Below are recent milestones in the university’s ongoing efforts to increase and support underrepresented populations at Appalachian.
Appoint Interim Chief Diversity Officer
In March 2021, Dr. Willie Fleming announced his retirement as chief diversity officer, effective June 1. Fleming dedicated decades of his career to advancing the university's diversity and inclusion initiatives and served as App State's first Chief Diversity Officer of a stand-alone office. In May 2021, Jamie Parson was named interim chief diversity officer. She was a faculty member in the Walker College of Business (WCOB), led the WCOB's Inclusive Excellence Team (formerly Diversity Advisory Team) as well as the Risk Management and Insurance diversity initiatives in the Brantley Risk and Insurance Center, and served on numerous boards and committees, including the university’s Diversity and Inclusion Accountability Team. She began her new position as interim chief diversity officer on May 10, 2021.
Facilitate Charrette Listening Sessions
In February 2021, the Chief Diversity Officer's Advisory Board hosted three charrette listening sessions, during which moderators facilitated discussions about the goals of the proposed Comprehensive Strategic Diversity Plan. Since spring 2018, App State has engaged in efforts to complete a universitywide diversity plan — a fluid, living document. The plan was vetted by focus groups across campus and the listening sessions provided an opportunity for the broader campus community — faculty, staff and students — to provide important feedback.
Host the 4th Annual Inclusion Infusion Summer Diversity Institute
On Dec. 15, 2020, the university hosted its 4th Annual Inclusion Infusion Summer Diversity Institute, attend by 89 App State faculty, staff and administrators. The event, hosted by Chief Diversity Officer Willie Fleming, was titled “Culturally Responsive Pedagogy: Towards Making Excellence Inclusive.” The program encouraged inclusionary practices and relationships and was facilitated by Dr. Timothy Forde, chair of the School of Education, Human Development and Consumer Sciences at Kentucky State University.
Host and sponsor implicit bias training
In September 2020, the Appalachian Police Department (APD) hosted and sponsored implicit bias training for APD and regional officers. Fifteen High Country police officers who participated, including five APD officers, are now certified to provide implicit bias training to other sworn officers and officers in training.
Support the largest, most diverse enrollment in university history
In fall 2020, Appalachian welcomed 20,023 students — the largest, most diverse enrollment in university history. Between 2014 and 2020, Chancellor Everts led the university’s increase in underrepresented students by 56% and first-year underrepresented students by 97%. As of fall 2020, 18% of App State students are from underrepresented populations, 30% come from rural areas and 34% of the total undergraduate population are first-generation college students. First-to-second-year retention rates exceed the national average by 12 percentage points.
Host the National Coalition Building Institute’s Train the Trainer
Trainers worked with cohorts of campus leadership to reinforce strategies to resolve campus crises in a manner that helps build coalition and mitigate division.
Prioritize hiring staff for Intercultural Student Affairs
Hiring a new Director for Intercultural Student Affairs was a key priority and the Division of Student Affairs partnered with an executive search firm to identify top candidates. The new director comes to the university having previously served as the associate vice president for diversity of the University of South Dakota. Additionally, to ensure continuity in diversity resources for students, an additional staff position was added in the administration office of Intercultural Student Affairs. The office now includes a director, two assistant directors, one coordinator and an administrative support professional, as well as four graduate assistants.
Present the Chancellor’s Awards for Inclusive Excellence
Appalachian presented its inaugural Chancellor’s Awards for Inclusive Excellence, an honor designed to shine a light on individuals at Appalachian and in the community whose work demonstrates their active, intentional and ongoing commitment to transformative change.
Rename Hoey and Lovill residence halls
During a meeting in June 2020, the Appalachian Board of Trustees approved a motion brought forth by Trustee James Reaves ’93 to support the re-naming of Hoey and Lovill halls in accordance with the university’s current process. Signage was removed from Hoey and Lovill residence halls in June 2020.
Establish a Diversity and Inclusion Accountability Team
The Chancellor’s Cabinet held a meeting on July 21, 2020 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, to identify additional university strategic diversity and inclusion priorities, and to present the action plan for addressing these collectively identified priorities and their broader themes.
Foster the most diverse class in university history
In fall 2019, Appalachian welcomed 19,280 students — the largest and most diverse class in university history. A record 17.4% of the total population is racially/ethnically diverse. Appalachian has increased its total underrepresented student population by 47% since 2014. Additionally, Appalachian enrolls 5,831 rural students — more than 300 students above the UNC System strategic plan benchmark for this year — and 4,977 first-generation undergraduate students, which is 28% of the total undergraduate population.
Fund affinity groups for Black students
This year, the Black Graduate Student Association received funding through a partnership with the Multicultural Student Center. Additionally, the Black Student Association receives funding through Intercultural Student Affairs.
