Messages to Campus

March 22, 2017

Welcome to installation week! Nine months ago, Catherine and I moved to Greenville to take up my position as Chancellor of ECU. Those nine months have passed quickly and we've learned much about ECU, our superlative faculty, students, and alumni, the great support for ECU throughout this community, and the trajectory of this great university. Candidly, we've been welcomed by several interesting challenges during these early months. We've even survived our first hurricane, though what's a little hurricane to a pirate, right?

We've learned that as pirates we are "undaunted." We are fearless and unafraid to grasp opportunity. And we give "no quarter" to those who oppose Pirate Nation. But most of all, we have learned that the horizon for this institution is boundless. ECU is well on its way to becoming America's next great national university. I believe there is no limit to where we can sail this pirate ship! What does that mean, how do we get there, and what could stand in our way?

ECU is uniquely North Carolina's university. We boast the largest business school in the state. We put more allied health professionals and nurses into NC healthcare than any other institution. When you take our bachelors, masters and doctoral students in the College of Education, we put more educators into NC schools than any other institution. Our doctors and dentists are leading the way in providing healthcare in much needed underserved and rural areas of our state. We have wonderful performers, artists, and athletes who inspire us. We produce engaged citizens who will serve and improve their communities. 29,000 students strong, we have more than 5,800 faculty and staff, and more than 165,000 alumni. There is much to be proud of, but we haven't reached our horizon yet.

ECU is now 110 years old. As I anticipate being installed officially as chancellor on Friday, I am humbled by our history and heritage, and yet the opportunities that are before us are profound. Many challenges confront public higher education today as we prepare to address societal challenges and changes of unimaginable complexity. But no university has more assets or potential than ECU. If we can avoid distractions, small-mindedness, and sometimes even personal self-interest, we have enormous potential. If we can focus on innovation, quality, research, and international opportunities for more of our students, preparing them to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, and able to work collaboratively, our horizon is unlimited. And then there is the need to do what all great universities do, and what makes universities great-raise the resources and endowments to fuel our ambition for success. Our new $500 million capital campaign can take us there.

If we do these things, nothing can stand in the way of ECU achieving its destiny of greatness. America's next great national university is here-ECU! We are proud to be along for this journey. There are plenty of seats on this pirate ship. All hands on deck! Let's capture the horizon!

Cecil P. Staton, 


January 30, 2017

Many questions and concerns have arisen as a result of the Jan. 27 Executive Order that temporarily impacts citizens, including visa and green card holders, of seven countries – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen – from entering the United States. The order also directed the U.S. Secretary of State to suspend the refugee admission program for 120 days and to suspend all refugee processing of Syrian nationals.

As a large, research university with students and faculty members from around the world on our campus, we know the value of having fellow citizens of the world beside us in our classroom and in our labs and clinics. They are an essential part of our campus, and our university is enriched by having them here. I want to offer my personal support for all of our international students and colleagues.

While the exact impact of the Executive Order on our campus is still being evaluated today, our review indicates that fewer than 20 members of the ECU community (faculty/staff/students) could be directly affected. At this time, we would advise students and employees who are nationals of the countries identified in the order to refrain from traveling outside the United States.

We will continue to work with our colleagues in the UNC system and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, along with federal and state representatives in monitoring and evaluating the implications from this decision. We will update the university community as more information becomes available.

If you are directly affected by the Executive Order, please let us know if you need assistance and we will do our best to help you. If you have concerns or questions, university resources stand ready to offer guidance. If you are a student, contact the Office of Global Affairs and the Dean of Students office; and for employees, contact the director of Immigration Services. 

For more information, you may also wish to review the following statements from the UNC system and APLU.

In closing, I want to stress that we value all members of the university community and extend our support to international faculty, students and staff. We are committed to a diverse, inclusive campus. The East Carolina University tapestry is enriched by what each of us brings to the whole.

Chancellor Cecil Staton

November 22, 2016

As I write this on a cool beautiful fall day, it is hard to believe that five months ago we moved to Greenville, preparing for me to become the eleventh chancellor of East Carolina University. Catherine and I have been overwhelmed by the hospitality we have received. A lot has happened over those five months, and we have much to be thankful for.

