Fall Faculty Convocation

Catherine A. Rigsby, Chair of the Faculty

August 23, 2004





I.                  Call to Order, Welcome

Good morning!  Will the Faculty Convocation please come to order? Welcome to the 2004-2005 academic year!     I am Catherine Rigsby.   It is my honor to serve this year as the Chair of the Faculty.   


As many of you know, I come to this position via an unusual route.    Rick Niswander is our immediate Past Chair of the Faculty.  He was elected to be Chair again this year, but this summer he was appointed as the new Dean of the College of Business, so he stepped down from the Chair position.    Rick, please step forward, I have something to present to you.   


I thank Rick for his service last year, congratulate him on his new position and – importantly – thank him for helping make my rather sudden transition from Vice Chair to Chair as smooth as possible.    Rick, please accept this plaque, in recognition of your service as the 2003-2004 Chair of the Faculty.    Thank you.


I also thank all of you who have supported me in my years of university service and those who have offered words of encouragement (along with a few condolences!) since I became Chair.  I am especially grateful to the dozens of you who, in the last few weeks, have agreed to serve on Senate and university committees.  Without your service, shared governance would not be possible.


Next, I’d like to introduce the faculty officers.    Please stand and be recognized when I call your name.    Serving with me this year are:  Jan Tovey, from the Department of English, who was elected to a second term as Secretary of the Faculty and, Patricia Anderson, from the College of Education, who has agreed, once again, to stay on as Parliamentarian.   Seated with the officers is Lori Lee – the Faculty Senate administrative assistant.  Lori is the main contact in the Faculty Senate office.  She will always be there to answer your questions and lead you in the right direction.       Thanks to all of you.


Because I vacated the Vice Chair position when I became Chair, I’ve asked the nominating committee to present a slate of candidates for consideration during the September Senate meeting.  If you have any nominations, please send them to the committee.  We’ll also accept nominations from the floor in September.  By the end of business on September 28th we should, once again, have a full slate of faculty officers.


1.                  Recognition of SGA President

Another important part of our system of shared governance is the student body.  I’d like to recognize Shannon O’Donnell – President of the Student Government Association.   Shannon, I urge you and your representatives to take full advantage of the SGA memberships on Senate and University committees.


2.                  Recognition of Members of the Board of Trustees

Next, I would like to recognize members of the Board of Trustees who are in the audience . . .I look forward to working with all of you.


3.                  Speech   

This is a great time to be at ECU!    Having come through some “rough patches,” we are looking forward to a fresh start.  This summer brought us a new Chancellor (who will speak to us in a few minutes).    And, soon we’ll have searches for other high-level administrators. 


Although there are many unknowns in the prospects and plans for our university, there is one thing I’m sure of:      FACULTY will play a large role.


In addition to the important “normal business” of the Senate and its committees this year, there are 3 initiatives that I would like to work

on –  with your help:

First,   Faculty Input into Administrative Hiring

Second,    Faculty Mentoring and

Third,    University-wide Standards of Excellence


Let me first talk about the opportunities faculty will have in helping to hire new upper-level administrators.    Our new Chancellor has told me that there will be searches for several key administrators this year.    And, he has promised that faculty WILL have a major role in those searches – that, in fact, faculty will make up at least half of all search committees.    This means that we will have the opportunity to build a strong faculty point of view into our entire upper-level administrative structure.    By doing this, we can ensure even more faculty participation in decision making, therefore more faculty influence on institutional goals.


I encourage ALL faculty members to share in these major decisions (and in all aspects of university governance!).    I hope to hear as much from faculty members who have not participated in the past, as from those who already serve; as much from new faculty as from as those with more experience.    


Let’s accept this challenge and use it to help shape our university.


Another way we can shape the university is through mentoring. 

We have an excellent faculty at ECU.    With appropriate cooperation between faculty and administration, with appropriate incentives, and with appropriate mentoring – at ALL levels – faculty can achieve great things.


