The Herald-Sun: UNC Fields Privatization Feelers On Student Housing

CHAPEL HILL – UNC gets regular feelers from companies, including the one that manages Granville Towers, that are trying to gauge its interest in outsourcing some or all of its student housing, its business affairs chief says.

To date, none of the feelers have put numbers or a firm offer on the table, said Matt Fajack, UNC-Chapel Hill’s vice chancellor for finance and administration.

“There are some that come in and say, ‘Hey, we could take over all this for you,’” Fajack said during a break in this week’s UNC Board of Trustees meetings. “But nothing has gotten at all serious, and I haven’t followed up with any of them that I would even talk to Carol [Folt, UNC’s chancellor] about it.”

Fajack was responding to a question that’s been floating around since January.

It cropped up then after a key member of the UNC system’s Board of Governors, Harry Smith, during a meeting said a couple of the system’s large campuses were “in the preliminary stages” of considering a privatization of student housing.

Smith, then chairman of the board’s budget committee, didn’t identify the campuses at first. But in February, he said he’d meant Appalachian State University and UNC-Chapel Hill.
Since then, privatization talk has surfaced at Appalachian State.

In June, Randy Edwards, then chief of staff of the Boone campus, told trustees that officials were thinking of using public-private partnerships to redevelop some of Appalachian’s old dormitories.
App State is in the midst of asking the system for permission to label a bigger part of itself as a “millennial campus,” which would greatly expand its authority to negotiate development contracts with private-sector firms.

The label change would cover all the dorms on the west side of ASU’s campus, the Watauga Democrat newspaper reported.

Also, faculty sources at ASU suspect a strategy disagreement was one of the reasons for the recent and controversial firing of a well-entrenched student affairs chief by the school’s chancellor, Sheri Everts.

The ousted vice chancellor, Cindy Wallace, was “trying to maintain the status quo as far as how the university does the business of housing, the cafeteria and the bookstore,” said Leslie Jones, a professor who spoke in June shortly before her scheduled retirement.
Everts, she added, is keen to “move in the direction of wanting to privatize those things,” Jones said.

As for Chapel Hill, following Smith’s original January comments, officials from Folt on down denied there’s any major move in the works for the housing operation.
That remained the case this week.

“This is not a big issue that we’re discussing in any kind of detail here,” Folt said.
But she was quick to add that UNC officials “are part of the conversation that talks about everything.”

Given budget pressures, “I’m not saying that in the future we wouldn’t consider everything,” Folt said. “Because every [university] is thinking about how is it going to be most effective in making all its functions efficient and high quality.”

Fajack, interviewed separately, indicated that privatization feelers come up regularly when he meets with officials from EdR, the Tennessee company that manages Granville Towers.
Granville, located off West Franklin Street, was for many years a set of private-sector dorms. EdR’s corporate predecessors built and operated them. The company stayed on as operator after UNC bought the property, through a foundation, in a $45.8 million deal in 2008.

EdR’s only business is student housing, and most of its national holdings are off campus.
It owns or has a hand in such projects as University Towers in Raleigh near N.C. State University, and Bell West End, a new apartment complex in Durham near Duke University that until recently went by the name 605 West.

But the firm also touts its ability and willingness to develop or operate things on campus. It’s done a big project with the University of Kentucky, for example, to redevelop or rework much of the Lexington institution’s housing.

A publicly traded real estate investment trust, EdR recorded a $19.9 million profit in 2015, off $255.2 million in revenue. It had assets worth $2 billion.

Fajack said he sits down with EdR officials twice a year to go over Granville’s performance. “They always are coming up with ideas, and they talk about things they could do, more of what they’re doing,” he said. “They’re always selling that.”

But he said the company’s stopped well short of putting an offer on the table.

“It’s always more general: ‘Are we doing a good job, is there more of this we could do, we’re professionals,’” Fajack said. “It’s been very, I don’t want to say vague, but it’s not been specific about what exactly they could do. But they are selling.”

Nor is EdR necessarily the only company that’s weighed in. Fajack indicated the university’s business staff gets cold calls and feelers all the time, from a range of would-be vendors.
“It goes the whole spectrum from just managing it – some of them are just software systems to help us better manage it – all the way up to ‘Let us buy housing from you and we’ll run it,’” he said.

