BOONE, N.C. — Centrally located next to the Veterans Memorial garden and near the B.B. Dougherty Administration Building, a grassy swath in front of I.G. Greer Hall is shaded in summer and protected in winter months by a cropping of hardwoods. The area is slated to become a formal gathering space for the historically black Greek-letter organizations that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), often collectively called the Divine Nine.
Across the United States, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have developed a tradition of providing a gathering space for the Divine Nine. For well over 50 years, it has been an established HBCU tradition to provide these plots as a visible way to commemorate legacies of the Divine Nine on college campuses.
Appalachian’s students have been advocating for such a space for close to 10 years. According to Appalachian’s Chief Diversity Ofﬁcer Dr. Willie C. Fleming, “When Chancellor Everts arrived on campus, students, faculty and staff brought the idea to her attention and she was immediately supportive of the project.” Students and staff presented their ﬁndings, along with a conceptual design, to Appalachian’s Board of Trustees, Fleming said. With the board’s endorsement, the space was dedicated over the 2017 Homecoming weekend. “This has been a long time coming,” Chancellor Everts said. “And it is time.”
In her speech at the dedication, Jaelyn Felder, president of both the National Pan-Hellenic Council and Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society at Appalachian, said the plots will give the NPHC greater visibility on a predominately white campus. As an important diversity recruiting tool, she said one goal would be to fully educate the Appalachian Ambassadors, students who direct campus tours for potential students and their families, about the NPHC and the Plots and Gardens project.
“The plots will also be NPHC’s ceremony space as well as our community hang out,” Felder said. “We will use the space during the organization’s Founder’s Day, new member presentation shows and for our special events.”
At the dedication, Felder reminded the crowd that student, faculty, staff and alumni NPHC members have held inﬂuential positions throughout Appalachian’s history. “There are NPHC members that stand as some of the greatest leadership on this campus,” she said. “This greatness should be appreciated, and these plots, this land that you are all standing on, will do that.”
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational 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 embrace diversity and difference. As 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.