Board of Trustees Remarks
Mark Taggart, Chair of the Faculty
September 12, 2007
Thank you, Chairman Gretchyn. Good morning!
One of the great pleasures I enjoy as serving as Chair of the Faculty is that I am able to have many conversations with our faculty throughout the year. In a number of these conversations, I would occasionally make the following proclamation: “This is my university.” I would then try to back it up by explaining the many times ECU has provided an influence on my life and career.
I would explain that, as a scrawny high school alto player in a summer music camp in Kentucky, I was overwhelmed by performing a musical work by Gregory Kostek, who was then on the ECU School of Music faculty. I never heard anything like this! I never imagined that sounds could be put together that way! This influence drastically changed the way I approached music, and fueled my desire to be a composer. I had no idea then that I would eventually serve in the very same faculty position in the School of Music that Kostek held in the late 60s and early 70s, when he wrote that work that changed my path.
Later, as I pursed music composition as an undergraduate music major in Louisville, I was deeply influenced by one of my primary composition teachers, Claude Baker, who, as an undergraduate, received his degree in music at ECU.
My most heralded and often performed work is entitled “Lament and Credo.” This composition, written a year before I joined the ECU faculty, was written as a response to the tragic, unexpected death of Kenneth (“Buddy”) Deans, who received his undergraduate degree at ECU. I got to know Buddy when he was a faculty member at the University of Georgia, he would make trips to Michigan in order to pursue his Graduate degree, and stop over at the home of a professor in Kentucky. Buddy had a passion and unbridled enthusiasm for music and music making, and he always held his undergraduate experience at ECU dear to his heart. His memory remains a powerful influence on me.
After I “staked my claim” to ownership in these conversations with faculty, I was often pleased when that faculty member would respond that “this is my university,” and they would then explain why.
Faculty would often cite the uniqueness of our mission, “to serve,” as a starting point. Yes, it is important to publish and teach in order to receive promotion and tenure, but to “give back” to the community is just as important as well. In my previous reports to you, I have highlighted many of these faculty. Let me mention just two more colleagues that illuminate the desire of our faculty to “give back.” My son is enrolled in the ASAP after school program, which is a research program investigated by professors Matt Mahar and Rhonda Kinney, within the college of Health and Human Performance, who are studying the effects of activity and exercise on scholastic success. While the research is providing data, the program also serves as a safe place where my son can be right on campus with other University employees’ children participating in exciting activities.
The above is just one example of the close relationship our faculty have with our university. There are so many more! I learn more about our faculty’s claim to ownership every day! The dedication, the fervent desire to serve, to give back to their university and community, the willingness to “think outside the box” are simply qualities of excellence and leadership that can’t be bought. Our faculty are not only an invaluable resource for learning, but for leadership and service as well. Faculty show their leadership skills in many ways and on many occasions and are eager to provide service where needed. It is a joy to hear my colleagues make that simple statement, and their service honors all of us, who proclaim this to be “our university.”