ECU News Services

ECU student Melody Ballard enjoys inflatable activities at Pirate Palooza, a welcome back celebration for students returning for the fall 2014 semester. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Convocations, Palooza kick off new academic year

Aug. 26, 2014

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

An East Carolina University football standout helped pump up new Pirates at student convocation Aug. 25, on the eve of fall semester.

Carlester Crumpler Jr., a Bank of America vice president who played for the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings, asked about 4,000 freshmen and transfer students in Minges Coliseum to contemplate a serious question: “Who do you want to become?”

Crumpler, who earned a bachelor and master’s degree in business administration from ECU, talked about a trip he took to Puerto Rico where he hiked to the top of a mountain.

“I had been so focused on getting to the top, I never fully appreciated my surroundings,” Crumpler said. He encouraged students to embrace the process of attaining their goals and to think about how they would like to be remembered as they pursue them.

Students and the university are partners in their education, said Chancellor Steve Ballard. “Work hard and go to class and you’ll be surprised how well your side of the partnership will work out,” Ballard said. “Take advantage of this great public university.”

Virginia Hardy, center, vice chancellor for student affairs, engages with incoming freshmen following the student convocation.

ECU’s part will be to provide students with skills and competencies, practical experience and leadership opportunities.

“So get smarter in your classrooms, apply those skills and be a leader,” Ballard said.

Earlier, Dr. Virginia Hardy, vice chancellor for student affairs, officially welcomed the Class of 2018 and asked students to focus on four areas - connect, engage, motivate and finish strong – during their college career. “Today, you’re officially a Pirate,” she said.

ECU cheerleaders and marching band members rallied students before Athletics Director Jeff Compher announced that the university has one of the largest student booster clubs in the country with more than 9,900 Student Pirate Club members.

“While you are students at ECU, be undaunted in all your pursuits and passionately pursue your goals,” said Compher, who introduced ECU’s varsity coaches and a new football video – which included tips for new students on ‘first down’ and ‘no quarter.’

“I’m looking forward to the football games,” said Savannah Whipkey, a freshman from Clinton who plans to major in nursing. “That video made it more real.”

School spirit helped Whipkey choose ECU over another school. “Riding down the road, you see ECU on everything,” she said.
Students line up to enter Pirate Palooza.

Fellow freshman Adrienne Steel of Raleigh, an intended psychology major, said she looked forward to more events like Pirate Palooza, an annual carnival-style welcome celebration held at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, which followed convocation.

Also recognized Monday were the staff and faculty member nominated for making the biggest difference in first-year students’ lives during the first semester of the previous academic year.

Student Government Association President Michael King presented the Freshman-First Year Advocate Award to Bernice Gay, known to many as ‘Ms. B,’ who works in West End Dining Hall, and Gerry MacLeod, a teaching instructor in math.

Morehead: Service, leadership critical
Continuing the university’s academic quality and enduring state budget cuts were two of the themes included in the remarks at the faculty convocation, held Aug. 25 in Wright Auditorium.

Andrew Morehead, chair of Faculty Senate, welcomed all, especially new faculty members, to the annual event marking the beginning of the new academic year. He noted the Faculty Senate will observe 50 years on campus with activities throughout the year.

Faculty Senate Chair Andrew Morehead speaks at faculty convocation.
“Today we are celebrating all the things we value as academics: teaching, research and creative activity and service,” said Morehead, who teaches in the Department of Chemistry.

“We live in an era when it’s increasingly common to question the value of much of what we do,” Morehead said. He heard someone in a news report question the benefit of another paper on William Shakespeare.

It would be easy to be angry or dismissive when often the public sees faculty as “underworked and overpaid,” Morehead said, but he encouraged his fellow faculty members to educate their students and the public about their work.

“Share with the students in your class your passion for the subject, make clear how your research and creative activity informs your teaching, that it is part of how ECU transforms the region, how it is a part of the whole of what we do.”

Both Morehead and Chancellor Steve Ballard addressed the economic issues facing the campus – again.

Morehead said, “Here at East Carolina University, as we face unprecedented challenges brought on by falling state support and declines in enrollment for some traditionally strong programs, university service and leadership by the faculty become ever more critical.”

In his remarks to the faculty, Ballard also spoke about the budget, noting that the university is in its eighth year of continuous cutbacks. “We’ve lost over $100 million in state appropriations” with analysts predicting further difficulties in the next budget cycle for 2015-16.

ECU’s expenditures will be reduced about $9 million for the current fiscal year, Ballard said. As a way of addressing the fiscal crisis, the university is implementing the 61 recommendations by the University Committee on Fiscal Sustainability.

Why? “The reason is we simply do not have the resources to maintain all of the organizational structures that we might prefer. We will do all we can to realize our mission, to protect student success, to build academic quality and to respond to numerous mandates such as efficiency requirements and performance metrics. Virtually everything else is subject to review, if not change.”

Ballard noted that every revenue source, whether recurring or non-recurring, is being examined. For example, the university focused on attracting more transfer students to campus. This fall, ECU will see an increase of 275 more transfer students than last year, resulting in about $5 million in new revenues.

He also spoke of the university’s new strategic plan – tentatively titled “Beyond Tomorrow: Our Commitment To The Future ” – that is being finalized. Included in that plan are three commitments: maximizing student success, serving the public and leading regional transformation.

Even through “some of the worst budgetary circumstances” he’s seen, Ballard said he has been impressed by the accomplishments on campus.

He gave examples of the “world-class work being done” at the university: the ECU Chamber Singers, the only choir from the Americas, earning second place in an international choral contest in Spain and faculty members receiving National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation awards.

As he closed his remarks, Ballard thanked the faculty for their work in “creating an excellent university” and being “a vital resource for Eastern North Carolina.”

“Together we will deliver on our commitments of student success, public service and regional transformation,” he said.

Also, recognized were Abbie Brown, recipient of the 2014 UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching, and Margaret Bauer, recipient of the 2014 ECU lifetime achievement award for excellence in research and creative activity. Read more about their awards here: and here:

By Jeannine Manning Hutson
ECU News Services