A conversation with Appalachian's Chancellor-elect Sheri N. Everts about how to pronounce her name, what exactly a chancellor does, her least favorite food, and more.
Interviewer Megan Hayes: This is a very special FYI podcast, because today we are honored to be joined by Appalachian's soon-to-be seventh chancellor and first-ever female chancellor, Dr. Sheri Noren Everts. Dr. Everts, thank you so much for joining us today. We are so glad to have you in the studio.
Chancellor-elect Sheri N. Everts: I'm delighted to be here, thank you.
Hayes: We saw a lot of social media chatter, as you were making your remarks in Chapel Hill, and we were watching the comments go by and everybody said, "She pronounced Appalachian correctly!" which is a huge deal for us. We would like to return the favor. Can you give us the skinny on how to pronounce your name?
Everts: Well you did it perfectly. So Sheri - I think Sheri is probably fairly easy for everyone, however it's spelled oddly, in many cases, which doesn't bother me, by the way. And then my middle name is Noren [NorEEN], even though it looks like Noren [NORen], but is NorEEN, like Visine, and then my last name is Everts. Now probably you're all too young to remember Chrissie Evert, but that can be helpful to you, just Chris Evert, and then you add an "s."
Hayes: Great. So, tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.
Everts: Together, Jay and I have four children, and actually they're not children they are all adults, and so I usually call them offspring, but generally people laugh at me when I say that, but at any rate, together we have four offspring: youngest is Elizabeth she's at Columbia University in New York City. She was actually able to be here for a day and a half - she was pretty excited about that, but needed to go back for classes. Justin, who is about to be 30 and get married lives in Japan and teaches English to elementary school students, then we have two additional sons, one in Wisconsin and one at Princeton.
Hayes: Here's another question we pulled from social media, and I love this question. We were watching the different comments go by, and someone said, "What does a chancellor, do, exactly?"
Everts: That's a really good question, and it's one I actually get a lot about what a provost does, which is what I do now at Illinois State. I'd say that in many respects, the chancellor position is a service position, and it really helps to move the mission, to provide additional service opportunities for students. Actually, I was asked when I first became an administrator, "Why would you want to become an administrator?" Most people who come into the university come in because they're teachers and they love to work with students, and actually I'd say that a chancellor impacts the lives of more students, because you make sure you have the opportunities available for them and you work together as a team to be sure that you're all doing what's in the best interest of students and their learning.
Hayes: So what attracted you to Appalachian?
Everts: Appalachian is just a fabulous institution that focuses so well on that which is important to higher education, and that is the students. It really is all about students, and you do that so well. You can tell that from your mission; you can tell that from your website; you can tell that from meeting the students. When I first met [Student Government Association president] Dylan Russell at the airport interviews, I realized, not only because he had such an important voice at those interviews, but because he was so polished and well-spoken and articulate about what it was that is special about this institution. And he said something that resonated with me. One, he said, "there's something in the water in Boone," and I think he's right - I think he's absolutely right - it's a special place. Two, he said he was recruited by a lot of institutions, but when he came to Boone, the faculty and the staff asked him about what he wanted to do with his education, and how they could help him. And to me, that said a lot about how people here feel about that which I think is most important, and that is the students.
Hayes: So as the first female Chancellor for Appalachian, what do you think you'll bring to the role?
Everts: For me, it's not necessarily, of course, about being the first, but it is about what I've heard from students and some female faculty, and that is, how nice it is to have a role model in that position. As I listen to some female students, they were really very excited about that, to see someone that held a position that perhaps now they'll aspire to, because of course they can do anything they want.
Hayes: Can you give us a little-known fact about yourself that you'd like the Appalachian Family to know?
Everts: This perhaps is going to shock the Appalachian Family, but I am a very odd person in that I don't like chocolate. Now, I know, right now you're all just shocked and amazed and right now you are all just saying, "What is wrong with her?" but, if you want to sit next to me when the dessert is chocolate, you can be sure you'll get mine as well.
Hayes: You know, you mentioned earlier that you're here in the High Country for a couple days, and you've been here for a couple days. What is your impression of the High Country so far?
Everts: Oh, we absolutely love it! When we came earlier in the search process, we didn't really want to look around too much because we didn't want to fall in love, in case you didn't like us. Now, we get the opportunity to fall in love. And it is just so beautiful. The first day of spring, we woke up and we got to have coffee on our balcony and see the sun rise over the mountains - oh, that was just gorgeous, it was just fabulous - and something luckily I took a picture of, so I'll be able to remember it always.
Hayes: We can tell you've been having a lot of fun with students while you're here on campus, and students really are important to you.
Hayes: And that's one of the many reasons we are so honored to have had you with us for a few minutes today, so thank you so much for your time. We know you have been very busy, and we really appreciate you stopping in.
Everts: Thank you - It was delightful, and I got to meet so many students on the way in as well. That was marvelous good fun. Thank you.