Last Updated on October 12, 2023 2:01 pm
BOONE, N.C. — Dr. Kenneth E. Peacock, who served as Appalachian State University’s seventh leader from 2004 to 2014, died Friday, Oct. 6, at the age of 75.
App State Chancellor Sheri Everts released a statement from the university that read: “The Mountaineer community mourns the sudden passing of Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock. He cared deeply for students, and as a first-generation college graduate, he understood the sacrifices many families make to send their children to college. Personally and professionally, he worked to ensure App State students had not only the financial support, but also the personal and professional support they needed to succeed.
“The university and the High Country have lost a beloved leader, but his legacy certainly continues. Our hearts are with his family and many loved ones during this difficult time.”
Peacock spent more than 30 years as an educator at App State: First, as a faculty member teaching accounting and taxation; later, as the dean of the Walker College of Business; and finally, as chancellor of the university, pledging to the campus community that he would work tirelessly for “students first, quality in all.”
As chancellor, Peacock established the university as a leader in undergraduate research; increased international opportunities for App State students; significantly expanded academic programs in health care, establishing the Beaver College of Health Sciences; opened a new building for the Reich College of Education; led significant growth in the nexus of energy, the environment and economics; and moved App State’s athletics programs to the Sun Belt Conference and the Football Bowl Subdivision — all while growing enrollment from 14,653 to 17,589 and solidifying the university’s reputation as a national leader in undergraduate education.
Among the many university achievements under Peacock’s leadership:
- The Office of Student Research was established in 2005 to expand opportunities for students to engage in research and mentored scholarship with national and international scholars and professionals.
- The Transportation Insight Center for Entrepreneurship in the Walker College of Business was created to support a burgeoning group of student entrepreneurs.
- In 2008, the university launched its Research Institute for Environment, Energy and Economics to continue App State’s research related to alternative energy, sustainable development and the environment.
- App State’s Office of Sustainability was created in 2009 to guide the university in strategic sustainability goals, creating partnerships among students, faculty and staff, developing policies and guidelines to support strategic goals, providing program evaluation and creating opportunities for App State to engage with its community in sustainable practices.
- App State established its first new college in nearly 40 years in 2010, with the opening of the Beaver College of Health Sciences in response to a strategic initiative to meet the state and nation’s need for highly skilled health care workers. The college is home to nine undergraduate degrees, seven graduate degrees and four certificates, as well as the Blue Cross NC Institute for Health and Human Services.
- Capital improvements under Chancellor Peacock’s leadership included construction of the Student Recreation Center, Roess Dining Hall, the Athletics Center, Mountaineer Hall on-campus housing, a new college of education building, the Beasley Media Complex and an addition to Plemmons Student Union. The university also renovated existing residence halls, upgraded its steam system and opened Belk Library and Information Commons, as well as the west wing of the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts.
- App State held its first Appalachian Energy Summit — an annual event that gathers faculty, staff and students from colleges and universities, as well as government and industry leaders to share ideas and put into action ecological, financial and social processes designed to improve energy efficiency across the University of North Carolina System, the state and beyond.
- The Mountaineers football team upset Michigan with a 34–32 victory in the Big House in 2007 and won three straight national championships. The win against Michigan marked the first time in history an FCS team beat a ranked FBS opponent — a moment so significant that the Associated Press changed its policy allowing FCS teams to receive votes in its polls.
- Using donations from a fund honoring his late mother, Peacock established the ACCESS (Appalachian Commitment to a College Education for Student Success) Scholarship Program, which provides low-income, first-generation college students from North Carolina with a debt-free App State education.
- The university earned its initial designation as a Military Friendly School® in 2010 — an honor App State has held for 14 consecutive years.
- From 2006 to 2014, the percentage of App State students studying abroad increased from 4% to 22%, which was significantly higher than the national rate of 14%.
- The Campaign for Appalachian was launched in October 2011, raising $200 million to strengthen academics, arts and athletics through scholarships, programs and activities.
A first-generation college student and native of Rocky Mount, Peacock graduated from Mars Hill College in 1970 and began a career in accounting at Price Waterhouse in Winston-Salem. He later attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, earning a master’s degree and a doctorate in 1980.
He joined the faculty of App State’s Walker College of Business in 1983, teaching accounting and taxation, and became assistant dean of the college in 1987, with primary responsibility for international programs and external initiatives. He held the role of Walker College associate dean from 1989 to 1992 and then became the fifth dean of the college, a position he held until 2003, when he was appointed interim provost and executive vice chancellor of App State.
In 2014, the College of Business building was renamed Kenneth E. Peacock Hall, in honor of the former chancellor’s years of service to the Walker College of Business and App State.
App State’s Board of Trustees awarded Kenneth and his wife, Rosanne Peacock, with the Appalachian Medallion on June 7, 2014, recognizing the Peacocks’ long and sustained commitment and significant service to the university.
Peacock is survived by his wife and their two children, Chris Peacock and Brian Peacock, as well as five grandchildren.