The holidays are a perfect time for spiritual reflection, rest, good food, and warm fellowship with family and friends.
As we prepare for the joys of the holidays and anticipate the promise of a new year, we offer our gratitude for the dedicated alumni and friends of ECU, for our world-class faculty, our dedicated staff and administration, and our wonderfully diverse student scholars, athletes, and performers.
Catherine joins me in extending to all our very best wishes for a safe and restful holiday season.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Cecil P. Staton, Chancellor
It's a busy time of year. Cooler weather, falling leaves, and the last home football game behind us, we see the final days of the fall semester approaching. Exams are just around the corner. Fortunately, this week brings the wonderful holiday tradition of Thanksgiving and time to enjoy family, fellowship, too much food, and a few days of rest.
As we prepare for this well-deserved break it is a good time to pause and give thanks. ECU has much to be grateful for. We are a vital university well along our journey toward becoming America's next great national university.
Our enrollment this fall reached another all-time high. Our retention rate is the highest ever. Our student athletes have achieved their highest GPA ever. Our $500 million comprehensive campaign is making great progress as significant gifts and investment in ECU come into view. Our campus is in the process of transformation as we watch our $122 million student union rise from the ground. The Dowdy-Ficklen $60 million renovation begins in earnest, and we are finalizing plans for our new $90 million life science building, which will soon be underway.
Our faculty are receiving recognition for their research and teaching. Our students are engaged in ground-breaking research with practical implications for our region. Our colleges and schools are being recognized for their quality and performance. We are a university on the move and our trajectory is toward greatness.
As we prepare for Thanksgiving, I want to thank you for your role in ECU's success and dramatic achievements. I am grateful for a world-class faculty and staff that is committed to student success, public service, and regional transformation. I am grateful for engaged students who are preparing to change the world and capture their horizon. And I am grateful for wonderful alumni who are investing in ECU's future. Every day I see examples of ECU's successes and glimpses of the future that is ahead for this wonderful university.
Pirate nation is strong, committed, and undaunted. I hope you enjoy your holiday and find a few moments to remember why there is so much to be grateful for.
Happy Thanksgiving and go Pirates!
Dr. Cecil P. Staton
At the conclusion of his remarks to the Board of Trustees on September 15, 2017, Chancellor Staton addressed the issue of ECU Athletics:
ECU loves to win. We have lots of stories we share with each other about great victories in this university’s athletic history, wins that are sometimes against extraordinary odds. We’ve learned that we can get that “W” on any field of competition – at any time — and that’s for good reason. We’ve done it before. We are Pirates, after all.
Let there be no doubt; we’re going to get back to our winning ways in football. But as we’ve struggled in recent weeks, my wife Catherine and I talk often about the unique place the two of us are in, one that most fans haven’t experienced. That’s the personal one-to-one time we have with our student athletes. It’s nothing like their time with coaches, but we’ve been on the field, we’ve traveled with them, sometimes on the bus, other times on the plane, sometimes in the hallway of a hotel. Sometimes we’re together before a game or at the conclusion of a game. And we never lose sight of the fact that it’s a rare privilege to spend time with people who work so hard to be the best they can be on the field, at the same time working hard to earn an education at a top national university. That’s a tough task, and there are very few of us who could be successful with those kinds of demands. But we have some remarkable student athletes at ECU. And I can assure you, no one wants to win more than they and their coaches do, on the field and in the classroom.
My more optimistic self knows that fans would behave differently if they knew these young people the way we do. But we live in a time when people can hide behind anonymity and say hurtful things they’re unlikely to say face to face. That’s the downside of social media and radio call-in shows. I am too often appalled at what I see and hear in these venues. And I’ve encouraged our coaches and athletes to ignore it. Unfortunately, there are times when they just can’t avoid it. And that’s a shame.
It’s been difficult for our football team and for Pirate Nation the last couple of weeks, but let me tell you what Catherine and I are going to do. We are going to put our arms around our student athletes and love them. We are going to express our appreciation and admiration for the fact that they get up each day, take classes, and still find time to work out, practice, and prepare with all their hearts to be the best they can be on the field and in class. Frankly, I don’t know how they do what they do.
