BOONE, N.C. — Nearly 16,000 incoming and current students across the country received an unexpected, personal phone call this summer from Appalachian State University as part of the university’s Mountaineer Connect campaign.
“The COVID-19 global pandemic has disrupted so many aspects of our lives and we felt it was important to personally check in with our students to see how they are doing and to connect them with any needed resources,” said Jane Barghothi ’96, Appalachian’s vice chancellor for university advancement.
Barghothi, who led an eight-person committee to develop and launch the campaign, continued, “Appalachian prides itself on building close connections between faculty, staff and students, and this is one example of our community putting that philosophy into practice.”
Through this initiative, championed by Appalachian Chancellor Sheri Everts, more than 100 Appalachian staff worked to contact thousands of students over the course of three months. Though not every call was answered, the callers connected with more than 7,100 students and/or one of their family members, and 86% of those reached expressed appreciation for the university’s efforts.
“I jumped at the chance to offer support to our students,” said Cathy Ziegler, an analyst in Appalachian’s Office of Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning who made nearly 800 calls during the campaign.
Ziegler said she found it rewarding to engage with new students and parents as she helped them understand the university’s processes, and to be an “understanding ear” for continuing students.
Callers like Ziegler recorded questions and reactions from students and their family members, many of whom shared enthusiasm for the university and its willingness to provide assistance. Other students raised questions about orientation, the process for class registration and financial aid, and the callers were able to connect them to the appropriate resources.
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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 20,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.