App State Faculty Senate to hold “no confidence” vote on chancellor as pandemic opening concerns mount

Next week the Faculty Senate at Appalachian State University will consider resolutions expressing “no confidence” in Chancellor Sheri Everts and holding the school administration and UNC Board of Governors responsible for COVID-19 related illnesses and deaths as a result of their decision to re-open the campus.

A draft of the resolutions expresses the frustration of faculty who feel the Boone campus, already one of the hardest hit by COVID-19 infections, should not be opening for in-person instruction:

“WHEREAS, it is expected of the university Chancellor that they be competent, transparent, concerned with the wellbeing of students, staff, faculty, and community, and committed to the university’s academic mission; and

WHEREAS, many faculty have reported the Chancellor of Appalachian State University has, over the past three years, repeatedly failed to live up to these expectations; and WHEREAS, the faculty has attempted repeatedly to protect the core academic mission, expressing concerns to the administration formally through regular and extra Faculty Senate meetings, a petition with over 400 signatures, and multiple Senate Resolutions; and

WHEREAS, multiple Faculty Senate meetings in 2019 and an Ad Hoc Committee on Faculty Salaries have established that Chancellor has neglected faculty and the academic mission in their budget allocations; and

WHEREAS, the Chancellor’s administrative priorities have already led to a problem of low faculty morale, disengagement, and the loss of talented faculty members and, now, to the prospect of loss of life; and

WHEREAS, numerous faculty members have questioned the Chancellor’s plans for a return to campus in Fall 2020 given the rise in COVID-19 cases in North Carolina and anticipated infection and death rates; and

WHEREAS, the faculty, a group of dedicated scholars concerned with the well-being of the students and the institution, have moved from a concern about people’s livelihoods and the institution’s reputation to, now, a concern for people’s lives;

THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Faculty Senate expresses a sentiment of no confidence in Chancellor Sheri Evert’s leadership.”

A second resolution mentions the UNC Board of Governors, who with UNC System President Peter Hans has the final authority in choosing to close a campus due to concerns over COVID-19 infections:

Be it resolved that the Faculty Senate of Appalachian State University hold the Board of Governors and Chancellor Sheri Everts responsible for any illness and death resulting from COVID-19 as a result of reopening campus in spite of clear warning signs available to all and over the objections of the faculty.

Read the draft resolutions in their entirety here.

According to ASU statistics, the campus has 32 active COVID-19 cases — 22 student and 10 employees — as of Thursday, August 13.

Cumulatively, the campus has seen 128 positive cases — 70 students, 41 subcontractors and 17 employees.

Many UNC System schools are not publicly reporting the number of subcontractors who have tested positive on their campuses.

The first day of classes at ASU is August 17.

At East Carolina University the numbers are even worse.

Police there reported shutting down 20 parties the first weekend students returned, including one with 400 people.

The school reported 28 new student infections and two new employee infections the week of August 2- August 8. Because COVID-19 has been shown take up to 14 days to show symptoms, those numbers likely do not reflect the period in which most students returned to campus. Classes there began Monday, August 10.

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