He added that in all those inquiries, companies have shown no interest in taking responsibility for the sort of things UNC’s student affairs staff oversees – the in-house residential advisers, counselors and programming that’s there watch over and guide students.

Nonetheless, “I listen to them,” he said. “You have to listen to those opportunities. You never know what’ll come up.”

Fajack said Smith would probably have heard about EdR’s feelers because he knows people with the company or one of its partners.

And he was clear that no one’s given officials the kind of unsolicited, hard-dollars offer that last year prompted the Folt administration to launch a privatization of the campus bookstore.
That ultimately led to officials hiring Barnes & Noble Education – an offshoot of the Barnes & Noble bookstore chain – to take over the operation.

Administrators left little doubt, ahead of time, that they weren’t satisfied with the store’s profits, which underwrite scholarships, or confident they understood the fast-changing bookstore industry.

Housing, by contrast, is something UNC has handled as long as it’s been a university. The first building on campus, Old East, served then and now as a dormitory and opened in 1795.

Ray Gronberg

The Herald-Sun (7/23/16)

 

Watauga Democrat: Your View: Nature of Future Tenure Looks Bleak

I am appalled. Last month, one of our most accomplished friends, neighbors and colleagues, Cindy Wallace, was fired from Appalachian State University by Chancellor Sheri N. Everts.
Wallace is the only person ever associated with ASU to have received one of North Carolina’s highest honors, the William Friday Award for public service.

Given a shared three decades of service together, I can only remark that she earned that award with 80-hour weeks, unflagging concern for her colleagues, inventiveness and originality to work for institutional goals, unflagging concern for staff and, most importantly, the thousands of students whose lives she touched as a teacher, a leader and an administrator.

Simply said, Wallace is one of the most accomplished persons I ever had the honor of working with at Appalachian State University.

Wallace was fired without any prior notice and with as much concern as one gives the trash — simply thrown out. She was given three days to clear her office, no “thank you” and was humiliated before her community.

The late public notice was cast in Orwellian language and with facile choice to avoid elucidation, it spoke of “stepping down.” Wallace did not step down, she was fired.

I had the honor of being asked to introduce the convocation speaker at Everts’ first convocation. I was thrilled at the prospect of new tenure. Empowered with the authority of office granted by ASU’s board of trustees and the Board of Governors, and adorned in the gold-chained grandeur of the office, she positively shone with potential.

Alas, that image and potential has now been swept aside. Power she has. Authority she has. However, in my view she has cast aside the other two components of leadership — trust and respect.

I suggest with vigor that Everts has shown her true colors. Her callous firing of Wallace blazes with her obvious disregard for those latter and essential elements of leadership: trust and respect.

I arrived at ASU after President B.B. Dougherty and Chancellor William Plemmons were gone. However, I knew and worked with, or knew, John Thomas, and Cratis Williams during his year as interim, Francis Borkowski and Ken Peacock. They all understood and embodied the trust and respect of the community.

I cannot overgeneralize for the community’s view of Everts, but I neither trust nor respect her in the wake of this scurrilous action and that perspective is shot through my engagements of the last month.

Wallace’s humiliation is a bald action of disrespect for all that this community stands for and casts asunder notions of trust and respect, as I understand the concepts, based upon a combined total of 65 years of service to ASU, in combination with my wife.

Everts’ actions stand as a unique insult to the intelligence of the community, faculty, staff and students of ASU.

Power and authority Everts has in spades. Trust and respect? She stands naked without either in the eyes of the many folk who will look at her, nod to the former, and know in their hearts as they smile, nod and shake her hand that she knows not the two latter.

When someone in either the ASU board or the Board of Governors comes to their senses and the decision to fire Everts is made, I can only hope she is given three days to clear her office. Perhaps, then she might belatedly understand why this note needs to be publicly put before our community, the faculty, staff and students of ASU, and perhaps only then might she see in retrospect just how grievous a miscalculation underlays her judgment and woefully inadequate assumptions about what genuine leadership entails.

This, the community and the faculty, staff and students of ASU know better ... now.
Ghandi famously said we change the world one conversation at a time. This is my contribution to what needs to be a vigorous consideration of what Everts’ view of the future of ASU entails. From where I sit, it looks bleak.

Robert A. White,
summa cum laude, arts and sciences, 1985, ASU, retired.

