INTERVIEW: Peacock on next chapter
by Anna Oakes
Peacock has led the university since 2004. He announced his decision in a statement to campus Thursday, noting that he plans to stay on until a new chancellor is selected, which could take up to a year.
"This is a high-demand job. I don't dislike that; I love the job," Peacock said. "I am a father and I am a husband, and I am now a very proud grandfather. My sons talked to me and said, 'Dad, when is it our turn? We want some of your time.' I understand that."
The chancellor dispelled any notion that his decision is related to his health, adding that he recently received a good report from his doctor. He also said he did not feel external pressure to resign.
"This was entirely my decision," he said. "I'm not being encouraged to move on -- certainly not by trustees and by (UNC) General Administration."
And one more clarification: "I'm not retiring. Retiring is not in my DNA," said Peacock, but he says he has not yet committed to any future roles.
"It's going to be an exciting chapter (of my life)," he said.
University of North Carolina system President Tom Ross informed the UNC Board of Governors of the decision on Friday.
"I have reluctantly accepted his decision, with tremendous admiration for the remarkable accomplishments the institution has achieved during his tenure," Ross said to the board. "As one of our most senior chancellors, Ken has also been a wonderful colleague and mentor to me. In countless ways, he will leave Appalachian stronger than he found it, and that's quite a legacy in and of itself."
Ross will soon consult with ASU board of trustees Chairman Mike Steinback about launching a search for a new chancellor. Peacock said Ross plans to visit campus at the next board of trustees meeting in June.
The chairman will appoint a search committee that typically includes trustees and faculty, staff, student and alumni representatives. The committee will develop a leadership statement, solicit nominations and applications and screen and interview candidates with the aid of a consulting firm.
The committee will then submit a slate of finalists to the board of trustees, which will recommend the slate to the UNC president for his consideration. The president will then place a name in nomination for election by the Board of Governors.
Peacock said he is prepared to stay on at ASU as long as it takes to select a new leader.
"Whenever the person is identified, I will step aside. If it happens in six months, no problem. When they tell me, I'll be ready," said the chancellor.
Peacock joined ASU's accounting faculty in 1983 and served as the dean of the Walker College of Business from 1992 to 2003. He was serving as interim provost when hired as chancellor in 2004.
Peacock said he is most proud of the emails and responses from students who have said the chancellor has had an impact on their life.
"The fact that I can say I touched the life of a young person -- there is no finer honor for me," he said.
Peacock said he is also pleased about the establishment of a College of Health Sciences and partnership with Wake Forest University's medical school, the creation of The Honors College and the completion of a new College of Education building during his tenure.
But all of these achievements happened, he said, because of "an incredible team of professionals that I work with in all the divisions."
Said Ross, "As chancellor, he has overseen significant growth in Appalachian's enrollment and academic offerings, while also raising the academic quality of the student body. Under his leadership, the campus has launched new initiatives in the areas of health care and energy and attracted wide recognition for its focus on civic engagement and environmental sustainability."
Peacock said he has much he wants to accomplish in his remaining time as chancellor, including a public-private partnership to build a health sciences facility, a strong finish to ASU's capital campaign and the strengthening of ASU's international programs.
"I would like my legacy to be that I brought the world to Appalachian and that I carried Appalachian into the world," he said.
Peacock said he will spend at least two months after his resignation relaxing and reading books before he makes any decisions about the future.
"I don't think I could have a highlight of life any more than having served these past nine years," he said. "I will appreciate this campus and its understanding of me forever."
A message from the board of trustees of Appalachian State University
The board of trustees of Appalachian State University reluctantly, and with great nostalgia and admiration, extends its unwavering support of Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock's recent decision to step down from his position. We want to be clear and unequivocal that the chancellor's decision was made by him and his family after thoughtful and considerable personal deliberation. We understand that this decision was difficult for him, but deeply respect that he believes that the time was appropriate for Appalachian and, most importantly, for his family.
Ken Peacock has proudly and unselfishly served the university and Appalachian community ... the last nine (years) of which were as chancellor. His leadership style is best characterized by his positive attitude and energy level and his passionate conviction to provide the very best and highest quality academic environment for our student body and their families, our faculty, staff, administration, community and region. Through his dedication, leadership style and initiatives, Appalachian has emerged as a highly respected, premier university, nationally recognized for its outstanding value and affordability, challenging academics, student athlete success, passionate and successful alumni, international learning programs, diversity and environmental sustainability. His leadership has demonstrated that growth is truly a process of responding positively to change, confronting challenges, adversity and opportunity with a spirit of determination and courage. His leadership and legacy will long endure and has strongly positioned Appalachian for a very bright future ahead.
Importantly, the chancellor's decision to step down involves a transition whereby he will continue in his current capacity as chancellor, leading Appalachian until such time that a strong successor is identified and hired. Accordingly, there will be no void in the leadership and continued strong direction of the university. During this transition, the board of trustees stands firmly supportive of the chancellor and his leadership cabinet and will work diligently with the full Appalachian community and the UNC system to launch a comprehensive search process for Ken's successor.