BOONE, N.C. — Nearly 4,000 students attained Appalachian State University degrees this spring, which was celebrated at Spring Commencement ceremonies held May 6 and 7 at the Holmes Convocation Center.
At six ceremonies held over two days, the university conferred degrees to 3,946 graduates, including 3,296 undergraduate and 650 graduate students. Recordings of the ceremonies are available on App State’s commencement website.
Chancellor Sheri Everts presided over the ceremonies, and Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Heather Hulburt Norris presented the candidates for graduation. University of North Carolina System Board of Governors member C. Philip Byers also shared remarks.
“As graduates of App State, you will be uniquely positioned to adapt, lead and serve in a world that has been fundamentally changed,” Everts said in her address to the graduates.
“I congratulate each of you on your achievements and celebrate the hope and possibilities you take forward into our future world — a world that holds more promise because of the contributions you have made thus far, and one you will continue to make even brighter,” she added.
Everts also recognized App State faculty and staff and the family and friends of graduates for their roles in helping Mountaineer students reach this milestone.
Byers brought greetings from the UNC Board of Governors, the UNC System Office and the App State Board of Trustees.
“Graduates, your education at Appalachian State University has provided you well with the knowledge and skills you will need to achieve the goals and dreams you set forth,” Byers said. “We all join you in your well-deserved celebration.”
During the ceremony for App State’s Hayes School of Music and Reich College of Education on May 6, Byers presented Dr. Reeves Shulstad, a professor of musicology in the Hayes School, with the 2022 University of North Carolina Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award.
“Dr. Shulstad, we applaud your commitment to student mentorship, undergraduate research and inclusive excellence — all pillars of an App State education,” Byers said. “You exemplify the heart and soul of Appalachian State University, and today, we thank you for your dedication to all of North Carolina’s students.”
In her introductions, Norris thanked multiple individuals and groups for their roles in the commencement ceremonies, including the macebearers, banner carriers, name readers, the Appalachian Brass Ensemble and the App State ROTC Pershing Rifles Company. She also recognized Mountaineer alumni, student veterans and military-affiliated students who were in attendance.
“I am thrilled to help honor each of you during this most joyous occasion,” Norris said to the graduates. “Today, we celebrate your hard work, perseverance and success.”
App State’s commencement ceremonies concluded with a special performance of the university’s alma mater, prerecorded by Grammy-nominated country music star Luke Combs, a former App State student.
During the ceremonies, graduates walked across the commencement stage, had their names announced — along with the Latin and/or departmental honors they received, and were professionally photographed receiving their diploma covers.
New this year, the official App State caps and gowns worn by graduates were made of fabric produced from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles and were made in the USA.
“This weekend’s ceremonies will divert nearly 100,000 plastic bottles from the landfill,” Everts said.
The ceremonies included graduates from each of the university’s academic colleges and the graduate school:
- Beaver College of Health Sciences
- College of Arts and Sciences
- College of Fine and Applied Arts
- Hayes School of Music
- Reich College of Education
- Walker College of Business
- Williams School of Graduate Studies
At the Beaver College of Health Sciences commencement ceremony held May 6, Everts awarded an honorary App State degree to Donald C. Beaver in recognition of his significant contributions to the university.
“Through his visionary leadership and unmatched generosity, Donald Beaver is transforming the lives of students, athletes and families at App State and across the Southern region,” Everts said.
Beaver has built an esteemed career in health care and athletics, first making his mark as the developer and CEO of a group of skilled nursing facilities throughout the South. Currently, he is president and CEO of Universal Health Care, which provides short- and long-term medical and rehabilitation care, as well as president of the organization’s management division — Choice Health Management Services.
In athletics, he is president of Beaver Sports Properties as well as CEO of the Rock Barn Country Club and Spa in Conover and the Statesville Country Club. He is also the majority owner of the Charlotte Knights, Hickory Crawdads and New Orleans Baby Cakes (formerly the Zephyrs) minor league baseball teams, and a minority partner of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Beaver is a two-time App State graduate, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business education in the early 1960s. He has served for a combined 27 years on the App State Board of Trustees, Appalachian State University Foundation Board and Walker College of Business Advisory Council. He was honorary chairman of the university’s first large fundraising campaign in the 1980s, and he received App State’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1990.
In 2010, the Beavers and the Beaver Family Foundation made a significant leadership gift to support the College of Health Sciences, which was subsequently named in their honor. This gift helped the university build a new health sciences building and created the Beaver Scholars Program. To date, 34 students have been awarded nearly $600,000 in scholarship support through the program. The Beavers have also supported App State Athletics, the Yosef Club, the Appalachian Fund and the Walker College of Business.
A native of Troutman, Don and his wife, Vickie, have six children.