Diversity is a central value at East Carolina University, and we are committed to creating a campus culture that reflects the world we live in.
Diversity encompasses much, but at its heart it means that we respect the differences among us and we know that true learning communities are empowered by these differences. Diversity means that we respect different cultures, intellectual traditions, ways of knowing, races/ethnicities, religions, and origins of birth. Because today’s graduates will compete in a global economy, they will need to speak at least two languages and will be engaged in careers that will almost certainly take them not just out of state but overseas. They will need A+ skills in interpersonal communications and teamwork. Their teams could have members from New Bern, New York, and New Delhi.
How do we educate students for this new economy? We certainly must teach them the values of respect and collegiality, and we must create a campus culture that is open, challenging, and diverse.
Like nearly all doctoral universities in the United States, we have much work to do. Among our biggest challenges will be to:
• Increase minority faculty from the current level of 10.7 percent to the
average of our peers and of similar universities in North Carolina;
• Diversify the leadership of the university to represent the world
we live in; and
• Ensure that everyone we hire to be part of our campus has the
best possible opportunity to succeed.
These are our commitments.
As we recognize our challenges and make public our commitments, we should also remember our successes.
Students: The Educational Trust has recognized ECU as among the best public universities in the nation with a graduation rate for minorities nearly twice as high as comparable institutions. In 2005, we had the third highest minority enrollment in the UNC system among historically white universities. In the Brody School of Medicine, we have the highest minority enrollment (23 percent) of all historically white medical schools nationwide. Additionally, the BSOM was ranked No. 8 in top medical schools for Hispanics. The ECU Foundation has created the Access Scholarship Program to provide assistance to 100 students who demonstrate significant financial need and great potential and who will be tomorrow’s leaders in North Carolina.
Faculty: Over the past 10 years, hiring of minority faculty has increased significantly. ECU faculty have successfully created an African and African American Studies program to be implemented in fall 2007 and an Intergenerational Center in West Greenville in collaboration with the city and county. We are national leaders in research directed at health disparities.
Leadership: While much more work remains, minorities fill key leadership positions. Women hold significant senior leadership roles within the university (provost, vice chancellor for research and graduate studies, vice chancellor for health sciences, chief diversity officer, university attorney). Two years ago, the first African American coach of a major revenue sport was named at ECU (men’s basketball). In the last year, minorities have been named to lead the ECU Police, the Alumni Association board, and the Staff Senate, and to become the associate vice chancellor for academic programs. Dr. Andrew Best was posthumously given the University’s highest award, the Jarvis Medal for Service. The ECU Board of Visitors, an advocacy and advisory group, will count six persons of color and five women members in its newest membership group of 15.
Infrastructure: We are actively engaged in understanding and enhancing the campus culture. The first “climate survey,” intended to form a comprehensive profile of the campus culture, is nearing completion. The Chancellor’s Diversity Council was created last year to bring all divisions together to enhance diversity, and the Chancellor’s Community Advisory Council was reformed and re-energized to better connect with minority and underserved communities in our region. We are actively engaged in a search for the Chief Diversity Officer for the university, and we have the first-ever campus wide strategic plan for diversity, created by the Office of Institutional Diversity. Construction of an expanded Ledonia Wright Cultural Center, which will begin next year, is part of a major renovation and addition to the Mendenhall Student Center.
Diversity is a central value at ECU. We have come a long distance in three years to realize this value. We have much more to do. As East Carolina University enters its second century of education and service, we can lead and excel in implementing the university’s diversity vision. We need your support to make ECU the world-class university that it can be.