Watauga Democrat (7/20/16)

Criticism, questions surround Everts’ decisions

BOONE — In the weeks since Cindy Wallace was dismissed as vice chancellor for student development, a chorus of critics questioning Chancellor Sheri N. Everts’ staffing decisions and leadership continues to grow louder.

Multiple individuals and groups have called for greater transparency in university decisions and a clear picture of Everts’ vision for the university, while some are seeking answers about the future of campus services and development and the role of new leaders on campus, including recently appointed acting Chief of Staff Debbie Covington.

The critics include a group of at least 60 people who have organized behind an effort called “The Appalachian Way,” which includes alumni, retired staff and faculty, students, ASU supporters and others. The group established the website TheAppalachianWay.com and an email address, theappalachianway@gmail.com, and invited students and alumni to share their views on the ASU experience.

“We call ourselves The Appalachian Way because collectively we have experienced the love and the passion that being a member of Appalachian State University entails,” the group announced in a statement released June 22. “We were taught that The Appalachian Way wasn’t just a paid-for experience at a university, but it was a community and a feeling that everyone felt, and still feels after leaving. Collectively we … are concerned about the direction we are seeing Chancellor Sheri Noren Everts take Appalachian State University in.”

The group said it is standing up to ask questions and investigate “a series of concerning issues … particularly and most recently the replacement of very successful and very beloved members of the administration.”

The release went on to list a number of high-level administrative departures from ASU since Everts became chancellor in July 2014. On the website, the group asks, “What is Chancellor Everts’, the board of trustees’ and other leaders’ vision for Appalachian State University?

Questions about vision

One member of the “somewhat anonymous” group is Joni Petschauer, an ASU alumna and retired professor and program director. Her husband, Peter Petschauer, is also a retired professor and program director, and the two are donors, as well, having made financial contributions and gifts to the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts.

“Appalachian is a place that has given me a life,” said Joni Petschauer. “I worked here and loved it and felt empowered to do good things. That’s what I want The Appalachian Way to reflect.”

Petschauer said she wants to see clear thinking about university plans that is transparent and inclusive of all campus stakeholders.

The group’s aim is to “not attack, but to ask,” she said.

“If lots of people know we’re trying to talk about something, then we talk about it. That’s what the group is about,” she said. “We wanted to take a lot of hurt energy and make it positive.”

Petschauer acknowledged that Wallace is a longtime friend and colleague of hers. But, she noted, the group members know that “we don’t need to spend any time trying to reinstate Cindy,” nor are they calling for Ken Peacock to return. “That’s not on the table, and we know that. What we’re stressed about is what is going on? Why would something like that be a surprise to all of us? And where are we headed?”

On June 24, ASU acting Chief of Staff and spokeswoman Debbie Covington shared remarks that Everts gave to the ASU board of trustees last week — some in response to the questions from The Appalachian Way.

Everts has reached out to a group member but had not heard back as of late last week, Covington said.

“Since inception, the university has had one vision — putting students first by providing access to a quality education,” Everts said in the remarks. “This tradition is important to me, and I have worked to honor it by working with the entire Appalachian community to continue building upon our distinctive identity and core values. Ultimately, the reason our stellar faculty and staff come to work every day is to realize this vision, which can be summed up in one key phrase: We put students first, always, and together we are building a bright future.”

Everts pointed to communications in fall 2015, including remarks at a staff and faculty meeting, as examples of her vision and priorities for the campus, which she said were developed after months of listening in her first year as chancellor. The listed priorities included support for faculty and staff; wellness, health and safety; diversity; sustainability; global learning; student research; community and civic engagement; fundraising; and slow and steady enrollment.

Petschauer said she was glad to hear Everts state that students are first in her vision, but that the vision must be reflected in actions. Some criticized Everts for not meeting in person with students who occupied the administration building in protest of House Bill 2 earlier in the spring. On April 11, Everts met with three of the protest leaders and released a statement in opposition to HB2, which was among the protesters’ demands.

“I was surprised of the reticence of the chancellor to meet with the students … that was frustrating to me,” Petschauer said. “That’s where the rubber meets the road. When students are upset about something, meeting with them — that’s where leadership shows up.”

