Letter to the Editor: An Open Letter to Appalachian State University’s Chancellor Sheri Everts


Tracey Patterson

Dear Chancellor Everts,

I think back from time to time to my own two college commencement ceremonies, as I am sure you have done as well. I remember that exciting feeling of donning my cap and gown; the waiting to march into an arena with classmates, some familiar and some not; the feeling of anticipation; hearing the music; and finally walking across that stage. It was a culminating event to years of study and learning. It was a day to celebrate my accomplishments. It was a day to mark that I had done all the hard work, had attended so many hours of classes, had made it even through the craziness of day-to-day life that I encountered along the way. Those two events, even though they were shared with so many others, were MY days! Those were my MY culminating events recognizing MY accomplishments! It’s not my diploma hanging on the wall that I think back to — it’s MY commencement ceremony that is MY memory, MY milestone.

I completely understand that we are currently in a time of flux. It is nearly impossible to predict the impact this virus will have on the months to come. I completely understand that in the big scheme of world circumstances, this letter seems trite as I actually type it. However, even with all of that in mind, your decision to dismiss the importance of a live commencement ceremony at a postponed date, as many other universities are doing, and replace it with some form of a virtual ceremony, is heartbreaking. The perceptions of your decision, whether intended or not, are that the university doesn’t want to go to the trouble of having the live ceremony at another date and most impactful … the university doesn’t care about the importance of this event to the students and thus, don’t care about the students and families. App State has always prided itself on the idea of community. This decision to not even give a live commencement ceremony a chance goes completely against that idea and sets a precedent for all future ASU commencement ceremonies.

I am simply asking that you postpone your decision on any ceremony type. Give yourself and your leadership team more time to see how this health crisis is going to impact the state. Set a postponed commencement date, and maybe it can be a live ceremony. I am simply asking that you consider the feelings of all of the students that wanted so desperately to walk across the stage and build their own memories — those memories that you and I have — to one day look back upon with fondness.

I am simply asking that you recognize the efforts and time that these students have given to Appalachian State University; how they are the life of the university; and how they feel that they have been summarily dismissed. Yes, they are Mountaineers and they will persevere, regardless. But do you want their final memory to be that you didn’t care enough to even try to give them the recognition they deserve? I hope not.

Tracey Patterson
A Mountaineer parent