I hope you will join me in loving them and appreciating them for their dedication and determination. They are undaunted, and I urge all of us to remain undaunted, as well. We want to be competitive on the field of competition. All of us do. But we also want the best for our athletes, whether it’s on the field, in the classroom or in life after college. Let’s support them across the board. And let’s be sure they know we’re supporting them.
Catherine and I are going to stand behind our student athletes – home or away, win or lose. They are family, after all. They are friends. They are Pirates. And we are Pirate Nation.
We’ll get through whatever challenges the year brings, and our fans know that. I’m pleased that they are sticking with our long-term vision, whatever comes our way. Their support, and my support, for our Southside Stadium expansion is unwavering. I salute these loyal Pirates and our athletics staff for nearly $15 million in philanthropy. I also salute the many Pirates who have stepped up to reserve their boxes and suites, far more than initial projections anticipated this far into the program. That’s what makes us Pirate Nation. That’s what makes me very proud.
The Trump administration's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which protected children of undocumented immigrants from deportation, is especially concerning to university leaders, who have witnessed the hard work of so many young people who are simply trying to develop the skills that will make them even stronger contributors to our communities. These students have become respected participants in university life across America, and it's important that they know we value their contributions and encourage their continued hard work toward a degree. While the decision to end DACA has created uncertainty for them, we are hopeful that Congress will act quickly to address the issue. In the meantime, we join other North Carolina universities who are supporting our students fully, and we support the efforts of our higher education association, APLU, as it lobbies Congress and the Trump administration to address this issue quickly.
North Carolina's public universities are united in our support for all students. We will be receiving guidance from UNC System President Margaret Spellings in coming days, and we will keep you updated as there are developments that directly affect us. Rest assured that we will continue to be engaged on this issue during the weeks ahead.
As always, we have and will continue to offer support services to our students. ECU offers our students legal advice through Student Legal Services (SLS) which is part of the Dean of Students Office. SLS is not affiliated with the University Attorney's Office and is an advisory service for students. Click here to visit the SLS website or you can call (252) 756-3800. In addition, students can contact the Center for Counseling and Student Development to speak with trained, professional counselors to deal with the stress/anxiety they are feeling. Visit www.ecu.edu/counselingcenter or call (252) 328-6662 to set up an appointment. The Dean of Students office is also available to assist students (252-328-9297; www.ecu.edu/deanofstudents ). Other resources on campus include the Office of Equity and Diversity (252) 328-6804 or the Office of Global Affairs at (252) 328-1426.
Over the past week, we have yet again witnessed nature’s ability to cause enormous damage, lost lives and life-changing tragedy. Pirates know the pain and suffering that hurricanes can inflict. Pirates also know how to support others in a time of need.
As America rallies to support those suffering in Texas and Louisiana, our thoughts turn to our brothers and sisters in higher education, especially our American Athletic Conference friends at the University of Houston, where 43,000 students, faculty and staff are dealing with the aftermath of the hurricane.
I call upon the entire Pirate Nation to support relief efforts that have special meaning to you, but also to consider supporting our university friends in Houston. We have experienced this kind of loss in eastern North Carolina. And we understand how meaningful it is when your friends are there for you in tough times.
Here is how you can help:
Give to University of Houston. University leaders tell us donated funds will be used to help UH students who experience hardships as a result of the storm. Visit the University of Houston giving page at giving.uh.edu/gift and indicate “Harvey Relief.”
Give to Hurricane Victims. The American Red Cross depends on donations to provide immediate relief. You can donate by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Give Blood. The American Red Cross needs eligible individuals to please give blood or platelets now to help ensure we have a readily available blood supply for patients in need. Appointments can be made by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.
Additional efforts to support those affected by Harvey are underway across the university. Stay informed by following ECU, Student Affairs, and Athletics on social media.
To any students, faculty, or staff who may have family in the affected areas know that counseling services are available. For students, if you are from that area and need assistance, contact your resident advisor or any Campus Living staff member, the Office of the Dean of Students at 252-328-9297 or email at DOS@ecu.edu, as well as ECU Center for Counseling at 252-328-6661. Faculty and staff may contact the Employee Assistance Program through ECU Human Resources.
Please keep all affected by this disaster in your hearts and minds because as we know in eastern North Carolina, the aftermath of a hurricane lasts long after the flood waters recede.
