his year, East Carolina University celebrates the 75th anniversary of its College of Business. Although the College of Business has evolved and grown as years have passed and technology has advanced, its mission has remained the same—to prepare undergraduate and graduate students for careers in the business world by offering them a stellar education.

The College of Business truly has a rich history that has molded its legacy and made it into the elite business education grantor it is today.


Dr. James Bearden, director of the BB&T Center for Leadership Development and Ken Chalk, former chief credit officer of BB&T

Dr. James Bearden, the second dean of the college, recently reflected on what this 75th anniversary means to him.

“We’ve had a remarkable journey here at this institution, and to be part of the College of Business, which has been so central to the university’s success, is just a real delight,” said Bearden. “Whenever you have a celebration of this magnitude, we want to ask all people to celebrate with us. It is not just our success that we are celebrating; it is the success of all of those who have come before us and who will come after us.”

The College of Business at ECU began in 1936 and was originally known as the Department of Commerce. Dr. Elmer Browning served as the first dean, and the department saw many changes during his term, which lasted until 1968. In 1960, the department was officially named the School of Business, with a curriculum that focused on professional business and management. Browning championed for the AACSB, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, to grant accreditation to the School of Business. Finally, in 1967, this accreditation was achieved, making ECU one of the 132 schools at that time in the nation to be accredited by the AACSB.

As the second dean of the College of Business from 1968 to 1983, Bearden established the Master of Business Administration degree at ECU and advocated for the accreditation of the college's graduate programs. This accreditation was achieved in 1976. Of the more than 1,300 graduate business programs offered nationwide, only 454 are accredited by the AACSB. Although his time as dean ended in 1983, Bearden’s involvement with ECU continues still today. With a $250,000 donation from BB&T Corporation and other gifts to total about $3 million, in 1983 Bearden established the BB&T Center for Leadership Development, which he currently directs. Bearden, who is the university’s most senior faculty member in terms of service, has dedicated his career to training ECU’s students to become the leaders of tomorrow. Dr. Ernie Uhr was dean from 1983 until 2004, and during his term, the college moved from the Rawl Building to the Harold H. Bate Building. Other milestones during this time include adding concentrations to the MBA program and the development of a dual MD/MBA program. Also, ECU was one of the first universities to offer online MBA courses, and it was during Uhr’s term in 2002 that the School of Business was officially renamed the College of Business.

Dr. Rick Niswander became dean in 2004, and his time as dean lasted until he took the position of ECU’s vice chancellor for administration and finance. During his term, the new Leadership and Professional Development program was launched in 2009. Additionally, the undergraduate curriculum was adapted especially to train students for success in the 21st century business world. Dr. Stanley G. Eakins replaced Niswander and has served as interim dean of the College of Business since December 2010. Eakins has been instrumental in continuing to implement the college's Leadership and Professional Development program and teaching students the skills they need, including teaching them leadership, communication, and professional development skills.

Recently, members from different generations of the College of Business shared what this impressive legacy has meant to them in both their careers and lives.


Jacob Alphin and J.M. Dickens, owners and agents of Triangle Insurance and Associates

From the classroom to the real world

Jacob Alphin and J. M. Dickens, 2009 graduates of the College of Business, first met each other while working together on a group project in a management class at ECU. They became good friends and later business partners when they founded Triangle Insurance and Associates in October of 2009.

Both Alphin and Dickens credit the college for giving them the foundation they need to make their business successful.

“We have utilized every skill we learned from marketing, to management, to finance, to economics, and information technology systems, to run our business,” said Alphin. “These skills are all needed in the business world. The College of Business was able to provide us with these tools, and we have used everything we have learned at ECU daily at our insurance agency.”

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