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Pieces of Eight

ECU kicked off its Centennial Celebration March 8 when the North Carolina General Assembly held a joint session in Wright Auditorium. Legislators issued a resolution honoring ECU and commemorated the establishment of a teachers training school 100 years ago. (Photos by Marc J. Kawanishi)

Birthday Fete Honors ECU Centennial

By Jeannine Manning Hutson

The celebration marking the beginning of East Carolina University involved more than 2,000 cupcakes, a meeting of the North Carolina General Assembly, performances by the ECU Jazz Ensemble and Gospel Choir, awards for service to the university, a commemorative Pepsi can, a donation of $1 million, a forum on service, and many purple neckties.

And that’s just the beginning of the centennial celebration. More will come in the next two and one-half years leading up to Oct. 5, 2009, when ECU celebrates the day when the first students arrived on campus.

The North Carolina General Assembly made a historical trip down U.S. 264 to Greenville March 8 for a special joint session, in which they passed a resolution honoring the university. (See page 2.)

One of the resolution’s sponsors, Marian McLawhorn, who represents House District 9 that includes ECU, spoke to her colleagues asking for their support.

“One hundred years ago today people like us in the General Assembly had the vision to vote (to establish this university). It is symbolic of the good we can do. It is fitting then that we celebrate on their behalf,” said McLawhorn, who is an ECU graduate.

The March 8 joint session of the N.C. General Assembly got underway at 10:30 a.m. in Wright Auditorium with a procession by the ECU Air Force ROTC Color Guard. For additional photographs of centennial events, see pages 6-7.

Fellow ECU alumna and House representative for District 8 Edith Warren also asked for the resolution’s support and during her remarks described playing basketball and attending dances in Wright Auditorium, where the joint session was held. Warren noted that ECU prepares more teaching professionals for the state than any other university, but there is a still a need for more.

Several lawmakers noted ECU’s plans for a dental school to ease the shortage of dentists in the state, especially rural areas, drawing applause from the audience.

University of North Carolina President Erskine Bowles expressed his continued support for the dental school and his excitement for the accomplishments of the university in its first 100 years.

“It is truly phenomenal to see the return on the vision and the foresight that a small fledging teachers training school could become a research university,” Bowles said. “Right here in the middle of tobacco country to build a world-class medical facility is remarkable, and when they build the dental school in Greenville...the best is yet to come.”

Included in the day’s events were a groundbreaking for the new Trustees Fountain in front of Wright Auditorium and the Chancellor’s Forum on Service. During the forum, former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt called upon the university to lead in eastern North Carolina, “a region that needs service” from state test scores to poverty rates and access to health care.

“Folks, we have an enormous challenge, and this is the place to make the change,” Hunt said.

During the luncheon on the mall, the Centennial Awards for Excellence were announced. The following persons were recognized for their contributions to the university in four categories:

• Service: James Decker (Health and Human Performance) for work with people with disabilities; Lisa Overman (University Advancement) for varied assignments and assistance with special events; Willie Lee (Auxiliary Services) for dedication to helping better manage ECU operations and resources.

• Leadership: Reginald Watson (English) for creative opportunities for students to work with youth; Bobby Griffin (Materials Management) for strong leadership of the contract approval process and working with historically under-used businesses; Marilyn Sheerer (Student Life) for leadership as the dean of education, restructuring advancement and student life divisions and initiatives with K-12 schools and community colleges.

• Ambition: Janette Fishell Andrews (Music) for unwavering vision and unrelenting drive for promoting organ and sacred music; Kay Murphy (University Advancement) for development of comprehensive databases and completing undergraduate and graduate degrees while working full time; the Eastern North Carolina Digital Library Grant Team: Linda Teel, Hazel Walker, Michael Reece, Joe Barricella, Justin Vaughan, Maury York, Patricia Dragon, Lou Rook, John Lawrence, Ruth Moskop, Brandie Cline, Carol Brown, Kevin Cherry, for developing an online resource for the Eastern North Carolina Digital Library.

• Spirit: Henry Ferrell, university historian, for extraordinary dedication to the Faculty Senate and publication of two university histories; Herman Linton (Carpentry Shop) for dedication to duty and uplifting spirit; Kim Wilson (Academic Outreach) for dedication as chair of the Staff Senate and pride in the university.

This page originally appeared in the March 23, 2007 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at