Congratulations Student Affairs Colleagues

We have some amazing colleagues within our Division that have been recognized by University departments, professional organizations and within the community, state and region. Thank you for your tireless efforts to improve the services and care we offer students, faculty, staff and so many others!  We ae so very proud to call you colleagues!  Congratulations to ALL.

Join me in congratulating these individuals below: 

Michelle Brown (Assistant Director, Career Exploration), recipient of The Harvey R. Durham Outstanding Freshman Advocate Award "honors one full-time Appalachian State University employee each year who has contributed significantly to improving the freshman experience on our campus. This award recognizes that the freshman year may be the most important in a college student's academic career. In these two semesters, important decisions will be made, attitudes shaped, and personal connections established that define a student's direction and future. 

Chad Goral (Graduate Assistant in Student Conduct), was selected for induction into Appalachian's Cratis D. Williams Society of Outstanding Graduates of the Graduate School. Only one graduate per program is selected by nomination, and they must have a 4.0 GPA. Chad received a medallion and can count himself among the top 2% of the graduating class.

Sarah Hoffert (Case Manager-Interpersonal Violence Specialist) recently received the 2020-2021 Glenda Wheeler Award from University Housing.  This award is designed to recognize an individual outside of University Housing - a "true friend of UH" - who has contributed significantly to our department, staff, and/or the students we serve. This person exceeds the average expectation of someone in their position.

Alex Howard, (Assistant Vice Chancellor) was awarded one of the 4 Under 40 Emerging Leader Awards out of nearly 50 nominations submitted by local community members. 16 finalists were recognized during the event. Nominees were sought in 4 different areas in which Dr. Howard won in the education professional category.

Geralyn Mitchell (Assistant Director, Career Development Center) received the 2021 NCACE (North Carolina Association of Colleges and Employers) Outstanding Professional Award.  NCACE recognizes significant contributions to the postsecondary career services and employment field by a current member of the Association and is based on organization involvement and commitment, eligibility demonstrated by one or more of the following attributes:

  • Demonstrated exemplary leadership in the post-secondary career services and employment field; Significant research, publication(s), and/or professional presentation(s) that have impacted the profession; Development of a model, creative program, or applied professional concept that impacts the post-secondary career services and related fields

The Peel Literature and Arts Review received Best in Show from the NC College Media Association for the category of Literary Magazine for the 2020 publication! The Peel features prose, visual art, poetry and sound. The Peel received over 900 submissions this school year!

Congratulations to all of our shining stars. 

May 20
 Permanent link


For Fall 2021, we are excited to return to our planned format for the Trailhead extended orientation program. The Trailhead Experience is a three-day program that prepares incoming first-year and transfer students for life at Appalachian State. Hosted by the Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) office, Trailhead helps students create connections, build community, and develop their capacity to lead at Appalachian State and beyond.

Trailhead 2021 will take place on campus from August 8th-10th and engage 200 incoming students in a mix of activities, workshops, discussion, and simulations to help students learn about themselves and App State through the lens of leadership. Participants will be placed in a small group of other new students led by two experienced student leaders, who we call Trailhead Guides.

Past participants have consistently highlighted the value of the experience and recommended it to others. Here's what a few of them had to say:

  • “Trailhead completely blew me away. I was expecting it to be fun, but the amount of interaction with everyone involved was incredible. Every person at Trailhead was absolutely outstanding, welcoming, and compassionate. I couldn’t have wished for more except for more time to spend with these amazing people.”
  • “I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy the weekend, but I can seriously say that going to trailhead was one of the best decisions I've ever made.”
  • “Trailhead allowed me to discover more about what it means to be a Mountaineer. Going in at the beginning, I was hoping to leave my experience with lots of information and lots of connections and I did.”

While the initial program capacity of 200 incoming students has already been filled, we highly encourage any interested student to add their name to the waitlist. We'll notify those on the waitlist if a space becomes available over the summer.