A staffing shuffle

A number of the leadership changes to which the group refers have occurred in the past six months. Among them are the retirement of Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs Greg Lovins on April 1 (though he accepted a new position at South Carolina’s Landers University); the naming of Willie Fleming as chief diversity officer, a role formerly held by Bindu Jayne, ASU’s associate vice chancellor for equity, diversity and compliance; and the dismissal of Wallace, who served 12 years in the vice chancellor’s position and 32 years at ASU.

Reached by the Watauga Democrat in the days after the dismissal, Wallace declined to comment on the matter. But the announcement of her departure sparked a firestorm of comments and letters, with many condemning the move while some defended the chancellor’s right to make it.

Daniel Tassitino, a student, former student government vice president and intern in Wallace’s office, penned a widely circulated open letter to UNC system leaders on June 8, criticizing what he described as Everts’ lack of visibility on campus, a reported disagreement between Everts and Wallace over the rebuilding of Winkler Residence Hall and the way in which Wallace was dismissed. A corresponding petition on the website change.org has thus far garnered more than 2,000 signatures asking for Everts’ removal as chancellor.

Soon after, ASU Faculty Senate Chairman Paul Gates sent a letter to media outlets in response to Tassitino’s letter, defending the chancellor.

“Sometimes when we write things in anger, emotions can cause us to muddle or misrepresent the facts,” Gates said. “Being the chancellor of a university is a complex job that serves multiple constituencies: students, faculty, and staff on the campus, but also the trustees, the Board of Governors, the legislature and the citizens of North Carolina.”

“To suggest that the chancellor has been hiding or is trying to ‘save face’ fundamentally misunderstands the complexities of the position,” he continued. “To accomplish these tasks, it is necessary that an organizational leader be supported by a team that she has confidence in. It must be the chancellor’s call regarding who is best suited to perform those tasks, especially at the senior level.”

The ASU chapter of the American Association of University Professors, however, has called for transparency in leaders’ decisions at ASU, which it said is essential for the collegial operation of the university as well as for campus morale.

“We believe that a university administration that takes inclusive governance seriously will be less exposed to institutional instability and community frustration resulting from unexpected and seemingly arbitrary administrative changes,” the chapter said in a June 14 statement.

Last week, Everts announced a shuffling of staff in the chancellor’s office as of July 1, with Chief of Staff Randy Edwards assuming the role of interim vice chancellor for university advancement, Covington moving from an executive assistant’s position to active chief of staff and director of marketing and Hank Foreman — currently chief communications officer and senior associate vice chancellor for University Advancement — being named senior associate vice chancellor for arts engagement and special assistant to the chancellor for strategic initiatives.

In addition, Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Susan Pettyjohn is set to retire June 30, and University Police Chief Gunther Doerr will retire Aug. 1.

“We have welcomed new faculty and staff and we have seen others retire or reach for the next opportunity in their future,” Everts said in a June 17 alumni newsletter.

“Change and transition can be challenging for any organization, including colleges and universities,” Everts said further on June 24. “We have dealt with changes in leadership at Appalachian during all administrations, and our community has always moved forward together.”

Dino DiBernardi, who retired as an administrator in the Division of Student Development this academic year after 39 years at ASU, said he absolutely supports and recognizes Everts’ right to decide who her team is, but with regard to Wallace, he feels the transition could have been handled better.

“For student development staff, I think it was very disruptive to find out that your boss was gone immediately, with no opportunity for explanation or understanding,” he said.

DiBernardi said he feels staff morale has been negatively affected by recent changes.

“I think folks are feeling a little disenfranchised right now, and they’re afraid to use their voice, because they feel like there’s a culture of retribution on campus. That may not be the case, but that’s how they’re feeling,” he said. “In the absence of good transparent decision making, people make up their own reality.”

Covington says role is not permanent

Multiple sources have questioned the role of Covington and why someone without a background in higher education has been promoted to such an important role at Appalachian State.

As part of the transition in the chancellor’s office, University Communications was moved out of the Division of University Advancement and instead reports directly to the chief of staff and the chancellor’s office.

Covington came to ASU two years ago after retiring from a career in marketing with the banking industry. Prior to joining Appalachian in 2014 as director of marketing and engagement for the Walker College of Business, Covington held several senior leadership roles for more than 15 years with First Union National Bank, Wachovia Corporation and Wells Fargo.

