July 23, 2008
Thank you very much, Dr. Tovey.
Let’s get right to the important things. First, is Professor Jason Bond in the audience today?
Where are you, Jason? Please stand up!
As most of you know, unless you were doing research at the South Pole all summer, Jason has become a regular on the Colbert Report comedy show and earlier this month named a spider species for Stephen Colbert.
And he has named a spider for Neil Young. And Nelson Mandela. And I understand Angelina Jolie is next.
But has he named one for Steve Ballard??? NOOOOOOO.
Or for the Mighty ECU Pirates?? Nooooo again.
So, Jason, I understand you have a lot more unnamed spiders. I don’t think I need to say anything more.
Thank you, Jason.
Those of you not familiar with Jason’s work in the Biology Department should know that the spider names are just a tiny part of it. He is doing important research in biodiversity and evolution. His work is supported by National Science Foundation grants, he is training both undergraduate and graduate students, and he is publishing regularly. Thank you again, Jason, for all you do for ECU.
It is good to see you and to begin a new year at ECU. Could I ask all new faculty members to stand and let us welcome you. Thank you. We are delighted that you have joined us here at East Carolina University. As you may have heard, this is almost a perfect place to be a faculty member. Except for parking. And just so you know, I have nothing to do with parking. Kevin Seitz is in charge of that. And his phone number is 328-6975.
Parking aside, we have a truly excellent university, with a collegial spirit and, most importantly, authenticity in what we do and what we say is important. You, the faculty, have my respect and my appreciation for all that you do to make this possible.
We also have a bevy of new deans this year. Linda Patriarca is already with us leading the College of Education. As you know, this university was born as a teacher training school, and we are confident that Dean Patriarca will provide outstanding leadership as the College builds on that legacy.
In the Health Sciences, Paul Cunningham returns to ECU in September to lead the Brody School of Medicine and Jim Hupp will become the dean of the dental school in November.
And back on the east side of town, Judy Siguaw has been selected as the new dean in Human Ecology, effective in January.
As we welcome new deans, I hope you will join me in thanking those who have served and are serving in those positions in an interim capacity: John Swope, Phyllis Horns, Greg Chadwick, Margie Gallagher, Sylvia Brown and David White.
Today, I would like to discuss the institutional agenda for the coming year from a 30,000 foot level. My goal is to ensure that you are aware of several of our opportunities and challenges at ECU.
We have worked well over the past four years to move the university forward. On average, faculty have received a 24 percent increase in overall compensation, we have added well over 400 new faculty positions, and we have expanded our physical plant substantially,$107 million this past year.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR 2008-09
The final report for UNC Tomorrow, which is the strategic plan for the whole system. The quality of these reports being prepared by each of the campuses in the system will determine how each university fares in the biennial budget process and, especially, in priorities for capital projects. I am very proud of our draft report, submitted last May, under the leadership of Vice Chancellor Deirdre Mageean. Over 60 faculty members participated in developing that report, and your work and contributions were critical. The feedback on that document from the General Administration has been excellent. At the same time, much remains to be done this fall to respond to the requirements of this project.
UNC Tomorrow requires us to address how we can enhance our programs related to 7 areas: global readiness, access to higher education, public education, economic transformation, health, the environment, and community engagement. We have much to contribute in each category.
If we are successful in these three comprehensive and demanding exercises, I believe the benefits will be felt for the next decade and beyond. Success will positively affect our capital projects, access to operational dollars from the state, and, perhaps most importantly, the emerging view of the vital role we play in the state. I’m not sure we will be seen as the third “flagship” campus, but we surely can be seen as the “Starship” campus of the system.
Now here is a critical aspect of these efforts: You are part of them. They do not affect just those faculty members and administrators who sit on the committees and draft the reports. They are about all of us. You can and should find your place in them and help us move the goals forward. They apply to your work in the classroom, the laboratory and the community. I look forward to working with you as we move ECU forward.
THREE CHALLENGES AHEAD
Let me conclude by mentioning 3 challenges for the coming year. The ECU Board of Trustees is well aware of these challenges and is expecting strong and clear responses during this academic year:
At the same time, our retention rates have dropped and we know that retention is affected by academic preparation. The soul of ECU is to make a difference for every one of our students, and we must never lose that commitment.
To manage the challenges and opportunities for growth as well as demands from the UNC system that we grow, Dr. Judith Bailey is chairing the campus-wide Strategic Enrollment Management Task Force. The goal of that group is to have a draft report this fall, a full review toward the end of the semester, and a final report by early spring. The report should address such strategic issues as our rate of growth, admission standards, the mix of graduate and undergraduate students, and the role of distance education.Infrastructure and Safety
We do not yet have answers to these questions. However, we have made significant investments in campus safety and these will continue, with the help of new revenues from the General Assembly. We must also have a very strong partnership with the City of Greenville, that bears primary responsibility for protecting the majority of our students who live off campus.
In addition, I have convened four workshops this summer that have addressed our largest risks and our immediate needs for better services. This work is not complete, yet it is apparent that we must invest more resources in:
In short, it will be a busy year in which we have great opportunities to move the university forward. With your intellect, energy, and skill, we will do just that. It is a great time to be a Pirate!