Create a diversity plan
The Chief Diversity Officer’s Advisory Board created a campuswide Comprehensive Diversity Plan that will encourage, on an ongoing basis, each university unit to accomplish the university’s strategic goal of “embracing diversity of thought, belief and community.” The plan is informed by the university’s strategic plan, the 2017 Inclusion Infusion Study, the Summer Inclusive Excellence Institutes and research and discussions by the 2018-19 Chief Diversity Officer’s Advisory Board. The plan is complete and being vetted by focus groups across campus. As a dynamic and living document, the Comprehensive Diversity Plan will evolve over time as goals are met and new goals are established.
Implement a faculty recruitment program
In conjunction with the Provost’s Office, the faculty recruitment initiative and the Faculty Recruitment Working Group were created to lead the recruitment and hiring of underrepresented faculty. Of the group’s initial eight recommendations, five initiatives were put into action in September 2019: the development of departmental inclusive excellence statements; the design of a recruitment plan to increase diversity in applicant pools; the development of an evaluation rubric to minimize bias and ensure equitable evaluations of candidates; the creation of interview questions that focus on qualifications and avoid discovery of protected information; and the monitoring and comparison of the compositional diversity of the applicant pool to relevant pipeline data at each stage of the search process. As a result of these efforts, for the fall 2020 semester, 32% of new faculty hires are from underrepresented populations.
Increase training for search committees
The Faculty Diversity and Recruitment Training for Search Committees team was created to ensure all search committees are properly trained in how to conduct an equitable search. The three-person team is composed of the Chief Diversity Officer and representatives from Academic Affairs and Human Resources. From fall 2019 to spring 2020, the team conducted 18 training sessions with 227 attendees. The training sessions, which are required for all search committees, provide relevant case studies and insights into increasing and monitoring applicant pools, best practices for conducting searches, and training on implicit bias, and shares resources like the Diversity Hiring Toolkit, which has information about how to consider diversity and inclusion in each stage of the search process.
Establish building naming committee
In fall 2019, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs J.J. Brown established the Student Affairs Building Naming Committee, composed of two faculty members, two staff members and two students. The committee referenced reports prepared by the Appalachian History Committee in its deliberation about the naming process, specifically of Hoey and Lovill residence halls. The same year, the committee recommended a change in nomenclature for all residence halls named after individuals, indicating a preference for naming all residence halls in a way that highlights the mountain experience. The committee’s plan was approved in 2019 by Chancellor Everts and her council.
Launch the Appalachian Police Development Program
The APDP — a two-year program open to all full-time App State students, regardless of major — was initiated by the Appalachian Police Department (APD) in 2018 to equip students with the knowledge, skills and training to become law enforcement officers. According to Andy Stephenson, director of public safety and chief of police, the program was established to make a significant, positive impact on policing and to facilitate reform in the profession. After passing the state certification exam, graduates of the program’s academy are certified police officers in the state of North Carolina and continue working as part-time police officers for APD until they earn their academic degree.
Dedicate the National Pan-Hellenic Council’s (NPHC) Plots and Garden
The NPHC Plots and Garden were completed in September 2018 and aim to create a positive environment for NPHC organizations to unite in efforts to promote their fraternities and sororities, while educating students about the history of these diverse organizations. Through the NPHC Plots and Garden project, Appalachian is among a very few predominately white institutions (PWIs) that also pay tribute to the legacy of African-American Greek Life.
Welcome Dr. Damon Williams for Inclusive Excellence Tour
Williams, chief catalyst and founder of the Center for Strategic Diversity Leadership and Social Innovation, visited Appalachian to empower administrators, faculty staff and students to use evidence-based approaches to lead real and meaningful change in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Host consultation with Dr. Leonard Moore
Moore facilitated discussions about race and ethnicity with Appalachian’s athletic staff, coaches and students. The conversations inspired the creation of an elective course focused on student-athletes (and non-athletes) titled “Outside the Lines.”
Create a Hispanic/Latino faculty and staff association
APP Unidos (formerly called Appalachian@s) Hispanic/Latino Faculty and Staff Association received official recognition as an employee organization of the university. The organization is dedicated to issues of importance to the Hispanic/Latino community on campus and in the local and state communities, while providing a networking opportunity for colleagues.
Pass resolution regarding names of residence halls
In February 2018, Appalachian’s Student Government Association passed a bill — The Renaming of Residential Halls Act of 2017 — to change the names of Hoey and Lovill residence halls.
Host Inclusion Infusion Summer Diversity Institute
The evaluation of inclusion in Spring 2017 resulted in the first three-day on-campus Inclusion Infusion Summer Diversity Institute, now an annual event. It is designed to encourage inclusion practices and relationships that support a state of being valued, respected and supported. The institute provided approximately 50 faculty and staff with inclusion education on the first day, and, on the second and third days, it provided 25 faculty with training to assess and infuse a more inclusive course syllabus.
