Catherine Rigsby, Chair of the Faculty
I’m glad to be here today to help mark the beginning of your academic career.
As the Chair of the Faculty, I am the elected leader of the ECU Faculty Senate and the primary liaison between the faculty and the university administration.
The Faculty Senate is one of the university’s shared-governance bodies.
It is through shared-governance that the faculty help solve institutional problems and implement policies in ways that benefit the entire university, including you – our students.
Of course, one of the most important things faculty do is design the curriculum.
It is the faculty – ECU’s disciplinary experts – who designed, initiated, and implement everything related to your course work and your degree programs.
Even before you arrived on campus, the faculty have been actively thinking about you and your education!
So, I am proud to be here today to recognize and honor the most significant relationship that you will develop while you're here: the bond between students and faculty.
But as I stand here envisioning this bond, I can’t help but think to the future.
In about four years – you’ll be sitting at Commencement, wearing robes like this, anxious to get your diploma, celebrate, and get on with your lives – and a faculty member will walk up to the podium (just as I did today) to give you one final lecture (hopefully very a short one!).
That person will tell you that you have received an excellent education, that you are now capable of great mental and creative feats, and that you are expected to go out into the world and fix everything that's broken:
save the environment,
and so on . . .
Although I do hope you'll do that, I also know that many of you think you are only here to prepare for a rewarding and lucrative career.
But, the faculty hope that you will leave ECU with both your desire for personal success and the drive to make things better – not just for yourselves, but for everyone.
So . . . how will you prepare for that day when we send you out to fix the world?
It won’t be easy!
But, as the philosopher William James said,
“It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult undertaking which, more than anything else, will determine its successful outcome.”
The educational undertaking you are beginning today can change you for the rest of your life – it can make you better in many ways.
You are joining a community of scholars.
You will be working with people like me – with faculty and graduate students who love knowledge and love knowledge-making.
We are not your parents. We are your fellow scholars.
We are here to help you think, to help you reason, to help you discover, to help you learn how to learn, and to learn with you.
I urge you to begin this undertaking by being passionate about your education and your life.
Take the time to savor all of your experiences here.
Know that there will be times to question all of the beliefs you have accumulated through your upbringing.
Sometimes you will choose to accept and follow those beliefs.
Sometimes you will reject your history to follow a new thought; a new experience.
Either path will lead to new opportunities.
But, it is how you choose to pursue these opportunities that will determine the outcome.
It is only through diligence, honesty, sincerity to yourself, and passion for life and for learning
that you will ultimately succeed – both here at ECU and in the life that follows graduation.
On behalf of the entire Faculty, I welcome you and wish you the best years of your lives.
We’re delighted to have you here!