Evolution of the College

Creating The Beaver College of Health Sciences: A Brief History

Appalachian State University



Wake Forest PA Grads 2016.jpg

The first Wake Forest Baptist Health and Wake Forest School of Medicine Physician Assistant Appalachian cohort graduated in 2016.


In 1983 Dr. Harvey Durham, the Provost and Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs, recognized the benefits of a health-related college to the Appalachian State University community when he appointed an Ad Hoc Committee to investigate areas of potential growth in academic programs. This began the discussions about creating infrastructure to support growth in the health professions. For the next two decades, the issue of collegial reorganization and the creation of a 'health college' were considered by various task forces and committees. In 2000 a Health and Human Services Area Committee was formed to consider alternatives for health-related reorganization. The Committee reviewed twenty different programs in five colleges at Appalachian with health and human services integral to their mission. Recommendations from the Health and Human Service Area Committee led to forming an Institute for Health and Human Services (IHHS) as a precursor to developing a college-level entity in health and human services. The IHHS was formed in 2005 with the mission to support research, clinical services and training programs in health and human services disciplines. Dr. John Turner from the Department of Social Work was appointed as the inaugural Director of the IHHS.


In the spring of 2008, Appalachian contracted with Dr. Harold Jones, Dean of the School of Health Professions at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, to review Appalachian's health professions programs and deliver a recommendation to the Appalachian administration regarding the viability for creating a health college.  Dr. Jones' final report of May 6, 2008 recommended that "Appalachian State University appears well-prepared to move forward with the creation of a new college of health sciences....There is really no doubt that Appalachian State University is capable of creating a stronger health sciences presence and that this new college can attain a level of excellence commensurate with that of the University's existing colleges. I would encourage you to move forward with all deliberate speed." Following Dr. Jones’ report, Appalachian State proposed to the University of North Carolina System Board of Governors to develop a new College of Health Sciences and Allied Professions. This proposal was approved by the Board of Governors at their meeting on October 17, 2008. This was a significant milestone for Appalachian State University, as it marked the beginning of the first new College at the University in 40 years, when the Walker College of Business was developed in 1970.


Under the leadership of Chancellor Kenneth Peacock, the University administration then formed three strategic committees to begin planning the new college: the Coordinating Committee included senior administrative officials from Appalachian State, Watauga County and Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS), who discussed partnership opportunities between Appalachian and ARHS. A Building Planning Committee began to develop a space plan for a new building to house the college. Provost Stan Aeschleman appointed a "Health College Task Force" to begin planning the new college. This Task Force was chaired by Dr. Holly Hirst, Associate Dean of the Graduate School, and included members from each of the disciplines originally planned for the new College. The Task Force completed their report and submitted their final copy to Provost Aeschleman on May 18, 2009.


During this same year, a Search Committee was appointed and a national search began to hire the Founding Dean for the new College. An Appalachian State alumnus, Dr. Frederick Whitt, who was the Dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences at Georgia Southern University, accepted the position of Founding Dean for the new College of Health Sciences and Allied Professions on October 1, 2009. Dean Whitt began his duties at Appalachian State on January 1, 2010, and the transition began with anticipation the new College would become official on July 1, 2010. Throughout the first six months of 2010, planning continued for the new College, and many of the recommendations from the Task Force Report were implemented. College nomenclature, departmental structure and leadership, organizational charts, and curriculum revisions were finalized and, under the leadership of Dean Whitt, the College of Health Sciences officially became the eighth college at Appalachian on July 1, 2010. The College of Health Sciences began with the following five departments:

  • Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

  • Department of Health, Leisure and Exercise Science

  • Department of Nursing

  • Department of Nutrition and Health Care Management

  • Department of Social Work


Since July of 2010, the College has experienced several noteworthy milestones:

  • In 2011, a 2 million dollar gift from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina supported the College with scholarships, professorships, and a lecture series.

  • In 2012, the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System pledged a nine-acre tract of land on the corner of Deerfield and State Farm roads to Appalachian with the understanding that the university would obtain funds from NC to construct a permanent building for the College of Health Sciences.

  • In 2013, a public private partnership was established between the College of Health Sciences and Wake Forest School of Medicine’s Physician Assistant Program. Wake Forest now has a Physician Assistant cohort offered in Boone on Appalachian’s campus.

  • In 2014, the NC General Assembly provided funding to cover the planning and design of a 203,000 square foot health sciences building.

  • In 2014, the Department of Health, Leisure, and Exercise Science split into two departments: the Department of Health and Exercise Science, and the Department of Recreation Management and Physical Education.

  • In 2015, the College of Health Sciences was named for Donald C. Beaver of Conover, NC.  Beaver (‘62, ‘64) is a graduate of Appalachian and a leader in the health care industry. Appalachian’s newest college is now known as the Beaver College of Health Sciences.

  • In 2016, NC voters approved the Connect NC bond which provided funding to construct the Beaver College of Health Sciences’ new building, scheduled to open in the fall of 2018.

  • In the spring and summer of 2017, the Beaver College of Health Sciences benefited from the expertise of the Interim Dean, Dr. Susan Roggenkamp. Interim Dean Roggenkamp previously served as an Associate Dean for the College and is an alumnus of Appalachian State University.

  • In the summer of 2017, the College welcomed a new dean, Dr. Marie Huff.  Dean Huff was most recently Dean of the College of Health and Human Services at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. She previously served as Associate Dean and Interim Dean at Western Carolina University. Dean Huff holds a doctorate in Social Work from the University of South Carolina.  


The Way Forward

Significant opportunities lie ahead for the Beaver College of Health Sciences – opportunities to enhance the health sciences faculty already distinguished in the areas of teaching, service and research; opportunities to expand degree offerings to better meet the needs of the communities and populations served by Appalachian; opportunities to apply creative and innovative approaches to meeting the health needs of the future; and opportunities to form significant partnerships with the region and state.


Instrumental to the success of the College are the partnerships that will solidify our connections to the communities that we serve. The Appalachian Regional Healthcare System was a strong proponent of the new College from the very beginning and pledged to support Appalachian's mission in health services research and education by donating a parcel of land valued at over $10 million. Through the Institute of Health and Human Services, the College will continue to deliver health services to the community and support interdisciplinary research activities among faculty to improve the population's health. We will expand interprofessional educational opportunities for students through our partnership with the Wake Forest Physician Assistant program. At the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, researchers from the Beaver College of Health Science will continue to  advance biotechnology, nutrition and health. As five of our departments move to our new Health Sciences campus in the fall of 2018, we will expand our state-of-the-art teaching facilities and labs. Moving to the community will weave us into the fabric of the community, to those we serve and to our health partners, but we will also remain connected to main campus. One department and ancillary services will remain in our campus hub, the Holmes Convocation Center. In both locations, the Beaver College of Health Sciences will thrive and remain ever focused on innovation and collaboration in education, scholarship and service that produces high quality graduates, attracts superior faculty and staff, and transforms health and quality of life for the communities we serve.


To learn more about our evolution, please visit our interactive timeline.

The Beaver College of Health Sciences – we invite you to join us on this journey!

Healthy People, Healthy Communities