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Update from Vice Chancellor JJ Brown

As we start the final push of the semester, I’m writing to share a few updates and thoughts on several matters impacting our community. I hope you will take the time to read this email, and forgive its length.

The Division of Student Affairs is committed to providing transformational programming, events, and support for each of you. Each of you deserves our very best to thrive in our community.

I’m writing to share a few updates that relate specifically to student life and engagement at App State, for which my division is responsible.

Free Expression Working Group:

I appreciate the responses to the Free Expression Space Working Group email that was sent last week. To date, we have had more than 50 applications to serve on the working group. We will pull together the group to meet next week, and given the responses will need to have some open dialogue sessions for those who are not selected so everyone may participate as they are able in these discussions. The most up-to-date information on the tunnel project can be found here.

Henderson-Springs LGBTQ+ Center’s Spring Fest:

Since 2008, the Henderson-Springs LGBTQ+ Center has served as a place of resource and support on our campus. Even prior to the center’s opening, Appalachian State University has affirmed our LGBTQ+ community through student organizations, various programming, and celebrations, including many in celebration of LGBTQ+ pride. It is important to know we are holding several events — through programming designed by students, faculty and staff — to affirm to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community this week. The mission of the programming has always been designed to “educate, empower, and unite Mountaineers of all identities, especially our LGBTQ+ community of AppState.” This year, the annual programming week is titled the Henderson Springs LGBTQ+ Center’s 2024 Spring Fest. Bo Henderson and Ed Springs, for whom the Center was named, are valued and important members of the university’s history. While the programs and the name were created by members of the university community, I hear and understand the concerns related to the title change of the week this year, and we will absolutely take this into account as we plan events for next year.

Working through challenges now and in the future

The last few weeks have been filled with frustration for some in our community. I hear the concerns being raised, and appreciate the voices that have come forward to share their experiences and perspectives. App State has long been a place of discussion and engagement in and outside of the classroom. As we face these challenges, I have reflected upon the words written by App State Professor of Creative Writing and former North Carolina poet laureate, Dr. Joseph Bathanti, about the Appalachian State University experience.

“Appalachian State University — a place invested with a kind of mysticism, certainly mystery and wonder, a portal that opened to them at a key moment in their lives, beyond which was revealed to them the limitless possibilities for a fully realized, purposefully committed, happy life, and the fact that the human spirit, in all of its guises, is inextinguishable. Appalachian State University has never been just a college, but a rare place where students, and faculty alike, the entire university community, are not only educated and sustained, but transformed.” (

The depth and breadth of programming through our departments and affiliated organizations is designed to provide the transformational experiences Dr. Bathanti references for all backgrounds, beliefs and identities within our community. Appalachian State University has been here for 125 years, and will continue to grow, and create new opportunities for students for at least 125 years to come.


As we look to the final few weeks of the semester, I encourage you to continue to support one another. When you see someone who needs some support, offer it. When you need support, ask for it. And when support is offered, take it. In doing so, managing the challenges becomes easier. I will never forget what a difference the support of others made for me as a college student, and I want to be sure you have the best possible support available to you.

I’ve included several links below to some great resources we have that might help you in the coming weeks. In addition to the resources listed below, there are many, many others on campus that are here to help you navigate the challenges of life, and the semester as well. Please don’t hesitate to ask for help if you or someone you know needs it.

Counseling Center

Free Speech Responsible Officers

Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Plan and Policy

Henderson Springs LGBTQ+ Center

Student Health Services

AppCares Resources website

University Tutoring Services

Academic Strategy Instruction

University Writing Center

I look forward to providing additional updates in the coming weeks, and thank you for your contributions to our community.


JJ Brown
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs

Apr 3