• Touching Lives: The Story of Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock

The legacy of Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock:

Under the leadership of Dr. Kenneth E. Peacock, Appalachian became a destination of choice for high-achieving, intellectually curious students wanting to be engaged in the community.

In addition to small classes and challenging academics, Appalachian became known for its undergraduate research, internationalized curriculum, service-learning and sustainability, both in academic programs and campus practices. The university received increased national attention for its academics and three national NCAA football championships in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

A former dean of Appalachian’s Walker College of Business, Chancellor Peacock led significant growth in the areas of healthcare and the nexus of energy, the environment and economics. Chancellor Peacock established the newest college in nearly 40 years, the College of Health Sciences, and opened a new building for the College of Education. He also established the ACCESS scholarship program that allows North Carolina’s low-income students to earn a degree debt free. Enrollment during his tenure increased from 14,653 to 17,838.

Students First, Quality in All

Kenneth E. Peacock became Appalachian State University’s sixth chancellor in 2004. He came to his new role with an understanding of North Carolina's economic and educational challenges, a solid history of teaching and administration at Appalachian, and a vision for making a great university even better.

As a first generation college student, Peacock also brought a keen understanding of the sacrifices many families make to send their children to college, as well as the ability to relate easily to and make friends with just about anyone.

A native of Rocky Mount, he graduated from Mars Hill College in 1970, and then earned his doctorate from Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge in 1980. He joined Appalachian's Walker College of Business in 1983, teaching accounting and taxation. In 1987, he became Assistant Dean of the College of Business, with primary responsibility for international programs and external initiatives. He held the role of Associate Dean from 1989 to 1992, and then became Dean of the college, a position he held until 2003.

On his first day as Chancellor, Kenneth E. Peacock told the university community he would work tirelessly for "students first, quality in all." And those who heard him speak began to understand his passion for Appalachian State University. His commitment to students and vision for the future would change Appalachian – and North Carolina – forever.

Putting Students First

“In making decisions or recommendations, I want to put students first. I want to make sure we give them the absolute best in terms of their campus experience: academics, the arts, athletics, it all comes together. Quality must come in all of this, quality in everything we do.” -Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock

  • 2004
  • Peacock begins his tenure as chancellor.

  • Chancellor Peacock announces top goals, which include to place an emphasis on meeting a demand for professionals in the area of health and health services, and to increase international opportunities for Appalachian students.

  • Students vote with 83 percent approval to charge themselves a $5 per semester fee to begin the Renewable Energy Initiative (REI). The REI would support renewable energy projects on campus, offset the university’s dependence on fossil fuels and serve as outreach and education to students about the benefits of renewable energy. Projects will include the use of biodiesel fuel in university service vehicles and AppalCART public transportation system, and installation of a solar panel near Raley Hall, a solar thermal water heating system in Plemmons Student Union, and a community-scale wind turbine on campus that generates enough electricity to power 15 homes.

  • In 2004-05, 44 faculty members teach 94 service-learning courses across 15 academic departments. By 2012-13, designated service-learning sections will enroll 1,531 students across 18 academic departments, and the university will also expand its community partners to include more than 160 local organizations.

Passion for the Academic Mission

One of Chancellor Peacock’s earliest initiatives was establishing the Office of Student Research to expand the opportunities for students to engage in research and mentored scholarship with national and international scholars and professionals. Today, Appalachian’s external funding is overseen by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP), which provides support for the research, creative and scholarly endeavors of Appalachian faculty, staff and students.

During Peacock’s tenure, nine distinguished professorships became fully funded and were filled by prominent scholars. All professorships were supported by private giving and matching funds from the state’s Distinguished Professorship Endowment Trust Fund. The nine were: Dr. Roy Carroll Distinguished Professorship in History, Anne Belk Distinguished Professorship for the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection Librarian, Kenneth E. Peacock Distinguished Professorship in Accounting, John M. Blackburn Distinguished Professorship in Theatre, Dr. Daniel B. German Distinguished Professorship in Political Science, Martha and Nancy Lee Bivens Distinguished Professorship for Children and Reading, Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina (IIANC) Professorship, Leon Levine Distinguished Professorship in Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies, Stanley R. Aeschleman Distinguished Professorship in Psychology.

  • 2005
  • The Office of Student Research (OSR) is established to expand the opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to engage in research and mentored scholarship. More than $100,000 in grants are awarded each year to support their endeavors. By 2014, Appalachian will become one of the top-represented institutions at the annual State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium, with about 30 students selected to present research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research each year.