Good morning and welcome to the 2017-2018 academic year. It's great to see you back as we prepare to welcome what will likely be a new record fall enrollment of over 29,000 students.
I think it's important to begin my remarks today by extending a heart-felt, virtual embrace to our colleagues at the University of Virginia - and to other colleges and universities across America who know the personal pain when civil, respectful discourse falls prey to bigotry, racism, and violence. The heartbreaking news from Charlottesville is only the latest evidence that the hard work of teaching civility and respect must become a national priority, with our leaders and our universities setting the best examples.
Let me state very clearly, our university condemns bigotry, racism, prejudice, and violence as represented by extreme groups in our country. As University of Virginia President Sullivan stated this weekend, "Violence is not Free Speech." Our commitment is to set an example of what is best about a university.
I want to welcome some new members of our great team today. We have two new Deans and a new Vice Chancellor: Dr. Harry Ploehn, Dean, College of Engineering and Technology, comes to us from the University of South Carolina, Dr. Mark Stacy, Dean, Brody School of Medicine, comes by way of Duke, and Dr. Jay Golden, Vice Chancellor for Research, Economic Development, and Engagement, comes also by way of Duke. Let's welcome them. And then we welcome almost 120 new, full-time faculty. Let's have them stand and be recognized.
Welcome! We're glad you have joined the 5,800 Pirates who work and serve here. Welcome to ECU: America's next great national university.
I remember very clearly a day way back in 1989, when I stepped onto a college campus as a faculty member for the first time. It was a dream come true, and I was energized by the opportunity to teach, learn and change lives. This time of year also triggers vivid memories of the faculty members who became my mentors and friends when I was a student. They were very special people who invested in my life and dreams, and I will always be grateful.
We welcome you to an institution with high aspirations, a place committed to scaling even greater heights, to be one of America's great national universities. There are some who feel that statement is a bit of a stretch, maybe even a big stretch. But they'll come around. Let me be unequivocal. I came to this place because of the potential I saw. I saw greatness first-hand during the search process, and I wanted very much to be a part of it. And nothing has dissuaded me over the course of my first year as your 11th chancellor.
I think it's important to take a few minutes to share with new faculty and remind our veteran faculty of just a few achievements that are making this a great national university.
The list goes on and on…
Wow, I'm certain I've left out many other important examples of national leadership and other evidence that ECU is America's next great national university. But that's the point. We could go on and on with examples, and I encourage you to send more to me. I want to be sure we're sharing that news across this state, this country, and the globe. Let's congratulate these and other ECU faculty, staff, and students, who are leading the way as we become America's next great national university!
Look, we are not perfect, and we deal with all the challenges public universities face today; things like constrained state funding, resulting salary compression, advancing technology and innovation, student debt, freedom of speech and academic freedom issues, and quickly evolving workforce needs, just to name a few. That is all baked into the unpredictability of 2017. But we are here because we are committed to the grandest of enterprises: higher education. Every day, we change lives. That's the vision that inspires us.
Now, let's take a few moments to think about the year just past, and about the year ahead.
2016-2017 was an amazing time for me, filled with some soul-searching, assessment, and goal-setting, and culminating in installation week back in March. I've drawn from this last year one overriding conclusion: If North Carolina didn't have ECU, state leaders would have to go out and build it. We are responsible for putting more business leaders into our economy than any other institution in the state, more teacher and education leaders into public education than any other institution in the state, more nurses, more allied health professionals, more dentists and doctors into rural and underserved areas of North Carolina, more engaged and capable citizens into our workforce and communities, and I could go on and on.
But we've got a challenge. Not everyone is aware of how vital ECU really is. Our story sometimes doesn't make it west of I-95. We're about to address that problem through an aggressive re-branding program that will encompass everything from our logo and website to advertising, social media and media relations. We will lift up the ECU brand. And more people across North Carolina, our stake holders, our layers of governance, those involved in state government, and even the world of higher education in general, will know and understand what ECU has become and what we aspire to be.
Another important development last year took place at our November Board of Trustees meeting. Our trustees did something that we'll look back on in a few years as one of the most important decisions in ECU's 110-year history. The board voted to accept our recommendation to launch an ambitious $500 million comprehensive fundraising campaign for ECU. If ECU is to be a great American university, we must do what all great universities do-raise the resources to advance our vision. We are currently in the quiet phase of that campaign.