Speaking June 24, Covington emphasized that she has not been appointed as a permanent chief of staff at ASU, noting that an “acting” position serves as a placeholder until a permanent replacement is found.

Covington said she does not believe it is unusual for chiefs of staff at other universities to have different career backgrounds, nor is it uncommon for marketing and communications to report to that office.

Covington said she views the position as a “troubleshooter” and someone who serves to represent the university’s story.

Others have pointed to the fact that Covington’s husband, James, was elected in December 2015 as a member of the ASU Foundation board of directors and have questioned whether that represents a conflict of interest.

Covington noted that she and her husband asked university leaders at the time whether or not the appointment would be a conflict of interest.

“If so, he would be more than willing not to do that,” she said. “At any time, James would step off that board if it became a problem. He’s doing it for the good of the community. His goal is to raise money for the organization.”

She added that she and her husband, who is also retired from the banking industry, have maintained contacts in Charlotte and New York who could contribute their time or money to Appalachian State, and that the two are comfortable maintaining a professional confidentiality about certain matters, having once worked for the same organization.

Private partnerships?

Another issue discussed among those expressing concerns is whether or not Appalachian State is studying privatization options for campus services and development.

ASU leaders have studied the option of outsourcing food services and other university services to private businesses in the past, but have decided to maintain university control over these services, which employ many people in the community.

The university already is looking to increase partnerships with the private sector in constructing campus facilities.

Last week, the ASU board of trustees voted unanimously to approve a request to the UNC system Board of Governors for an 87.96-acre expansion of ASU’s designated millennial campus areas. The area includes all residence halls on the west side of campus, as well as Kidd Brewer Stadium.

Millennial campus designation allows public universities to enter into agreements with private sector firms to develop properties, facilitates issuing bonds to finance development of the properties and allows the university to keep all revenues related to leasing space in the properties.

The UNC system Board of Governors has already approved millennial campus designation for the former Broyhill Inn property, identified as the site of a future Innovation Campus, as well as the Beaver College of Health Sciences and University Hall properties.

By Anna Oakes anna.oakes@wataugademocrat.com

Watauga Democrat (6/29/16)

Opinion: Administrative upheaval at Appalachian: A plea for transparency

During the past weeks, a number of administrative changes have been announced while much of the Appalachian State University community is off campus or away for the summer months.

Even so, many alumni, students and faculty are deeply concerned about the intentions behind these dismissals and appointments, as well as the timing of these announcements. Since transparency is essential to the collegial operation of the university, we the undersigned ask Chancellor Sheri Everts to respond publicly to the following questions, which, we believe, members of the Appalachian community have a right to know:

1. Are plans currently under way to privatize certain units of Appalachian State University? If so, which units will be affected? What is the schedule for this process? Who makes such decisions? Will they have any impact at all on the university curriculum and educational mission? What will happen to those currently employed in the affected units?

2. Has the plan to renovate Winkler Hall, upon which millions of dollars have already been spent, been discontinued? If so, why? How will the money originally budgeted for this project be used? Will another residence hall be built there or not?

3. Does the fact that she supported moving forward on replacing Winkler with a new residence hall have anything to do with the recent dismissal of Vice Chancellor for Student Development Cindy Wallace?

4. Why has the chancellor hired a new chief diversity officer, reporting directly to her, when the university already had an associate vice chancellor of equity, diversity and compliance? Why was this duplication necessary, particularly given that the associate vice chancellor we already had was popular with students? Is this duplication justified financially, particularly at a time of dwindling resources from the state and increasing student tuition?

5. Everts announced that she was naming as acting chief of staff and director of communication an individual who, until two years ago, had no prior experience working in a university; who completed her bacheolor’s degree only a decade ago; who has several degrees from the University of Phoenix, a for-profit institution with a reputation that is at best controversial; and whose spouse was named six months ago to be a member of the Appalachian State University’s Foundation board. Is this really the most qualified person for the job? Does this selection not create an appearance of a conflict of interest?

6. Have any Appalachian students been retaliated against or faced disciplinary action for speaking out on these administrative changes?

The kinds of issues raised above, particularly when administrative decisions are made in opaque and underhanded ways, can significantly undermine campus morale. We look forward to clear, prompt, and public answers to these important questions from Everts.

