Board of Trustees Remarks
Mark Taggart, Chair of the Faculty
July 25, 2006
Thank you. It is an honor for me to be standing here to represent our faculty. The three months since I’ve been elected have been most challenging but rewarding. I am grateful for all of the guidance that Catherine Rigsby, our former Chair, has given me during this transitional period. She has been tremendous! Her hard work, dedication to shared governance, her deep respect for the faculty and her love for ECU has been an inspiration to me. She’s about to embark on six-months of research studying in the Amazon basin in Brazil. I wish her the utmost success in her work and safe travels.
I would like to continue the tradition that Catherine set out in her addresses to you in highlighting what our faculty are doing, as well as informing you of the “mood” of the faculty. I am looking forward to answering all of your questions regarding our newly revised Appendices C and D of the Faculty Manual. As our university grows and becomes more complex we have had to make revisions in the requirements and ranks of faculty members coming in on tenure track positions. We have also had to add new titles to our fixed-term appointments, in order to allow the various units on campus the flexibility to hire faculty on the basis of their specific needs. The Faculty Governance Committee has worked long and hard to develop these new procedures, ranks and titles of the faculty in these revisions. They were tireless in their efforts to study peer institutions, in hopes of obtaining a glimmer of how they have handled these complex issues as their institutions have grown. I applaud their efforts. I also appreciate the sincere consultations by the Deans who gave us valuable input and advice throughout the process, most notably Dr. Phyllis Horns and Dr. Steve Thomas. I’m sure that they are enjoying getting accustomed to this wonderful new facility!
East Carolina University has gone through so many changes since I joined the faculty in 1985 as an Assistant Professor of music composition. I am fortunate to be serving our university in this position as we enter our centennial year. There is much to celebrate, However, I must also echo the sentiments expressed by my colleague and friend Henry Ferrell in his upcoming books describing the history of ECU. While it may be time to celebrate the promises we’ve kept, we remain focused on our desire to fulfill those promises we’ve made to our students, our university and our community. The revisions we’ve made in our Faculty Manual will help us to keep those promises we’ve made as we continue to grow.
As I said earlier, I teach in the semi-autonomous unit called the Department of Theory, Composition and Musicology, located in the School of Music, which makes part of the College of Fine Arts and Communication. I am a composer. I write music for others to perform. As a composer, I have tried to explore and convey the entire gamut of the emotions and expressions found in the human condition. What is most challenging is to convince your musicians that your music is worth the time and effort needed to perform it correctly. It requires teamwork, and a sharing of the risks and rewards. There are successes and there are frustrations. When I told Catherine Rigsby of an experience I had with some musicians, she replied that she was lucky to be in the field of geology, because “sediment doesn’t talk back.”
Now I would like to share with you the accomplishments and contributions made by our new director of the ECU Symphony Orchestra, Dr. Jorge Richter, who is beginning his fourth year here. Jorge comes from Brazil where he received his baccalaureate at the Parana State School of Music and Fine Arts in Curibita. He continued and completed his studies at Michigan State University, and since then, has worked with orchestras throughout the world. We are lucky to have Jorge on the faculty! He has taken an orchestra program that has gone through its share of troubles recently. The morale of our students was way down as we went through music director after music director. But our students were ignited by Jorge’s passion for music and his drive for excellence. They heard the improvements they made which further fueled their desire to reach even higher. You can see it in any rehearsal and performance. Look at the musicians’ posture. They are sitting upright, eyes in rapt attention, willing to do everything they possibly can for that man on the podium.
And Jorge has taken them to musical heights that I would never have thought possible here! I invite you to listen to the CD of performances made by the ECU Symphony and Jorge this past year. Please feel free to compare his performances of those well-known and beloved works by Tchaikovsky with any orchestra. There are wonderful, magical moments that occur oh too rarely even by professional orchestras. (And these are our children performing this.) What follows is a Passacaglia by Marlos Nobre, who is a composer from Jorge’s homeland. That music is in his blood! Finally, Alexander Nevsky is a powerful, complex and demanding work by Serge Prokofiev, which requires full orchestra and chorus. The stage at Wright auditorium was filled to the rim. In fact, the fire marshal has informed us that, due to the possible safety hazard we can no longer perform works of that size and scope there.
As you listen to the CD, I want you to ask yourselves why these wonderfully talented musicians, aided by Jorge’s nurturing stewardship, can’t have their very own house to play in. Lack of proper orchestra/chorus facilities is just one slice of the pie. In all my time here, we’ve never been able to adequately stage an opera, simply because we don’t have the space to produce it. All of our arts deserve our support.
We’ve made a promise to our students to give them every possible opportunity for success and excellence, and by supporting our efforts to build a visual and performing arts center in downtown Greenville, you can help us keep that promise to our students and our community. I know that, as current Chair of the Faculty and, later, returning faculty member to the School of Music, I’m going to do all I can to make sure that promise is fulfilled.