Evaluate inclusion at Appalachian
Through a grant from the North Carolina General Administration, the university used a survey and focus groups to gauge the extent to which successful inclusive practices are already a part of the Appalachian Experience and to determine the need for additional practices designed to promote environments that are more inclusive — 1,895 students and 328 faculty, staff and administrators completed the Inclusions Needs Survey and 93 faculty, staff, administrators and students participated in focus groups. External reviews are conducted every three years, with the next one scheduled for the 2020-21 academic year.
Revise the university’s Diversity Statement
During the 2017-18 academic year, university representatives rewrote and vetted the official Diversity Statement.
Train search committees on inclusive best practices
In order to ensure compliance with equal employment opportunity requirements, all hiring supervisors, search committee chairs and search committee members are encouraged to attend a training session before beginning the search process for any EHRA (faculty or non-faculty) recruitment. Each information session provides guidance related to affirmative action/equal employment opportunity compliance information, search process steps and recognizing implicit bias in the search and hire process. These trainings continue to be offered.
Review campus iconography
In 2017, Chancellor Everts, in response to student concerns, asked then-Provost Darrell Kruger to establish the Inclusive Campus Stories (ICS) Work Group to review iconography across the institution and provide history and context of, in particular, residence halls named for Clyde Roark Hoey and Edward F. Lovill.
Create an online search committee compliance module
The module is designed to educate search committee chairs on the compliance parameters governing the search process.
Utilize employee exit interviews for inclusion insights
The exit interview instrument was updated to capture more climate and identity-based questions.
Expand language translation offerings
In addition to admission tours, translation into Spanish was expanded to university publications.
Open the Appalachian Family Therapy Clinic
The Reich College of Education’s Appalachian Family Therapy Clinic aims to serve underrepresented populations in the campus community. The clinic is staffed by marriage and family therapy graduate student interns who offer individual and relationship therapy services.
Open a student veteran resource center
The Major General Edward M. Reeder Jr. Student Veteran Resource Center, on the second floor of the Plemmons Student Union, offers such services as peer-to-peer mentoring, tutoring, sessions on time-management and study skills, work-study opportunities as well as help with obtaining and utilizing G.I. Bill benefits.
Pass resolutions that support underrepresented students
Appalachian’s Board of Trustees and Faculty Senate passed similar resolutions that showed support for underrepresented students and the safety of all students on campus. Read the full resolutions
Develop a Bias Incident Reporting Protocol
The protocol was developed and monitored by a bias incident response team composed of faculty and staff members, including representation from the Faculty Senate, Dean of Students Office, Intercultural Student Affairs and the Council of Chairs. An online reporting form was also developed and posted at bias.appstate.edu. The Equity Peers (a student group out of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Compliance, now known as the Chief Diversity Officer) was also created to communicate the existence of the bias incident reporting protocol to fellow students.
Update the Employee Search Process
Per the changes, all in-person search committee meetings conducted by a representative from the Chief Diversity Officer’s Office includes a section focused on concrete steps for diversifying applicant pools and the effects of bias in the search process.
Update L.E.A.D. program
The L.E.A.D. (Linking Education and Diversity) program became known as ASCEND. The program was revamped and expanded its mentoring program. First-year ASCEND mentees (predominantly students of color) are connected with upperclassmen ASCEND mentors (also predominantly students of color). Upperclassmen ASCEND mentors are asked to complete a survey about their post-college aspirations and, using these responses, they are connected with a professional mentor who can help advise them on their chosen career or graduate school endeavors. This program is managed by the Office of Intercultural Student Affairs.
Offer language translation
On request, both admissions presentations and campus tours are now offered in Spanish. In a collaborative effort, the Office of Admissions developed a virtual campus tour offered in English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese to allow students to tour campus from anywhere in the world.
Present Faces of Courage Awards
These awards, presented to four alumni, recognize those who were instrumental in Appalachian’s early diversity efforts.
Join N.C. Alliance for Health Professions Diversity
Appalachian joined officials from North Carolina colleges, universities, statewide organizations, as well as state and local health agencies to formally create a state-wide alliance focused on increasing minority representation in the health professions.
Establish the Chancellor’s Commission on Diversity
The Chancellor’s Commission on Diversity, now known as the Chief Diversity Officer’s Advisory Board, was formed to ensure Appalachian is a welcoming community of scholars who value, respect and embrace diversity across all units.
Implement a program for students with diverse abilities
The Scholars with Diverse Abilities program allows students to audit classes, participate in university programs and complete internships — all designed to help them acquire job and life skills that will enable them to live independently.