Appalachian State University

Five-year Goals and Associated Interim Benchmarks

In January 2017, the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina unanimously approved Higher Expectations, a five-year Strategic Plan for the UNC System. The Plan calls on the UNC System to achieve ambitious goals in access, student success, affordability and efficiency, economic impact and community engagement, and institutional excellence and diversity.

Progress on these goals and metrics will be achieved through the hard work and commitment of institutional leaders, faculty, and staff. In that spirit, Appalachian State University has identified these contributions that Appalachian State University aspires to make to the UNC Strategic Plan over the next five years.

From Appalachian State University: When Appalachian Chancellor Sheri Everts signed a pledge with President Margaret Spellings to meet UNC System strategic goals over the next five years, Everts recognized that these initiatives were ambitious, but achievable. Additionally, she noted that they were consistent with Appalachian’s mission to increase access to education for those students who otherwise would not have the opportunity to achieve a college education. Today, Appalachian is well on its way to meeting, if not exceeding, these five-year performance goals.

Student success in Appalachian’s classrooms and laboratories, combined with postgraduate success, contributes greatly to the university’s excellent reputation as a national leader in higher education. As Appalachian continues growing at a slow and steady rate, the inclusion of some of the best young minds that our country has to offer strengthens the university’s academic mission and helps retain students, faculty, and staff.



Dashboard Banner Prioritize 3

From Appalachian State University: One important guiding value of the Strategic Plan is its emphasis on letting each institution’s unique mission within the UNC System drive its strategic metrics. Appalachian was asked to designate five of the nine Strategic Plan metrics into a “Prioritize” category.

The metrics that Appalachian will use to measure how it is meeting its strategic needs and achieving its aspirations for the future fall into the following categories:

  • Rural enrollments
  • Low-income completions
  • Rural completions
  • Low-income achievement gaps in undergraduate degree efficiency
  • Critical workforce credentials


Rural Enrollments

By fall 2021, App State will enroll 5,715 rural students, a 7.3% increase over 2016 levels (387 additional rural students over a base of 5,328).

From Appalachian State University: Appalachian has already surpassed its 2020 goal for increased enrollment of rural students. As a leader in outreach and education in rural North Carolina, Appalachian faculty, students, and staff conduct research that is of value to North Carolina’s rural populations, particularly in northwestern North Carolina. Additionally, Appalachian’s community outreach and engagement efforts in rural areas have measurable impact.

To help attain these goals, Appalachian has pursued recruitment efforts with community colleges, and through student transition programs such as GEAR UP and Upward Bound. In addition, the university offers nearly 100 service-learning and community-based research courses each year. These efforts build strong connections with the university’s surrounding communities. Since 2004, Appalachian has contributed more than $22.48 million in value to communities in northwestern North Carolina through service-learning efforts. This commitment to community makes every student an ambassador for Appalachian in nearby communities, strengthening recruitment efforts. The addition of a new police academy program in summer 2018 adds another key recruitment tool that will return value to rural communities in North Carolina.

Learn more:
Appalachian’s Upward Bound awarded nearly $3.5 million to support student access to higher education
Gadugi - Working Together to Preserve Cherokee Culture
In the media: App State to add students to police force, create police academy


Low-income Completions

By 2021-22, App State will produce 1,600 low-income graduates, an increase of 24.2% (312 additional low-income completions over a base of 1,288).

From Appalachian State University: Appalachian is ahead in its efforts to increase the number of low-income graduates and compares favorably to its peer institutions in terms of value and affordability. Appalachian administrators are, however, keenly aware of the cost of a college education and the debt some students incur while attaining an education at Appalachian. To this end, Appalachian has prioritized increasing the number and availability of need-based and merit-based scholarships for incoming and returning students. These will be a key emphasis for the university’s fundraising efforts as Appalachian seeks to provide students with the support they need for success in college and beyond.

