Message from the Interim Chief Diversity Officer: Honoring Latin Hispanic Heritage Month

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Dear Appalachian Community,

Earlier this month, we celebrated App State’s Founders Day and year-round we honor B.B., D.D. and Lillie Shull Dougherty — a family who enacted their vision in 1899 to increase access to educational opportunities for those in this region. Today, we continue that mission by expanding our efforts to serve historically underrepresented populations — including students who are first-generation, low-income, veterans and/or have marginalized racial identities.

App State’s fall 2021 enrollment is a testament to our progress. On Friday, Chancellor Everts reported to the Board of Trustees a continuation of the significant progress App State has made in broadening the representation of our student enrollment to better match that of our state. This has been a priority of Chancellor Everts since her arrival on campus in 2014, and in that time, underrepresented enrollment has achieved historic highs. Some highlights of our 2021 enrollment include:

  • 18.2% of the total population identify as underrepresented — the largest enrollment of underrepresented students to date.
  • Just over 19% of the total first-year population identify as underrepresented, an all-time high, and an increase of nearly 6% since last year.
  • We have more than doubled our first-year underrepresented enrollment since 2014, and, in the same time period, we have also increased our total underrepresented student population by 66%.

Our faculty and staff are dedicated to fostering a welcoming environment for underrepresented students, and, more importantly, ensuring resources and support are in place to retain our students as they matriculate.

As we recognize Latin Hispanic Heritage Month, which concludes Oct. 15, we are honoring and celebrating those individuals who have contributed to and influenced our country. Year-round, several organizations elevate the importance of Latin Hispanic heritage on our campus, including App Unidos, Latin Hispanic Alliance, Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority Inc. and Lambda Sigma Upsilon Latino Fraternity Inc. I also hope you’ll join us for the Latin Hispanic Heritage Month Festival on Oct. 6. More details are available on the Latin Hispanic Alliance's Engage page.

Throughout the year in my messages to campus, we will recognize and honor the contributions faculty, staff and students make to the Appalachian Community. For instance, senior transfer student Omar Gonzalez is serving as the university’s inaugural risk management intern in the Office of General Counsel and helping create App State’s first enterprise risk management framework. When he began his major in actuarial science with a minor in risk management, he immediately saw the strong parallels between his academic pursuits and his six years of military experience in intelligence and reconnaissance. He said everything in the military is rooted in risk mitigation and clear communication, so he was naturally inclined to think about situations in that way. Omar said his internship has given him a tremendous amount of hands-on experience in his field and validated that he is “in the right place and has made the right choices.” His internship this summer was funded by a Spencer Foundation grant, which also supports other diversity- and inclusion-related initiatives in App State’s Brantley Risk and Insurance Center.

With the spirit of our founders guiding us forward, we will continue to refine our focus on diversity and inclusion and ensure underrepresented individuals have access to and equitable support for an App State education.


/s/ Jamie Parson, J.D.

Jamie Parson, J.D.