This past year we raised approximately $50 million. That's double just a few years ago. Think about that. We raise about $1 million dollars a week on average, but we must do more! Our campaign will focus on a couple of big capital projects, but it will also be about scholarships, endowed chairs, research, internationalization, and increasing our endowment, which is a woefully inadequate $200 million.
Last year I announced that research would become more of a priority at ECU. Let me add that the administration and governance of the UNC system has indicated that ECU must step up its research activities. As the third largest institution in the system, and the only UNC institution with a medical school, a dental school, and a college of engineering and technology, that should come as no surprise. Let's review...
Sponsored programs continue to provide funding for basic and applied research and instructional and service activities. Grant and contract expenditures totaled $38.4 million in FY16-17, and awards received totaled $45.5 million. ECU Physicians and Brody School of Medicine contracts account for another $53.5 million, bringing the total of external funds awarded to over $99 million in FY16-17.
I have set out an ambitious goal at ECU to double our research awards and expenditures in the next five years.
Numerous initiatives are underway under the leadership of our new Vice Chancellor for Research, Economic Development, and Engagement, Dr. Jay Golden, who is working hard to ensure we meet this goal and continue the growth and prominence of research at ECU well into the future. One example of his work is the recent launching of our 6 Strategic Research Clusters, which harness the intellectual strengths of faculty from across the university.These include:
We are relying on each of you, our faculty, to help further define the initial focus for each of these clusters and, to work across the campus in making them into nationally recognized research programs.
Finally, we are also making progress on developing our Millennial Campus, which will be a primary asset for accelerating creative collisions and collaborations between our faculty and with industry. The goal of the Millennial campus is to create a new generation of innovative technologies and solutions that address the pressing issues of our region and beyond.
This past year also saw a new emphasis upon internationalization at ECU. A highlight of my year was traveling to Washington, DC, to receive on behalf of ECU a Senator Paul Simon Award from NAFSA, for ECU's important Global Academic Initiative program, which partners with 62 institutions in 33 countries to provide an interactive, student-driven global experience for about 300 ECU students each semester.
We also welcomed Dr. Jon Rezek as our new Executive Director of Global Affairs. We have set an ambitious goal to double the number of ECU students who participate in an international experience from the current 12.5% to 25% within five years. It will be a priority of our comprehensive campaign to raise resources that will allow more ECU students to have an international experience.
Here's another major development during the past year. Perhaps you read the news regarding our work on what we call Project Unify. Project Unify is an agreement reached between ECU and Vidant Health to bring under one new umbrella organization our physician practice plans. For many years ECU, through Brody, has operated a physician practice plan which today has about 430 physicians and health-care practitioners, together with about 1,000 staff, including nurses, who provide primary and specialty health care services to patients while also serving as the principal clinical teaching setting for our third and fourth year medical students. Vidant has a similar sized practice plan. Under the terms of Project Unify both plans will come together as an associated entity of the university. Its purpose will be to support the work of the Brody School of Medicine and our mission of providing a healthcare and physician workforce for rural and underserved areas of North Carolina. As an additional benefit, ECU will receive an upfront payment of $35 million, which will be committed to our endowment, and a guaranteed annual mission support payment for Brody of $14.25 million annually for 30 years.
Now I'll comment briefly on legislative issues. This past academic year, in addition to system wide goals of funding enrollment growth, funding salary increases, and eliminating further budget reductions, we had several specific goals for our institution. Among those were securing an additional $4 million in recurring funding for the Brody School of Medicine, securing funding for enrollment growth at Brody, and securing advanced planning money for a new medical education and research facility. The system prerogatives were generally successful, though leadership at GA and certainly on this campus is well aware that minimal salary increases do not make up for the difficult years that have been endured without increases. It is no small step, however, that we secured full enrollment growth funding, as well as no management flexibility reduction for this year. Recurring dollars are always hard to come by, so I am grateful for legislative leaders who took the lead for ECU, including our own Representative Dr. Greg Murphy.