Too many times, good colleagues have needed more guidance.    Too often, energy and aspirations are squandered as faculty attempt to move forward in their scholarly careers. 


It is the people who create a great university.     We have the depth and breadth at ECU – in research, in teaching, and in service – to build our great university from within. 


For new faculty, building from within requires good mentoring   effective support from all levels  (unit, college, and university).    This includes guiding performance, encouraging excellence, and helping them define the path by which their careers, departments, colleges, and the university as a whole may advance.    AND, it means providing resources – space, money, and time – to aid in that success.


For our seasoned faculty, building from within requires recognition of both past successes and the potential for continued future success.    It also requires INCENTIVES to grow with the university (to not be left behind) and REWARDS and RECOGNITION for the entire range of contributions these faculty bring to the university.


We may have seen the beginnings of recognition and reward in the recently announced salary increases.    This is good and needed.    But, it is not enough.    And, recognition and rewards are not just about the money!


By valuing and effectively mentoring we will KEEP and PROMOTE the great people we have at ECU.     I solicit input from you on ways to improve mentoring at all levels.    To get things started, this Fall I will ask the Faculty Welfare committee to evaluate mentoring practices across the university – a first step toward ensuring uniform opportunities for our junior faculty.


We must also recognize that we are a diverse institution, with many different disciplines and many different paths to excellence.     All great universities are diversified in the ways they address the common institutional vision.    Although there are many different routes to success, it is always the FACULTY that define and are the gatekeepers of that success.


Which brings me to the third initiative . . .

ECU faculty have always been active on the unit level – setting standards for excellence and advancement within their own disciplines.    But, where we are going requires a broader vision.

As we continue to come to grips with our status as a research institution, we must strive for institutional standards of excellence that extend beyond disciplinary boundaries.      The Faculty must create and maintain those standards.


I challenge faculty and administration to work together toward this goal Please send me your suggestions and ideas.    I will begin the process by asking the Faculty Governance committee to consider the creation of college- and university-level tenure and promotion committees.


In summary, I urge you ALL to participate this year in shaping our university   its administration, its faculty, and its institutional standards of excellence.    With your participation we can form good policies that encourage faculty development.    Look beyond your offices, labs, classrooms, and studios.    See the whole university.    Offer to serve on a university-level committee.    

Be willing to help shape the future of ECU by helping us build first from within   from the great faculty sitting in this room. 


B.                Introduction of new Chancellor (Steve Ballard)


Now that you’ve heard my vision of where we can go this year, it is my pleasure to introduce our new Chancellor,   Dr. Steve Ballard.    In a “former life” he was a Professor of Political Sciences and a department chair.   This, along with his many other credentials and achievements, gives me great confidence in his ability to work with faculty AND to understand academic issues from a faculty point of view.


C.        Announcements


1.                  New password system

The university IT group has established new password requirements for all university computer users.    These guidelines will go into effect in October.   You will soon more information about this new requirement in your e-mail soon.


2.                  Appendix D pending sections

Several of the changes to Appendix D that were approved by the Senate last Spring are still pending final University approval.    Please pay close attention to the notes to this affect in the Faculty Manual.


3.                  Serious Illness policy input/forums

The Faculty Welfare committee will revise the university serious-illness-and-disability policy this semester.    Watch for notification of forums on this issue and please send any comments to that committee.

4.                  GE forums

The Academic Standards Committee will hold forums to discuss a proposed new General Education program on Tuesday, September 21st and Wednesday, September 22nd.    Please watch your in-boxes for specific times and places.


5.                  Teaching and research award deadlines

The deadline for submitting proposals for a university research/creative activity grant is noon, on September 15th.    The deadline for teaching grant proposals is noon, on October 1st.And, FINALLY,   


6.                  Leave quickly!!

The Thomas Harriot College of Arts & Sciences will hold its convocation in this auditorium starting at 10 am.    If you do not plan to attend that convocation, please leave the building as quickly as possible so that they may begin on time.

Thank you.  We are adjourned!