes are from underrepresented populations, which is consistent with the NCAA Division I average, which Gillin said was in the “mid-thirties.”
    • 25% of App State student-athletes are Black or African American, as compared to an average of 16% of NCAA Division I athletes.
    • App State is the only athletic department in the Sun Belt Conference with a black senior women’s administrator, and the department continues to ensure every search committee has minority representation.
Nov. 12, 2020

Presenters: Dr. Willie Fleming and representatives from Academic Affairs and Human Resources

Related accountability review points:

  • Office of Human Resources to partner with BFSA to develop resources that aid in the recruitment and retention of Black faculty/staff.
  • Increase the percentage of Black and Brown tenured-track faculty, upper administration and full-time staff by no less than 25% by 2023.

Summary of presentation:

  • Then-Chief Diversity Officer Willie Fleming gave a presentation about implicit bias in the recruitment process, including how to review position descriptions to ensure the language is accurate and inclusive.
  • Dr. James Denniston, coordinator of faculty diversity recruitment and inclusion initiatives in the Division of Academic Affairs, presented information about faculty search committee resources and toolkits. Notably, he shared that Interim Provost Heather Norris gave directives in Oct. 2020 for departments to, among other tasks, continue refining recruitment plans, rubrics, interview questions, departmental search committee policies and position descriptions.
  • Shelley Leder, the lead talent acquisition specialist in the Office of Human Resources, shared specific action steps in the university’s recruitment process that ensure diversity, equity and inclusion are being considered.
  • The group discussed ways to build on the current recruitment and retention strategies and practices. Specifically, Chancellor Everts addressed a question about advocating for resources for the university at the state level and provided a brief overview of her advocacy efforts for state funding, which include changing App State's peer comparison group.

Next steps:

  • Moving forward, members of the Chancellor's Cabinet will continue their work and report to the Accountability Team regarding progress, challenges and plans for accomplishing specific action items. The Accountability Team meets monthly.
Oct. 8, 2020

Presenters: App State leaders and representatives from the BlackAtAppState Collective

Related accountability review points:

  • Creation of a standing committee charged with accountable implementation of equity initiatives. This committee should consist of nine individuals including Black students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Summary of presentation:

  • The group established a steering committee composed of three members of the BlackAtAppState Collective, three black student-athletes and three App State leaders.

Next steps:

  • Each month, this committee will meet to review the progress of campus units tasked with addressing the identified diversity and inclusion initiatives. The committee will then present monthly reports to the larger Accountability Team — which encompasses nearly 60 people, including faculty, staff, administrators, students, alumni and community members. The steering committee is working to schedule its first official meeting.
Sept. 23, 2020

Presenters: BlackAtAppState representatives, Dr. Willie Fleming, J.J. Brown, Dr. Heather Norris, Dr. Alex Howard, Jeff Cathey and Dr. Alan Rasmussen.

Related accountability review points:

  • Creation of a standing committee charged with accountable implementation of equity initiatives. This committee should consist of nine individuals including Black students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Summary of presentation:

  • The group talked through the second half of the identified initiatives.
  • These meetings are intended to ensure both groups have a shared understanding of the purpose of each initiative and its associated engagement for implementation.

Next steps:

  • The next meeting of these groups is being scheduled, during which the groups will discuss the creation of a permanent steering committee that will review the progress of the campus units completing the identified initiatives.
Sept. 4, 2020

Presenters: BlackAtAppState representatives, Dr. Willie Fleming, J.J. Brown, Dr. Heather Norris, Dr. Alex Howard, Jeff Cathey and Dr. Alan Rasmussen.

Related accountability review points:

  • Creation of a standing committee charged with accountable implementation of equity initiatives. This committee should consist of nine individuals including Black students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Summary of presentation:

  • The group talked through the first half of the identified initiatives.
  • Members of the Collective shared additional thoughts and engaged with App State leaders in discussions about the initiatives.

Next steps:

  • The group will finish discussing the second half of the initiatives during the next meeting and will also continue conversations about the purpose of the Diversity and Inclusion Accountability Team.
Aug. 14, 2020

Presenters: Diversity and Inclusion Accountability Team

Related accountability review points:

  • Creation of a standing committee charged with accountable implementation of equity initiatives. This committee should consist of nine individuals including Black students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Summary of presentation:

  • A small group from the Diversity and Inclusion Accountability Team reviewed progress and solidified next steps.
  • In the leadup to this meeting, Chancellor’s Cabinet members met with members of the BlackAtAppState Collective to discuss concerns resulting from the first meeting of the Accountability Team on July 21.

Next steps:

  • Prior to the next Accountability Team meeting, members of the BlackAtAppState Collective will meet with a small group of Chancellor's Cabinet and Student Affairs representatives to set mutual expectations for the meeting, determine the items to be addressed and discuss in more detail the initiatives shared by the Collective.
July 21, 2020

Presenters: Chancellor’s Cabinet

Related accountability review points:

  • Creation of a standing committee charged with accountable implementation of equity initiatives. This committee should consist of nine individuals including Black students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Summary of presentation:

  • The Chancellor’s Cabinet held a meeting to bring together a Diversity and Inclusion Accountability Team.
  • The meeting’s central purpose was to acknowledge each item in a petition to university leadership from a group called BlackAtAppState.

Next steps:

  • Identify additional university strategic diversity and inclusion priorities.
  • Present the action plan for addressing these collectively identified priorities and their broader themes.