Dr. Michael C. Behrent (history, president, ASU chapter of the American Association of University Professors)

Dr. Gregory Reck (anthropology, vice president, ASU chapter AAUP)

Dr. Leslie S. Jones (biology)

Dr. Sheila Phipps (history, AAUP member)

Dr. Jeff Bortz (history, AAUP member)

Dr. Greg McClure (Reich College of Education)

Dr. Elizabeth Bellows (Reich College of Education)

Watagua Democrat (6/29/16)

 

Watauga Democrat: Everts Announces More Changes to Cabinet

BOONE- Appalachian State University Chancellor Sheri N. Everts on June 22 announced additional changes among top administrative positions at the campus.

An email from Everts to ASU faculty and staff indicated that the changes were spurred by the upcoming departure of Susan Pettyjohn, vice chancellor for university advancement, who is retiring at the end of June.

"I wanted to share with you some organizational changes within University Advancement and the Office of the Chancellor that build upon our staff expertise while producing a budget savings during this time of transition," Everts said.

Randy Edwards, who has served as Everts' chief of staff since she became chancellor in July 2014, will now serve as the interim vice chancellor for advancement. Edwards will supervise development operations, the Appalachian State University Foundation, Alumni Affairs and Annual Giving, the email stated. Edwards will continue to supervise Auxillary Services, University Sustainability, the Small Business and Technical Development Center and New River Light and Power until a new vice chancellor for business affairs begins work on campus.

Prior to serving as chief of staff, Edwards was dean of the Walker College of Business for nine years.

"Randy has many years of experience with development at Appalachian, and I thank him for serving in this interim role while we begin a national search to fill this position," Everts said.

Human Resources will report directly to the chancellor, according to the email.

Debra Covington, who has served as the interim special assistant to the chancellor since July 2015, will become the acting chief of staff and director of marketing for the university, Everts announced.

As part of the change, University Communications will no longer be a part of the Division of University Advancement and instead will report to Covington and the Office of the Chancellor.

"This shift recognizes the elevated role communications has played and will continue to play in the daily operations of the university," Everts said. "I thank Debbie for taking on this new leadership role."

Hank Foreman, currently senior associate vice chancellor for University Advancement and chief communications officer, will take on new responsibilities as both senior associate vice chancellor for arts engagement and special assistant to the chancellor for strategic initiatives.

"This will allow him to continue enhancing the nationally recognized history of cultural and artistic excellence at Appalachian through the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, An Appalachian Summer Festival and the Schaefer Center," Everts said, as well as assist the Office of the Chancellor in implementing strategic initiatives.

The appointments announced this week are the latest in a string of changes within the chancellor's cabinet in the past six months. 

In February, Matthew T. Dockham was hired as the new director of external affairs and community relations, replacing Susan McCracken, who left the role in August 2015 to become director of ASU's Career Development Center.

Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs Greg Lovins retired April 1 after 25 years at ASU and accepted a new position at South Carolina's Landers University. Tim Burwell, previously the vice provost for resource management in the Division of Academic Affairs, stepped into the role of interim vice chancellor for business affairs as a national search is being conducted for the position. In May, the search committee announced three finalists for the position.

In May, Willie Fleming was named the chief diversity officer, a role formerly held by Bindu Jayne. Jayne was hired as ASU's chief diversity officer and associate vice chancellor for equity, diversity and compliance in June 2014. She retains the title of associate vice chancellor for equity, diversity and compliance, according to the chancellor's website.

And earlier this month, Vice Chancellor for Student Development Cindy Wallace was dismissed after 12 years in the position and 32 years at ASU. Leroy Wright was appointed interim vice chancellor for student development as a national search is being conducted to fill that position.

By Anna Oakes anna.oakes@wataugademocrat.com

The News & Observer: ASU Alumni Group Questions Staffing Shakeup

BY JANE STANCILL
jstancill@newsobserver.com

A group of Appalachian State University alumni wants answers about the school’s future in the aftermath of several high-profile administrative departures.

The group, calling itself The Appalachian Way, formed a website calling on Chancellor Sheri Everts to articulate her plans for the university and explain a recent administrative shakeup.

“Chancellor Everts will be held to account for her leadership decisions and should know that although she is in charge of our beloved institution, she is a public servant to Appalachian, and changes to The Appalachian Way and our community will not go unnoticed and we will respond accordingly,” the group said in a statement Wednesday.

