ECU biology professor Carol Goodwillie, winner of the 2015 UNC Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award, spoke to faculty members at the annual faculty convocation Aug. 21. (Photos by Jay Clark)

ECU faculty convocation marks opening of fall semester

Aug. 21, 2015

By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services

Making progress on the establishment of two new schools, an enrollment of 30,000 students and the largest fundraising campaign in school history are among East Carolina University’s priorities for this academic year, according to Chancellor Steve Ballard.

Speaking today at the annual Faculty Convocation as the fall semester begins, Ballard noted several accomplishments during the past year, such as the recent Innovation and Economic Prosperity University designation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and ECU’s ranking as the ‘Best Bang for the Buck” in the Southeast by Washington Monthly magazine in a list of universities that provide good educational and career outcomes for students.

Ballard outlined the following priorities for the academic year:

  • Increasing efforts to reward and retain faculty and staff
  • Organizing the new Miller School of Entrepreneurship in the College of Business, funded by a $5 million gift from alumnus J. Fielding Miller
  • Gaining approval of doctoral programs as part of establishing the ECU School of Public Health
  • Developing the School of the Coast and, as part of it, a new joint doctoral program in coastal science
    and policy with the University of North Carolina at Wilmington
  • Continuing to work on building a Millennial Campus

“We have promised to help our students be successful, address the needs of North Carolina and be an economic engine for the east,” Ballard said. “Without question, we are serving our mission.”
ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard addresses faculty during the university's annual faculty convocation.

He also stressed ECU is making these gains at a time of cutbacks in state support.

“No challenge is greater than continuing reductions in state appropriations and the uncertainty surrounding state support for the UNC system,” he said.

The university seeks to gain up to $15 million in new net revenues by increasing enrollment to 30,000 from 27,500 during the next five years, Ballard said. Increasing the number of students who transfer to ECU by 5 percent each year is part of that goal.

In the area of fundraising, Ballard said, the upcoming campaign will come on the heels of the university’s best fiscal year ever for giving, one that raised more than $39 million.

ECU will also continue work to streamline services and increase research funding, as recommended by the university’s Fiscal Sustainability Committee.

A pair of faculty members also addressed the audience.

Carol Goodwillie, an ECU associate professor of biology who received the 2015 UNC Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award, said she’s begun implementing research into her teaching as well as engaging students in service-learning. For example, she took a group of students to Greenville’s River Park North to work on removing invasive Chinese lespedeza plants.
ECU theatre and dance professor John Shearin shared personal experiences during the convocation.

“If we ever manage to eradicate that species, there’s always kudzu,” she said, drawing laughter from the audience.

John Shearin, professor and director of the ECU School of Theatre and Dance, recalled a pair of one-act plays he wrote, directed and starred in early in his career. The plays arose from his experiences as a soldier during the Vietnam War, and he recounted some of the emotional responses the performances drew from fellow veterans and what those reactions meant to him.

“It’s an experience I wish for all of my students,” he said.

John Stiller, an associate professor of biology and chair of the faculty Senate, led the convocation. He drew applause when he urged faculty members to participate in the process for replacing the Sedona faculty-reporting system.

School of Music faculty members Jami Rhodes, vocalist, and Eric Stellrecht, pianist, performed Schumann’s “Widmung” and Copland’s “Simple Gifts.”

Classes start Monday for ECU students.

Pictured below at ECU's 2015 faculty convocation are past chair of the ECU faculty Andrew Morehead, right, and incoming chair John Stiller.