ECU experienced a record enrollment this fall, just short of 29,000 students. ECU made major progress toward a $55 million stadium renovation project, which the Board of Trustees endorsed at its November meeting. The Board also authorized the start of a major comprehensive campaign for ECU. This $500 million campaign will be nothing short of transformational for our campus and provide the foundation we need to become America’s next great national university. And this fall we have been inspired as we watched a great student athlete, Zay Jones, set a new NCAA record for career receptions. Go Pirates!

Our campus has also received several national recognitions this fall. We were acknowledged as number four in the country for the percentage of family physicians we produce, many of whom want to practice in rural, underserved areas of our state. We won a Kellogg Award for community engagement for our MATCH Wellness program that seeks to improve childhood obesity in our state and beyond. And last week we received the Senator Paul Simon award for campus internationalization efforts and specifically for our Global Academic Initiatives program that links ECU students with students in more than 30 countries though technology on our campus. 

I could go on and on. We do have much to be thankful for. Wonderful things are happening around our campus.

We also endured Hurricane Matthew. The aftermath of this event continues to impact our region. I am proud of the way ECU has responded to the significant needs left by Matthew. Administrators, faculty, staff and students have stepped up to show that public service and regional transformation are not just words, but they reflect who we are as Pirates.

In January, the nation will witness the inauguration of a new president. Unfortunately, the aftermath of the election reveals a fractured, divided nation. It is not surprising that some of that electoral and political division would show up on our campus. Overall, we have let our East Carolina Creed guide us. We recognize that a university is a place where freedom of expression is respected. The campus should always be a marketplace of ideas, vigorous debate, but always civil discourse. 

Our commitment to that freedom, however, does not displace our commitment to campus safety. On this campus, we will insist that our students, faculty and staff comply with the law as well as campus policies and procedures. We will not stand idly by in the face of any act that threatens the safety of any member of our University campus. We expect that our discourse, political or otherwise, should reflect civility and respect. We are committed to the diversity found on our campus and we celebrate it as a microcosm of the world our students will live and work in. It provides the perfect environment for personal growth and learning.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, let me simply say I am thankful for this community of scholars, students and committed staff. I am inspired by our community and alumni support. This is a great university. Catherine and I are grateful to be here with you. Get some rest. Enjoy family and food. And let’s give thanks for our many blessings.

Cecil Staton

October 6, 2016

Dear Students:

It is an honor and a privilege to serve as the chancellor of your university. This is a challenging, but wonderful time to lead ECU.

In the past week our campus has been experiencing - in a very public, yet also personal way - something that campuses and communities across our country are struggling with: balancing the desire of individuals and groups to express themselves, and the obligation we as a university have to provide a safe and secure environment for everyone on our campus. As your chancellor, I have the responsibility to hold these two priorities together, even when in tension.

To our students, let me be perfectly clear: you have the right to express yourselves peacefully and responsibly, and the right to expect to do so without fear of intimidation or violence. I will not tolerate the mistreatment of any student, and anyone who perpetrates such mistreatment will be dealt with swiftly.

However, when necessary, I will also ensure that public safety is preserved and maintained for the benefit of all who are a part of our campus. The university has a responsibility, if necessary, to place reasonable constraints on the time, the place and the manner of expression or conduct, but within those constraints, the university respects and will defend that right.

We are an imperfect campus in an imperfect society. We know we must work harder on issues of equality and social justice, and I am proud that we have many ways to facilitate discourse in an intelligent, safe and responsible manner. I applaud these efforts and stand with you in your efforts to effect meaningful change.

As a university, we respect the First Amendment, and we encourage the open, even passionate discourse of the issues that are important to our students and faculty.  It is also important to acknowledge the deep relationship our university has with the military and the men and women who serve and have served. We share a mission of service, and each day on our campus we appreciate the people who live that mission. It is because of their commitment to our country that we as citizens have the right to express ourselves.

East Carolina has a long and very proud history of tackling some of our society's most challenging issues, from preparing doctors and dentists who practice in our state's underserved communities to preparing teachers who shape the future in hard-to-fill rural classrooms. Whether it is civil rights, women's issues, war and military actions, ECU has encouraged the members of our campus community to express their opinions and perspectives in an intelligent, responsible and peaceful way. After all, if these conversations can't happen on the campus of an American university, where can they?