  • Appalachian’s football team becomes North Carolina’s first football team to win an NCAA national championship, with its win over Northern Iowa in the Division 1-AA National Championship game in December. It would be the first of three football national championships under new Athletics Director Charlie Cobb, hired by Peacock in 2005.

  • The Parents Association moves from being dues-supported to being supported by The Appalachian Fund, in order to open access to all parents of Appalachian students.

Engaging the World

Building on the international expansion efforts of chancellors before him, as well as the notable William R. Holland Fellows Program for Business Study in Asia, Chancellor Peacock emphasized the importance of establishing international partnerships and building international learning and research experiences for students, faculty and staff.

Appalachian initiated a relationship with China’s Northeastern University in Shenyang in 1981, but its international program there gained true momentum after a 1995 visit, led by Peacock, to Fudan University in Shanghai by WCOB administrators. A year later, Fudan’s President Xie Xide visited Appalachian and within a month, a 17-member delegation of faculty, students and administrators embarked on a two-week pilot study to Fudan. Subsequently, the universities signed a formal agreement, paving the way for business faculty/student exchanges and joint research. In 1996, the WCOB founded the William R. Holland Fellows Program for Business Study in Asia Endowment. Today, the two-way exchange offers 12 business students from Appalachian and Fudan the opportunity to travel to the other university, visit businesses and learn firsthand about the other culture’s business practices and interactions.

Under Peacock’s leadership, Appalachian began implementing a five-year Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) called “Global Learning: A World of Opportunities for Appalachian Students,” as part of Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation. The plan will strengthen international engagement at home and abroad, and calls for 80% of Appalachian students to achieve a rating of “globally competent” or above on an externally developed assessment tool by the 2017-18 academic year.

  • 2006
  • Peacock hires Dr. Jesse Lutabingwa to direct the Office of International Education and Development. At 4%, Appalachian lags behind the national average of 8% of total student population studying abroad. By 2014, still under Lutabingwa’s leadership, Appalachian will achieve a 22% study abroad participation rate, significantly higher than the national rate of 13.8%. The population of international students studying on our campus will also increase, offering cultural exchange and interaction for international students who come to Appalachian and American students who may not have the opportunity for overseas travel.

  • Continuing a student-led and chancellor-supported tradition of leadership in sustainability, an interdisciplinary team of students wins a national EPA P3 Award for designing a production facility that uses renewable energy and recycles its own waste, making Appalachian a national leader in sustainable biodiesel production. It would be the first of several P3 awards won by Appalachian.

  • Center for Entrepreneurship in the Walker College of Business is created to support a burgeoning group of student entrepreneurs. In 2011, a generous donation will lead to re-naming the center the Transportation Insight Center for Entrepreneurship.

  • To help meet the state’s projected shortfall of nurses and need for nurses to possess higher skills and competency, Appalachian's RN-to-BSN nursing program begins at off-campus locations. Initial accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) will be awarded to the program within two years.

Investing in Champions

Chancellor Peacock's enthusiasm and support for Appalachian's student-athletes has helped it develop one of the nation's premier all-around athletic programs. And while three-straight NCAA Division I football national championships and the heralded 2007 victory over Michigan — the nation’s all-time winningest program — have put the university in the national spotlight, Mountaineer Athletics has more to brag about than just its gridiron success. Appalachian is the only school to ever win the Southern Conference’s Commissioner’s and Germann Cups, which recognize the league’s top men’s and women’s all-sports programs, in the same year. The university has now accomplished this feat an astounding nine times.

As they manage the rigors of training and competition on the fields and courts, our student-athletes also excel in the classroom. On average, over 35 percent of Appalachian’s student-athletes are recognized on the academic honor roll with a minimum grade point average of 3.25. The skills they learn from their experiences in the classroom and on the playing fields prepare them to make a difference in the world when they graduate.

Under Peacock's leadership, Appalachian also embarked on an Athletics Facilities Enhancement Campaign that improved facilities used by more than 450 student-athletes on all 20 varsity teams. As Appalachian made the move to the Sun Belt Conference, the Chancellor asked donors to athletics to step up and ensure a successful transition to the new conference through gifts that support facilities and, through the Yosef Club, scholarships as well.

  • 2007
  • Mountaineer football upsets Michigan 34-32 in the Big House, and wins back-to-back-to-back national championships. This season, App State also sets a new national record, winning 15 consecutive games. The win against Michigan marks the first time an FCS team has beaten a ranked FBS opponent – a moment so significant that the Associated Press changes its policy allowing FCS teams to receive votes in its polls.

