On June 8 Chancellor Sheri Everts announced that Cindy Wallace was let go from her position as vice chancellor of student development.
Wallace worked at Appalachian State for 32 years and served as vice chancellor of student development for the last 12 years.
Chancellor Everts said she serves multiple constituencies, but none more important than the student body, faculty staff and the administration. She said that that they all were considered when making the decision.
She said with any decision she makes she weighs the options, considers multiple opinions and determines what she believes to be to be in the best interest of the institution, because that is her responsibility.
“I think change is a given at any institution,” Everts said. “And so as I make any decision in higher education at Appalachian I make decisions based on what I think is In the best interest of Appalachian.”
Everts said that this decision was a “lengthy, deduction-making process” and that some decisions rest solely with her, the chief executive officer of the institution. However, she said that she does not make these decisions lightly.
Paul Gates, the faculty senate chair, wrote in an email, “The details regarding Wallace’s employment are considered confidential and are protected from public disclosure as a personnel matter under state law.”
Gates also wrote that these decisions are not easy and are not reached without long and careful thought.
“It’s important to realize that changes among high-level leaders are not unusual,” Gates wrote. “But are always made in the professional judgement that they are in the best interest of the entire organization.”
Daniel Tassitino, former vice president of the ASU student body and senior international business major, shared his concern in a status on Facebook on June 8 that received over 1,300 likes and 793 shares.
Tassitino wrote, “Our chancellor has taken the one person who so many people could look up to and gain hope from. I fear for our future. Chancellor Everts needs to leave Appalachian State University.”
Tassitino also created a petition on Change.org that calls for Everts to be removed as chancellor. As of July 1, the petition has received over 2,000 signatures.
The hashtag #iBackCindy emerged from Tassitino’s post and has gained momentum from students and alumni on Facebook.
Everts said that there will be a great deal of involvement across campus and she will continue to update the Appalachian community.
On June 14 Everts sent an email naming Leroy Wright as the interim vice chancellor.
Wright has more than 18 years experience in student affairs administration. He recently served the dean of student life for 10 years at Ferris State University in Michigan, according to the email sent by Everts.
“Cindy Wallace was one of the deciding factors for me to come to serve as associate vice chancellor for student development,” Wright said. “Knowing that because of her leadership and passion for serving students, I would fit right in to the division of student development as someone who has a heart and passion for serving and working with students as well.”
When Everts asked Wright to serve as interim vice chancellor he said that he thought it was important to connect with directors in the division and talk about what that means and how he would be able to serve them.
Wright said that he works to create a positive engaging experience for students and he thinks that everyone supported his role in stepping up as interim vice chancellor of student development.
“I wanted to continue the torch that has been carried by Cindy and her role for the last several years as vice chancellor and in her work here at Appalachian,” Wallace said.
Wright said he thinks that it is important to know that the entire administration is saddened by the departure of Cindy as vice chancellor.
“But at the same time we also recognize that our work is here to support students and keep students impacted by the change but also focused on them continuing the work that we do for them and to engage with them about where the heart of our work is,” Wright said.
Wright said that making student voices heard is important, and that making sure that students are engaged in this experience.
“A lot of students have given me their support to continue in this interim capacity,” Wright said. “I know that there will be a national search for a new VC upon the return of students and faculty back in the fall semester.”
Wright’s appointment is for the 2016-17 academic year. Wright said that there is a possibility that if he is interested in the position, he would have the opportunity to submit his credentials and apply in that process.
Wright said that his goal is to stay away from social media post because he thinks that it is a student forum “to engage in their voice and engage in what is meaningful to them.” Wright said that social media has a way to tend to redirect energy or create a negative kind of presence.
Wright said that what is important to him is to make sure that he is focused on the support, the care and the concern for keeping the division intact, as well as to make sure that there still a team of professionals in the division of student development and across ASU that supports students.
“I want to make sure that I continue to be visible on campus,” Wright said. He also said that it is important to know that things are moving forward as a division to support students.
“We’ll all miss Cindy Wallace as well as her capacity as vice chancellor… it is important to celebrate legacy and who she is while also thinking in terms of how do we move on,” Wright said.
Wright said he is focused on his role as interim vice chancellor and how he prepares the division for a new vice chancellor, because students are his main priority and focus.