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