  • Peacock uses donations from a fund honoring his late mother to create the ACCESS (Appalachian Commitment to a College Education for Student Success) Scholarship Program. The inaugural class in Fall 2007 has 42 students, a number which will increase to 202 by Fall 2013. The fund, created to provide low-income, first-generation college students from North Carolina with a debt-free, four-year Appalachian education, will graduate more than 500 students by spring 2014.

  • Appalachian is named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for Hurricane Relief Services, based on volunteer activities associated with hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which included blood drives, fundraisers (which raised more than $20,000) and supplies, and Alternative Spring Break trips to help cleanup efforts on the Gulf Coast.

Supporting Student Excellence

Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock, a first generation college graduate himself, was decidedly proactive in creating and advocating for scholarships. In 2007, he began the ACCESS Scholarship Program, and it continues to benefit from private giving. Appalachian’s ACCESS students are successful academically, graduating at a rate of 41% higher than the national average for low-income student. In Spring 2014, 50 ACCESS students were on the Dean’s List and 22 were on the Chancellor’s List.

Peacock also made it a priority to create more scholarships for high-achieving students. With a gift from Brad ’75 and Carole ’75 Wilson, Appalachian recently established its premier scholarship program, which will welcome its inaugural class in Fall 2014. This scholarship is designed to attract student leaders and provides experiences and resources for them to engage in creative, strategic and collaborative learning. The highly competitive scholarship provides full institutional costs for eight semesters, including tuition, fees, room and board. Research, internship experiences, travel and service are also emphasized for Wilson Scholars.

  • 2008
  • Peacock signs the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which outlines specific strategies institutions must meet to achieve climate neutrality.

  • The new Appalachian Research Institute for Environment, Energy and Economics is launched to continue Appalachian’s research related to alternative energy, sustainable development and the environment.

  • Appalachian joins the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis, the 350-acre campus devoted to research in the fields of human health and nutrition. Internationally known researcher David Nieman in the Department of Health Leisure and Exercise Science directs the Appalachian’s Human Performance Lab there.

  • The university’s carbon-neutral international travel program begins with an expedition to New Zealand. This was the first trip in a partnership between Outdoor Programs, the Office of International Education and Development, and the recreation management and interdisciplinary studies academic programs.

Setting the Standard for Sustainable Practices

Under Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock, Appalachian has become the flagship university in the University of North Carolina system for modeling sustainable initiatives and practices. Over the past decade, Appalachian has amassed the largest and most diverse portfolio of renewable energy facilities in North Carolina, and dramatically reduced its energy use. Other environmentally conscious initiatives during Peacock's tenure include:

  • the installation of the university's signature wind turbine, the largest in North Carolina, which produces on average 105,500 kWh annually, with a lifespan offset of 226 metric tons of carbon dioxide;
  • the installation of compacting landfill and recycling receptacles;
  • the university's commitment to becoming a zero waste campus with a current landfill waste diversion rate of 43% and a goal of 90% diversion from landfills by 2022;
  • energy efficiency measures resulting in a $12.4 million energy cost avoidance since 2007.
  • Chancellor Peacock’s vision and commitment has set the stage for implementing a new, five-year strategic plan that challenges campus to recognize the role it has in shaping the future of the planet and its people. The new strategic plan, titled “The Appalachian Experience: Envisioning a Just and Sustainable Future,” was created with input from the entire Appalachian community under the leadership of Provost Lori Gonzalez. It features this statement of sustainability:

    Sustainability at Appalachian State University is not a trend, it is a tradition. We are active stewards of our state’s interconnected financial, cultural and natural resources. Through engaged scholarship, we balance critical, creative and global thinking in a living laboratory, transforming theory into practice and fostering responsible citizenship.

  • 2009
  • An Appalachian Summer Festival, a beneficiary of institutional support from Chancellor Peacock, as well as financial support from the Peacocks and the event planning expertise of Mrs. Rosanne Peacock, celebrates 25 years of presenting music, theatre, dance, visual arts and film to arts lovers in the High Country.

  • Office of Sustainability is created to guide the university in strategic sustainability goals, create partnerships among students, faculty and staff, develop policies and guidelines to support strategic goals, provide program evaluation, and create opportunities for Appalachian to engage with its community in sustainable practices.

  • LGBT Center opens in Plemmons Student Union. Chancellor Peacock tells LGBT students, "If your family does not support you, we will be your family."

  • Appalachian hold its 20th Annual Walk for Awareness. The walk commemorates lives lost to violence, supports victims and survivors of violence, and is a shared campus-wide commitment to speaking out against violence in all forms.

