Chancellor Kenneth Peacock and his wife Rosanne Peacock stand with the 2012 Homecoming King, then senior secondary math education major Ish Gomez, and Queen, then senior theatre arts major Pami Cuevas, at the 2012 Homecoming game against Elon University. Photo by Paul Heckert | The Appalachian
Chancellor Kenneth Peacock and his wife Rosanne Peacock stand with the 2012 Homecoming King, then senior secondary math education major Ish Gomez, and Queen, then senior theatre arts major Pami Cuevas, at the 2012 Homecoming game against Elon University. Photo by Paul Heckert | The Appalachian

Remembering Chancellor Peacock

A day before game day, on a cloudy and rainy afternoon, the bright and ringing sound of trombones and the banging of snare drums blasted across campus. 

The Marching Mountaineers gathered outside of the Schaefer Center in the rain to give former Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock a final reprise of the game day music he loved so dearly. 

Peacock died Oct. 6 at the age of 75. 

Chancellor Sheri Everts sent an email that afternoon notifying the university of his death, describing who Chancellor Peacock was and what he meant to App State. 

“He is remembered by former students who learned from him in the classroom, by the colleagues he mentored and supported as a Department Chair and Dean, and by the many lives he touched in more than 30 years at Appalachian State University, ” Everts wrote in the email. 

Friends and family of Peacock gathered at the Schaefer Center for a celebration of life ceremony Oct. 9 at 2 p.m. Around 400 people attended. 

Peacock moved to Boone in 1983, beginning his career at App State teaching taxation and accounting. 

Peacock established the College of Health Sciences and opened a new building for the Reich College of Education, Everts said.

“Former Chancellor Ken Peacock’s leadership has been transformative for App State and for higher education in North Carolina,” Gov. Roy Cooper wrote on X. “He worked hard to support his students and faculty and will be sorely missed.”

While Peacock was chancellor from 2004-14, he grew the university’s enrollment from 14,653 to 17,838 students, according to the App State Peacock tribute page

Peacock worked to ensure App State students had not only financial support, but also personal and professional support they needed to succeed, Everts wrote. 

Professor Emory Daniel teaches in the Communication Department and was in undergrad when Peacock was tenured, and shared some memories with the former chancellor. 

Daniel said he got a letter in his P.O. Box, inviting him to dinner at the chancellor’s house. 

“About maybe 20 students got to hang out and eat dinner,” Daniel said. “He stopped by every table, asked us individually what we were doing and it was around that time I was entertaining graduate school.” 

Peacock was leaning for Daniel to go to Louisiana State University for grad school, knowing that Peacock got his doctorate there.  

“He was in full support when I got into Virginia Tech for my masters,” Daniel said. “He’s really supportive to the point where he actually wrote me a letter of recommendation.”

Daniel said Peacock was student focused and student driven. If Daniel ever needed to talk to him, he could schedule an appointment and sit down with Peacock. 

Preston Powell said during the celebration of life ceremony that he was one of the many students whose life was directly impacted by Peacock. 

Powell, an App State alum from 2001, said he was presenting to his class when Peacock popped into the room and sat down to listen. Afterward, Peacock approached him and asked if he was interested in participating in a study abroad program in China. Powell said he was hesitant because he was on the football team and didn’t want to lose his position. 

Powell said Peacock, who was always a source of humor, said “I’ve seen you play football,” convincing Powell to forfeit his position on the team and take the trip to China. 

“And, I know I’m one of hundreds, perhaps thousands of kids, students, who he took a personal interest in, not just for that semester. He followed up,” Powell said. 

Greg Lovins, the former vice chancellor of business affairs, said he worked with Peacock for the majority of the time he spent at App State. In that time, Lovins said he played constant witness to the love App State students, faculty and staff had for Peacock. 

Lovins said walking around campus with Peacock always took much longer “because he was a rock star.” 

“Anytime he took that walk, students stopped him, and faculty, and staff,” Lovins said. “And they stopped him and engaged him and wanted to talk with him, and he, of course, wanted to talk with them in return.” 

Lovins said there were many things the former chancellor and his wife, Rosanne Peacock, did to engage students. 

“They annually opened up the chancellor’s residence for the Appalachian ambassadors to have a sleepover. So there’s a slumber party in the Chancellor’s Residence,” Lovins said. “You know, think about that. It’s just fantastic.”

He said one fond memory he has of Peacock was seeing him “surf a table” across the student section during home football games. 

While Peacock had a panache for comedy, he took the concern and well-being of students extremely seriously, Lovins said.  

“Ken believed in hiring good leaders and letting us do our jobs, but he strongly believed in teamwork,” Lovins said. “He said every success is a shared success. Every problem is a shared problem, and it takes us all to solve it.”

According to the tribute page, Peacock established a scholarship program called ACCESS for low income and first generation students in North Carolina to earn a college degree debt free. 

ACCESS was one of the many ways that Peacock expressed his support for all students, Lovins said.

Family members of Peacock requested that anyone wishing to contribute to the memorial service monetarily instead donate to the Murray Family ACCESS program, according to Peacock’s obituary

During his time as chancellor, App State football won three FCS championships in the years of 2005, 2006, 2007, according to App State’s website.

After winning the first two championships, Peacock began toting the trophies around with him in his car, referring to them as “the twins,” Lovins said. After the third championship, the twins turned into the trio. 

During his time, App State football’s first game of the 2007 season was won in an upset against Michigan 34-32 with a game-winning field goal. 

“Our hearts are with the Peacock family and all who knew and loved former Chancellor Peacock,” App State football head coach Shawn Clark wrote on X.

“As the university’s leader during the national championship years and when App State joined the Sun Belt Conference and the FBS level, he had a huge impact on the success of App State Football and the legacy upon which we are building today,” Clark wrote. 

Peacock is survived by his wife, Rosanne Peacock, two sons, and his five grandchildren, according to his obituary. 

The Rev. John Fitzgerald said during the ceremony that Kenneth Peacock could not speak about his family “without the light coming on in his eyes.” 

“He loved you deeply and dearly. He loved App State deeply and dearly. And I suspect he loved everyone in this auditorium deeply and dearly,” Fitzgerald said. 

While he devoted much of his time and energy to the University and its students, Fitzgerald said Peacock was always there for his family, friends and members of his church. 

Peacock ran a Sunday school class through the Boone United Methodist Church of which Lovins was a member. 

Peacock called the group the FUN class, which stood for “friends under 99, because everyone was welcome,” Lovins said. 

Fitzgerald said the group continues to meet today and often talk about Peacock and the influence he had on their lives. 

“There’s a lot of projects on this campus that need help. Don’t wait for someone to ask. Find something. And if you can’t, if it can’t be something that is a transferable currency, the most valuable thing you have is your time,” Powell said at the ceremony. “Ken devoted his entire life to the service of others.”

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