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ASU Chancellor-elect Sheri Everts, left, and students Sarah Eubanks and Caitlin Harper gather as they snap a photo at Thursday’s reception.

PHOTOS BY ANNA OAKES



Originally published: 2014-03-20 18:47:03
Last modified: 2014-03-20 18:47:03

ASU welcomes chancellor-elect

by Anna Oakes

Sheri Everts received an Appalachian welcome Thursday during her first visit to the university campus after being named chancellor-elect.

Everts, who is currently provost at Illinois State University, was elected as the seventh chancellor of Appalachian State University on Wednesday by the University of North Carolina system Board of Governors. The board held a special meeting in Chapel Hill to approve the hire -- a recommendation by UNC system President Tom Ross.

Everts' tenure as chancellor will begin July 1. She follows 10 years of leadership by outgoing Chancellor Ken Peacock, who announced in spring 2013 that he would be stepping down. Everts becomes the first woman to lead Appalachian State University as chancellor in its 115-year history.

ASU hosted a reception for Everts Thursday at the campus' Central Dining Hall, with remarks by Everts and other university leaders, performances by the Marching Mountaineers and string musicians and plenty of photographs.

"Everyone is so nice; they are so welcoming," Everts said at the reception, noting that she was moved by the number of students and faculty who attended. "It makes me feel so welcomed to the Appalachian family."

As provost at Illinois State, Everts oversees all academic activities for the public doctoral institution of more than 18,000 students. Under her leadership, external grant funding at the university increased from $18 million in 2007 to $25.6 million in 2012, according to her resume. The university also experienced a continuing increase in tenured and tenure-track faculty, with 96 percent of professors holding the highest degrees in their field -- the most in the history of ISU, her resume states.

In 2010, Everts was named among Illinois' "Most Powerful and Influential Women" by the National Diversity Council.

Everts served as interim president of Illinois State from May to August 2013 and last fall was a finalist in the University of South Alabama's presidential search. She previously served in various administrative roles at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, including acting senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs.

"She brings to the task two decades of academic and leadership experience at highly respected public universities," Ross said Wednesday. "At each step along the way, she has proven herself to be an energetic and effective leader who encourages creative problem-solving, promotes collaboration and inclusiveness and demonstrates a passionate commitment to academic excellence and student success.

"She has also earned a reputation for great integrity, sound judgment and a strong commitment to community engagement, outreach and partnership," Ross added.

Everts holds doctorate and master's degrees in curriculum and instruction administration and a bachelor's degree in English instruction from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She began her career as a middle and high school English teacher and taught courses in the University of Nebraska-Omaha's Department of Teacher Education from 1994 to 2008.

Speaking Wednesday, Everts said she was impressed with ASU's focus on students and the amount of undergraduate student research conducted in conjunction with faculty.

In her remarks at the Board of Governors meeting, Everts drew laughs with a joke about Peacock's "rock star" status: "I would not be surprised to hear that Chancellor Peacock drove both buses down (to Chapel Hill)," she said.

"Following a talented and wildly popular chancellor may be a difficult task, but I would offer that I am very fortunate to build on the strength of the Peacock legacy," said Everts.

She also made sure to give a nod to Appalachian State football at the Wednesday and Thursday events, noting that she grew up on football as a Nebraska native. She and Peacock enthusiastically conducted the Marching Mountaineers as they performed the ASU fight song on Thursday.

ASU sophomore Sarah Eubanks and junior Sally Defelice were among the students who took photos with Everts at the campus dining hall. Eubanks said she loved that Everts donned an ASU ball cap at the event.

"She's just so warm and welcoming," Eubanks said. "Relatable," said Defelice.

"It's also inspirational for us ladies (to see ASU's first female chancellor)," Eubanks added.

Mike Steinback, chairman of ASU's Board of Trustees and the Chancellor Search Committee, said Everts is the "right person for this job at the right time," noting that her gender never came up as a factor in her selection as a finalist.

"She embodies so many of the characteristics we wanted," he said, and on Wednesday described Everts as a strong educator and an effective communicator with proven fundraising skills.

Everts' salary as chancellor will be $285,000.

Boone Mayor Andy Ball attended Everts' reception and said, "The town of Boone is excited to welcome her. Boone and the university try so hard to work hand-in-hand." Ball said he hoped that a town-gown committee would soon be revived to facilitate better partnerships between Boone and ASU.
Everts is married to physician and former Wayne State University President Jay Noren, and together they have four adult children.

The ASU Chancellor Search Committee first met on Aug. 27 of last year, hiring consultant Baker and Associates to aid in the candidate recruiting and vetting process. The committee held several public forums and issued a survey to gather input prior to interviewing candidates.

Steinback said the search committee received hundreds of resumes for the position and eventually narrowed the field to eight candidates before recommending three finalists to the Board of Trustees. However, one of the finalists accepted a position at another institution, so the trustees early last month recommended two candidates to Ross.