Efforts to reach Everts were unsuccessful, and a university spokesman did not respond to an email. In an email to the campus Wednesday, Everts announced several organizational changes in her top staff, “that build upon our staff expertise while producing a budget savings during this time of transition.”

Michael McSwain, a 2010 graduate, of Washington, D.C., said Wednesday that about 60 alumni and retired faculty are involved or have been consulted about the group’s effort.

“We’re just a group of people who as individuals have been concerned about things we’ve seen at the university for some time,” McSwain said.

He said the group was most recently motivated by the departure of Cindy Wallace, former vice chancellor for student development, who was forced out after 32 years at the university. The group cited six other administrators who had retired or been removed in the past two years of Everts’ tenure.

McSwain said alumni have reached out to trustees and the chancellor with questions about the path forward for ASU but received no response.

“We’re just asking for clarity around what that vision is,” McSwain said, adding, “We just simply aren’t getting any information. There is no transparency.”

Online petitions from students have also taken aim at Everts. Earlier this month, ASU’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors issued a statement saying it did not have enough information to weigh in on the administrative reassignments, but asserted that “university governance should be transparent, inclusive, and shared.”

“We believe that a university administration that takes inclusive governance seriously will be less exposed to institutional instability and community frustration resulting from unexpected and seemingly arbitrary administrative changes,” said the AAUP statement.

Appalachian State University enrolls 18,000 students in Boone.

Jane Stancill: 919-829-4559

Student Led Petitions Garner Thousands Of Signatures For Removal Of Chancellor Everts Following Removal Of Wallace

Two change.org petitions garnered more than 2,000 signatures for the removal of Chancellor Everts as chancellor of Appalachian State University following the removal of Wallace. “So far, UNC President Margaret Spellings has gotten to hire one chancellor for the system’s 17 campuses. A social-media outcry wants her to make that two, sooner rather than later. Voiced via two change.org petitions, the campaign targets Appalachian State University Chancellor Sheri Everts, who’s been on the job since the summer of 2014. More than 2,000 people have signed the petitions, both of which ask Spellings, the system Board of Governors and campus trustees to fire Everts immediately. The ostensible motive for the campaign is Everts’ own personnel decisions, most notably her firing on June 3 of Appalachian’s longtime student-affairs chief, Cindy Wallace.” (Ray Gronberg, “Spellings Petitioned To Sack ASU Chancellor,” The Herald Sun, 6/16/16)

Since Chancellor Everts Took Office, There Have Been Mass Senior Staff Changes, Which Resulted In Displacing Public Servants With Nearly 126 Years Of Experience At ASU

Since Chancellor Everts took office, at least 7 officials involved in the administration of Appalachian State University and who had a collective of nearly 126 years of experience with the university have either left or have been forced out of their positions:


•    Charlie Cobb – Former Athletic Director (9 Years). Cobb elected to leave his position on his own volition and take the same position with Georgia State University.  “Charlie Cobb, who served as Appalachian State University’s director of athletics since 2005, resigned on Thursday to accept the same position at Georgia State University.” (“Charlie Cobb Resigns As Appalachian State AD To Accept Same Position At Georgia State University,” High Country Press, 8/15/14)


•    Lori Gonzalez – Former Provost (3 years). Gonzalez served as the provost for three years, before stepping down to serve as a special assistant to the chancellor. She left that position 18 days later. “Former Appalachian State University Provost Lori Gonzalez’s new post will take her to Chapel Hill, a UNC system official confirmed. ASU announced earlier this month that Gonzalez would be stepping down as provost and executive vice chancellor and assuming the role of special assistant to the chancellor on Oct. 11.” (Anna Oakes, “Gonzalez Moves To UNC System Offices,” Watauga Democrat, 10/29/14)


•    Rick Beasley – Former Deputy Athletics Director (9 years). Beasley elected to retire early in June 2015 after having served in the Athletics Department for 9 years. However, Beasley quickly became a Sr. Associate Athletics Director at Georgia State University by November of the same year. “Appalachian State University deputy athletics director Rick Beasley announced his retirement on Tuesday, effective June 30… Beasley joined the Appalachian athletics staff in 2006 as a senior associate athletics director and was promoted to deputy athletics director in 2014. In his role, Beasley served as the athletics department’s chief development officer and was heavily involved in the department’s day-to-day operations.” (“App State Deputy Athletics Director Rick Beasley Announces Retirement Effective July,” High Country Press, 5/6/15)


