Dr. Michael Mayfield, vice provost for undergraduate education at Appalachian State University, never meant to be a teacher.
According to his wife he “fell into it by accident.” It’s true: at his first conference presentation as a graduate student, he actually fell from the stage. He tells folks, she said, the humbling experience of climbing back up and carrying on resonated and he’s been on stage as an educator ever since.
Could that small humiliation be why his coworker Sonya Long said Mayfield is the most compassionate, caring person with whom she’s ever worked? His record as an educator also is impressive: He has been in the classroom, teaching geography in some capacity since 1982 and as faculty in the Geography and Planning Department at Appalachian since 1988. He was named Educator of the Year by North Carolina Geographical Society in 2012 and presented with the 2016 distinguished alumnus (’80) award by University of Tennessee Knoxville this year.
In 2010, Mayfield stepped in as interim vice provost for two years before, after a national search, he was appointed to the position in 2012. As vice provost he has had administrative responsibilities for many areas within University College, where all entering students begin their education, including the General Education and the First Year Seminar programs. During his tenure he shepherded two major revisions of the General Education curriculum.
“Mike has the ideal disposition and experience to have successfully advanced the General Education curriculum changes,” Provost Darrell Kruger said. “He is calm, deliberate and an engaged listener. Moreover, he is flexible yet also willing to state his position respectfully when it differs from others.”
Mayfield is returning to the classroom as an associate geography professor next semester.
Mayfield was not interviewed for this article because his coworkers wanted the honor to be a surprise. In an article published after his appointment as vice provost, Mayfield said, “ I have always loved teaching and working with students and I miss that, but in this position I have the opportunity to influence policy that impacts a lot of students at Appalachian.” According to Kruger: “Job well done.”
Dr. Mayfield, welcome back to the classroom.
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About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.