Enhancing Lives and Communities

One of Peacock's dreams for the future of our region and state was realized when, in 2010, Appalachian established its first new college in nearly 40 years. The College of Health Sciences, led by Founding Dean Fred Whitt, offers 16 undergraduate degree programs and four graduate degree programs, organized in five departments: nursing, social work, communication sciences and disorders, nutrition and health care management, and health, leisure and exercise science. Ninety-five percent of tenure-track faculty members hold the highest degree in their field of study, and five faculty in health and exercise sciences are national fellows in their respective disciplines.

In 2013, CCNE awarded re-accreditation to both the BSN and RN-BSN programs and the Department of Social Work achieved national accreditation for the master of social work program (MSW). Recently, the college entered into a partnership with Wake Forest University’s School of Medicine in a Physician’s Assistant graduate program that will take place on the campuses of Wake Forest and Appalachian.

  • 2010
  • Appalachian is named a Military Friendly School® for the first time by Victory Media Inc., a designation that will continue through 2014.

  • The College of Health Sciences at Appalachian State University is established in response to a strategic initiative to meet the state and nation's need for highly skilled health care workers in areas such as nursing, nutrition, communication disorders and exercise science. The Department of Nursing, originally in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, is moved to the new College of Health Sciences, and the first class of pre-licensure students is admitted in May.

  • Appalachian is included in The Princeton Review’s first “Guide to Green Colleges” and SIERRA magazine selected the university for its “Coolest Schools” list, two accolades that have been repeated annually since. SIERRA recognizes schools for helping to solve climate problems, making significant efforts to operate sustainably and shaping future environmental citizens, workers and leaders.

  • Appalachian is chosen as a Best College for Learning Communities according to U.S. News and World Report.

Making a Difference in the World… One Student at a Time

"My dedication to advancing Appalachian is stronger than ever. I know this dedication is shared by you as well, and I am proud of the hard work we all do for our university."
– Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock

To enhance The Appalachian Experience for all students, Chancellor Peacock publicly launched the comprehensive Campaign for Appalachian in October 2011, and private giving reached record levels during Peacock’s tenure. The campaign goal was set to raise $200 million to strengthen academics, arts and athletics through scholarships, programs and activities. As budgets grow tighter, private funds support the core educational mission of the university and make it possible to create connections between classroom learning and critical learning experiences that take place outside of the classroom, a key component of The Appalachian Experience.

Appalachian’s faculty and staff committed over $5 million to the Campaign for Appalachian, evidence of their commitment and support to the institution and its mission and goals. Nearly 70% of the campaign funds raised to date provide direct support to academics.

  • 2011
  • The university publicly launches the $200 million Campaign for Appalachian to support academics, athletics and the arts.

  • Appalachian’s Solar Homestead wins the People’s Choice Award in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2011 Solar Decathlon. It also took home second place in the Communications Contest and third place in the Architecture Contest. Upon returning home to Boone, North Carolina, the Solar Homestead became commercially available for purchase through Deltec Homes, an Asheville, North Carolina, builder.

  • 2011-12 is the pilot year for the university’s Scholars with Diverse Abilities program, a new initiative designed for young adults with intellectual disabilities.

  • Peacock hires Dr. Lori S. Gonzalez as provost and executive vice chancellor, and tasks her with Appalachian's accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, as well as developing a new five-year strategic plan.

  • Funded by a $34 million allocation by the General Assembly, the new Reich College of Education (RCOE) building opens in August. The state-of-the-art facility serves more than 2,600 students connected with the RCOE, whether through one of the college’s programs or through teacher-education programs across campus.

A Campus Worthy of its Future

Capital improvements under Chancellor Peacock’s leadership included construction of the Student Recreation Center, Roess Dining Hall, the Athletics Center, Mountaineer Hall on-campus housing, a new college of education building, the Beasley Media Complex and the Brad and Carole Wilson Honors and Engagement Community, which includes two residence halls, including (renovated Cone Hall and newly constructed Summit Hall), a new home for The Honors College and an addition to Plemmons Student Union.

The university also renovated existing residence halls, upgraded its steam system and opened Belk Library and Information Commons and the west wing of the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts. In 2013, Farthing Auditorium was refurbished into The Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts. Since 2007, all new campus construction and renovations have been energy efficient, environmentally friendly and, whenever possible, LEED® certified.

  • 2012
  • Appalachian presents the first annual Energy Summit, which will become an ongoing initiative, convening campus leaders from the 17 public institutions and six private university partners to share best practices as part of the University of North Carolina Energy Leadership Challenge.