•    Greg Lovins – Former Vice Chancellor For Business Affairs (25 years). Lovins elected to retire in 2016 after 25 years of public service at Appalachian. However, Lovins left Appalachian to join the administration at Lander University in a similar role. “Appalachian State University’s vice chancellor for business affairs, Greg Lovins, will retire effective April 1, according to an email from Chancellor Sheri Everts addressed to the Appalachian community on Feb. 8. Lovins has worked for 25 years at the university and 32 years at the state level. He will go on to work at South Carolina’s Lander University as vice president for business and administration — chief financial officer.” (Erika Giovanetti, “Vice Chancellor Lovins Retires From ASU,” Watauga Democrat, 2/11/16; Lander University, “Lander Announces The Appointment Of Two New Vice Presidents,” Press Release, 1/28/16)


•    Susan Pettyjohn – Former Vice Chancellor For University Advancement (9 years). Pettyjohn elected to retire from Appalachian after 9 years at Appalachian. “Susan Pettyjohn, vice chancellor for university advancement, has announced her retirement from Appalachian State effective June 30, ASU Chancellor Sheri N. Everts announced in a Feb. 25 email… Prior to joining ASU nine years ago, Pettyjohn served as associate vice president for development at the College of William and Mary.” (Anna Oakes, “Pettyjohn To Retire From ASU,” Watauga Democrat, 3/1/16)


•    Dino DiBernardi – Former Assistant Vice Chancellor For Student Development (39 Years). DiBernardi elected to leave after 39 years at Appalachian in 2016. “At his retirement celebration on Jan. 29, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Development and former Plemmons Scholar Matt Dull mentioned stories of DiBernardi’s childhood and quoted something DiBernardi would often tell his children: ‘There isn’t anything you can think of that I haven’t already tried.’ … DiBernardi started working at Appalachian in 1977 as a Greek adviser and the assistant director for Housing and Resident Programming. He then became the associate director of Complementary Education, and progressed to the associate director of the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership. Then, in 1990, he became the director of CSIL. He started as associate vice chancellor of Student Development, the position he has now retired from, in 2006. During his time at Appalachian, DiBernardi completed many projects that have shaped the university of today.” (Stephanie Sansoucy, “An Appalachian Legend Retires,” The Appalachian, 2/4/16)


•    Cindy Wallace – Former Vice Chancellor For Student Development (32 Years). Wallace was suddenly let go from ASU’s administration during the summer while students were away from campus. “Appalachian State Chancellor Sheri N. Everts announced Wednesday that effective June 3, Cindy Wallace no longer serves in the role of vice chancellor for student development at the University. The Watauga Democrat reports that an email from Everts indicated that the Chancellor decided to initiate a leadership change in the Division of Student Development and that an interim vice chancellor would be appointed, and a national search will begin soon. Everts says she will keep the campus community updated through the search process, and thanked Wallace for her years of service and commitment to the University.  Wallace served 12 years at the position and more than 30 years at ASU.” (Bill Fisher, “Wallace No Longer Vice Chancellor For Student Development At ASU,” Go Blueridge Net, 6/9/16)


Student Led Petitions Garnered Thousands Of Signatures For Removal Of Chancellor Everts Following Removal Of Wallace

Two change.org petitions garnered more than 2,000 signatures for the removal of Chancellor Everts as chancellor of Appalachian State University following the removal of Wallace. “So far, UNC President Margaret Spellings has gotten to hire one chancellor for the system’s 17 campuses. A social-media outcry wants her to make that two, sooner rather than later. Voiced via two change.org petitions, the campaign targets Appalachian State University Chancellor Sheri Everts, who’s been on the job since the summer of 2014. More than 2,000 people have signed the petitions, both of which ask Spellings, the system Board of Governors and campus trustees to fire Everts immediately. The ostensible motive for the campaign is Everts’ own personnel decisions, most notably her firing on June 3 of Appalachian’s longtime student-affairs chief, Cindy Wallace.” (Ray Gronberg, “Spellings Petitioned To Sack ASU Chancellor,” The Herald Sun, 6/16/16)