Learn more:
Appalachian ranked in Kiplinger's "Best Values in Colleges" for 2018
U.S. News recognizes Appalachian for academics, value, innovation


Rural Completions

By 2021-22, App State will produce 1,593 rural graduates, an increase of 16.2% (222 additional rural completions over a base of 1,371).*

From Appalachian State University: Appalachian is ahead in its efforts to increase the number of graduates from rural areas. A key strategy for success in retention and completion rates is the university’s Early Intervention Team, a faculty- and staff-led entity that works with numerous support organizations and key campus personnel to intervene with students who are showing signs of difficulty with university life. This non-disciplinary process offers support and assistance, connecting students with resources that can help them address the challenges that arise in classes, residence halls, off-campus housing, or other contexts where students might face obstacles to success.

Learn more:
Appalachian’s Lynne Waugh wins 2018 Durham Freshman Advocate Award
Student support services helps first-generation college students succeed
A Snapshot in the Life of a Tutor and Client - University Tutoring Services


Achievement Gaps

By 2021-22, App State will reduce by 50% the achievement gap in undergraduate degree efficiency among low-income students.

From Appalachian State University: Appalachian is aggressively examining ways to reduce the disparity in academic performance and time to degree between low income and non-low income students. In addition to utilizing the university’s Early Intervention Team model, Appalachian has increased its emphasis on workforce development at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Appalachian tracks the first destinations of its graduates and shares this information widely. Within one year of graduation, 86 percent of 2015-16 undergraduate students and 93 percent of graduate students were employed or enrolled in postsecondary education (with a tracking rate of 86 percent undergraduate and 71 percent graduate students). This important focus demonstrates the improved employment and earning rates of college graduates.

Learn more:
Study shows significant majority of Appalachian State University students employed or continuing their education within a year of graduation
Where can an Appalachian degree take you?
The Value of an Appalachian Education: Our Distinguished Alumni weigh in.


Critical Workforces

By 2021-22, App State will produce 2,257 critical workforce credentials, an increase of 29.6% (516 additional critical workforce credentials over a base of 1,741).*

From Appalachian State University: Appalachian’s pace is ahead of schedule in its annual progress toward increasing the number of critical workforce credentials in fields of health professions, teacher education, and science, technology, engineering, and math. Through rigorous academic program offerings, internationally recognized research, and extensive public outreach and engagement, Appalachian strives to position itself at the forefront of STEM education and activities in North Carolina. As demand in STEM fields increases, creativity is becoming the commodity of the future. Each year, on average, more than 400 employers visit Appalachian's campus and conduct more than 1,300 student interviews for full-time and internship positions. Seven career fairs are held each year, including one for graduate school and one for internships. Because of their reputation for creative problem-solving skills, curiosity, and on-the-spot innovation, Appalachian graduates are sought after by employers. Case in point: Appalachian’s Team Sunergy is setting the standard for leadership in the development of solar transportation technology, drawing international recognition to the university’s interdisciplinary approach to STEM education, and helping attract companies like Tesla to its campus to recruit employees.

Learn more:
Documentary: Runnin’ on Shine – the story of Appalachian State University’s Team Sunergy
Aspiring accountant aims for career working with veterans
About Appalachian’s Beaver College of Health Sciences
Appalachian receives approval for doctoral program in clinical psychology
Appalachian has highest number of alumni in nation certified by NBPTS
Nadine Lambert ’17 applies her math degree at worldwide IT consulting firm
Chemistry alum’s research indicates potential harm of essential oils
In the media: Bananas vs. Sports Drinks? Bananas Win in Study (The New York Times)
In the media: People and Lasers: Edible Lasers (




Dashboard Banner Prioritize 3

From Appalachian State University: One important guiding value of the Strategic Plan is its emphasis on letting each institution’s unique mission within the UNC System drive its strategic metrics. Appalachian designated three of the nine metrics in the “Improve” category as secondary areas for increasing performance during the 2017-22 course of the UNC System Strategic Plan.





Low-income Enrollments

By fall 2021, App State will enroll 4,911 low-income students, a 9.3% increase over 2015 levels (419 additional low-income students over a base of 4,492).

From Appalachian State University: Appalachian is on track to surpass its 2021 goal for increasing enrollment of low-income students. Appalachian was founded on the principle of serving low-income and rural populations. The university offers need-based and merit-based scholarships, including the ACCESS Scholarship for students with high financial need. Keenly aware that more scholarships like this one are needed, Appalachian has prioritized increasing the number and availability of need-based and merit-based scholarships for incoming and returning students. These will be a key emphasis for the university’s fundraising efforts as Appalachian seeks to provide students with the support they need for success in college and beyond.