With only two raises for faculty in eight years, there is much to be done to close the gap with our peers in faculty compensation. The 17 institutions of the UNC system are our state's crown jewels. And our faculty and staff are the reasons we are successful. I pledge my continuing support and efforts to secure the resources to recruit and retain the very best for the faculty and staff of ECU.
Let's talk about some of big construction projects now underway-or soon to be. We recently dedicated a $37 million Student Center on the Health Sciences Campus. And if you have not visited it, you should. Very soon, about one year from now, we will open our new $122 million Student Union. Also, the fall of 2018 will bring the opening of our Southside Stadium Expansion, which is going to ensure a national caliber game day experience at Dowdy-Ficklen. A year later, in July 2019, construction on our new life sciences building will begin, with an anticipated completion in October 2021. And then something that has been planned for some time, our new to be named either the School of Population Health or Public Health, will be accredited and operational by the Fall of 2021.
This past year UNC-General Administration and the Board of Governors went through a strategic planning process that led to a new plan launched in February. Following this process, I appointed a Strategic Planning Executive Working Group to review and update our own plan through 2022. I am grateful for the leadership of Dr. Chris Locklear and Dr. Laura Gantt, who have served as co-chairs for this group and process, and for the committee members who have invested so much of their time to it.
As part of planning, we continue to negotiate with GA regarding a performance matrix that we will be measured by, and you'll see from this slide that there is a determined focus on things like research, graduation rates, as well as our success with students from rural areas of NC and from low-income households. The good news is that our own strengths, mission, and commitments coincide nicely with much of the UNC-GA plan. As you leave, please be sure to pick up a copy of the purple book, our Strategic Plan Extension. We also have an ECU pin for you.
There is an old Chinese curse which paraphrased says, "May you live in interesting times." This curse was made popular after Robert F. Kennedy used the phrase in a speech in 1966. He said, "Like it or not, we do live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind."
I think that you will all agree that we are living in most interesting times right now, and we might even prefer a much stronger adjective. It has been said that it is the nature of universities to be chaotic places. But we are one of the few places where diverse people, with diverse backgrounds, interests, and beliefs, have an opportunity to engage in seeking a better understanding of and a brighter future for the world. At ECU, we continue to set a model for civil discourse. And we continue to prepare our students as agents of positive change.
A window of opportunity for the next generation of Pirates begins with us today. ECU is prepared to advance as a national and global leader in higher education. And we are as strong and prepared as we've ever been to live up to our mission: Servire, To Serve.
With this window of opportunity open before us, it's important that we capture that horizon. It's what Pirates do! Welcome back and have a great year!
Robert F. Kennedy used a now-famous phrase in a speech in 1966 when he said, “There is a Chinese curse, which says ‘May he live in interesting times.’” Kennedy continued, “Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind.”
Though Kennedy’s generation had ample reason to believe they lived in extraordinary times of pain, danger, and uncertainty, we might very well assume the same for our day. This weekend, like many of you, I watched with disbelief the events in Charlottesville. Everyone who works in an American college or university shares the pain our brothers and sisters at the University of Virginia feel today.
When violence erupts, the evidence of our national failure in teaching and embracing the critical importance of civil discourse and the rejection of hate, bigotry, and violence is stark and gut-wrenching. The heartbreaking development in Charlottesville this weekend is only the latest evidence that the hard work of teaching and embracing a more noble way forward must become a national priority, with our leaders and our universities setting the best examples. Our thoughts and prayers are with the many people who have been hurt both physically and emotionally by the weekend’s events. I have extended our encouragement, our prayers and our offer of support to University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan.
Let me state unequivocally, our university condemns bigotry, prejudice, and violence. As University of Virginia President Sullivan stated this weekend, “Violence is not Free Speech.” Instead we celebrate our diversity as a reflection of the beautiful world we live in, and we embrace civil discourse as the most noble environment for the advancement of human knowledge. As we prepare to welcome our freshmen this week, and eventually more than 29,000 pirates to our beloved university, our commitment is to set an example of what is best about a university.
We may live in interesting times, but we can choose the path we follow as a community of students and scholars. To our faculty and staff, thank you for your commitment to our students and their success, to public service, and regional transformation. Together, we can make sure these days are instead among the most creative in history as we prepare our students to make a positive difference in the world they will inherit.
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.
October 6, 2016
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.
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.
Cecil P. Staton