Our students and faculty represent the best of what diversity - in terms of ethnic background, political affiliation, nationality, sexual identification - can bring to an institution of higher learning. We all benefit from the shared perspectives and experiences of others, whether we agree with them or not. A fundamental element of our core mission is to reflect a global workplace and society and to prepare students to succeed in varied and changing cultures.

Challenges will always be here. That's a good thing; they make us stronger and wiser. Whenever we are faced with challenges, we must come together, rationally, peacefully and thoughtfully, to work towards resolution and mutual respect. We will not always agree with one another - in fact, we shouldn't - but we must always be willing to come together, rise to be our best selves, and demonstrate what makes ECU the remarkable community we love.

So I'm asking everyone who is a part of East Carolina University - students, faculty, staff, administrators and our alumni and supporters - to join together in an effort to resolve our differences peacefully, respect the rights of others to express themselves peacefully, and work to find common ground that continues to strengthen ECU. We will continue to experience tension between the desire for expression and the obligation as a university to provide a safe and secure environment. Balancing that tension will continue to be an important part of our responsibility as we prepare our future leaders to embrace a complex and challenging world with dignity and integrity.

Cecil Staton

July 1, 2016

Today I am proud to be your chancellor, but I am even prouder to be part of the amazing Pirate Nation that my wife Catherine and I have been so warmly welcomed into since my election on April 27. The Pirate pride I see on and off the campus of East Carolina University has been palpable since I first visited during the search process. Subsequent visits and time on campus have confirmed what I feel to be true—that this is an extraordinary university with a wonderful future, poised for greatness.

I must express my gratitude to UNC President Margaret Spellings, the Board of Governors, the ECU Board of Trustees, and our search committee. I am grateful for the confidence they are placing in me.

As your chancellor, I recognize I am standing upon the tall shoulders of those who have gone before. I want to thank Chancellor Steve Ballard for his excellent leadership over the last 12 years. We all owe Steve and Nancy our gratitude for their impactful service and commitment to this great university.

These are challenging, yet dynamic times for public higher education. We face constrained funding, increased state and federal regulations, the disruptive nature of technology, demographic, economic, and workforce changes, and fierce competition. I join you today, however, because I believe East Carolina University is in a unique position not only to survive, but to thrive in the current climate of change. 

ECU has enormous assets: a superlative faculty, a broad and relevant range of colleges and schools, a student-centered staff, great athletic traditions, terrifically engaged and capable students, and wonderful community and alumni support. I am convinced that ECU can and will provide leadership while responding to the challenges facing public higher education. 

Today I ask you to join me in a renewed commitment to the innovation that must occur at every level of our work. In every way we interact with students, we must prepare them to live, work, and make a difference in today’s global, knowledge-based economy. ECU must always put students first.

Let us commit ourselves to resisting the lure to be “pretty good” at everything, and instead choose the path of innovation and excellence that will lead this institution to its destiny of greatness. While the waters of change may be shifting beneath us, we will remain committed to finding the next generation of solutions.

At ECU we will prepare the teachers for our schools and the nurses, dentists, and physicians for our hospitals and communities. We will educate the business leaders who advance our economy. We will nurture the artists and performers who inspire us. Each day, we will prepare educated and engaged citizens who will change our community, North Carolina, and the world.

I ask you to join me today in embracing our mission to be a comprehensive public research university while aspiring to be an innovative world-class institution. The measure of our success will be the dedication of our faculty and staff as well as the accomplishments of our students and their impact upon the world. 

We will pursue a growing research and discovery agenda that benefits the public good. We will assume fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, and cultural vitality, as well as the health and well-being of the community, state, and region we serve. And, we will embrace our student athletes and encourage them as they achieve excellence both in the classroom and on the field of competition. 

ECU has the assets to do all of that, and the greatest asset is the people who are East Carolina University, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Our aspirations are momentous as we seek to live out and fulfill the mission of ECU—servire, “to serve.” I am confident, however, that if we commit ourselves to these objectives, the future of ECU is secured and our potential impact for good is unlimited.

Catherine and I are so very proud to join Pirate Nation and to labor with you at this incredible university.

Go Pirates!

Cecil P. Staton