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Specht named dean of Appalachian’s College of Arts and Sciences

By University Communications

BOONE, N.C.—Dr. Neva J. Specht has been named dean of Appalachian State University’s College of Arts and Sciences after a national search. She begins her duties May 1.

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Specht, a professor of history, has served as interim dean since May 2016. Prior to that, she served in the role of senior associate dean beginning in 2013 and as associate dean from 2010-13.

“Neva brings unique skills and knowledge to the position and she came highly recommended by the search committee to fill the permanent position. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Specht into this new role,” said Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Darrell Kruger.

In assuming the position of dean, Specht will continue leading a college of approximately 5,850 students in 16 academic departments that span the humanities, social sciences, and the mathematical and natural sciences. The college also has three stand-alone programs, two centers and one residential college.

Specht has taught in Appalachian’s Department of History since 1996 as a public historian, leading courses on museum education, public programming, living history and material culture, as well as the history of pirates and the Blue Ridge Parkway. She served as assistant department chair from 2007-09. Her research has focused on community formation among the Society of Friends [Quakers] in trans-Appalachia in the years following the American Revolution.

From 2007-13, she served as Appalachian’s first liaison to the Blue Ridge Parkway. In that role, she developed an internship program for students and directed two National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks in History and Culture grants for high school teachers that focused on the Blue Ridge Parkway as a teaching tool. She also completed a historic furnishing report for the Blowing Rock home of Moses and Bertha Cone for the National Park Service (NPS), and conducted a number of oral histories for the NPS.

Locally, she has served on the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum’s Board, Blue Ridge Parkway 75, and currently sits on the Town of Boone’s Cultural Resource Advisory Board. She also is a former board chair of the North Carolina Humanities Council.

Specht received her Ph.D. in United States history and material culture studies from the University of Delaware, where she also earned her Master of Arts in United States history with a certificate in museum studies. She received her bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College, with a double major in history and American studies.

The search committee was co-chaired by Ece Karatan from the Department of Biology and Heather Norris, dean of the Walker College of Business. Members of the search committee and their respective departments were Phil Ardoin, Government and Justice Studies; Ruth Cook, College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office; Kurt Michael, Psychology; Patrick Rardin, Philosophy and Religion; Tracie Salinas, Mathematical Sciences; William Schumann, Appalachian Studies; Kathleen Schroeder, Geography and Planning; Rahman Tashakkori, Computer Science; and Tammy Wahpeconiah, English.

About the College of Arts and Sciences

The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, three stand-alone programs, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities, social sciences, and the mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university’s strengths, traditions and unique location. Our values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of our students as global citizens. There are approximately 5,850 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian’s general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges.

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 about 18,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.