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Sheri Noren Everts addresses the UNC Board of Governors and attendees after being named the
chancellor-elect at Appalachian State University. Photo by Jesse Campbell

Originally published: 2014-03-19 10:22:36
Last modified: 2014-03-20 08:57:31

Everts named ASU chancellor-elect

by Anna Oakes and Jesse Campbell

Sheri Noren Everts has been named the seventh chancellor of Appalachian State University following a vote by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors in Chapel Hill Wednesday.

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

Everts has served as provost at Illinois State University since 2008, overseeing all academic activities for the public doctoral institution of more than 18,000 students.

"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," Everts said after her election by the board. "I will never forget how welcome you've made us feel."

UNC system President Tom Ross formally recommended Everts for election by the Board of Governors following a closed session meeting Wednesday.

"She brings to the task two decades of academic and leadership experience at highly respected public universities," Ross said. "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 served as interim president of Illinois State University 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. Everts taught courses in the University of Nebraska-Omaha's Department of Teacher Education from 1994 to 2008.

She 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.

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

Under her leadership, external grant funding at Illinois State University increased from $18 million in fiscal year 2007 to $25.6 million in fiscal year 2012, according to her resume. The university has 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.

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, Everts evoked laughter from those in attendance 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)" -- and a nod to Appalachian State's 2007 football win over Michigan.

She noted that when she met ASU Student Body President Dylan Russell, he mentioned that the care that ASU faculty and staff have for students is evident.

"People will always remember how we make them feel," she said. "There's something in the water in Boone, and I'm very anxious to drink a lot of it."

Russell was a member of the Chancellor Search Committee. When asked about Everts' background and experience, Russell said he was impressed by her "ranks through academia" and her "understanding of Appalachian's identity and how she embodies the spirit" of the university.

"It's a super exciting and historic event for the campus," Russell said. "We couldn't be more excited and can't wait to see what she does at Appalachian."

Jim Deal, a Boone attorney and former ASU trustee and Board of Governors member who served on the Chancellor Search Committee, said he was "thrilled" with the selection and described Everts as "a sharp lady with a strong background in education."

"She will be a good fit for Appalachian, as well as the town of Boone," said Deal.

Deal said Everts stood above other applicants because of her prior experience in serving on a local board of education and her various capacities at all levels of academia.

Everts is a Nebraska native who attended elementary school in a one-room schoolhouse. She is married to physician and former Wayne State University President Jay Noren, and together they have four adult children. Everts said she is a first-generation college graduate who understands the importance of an affordable education.

"I know full well what my parents went through in putting eight kids through college," she said.

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.

ASU Board of Trustees and search committee Chairman Mike 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, who presented his recommendation to the BOG on Wednesday.

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

Steinback described Everts as a "strong and effective communicator," a "strong educator" with proven fundraising skills and a strong desire to live in a mountain community. He said Everts possesses the innate academic skills and wherewithal to build upon Appalachian's legacy and move the university forward.

"She's the right person for this job at the right time," Steinback said.

Everts will meet with members of the broader Appalachian campus community for the first time beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday at ASU's Central Dining Hall.

"There is one important thing I can do especially right away, and that is listen," she said.

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