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Originally published: 2013-09-26 20:21:59
Last modified: 2013-09-26 20:22:44

Economic leaders speak about chancellor search

by Anna Oakes

About a dozen community leaders and local citizens weighed in on Appalachian State University's search for a new chancellor at a forum held Wednesday.

The forum -- one of six scheduled this month by the chancellor search committee - focused on the Boone and Watauga County community's relationship with the chancellor.

Lauren Waterworth, chairwoman of the Watauga County Economic Development Commission, said the commission is interested in pursuing ambitious projects in conjunction with the university.

"We want to think big," Waterworth said. "We are trying to get some interest in a business or light industrial park. The university would be a huge part of that undertaking and critical to the success of it."

Joe Furman, director of the commission, said the presence of  the university, a highly educated workforce and good broadband service creates the potential for a "mini Research Triangle Park."

Leaders of the Boone and Blowing Rock chambers of commerce said they hoped Kenneth Peacock's successor would be willing to engage with community groups and bridge the perceived gaps between the university and the community.

Dan Meyer, president and CEO of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, said he would like to see more ASU research lead to entrepreneurship and business growth locally.

Charles Hardin, executive director of the Blowing Rock chamber, said it would be important to hire a chancellor who understands small business and who is willing to speak to civic clubs and other groups.

Stacy "Four" Eggers IV, a local attorney, said ASU has benefitted in the past from having chancellors who had been at the university for some time and who already had built relationships in the area.
"I'd like to see a chancellor and university that is very involved in the community," Eggers said. "You need someone who has a good ability to relate to individuals and relate to different personalities and characters."

Others said they believe there should be better communication and education about how the community can use the university's resources.

Brad Adcock, ASU trustee and vice chairman of the search committee, wondered aloud why no local elected officials were present at the forum.

The final two forums seeking input on the chancellor search will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
today at the Broyhill Music Center and from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at I.G. Greer Hall auditorium. Although the forums are focused on the School of Music and faculty and staff, respectively, anyone may speak at the forums.

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