Congrats Class of 2020 graduates

Congratulations to the more than 1,700 Mountaineers graduating today — especially the over 400 students graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences. We are so proud of all you've accomplished! Visit to see the ways you can view and participate in today's commencement ceremony.

Social Media Participation

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Message from the Dean

Neva Specht Fall Commencement

Congratulations to the College of Arts and Sciences Fall Graduates. Commencement signifies the culmination of all that you have worked for during your years at App State! No matter your major, as a graduate of CAS, you are taking away the tools you will need to be successful in whatever you decide to do. That's the value of a liberal arts education. I hope you will take a few minutes to thank those who have helped you along the way whether that's friends, parents, siblings, or a faculty or staff member. I know this past year will be long remembered for what it changed about everything! But also remember, despite COVID, here you are, a college graduate! As you start your next adventure, keep in touch. We love to hear from you. 

 Stay safe, be well and for a little while longer stay socially distant!
~Dean Neva J. Specht



CAS Undergraduate Student Speaker

Maggie Shoup 2020 Commencement
Maggie Shoup

B.S. Interdisciplinary Studies
Department of Interdisciplinary Studies

Maggie Shoup is originally from Indiana but has made Asheville her home for the last eighteen years. In Asheville, she spends most of her time in her urban garden.

As an Interdisciplinary Studies student, Shoup was privileged to create a self-designed concentration that included courses in Building Science and Interior Design. She used her time at Appalachian to explore issues related to affordable housing and to work on design programming intended to facilitate less costly and higher performing residential construction. She will attend Western Carolina’s Master of Construction Management program in the spring. 

Shoup plans to open a design/build firm focusing on urban residential construction under 1000 square feet. She will use social entrepreneurship to contribute to higher performing and less costly new homes in the Asheville area.

CAS & University Graduate Student Speaker

McCracken Commencement 2020

Jennifer McCracken

M.P.A. Master of Public Administration
Department of Government and Justice Studies

Jennifer McCracken, who is among the Hickory cohort of students in App State Online’s MPA distance education program, will earn her Master of Public Administration with a concentration in public management. McCracken has served as the Health Director of  Catawba County Public Health since March 2020, having served as Interim Health Director since October 2019. McCracken began her Public Health career as the lead nurse for Catawba County Public Health's Early Childhood Support Team in 1998 and has since served as the Children's Services Program Manager, Health Service Manager and Assistant Health Director.  McCracken graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a B.S. in Nursing in 1997.  In addition to serving as Health Director, she serves on a number of boards for community organizations.  

Mace Bearer

Tim Silver Commencement
Dr. Timothy H. Silver

Department of History

Areas of Study
Environmental History of North America, with emphasis on the South and Southern Appalachia; History of America's National and State Parks and Ethnohistory of Early America. 

The App State mace is carried by a senior faculty member in all academic processions. Traditionally, the mace bearer precedes the chancellor of an institution, both upon entering and leaving a ceremony. The mace serves as a symbol of authority just as it did during the Middle Ages, when a mace bearer accompanied an official taking office or opening court. The App State mace symbolizes the university’s mountain heritage, the rustic location and the sophistication of an emerging, national leader in higher education.

Full Commencement Coverage

Official University Commencement Website -

Commencement News  - App Today

Cratis D. Williams Society inductees

December 2020 Graduate School Cratis D. Williams Society inductees:

  • Stella Harden, M.A. Geography
  • Lance Hardin, M.A. Appalachian Studies
  • Jennifer McCracken, Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.)

College Faculty and Staff Awards

College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Alumni Award
Carlton Paylor '96

Richard N. Henson Outstanding Advisor Award
Jenny Morris - Department of History

Outstanding Staff Award
Dr. Jenna Valley - Department of Biology

Jimmy Smith Outstanding Service Award
Dr. Micheal Behrent - Department of History

William C. Strickland Outstanding Junior Faculty Award
Dr. Kara Dempsey - Department of Geography and Planning

Donald W. Sink Family Outstanding Scholar Award
Dr. Suzanna Bräuer - Department of Biology

Non-Tenure Track Teaching Excellence Award
Katie Adams - Department of English

Excellence in Engagement Award
Dr. John Paul “J.P.” Jameson - Dr. Wiley F. Smith Department of Psychology

CAS Inclusion Award
Department of Physics and Astronomy

Academy of Outstanding Teachers Award
Dr. Başak Çandar - Department of English
Dr. Gabriele M. Casale - Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences
Dr. Sandra G. Gagnon - Department of Psychology
Dr. Cindy Norris - Department of Computer Science

Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award
Dr. Cindy Norris - Department of Computer Science

Read more about this year's winners at:
To view past recipients and to learn more about each award, visit

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Honors and Degrees Awarded