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Pieces of Eight


Grads Urged to Seek Change

By Erica Plouffe Lazure

Erskine Bowles, completing his first year as president of the University of North Carolina System, urged fall graduates of East Carolina University to always find ways to improve their lives, their work and their communities.

More than 600 graduates and their families celebrated at ECU’s Dec. 16 commencement ceremony. (Photo by Marc J. Kawanishi)

“You must embrace change and treat it as your friend. I have never believed that acceptance of the status quo is the way to go,” Bowles said.

“I have always believed you should set high standards, that you must establish goals, objectives, timelines, and hold people accountable. And if you do, people will perform, beyond your expectations, but even more importantly, beyond their own expectations.”

Bowles, who began his tenure Jan. 1, 2006, addressed more than 600 graduates and their families who attended the Dec. 16 commencement exercises at Minges Coliseum. More than 2,800 degrees were conferred this fall.

ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard welcomed Bowles to Greenville and credited the former White House Chief of Staff with unifying the state’s 16 public universities during the past year. He also noted Bowles’ leadership has yielded positive effects in both the legislature and in eastern North Carolina.

“Erskine Bowles understands the importance of the East to the future of the success of the state of North Carolina,” Ballard said. “And because he understands the importance of the East, he understands the importance of East Carolina University.”

Mark Taggart, chair of the faculty, told degree recipients that graduating from ECU is the first of many of their triumphs.

“You’ve been through much but this is only the beginning. We hope we’ve given you the tools to be inquisitive and creative and to keep that process of education going,” Taggart said. “We hope the education you’ve received at ECU will provide a firm foundation for the next phase of your life.”

In her address to the class of 2006, senior class officer Nadia Payne said the hard work each of them encountered in making graduation a reality was time well-spent.

“This tassel is definitely worth the hassle,” Payne said. “Think of this degree as your ticket to change the world; the pursuit of your happiness is your ticket to change the world.”

This page originally appeared in the Jan. 26, 2006 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at