To learn more about the Trailhead Experience, including a schedule and FAQs, visit If you have any questions about Trailhead, feel free to reach out to or to Courtney Holder at  

May 20
 Permanent link


On Tuesday, May 17th the staff in Intercultural Student Affairs, along with partners from across student affairs, financial aid, and incoming interim CDO, surprised Dr. Fleming for his retirement with a Ghanaian Unity sculpture and framed photo collage. Dr. Willie C. Fleming has been a trailblazer at AppState since his undergraduate years as founder of the Black Student Association, AppState Gospel Choir, and member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. He went on to be the first director of Multicultural Student Affairs, now known as the Office of Intercultural Student Affairs. We recognize that we stand on the foundation that Dr. Fleming laid all those years ago and it is an honor to continue that legacy at AppState.

Dr. Fleming will be missed as an influential leader on our campus. During his remarks, he shared that he will sleep the month of June and is looking forward to continuing his education at seminary school this fall. He looks forward to devoting more time to his church and seeing what the future holds for him. We are proud to have had the time and space to experience all that Dr. Fleming has offered us over the years. And his journey hasn’t ended but is headed in new directions.

May 20
 Permanent link

Getting to Know More People in Student Affairs

Back in February, we started our series in "Getting to Know Our People in Student Affairs."  In continuing with the series, this month we are highlighting Ms. Karla Rusch, Director of the Student Legal Clinic & Off-Campus Student Services and Dr. Heather Strine-Patterson, Director of Student Affairs Assessment. Enjoy reading about who makes up the Division of Student Affairs at Appalachian State University!

Karla originally came to Boone in 1993 to work at the non-profit law office Legal Services of the Blue Ridge (now Legal Aid of North Carolina -- Boone Office). What started as a first professional job in an unknown location quickly evolved into a lasting community of wonderful friends, beautiful places, and meaningful work. A job at Appalachian State beginning in 2002 was icing on the cake. At Appalachian, Karla first worked in the Office of Student Conduct -- providing legal advice to students and also hearing conduct cases and advising the student board. Over time, the Student Legal Clinic was separated from the conduct office, and Karla also took responsibility for Off-Campus Student Services, providing resources and support to the University’s 12,000 off-campus students and their parents. What she likes best about her job (in addition to the fabulous colleagues and positive work environment) is the opportunity to truly have an impact on students at a pivotal point in their lives.

Heather Strine-Patterson is from rural, northern Ohio, near Ohio’s Amish Country, and she has deep family roots in Appalachia. She finished her last three years of high school near Roanoke, Virginia, after her family relocated. Heather was the first in her family to attend a four-year university, and she was able to pursue her masters and doctoral degrees for free by leveraging employment benefits. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Brandon, and they have two young boys - Dylan (6) and Carter (3).

Heather joined Appalachian State in August 2018 as the inaugural Director of Student Affairs Assessment. In this role, she leads and supports the division’s assessment efforts and has the opportunity to work with folks in every department across the division. She is also an active member of Student Affairs Assessment Leaders (SAAL), serves as the Editor for the Journal of Student Affairs Inquiry, and is working on a book chapter for the upcoming issue of New Directions for Student Services focused on student affairs assessment.

Prior to working at Appalachian, Heather worked at James Madison University (JMU) and Miami University. She has over a decade of experience with college students in the areas of academic advising, career development, orientation, teaching, residence life, college unions, and student activities. Heather completed a Ph.D. in Strategic Leadership with a concentration in Postsecondary Analysis & Leadership from JMU (while she was 7 months pregnant with a 3-year old), a Masters of Science in Higher Education Administration from Syracuse University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Ohio State University.

Heather always wants to learn about and support people, so please stop her in the hallway, drop by her office (PSU 231), or schedule a time to talk with her. It would be a highlight of her week to get to know you.

May 20
 Permanent link
Read more stories

Contact Us

Rm. 109, B.B. Dougherty
P.O. Box 32117
438 Academy Street
Boone, NC 28608
Fax: (828) 262-2615