Spring 2020 Commencement
(Premiering) Saturday, May 16, at 11 a.m. EST
Spring 2020 Commencement
(Premiering) Saturday, May 16, at 11 a.m. EST
For many graduates, commencement is the ultimate celebration of one of the most significant achievements of their lifetimes. We are heartbroken that we are not able to offer a traditional May Commencement this year but are also determined to provide a memorable commencement experience for our May and August 2020 graduates, one that honors the work you have done to reach this stage in your academic career.
Post pictures using these hashtags for a chance to be featured on our commencement page.
Saturday, May 16, 2020
Author, journalist and radio and TV personality
Bachelor of Science in communication
Stephen J. Dubner ’84 is an award-winning author, journalist and radio and TV personality. He is best known as co-author of the "Freakonomics" book series, which has sold more than 7 million copies in over 40 countries. He is also the host of "Freakonomics Radio," which gets 8 million monthly downloads and airs on NPR stations and elsewhere.
"Freakonomics," published in 2005, was an instant international bestseller and cultural phenomenon. "SuperFreakonomics" followed to similar acclaim in 2009, and in 2010 a documentary film version of "Freakonomics" was chosen as the closing film of the Tribeca Film Festival. "Think Like a Freak," published in 2014, immediately took up a long residency atop the international bestseller lists and was followed by "When to Rob a Bank," a collection of posts from the Freakonomics blog, which has been called “the most readable economics blog in the universe.”
Dubner has appeared widely on television, including as a regular contributor to ABC News and as host of the NFL Network's "Football Freakonomics," which was nominated for an Emmy.
His other books include "Turbulent Souls" (1998); "Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper" (2003); and the children's book "The Boy With Two Belly Buttons" (2007). His journalism has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Time and elsewhere, and has been anthologized in The Best American Sports Writing, The Best American Crime Writing and others.
The eighth and last child of an upstate New York newspaperman, Dubner has been writing for a long time. (His first published work appeared, at age 11, in Highlights magazine.) As an undergraduate at Appalachian State University, he started a rock band that was signed to Arista Records, which landed him in New York City. He ultimately quit playing music to earn an MFA in writing at Columbia University, where he also taught in the English department. He worked at New York Magazine and The New York Times before launching his book and radio career.
Dubner, a former Chancellor's Scholar and Honors College student at Appalachian, is a graduate of the university’s B.S. in communication degree program. He was honored with the Appalachian Alumni Association's Distinguished Alumni Award in 2012.
He lives in New York with his wife, the documentary photographer Ellen Binder, and their two children.
Bachelor of Science in public health, May 2020
Honors College senior Olivia Gentry, of Weaverville, is graduating from Appalachian with honors. She will earn her B.S. in public health with a minor in social work, both of which are offered by Appalachian’s Beaver College of Health Sciences (BCHS).
The 4.0 GPA graduate and BCHS Dean’s Scholar — whom Appalachian’s public health program faculty described as “smart, thoughtful, passionate and a fantastic advocate” — said she was inspired to pursue the field of public health by her mother, who has worked in the field for numerous years.
While attending Buncombe High School in Weaverville, Gentry was part of a group called Youth Educators and Advocates for Health, and she continued her passion for health advocacy at Appalachian by participating in the Department of Wellness and Prevention’s WE CAN (Wellness Educators for Change, Advocacy and Student Needs) program.
After graduation, Gentry plans to spend a year volunteering with AmeriCorps or a similar group before applying to Master of Public Health programs.
Doctor of Education, educational leadership, May 2020
Ann Marie McNeely ’16, of Morganton, is graduating from Appalachian with an Ed.D. in educational leadership. She holds an A.A. from Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC), a B.A. and an M.A. in English from the University of Central Florida and an Ed.S. in higher education from Appalachian.
McNeely currently serves as WPCC’s dean of arts and sciences, a position she has held since 2009. Previously, she taught college-level composition, literature and communications at community colleges and universities for 13 years and was a freelance writer and editor in the textbook market for seven years. In addition to composition textbooks, she has published poetry, essays and magazine articles.
McNeely said she became an educator because she believes “a quality education elevates us all,” and contributing to human growth and development makes her life meaningful. She said her professors at Appalachian inspired her to view her studies through a social justice lens — which will forever impact the way she moves through and responds to the world.
Appalachian is proud to welcome Luke Combs as a special guest performer, joining his alma mater in celebrating the Class of 2020. Combs is an award-winning country music artist who most recently was honored as Male Vocalist of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards in 2019. His chart-topping hits include “Beautiful Crazy,” “Even Though I’m Leaving” and “She Got the Best of Me.” His most recent release is “Six Feet Apart.”
A special thank-you to the many members of the Appalachian Community — speakers, faculty and staff, junior marshals, college deans and banner carriers, among others — who volunteered to assist with the university’s original plan for spring commencement. Though the shift to a virtual ceremony changed the needs for volunteers, Appalachian appreciates all those who offered their time and talents to help honor the class of 2020.
Beaver College of Health Sciences
College of Arts and Sciences
College of Fine and Applied Arts
Hayes School of Music
Reich College of Education
Walker College of Business
The Appalachian State University mace is carried by a senior faculty member in all academic processions. Traditionally, the mace bearer precedes the chancellor of an institution, both upon entering and leaving a ceremony. The mace serves as a symbol of authority just as it did during the Middle Ages, when a mace bearer accompanied an official taking office or opening court.
The Appalachian mace symbolizes the university’s mountain heritage, the rustic location and the sophistication of an emerging, national leader in higher education. Its design, as a walking stick with a base constructed of roughhewn log and finished molding, is appropriate to the natural environment of the area. At the top of the mace is a soaring, red-tailed hawk, native to the area. The hawk symbolizes power, authority, as well as the empowerment of education. The talons are grasping a sphere containing two quartz crystals. The first crystal represents the global nature of the university, its educational programs, alumni and students. The second quartz crystal within the sphere is a reproduction of Grandfather Mountain.
The letters ASU reliefed within the pine cone are crafted in black enamel and are gold plated. The various bands represent the flora and fauna native to the area. The black walnut, one of the strongest of woods, was used to symbolize the staying power of the university.
The mace was constructed by Carolina Bronze, of Asheville. Fittingly, two Appalachian students and an Appalachian graduate were involved in the production. It was commissioned by the Appalachian Alumni Association in 1994.
Appalachian has never canceled a commencement — not even for the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918–19 or during World War II. With the available technology that is allowing us to continue our mission of teaching, research and service, we are determined to offer an exciting and newsworthy way to celebrate in May for those who wish to.
The name of each candidate who registered for Spring 2020 Commencement by Friday, April 24, at 5 p.m. will be read and displayed in the recording. Prior to the virtual ceremony, graduates will have received, via mail, a commencement packet that includes a diploma cover and other items to commemorate this achievement.
May and August graduates will have the opportunity to participate in a special commencement ceremony on Friday, Dec. 11.
We recognize that this may be challenging but hope that by providing as much notice as possible, May and August graduates and their families may begin planning now. Additional details will be provided by the Registrar’s Office.
Sincere thanks to the many people who worked on Appalachian’s virtual Spring 2020 Commencement, including:
Appalachian’s Virtual Commencement Planning Committee:
A special thanks to Stephen J. Dubner '84 and to Luke Combs for performing and contributing the use of the university’s alma mater and adapting a special version of “This One's for You” for his fellow Mountaineers.