Learn more:
Appalachian’s ACCESS scholars excel in classrooms and careers
Financial literacy resources for Appalachian students
Appalachian State University Financial Literacy Fair


Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, App State will improve its undergraduate degree efficiency to 24.2 over a base of 23.3.

From Appalachian State University: Appalachian has made great strides toward its goal of improving efficiency of degree completion for its overall undergraduate population. Appalachian’s “DegreeWorks” initiative sets a goal for all undergraduates to complete their degrees in four years, combining a web-based degree audit with face-to-face academic advising to provide constant organizational support for degree completion. Students can run scenarios using their current or potential degree programs to see how coursework is being applied to their progress toward graduation, and run "what if" scenarios to see how changing their current academic program (adding/deleting/changing majors, minors, etc.) will affect degree completion progress. Additional tools include real-time information, educational planning components, transparent course and credit transfer information, and GPA calculators to assist students in completing their degrees with the greatest possible efficiency. More efficiency yields faster time-to-degree, lower tuition payments, lower debt, and earlier entry into the job market, bolstering the value of an Appalachian education.

Learn more:
Distance Education at Appalachian
Appalachian State University ranks in the top 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities for nontraditional students in 2018, according to College Factual
Appalachian is a Bronze School of Distinction by for online education
U.S. News & World Report has recognized Appalachian State University in its 2018 Best Online Bachelor's Programs and 2018 Best Online Graduate Education Programs lists.


Research Productivity

By 2021-22, App State will receive $18,279,664 in research and development sponsored program awards and licensing income, an increase of 15.8% ($2,500,000 additional over a base of $15,779,664).*

From Appalachian State University: Appalachian’s plans for expansion and improvements prioritize innovative research and learning, benefit the community, and position Appalachian as a leader among its peers.

Appalachian’s faculty and staff are called upon for their expertise in areas as diverse as human performance, rural health care, international leadership training, student health and safety, and sustainability. Appalachian’s students and alumni take their skills to the workforce and apply them to make real and powerful differences in their communities and beyond.

Properties designated by the Board of Governors as having Millennial Campus status present opportunities to think and act creatively, quickly, and nimbly. They further Appalachian’s research capacity and teaching and service mission, while also enhancing regional economic development. Appalachian’s Millennial Campus projects involve repurposing decommissioned property and re-envisioning inactive building sites, allowing the university to think strategically about how to operate as a campus while also meeting regional needs in the long term.

Learn more:
Grant announcements at Appalachian
The powers of sun and soul: Appalachian alumnus’ solar project benefits regional homeless shelter
Appalachian student and faculty researchers seek to recover declining honeybee population
Geography major finds adventure and stories in the field
In the media: Greed Disguised as Science: How a Multitude of Factors Led to the Opioid Crisis
In the media: Breece Robertson - Making a Positive Difference on Protected Lands




Dashboard Banner Stretch 3

One important guiding value of the Strategic Plan is its emphasis on letting each institution’s unique mission within the UNC System drive its strategic metrics.  Appalachian designated one of the nine metrics in the “Sustain” category, a metric for continual monitoring. While this metric may not require additional resources for improvement during the 2017-22 course of the Strategic Plan, Appalachian seeks continual improvement in all areas and will work to improve in this category as well.

Five-year Graduation Rates

By 2022, App State will improve its five-year graduation rate from any accredited institution to 77.0%. This is an improvement over a base of 74.6% for App State’s 2010 cohort.

From Appalachian State University: From its advising tools to help students ‘Finish in Four,’ to its early intervention team and financial literacy in the co-curricular experience, to the Cratis D. Williams Graduate School’s accelerated admission program, Appalachian’s faculty, staff, and students share a commitment to student success.

Learn more:
Podcast: Success, Defined: featuring Soledad O’Brien and Ivan Penado
Six high school seniors receive Wilson Scholarship, Appalachian’s most prestigious, merit-based award
Meet the 2017 Chancellor’s Scholars



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