  • Chancellor Peacock tells students that safety is his No. 1 priority, and establishes the Interpersonal Violence Task Force, which removes students from a formal role in determining whether another student is responsible for sexual assault. The task force conducts a safety climate survey, and based on the results of this survey as well as other data, and in 2013 will make a series of recommendations to the chancellor, including forming a permanent body to promote student safety and prevent interpersonal violence: the Interpersonal Violence Council.

  • “It’s Up to Me” bystander intervention campaign is implemented by Student Development to increase student awareness of safety. A new website, AppCares, is also launched to provide resources and support to students.

  • The annual Dance Marathon – one of the largest student-run fundraisers held on campus – drew more than 300 students, who danced for 15 hours and raised more than $25,000 for Western Youth Network, Parent to Parent, and Children’s Miracle Network. Since the Dance Marathon began in 2003, students have raised more than $160,000 for children in Western North Carolina.

  • Student research sets records at Appalachian. A total of 30 student abstracts – the most ever from Appalachian – were selected for presentation at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research, and Appalachian is one of the top-represented institutions at the annual State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium.

Cultivating the Creative Spirit

Support for the arts at Appalachian was overwhelming under Chancellor Peacock’s leadership. Campaign gifts to date exceeded projections by $3.8 million, or nearly 29 percent. The largest single gift to support the arts on our campus was a $7 million gift by Bonnie and Jamie Schaefer to renovate the university’s principal performing arts venue, now named The Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts. In honor of First Lady Rosanne Peacock’s love of the performing arts, two funds were established in the Department of Theatre and Dance to support the work of our faculty and students. An Appalachian Summer Festival, now in its 30th season, continues to garner private support while growing its reputation as a stellar multiarts festival. The summer festival now includes the Rosen-Schaffel Young Artist Competition, inaugurated to support and promote professional endeavors of young American artists pursuing careers in the fine arts. The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, which celebrated its 10th year in 2013, increases the campus and regional communities’ access to engaging and dynamic visual arts and related programs.

  • 2013
  • Implementation begins of the five-year Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) called “Global Learning: A World of Opportunities for Appalachian Students.”

  • The Beasley Media Complex opens at the intersection of Rivers Street and Depot Street, and the General Assembly allocates $2 million for planning a new College of Health Sciences Building.

  • Peacock announces that the university’s athletics programs will join the Sun Belt Conference. With the move to the Sun Belt, Appalachian’s highly successful football program will transition to college football’s highest level, the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision.

  • On April 18, Chancellor Peacock announces his intention to step down from his position once a successor is named.

Living for a Better World

The Appalachian and Community Together (ACT) program is Appalachian’s clearinghouse for service-learning and community-based research opportunities. ACT offers students involvement in human services, environmental advocacy and community service projects that are integrated with coursework and serve local agencies. These projects encourage students to view themselves as active and responsible citizens of the global community. During the past 10 years, over $20 million of value has been contributed to the local community, with 915,000 service hours and $370,000 raised.

  • 2014
  • Appalachian becomes one of only three U.S. universities to compete in the prestigious Solar Decathlon Europe 2014.

  • By the end of May Commencement, Chancellor Peacock has shaken hands with more than 33,000 graduates of Appalachian State University.

  • On June 27, the College of Business building is re-named Kenneth E. Peacock Hall, in honor of Chancellor Peacock's years of service to the Walker College of Business and Appalachian State University.

Today and Always, You Will be a Part of the Appalachian Family

"Students first, quality in all" was the pledge Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock made on his first day in the office. First Lady Rosanne Peacock lived – and led – this pledge every day. Thousands of students have benefited from their commitment to excellence, and continue to make a lasting and positive difference in the world.

On June 7, 2014, Appalachian's Board of Trustees awarded Chancellor and Mrs. Peacock with the university's highest honor: the Appalachian Medallion. At the awards ceremony, the Alumni Association expressed the thoughts of their friends, family, and countless faculty, staff and students who have benefited from their influence and passion for making Appalachian the very best it can be.

"We extend our sincere gratitude, love, and appreciation to Dr. Kenneth E. Peacock and Mrs. Rosanne Peacock for your 31 years of service to Appalachian State University. Your tireless endeavors on behalf of the students, faculty, staff, and alumni have been remarkable. Your leadership efforts to engage and honor the culture of the Appalachian Family has been purposeful, thoughtful, and endearing. Your commitment to students first, quality in all is a legacy which will long live within and beyond the university community. We are a better institution and a stronger Appalachian Family because of your unwavering determination to ensure our success.

Thank you, Ken and Rosanne, for sharing with us three decades of family, friendship, professional association, and leadership. Today, and always, you will be a part of the Appalachian Family.”