Centennial Gift Focuses on ECU Leadership Initiatives
By Jeannine Manning Hutson
As East Carolina University celebrated 100 years, an alumnus marked the occasion with a donation to the BB&T Center for Leadership Development to endow the first leadership chair in the university.
Tom Arthur of Tampa, Fla., donated $1 million March 8 to the BB&T Center for Leadership Development to establish an endowed chair in the College of Business focusing on leadership. He is the grandson of Louis C. Arthur, one of the nine men who submitted the formal offer for the location of the East Carolina Teachers Training School to the State Board of Education on June 5, 1907.
“We appreciate Tom Arthur stepping forward to be the first to endow a leadership chair, and we hope many others will follow,” said Michael “Mickey” Dowdy, vice chancellor for University Advancement at ECU. “Mr. Arthur’s gift is a real catalyst for helping the university to fulfill one of its aspirations—to be a leadership university.”
Dowdy added that the BB&T Leadership Center has a long-range plan to have leadership chairs for each college in the university.
A native of Greenville, Arthur earned his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1966 and then served three years as an infantry officer during the Vietnam War, earning the Silver Star and other military awards.
After his military service, Arthur returned to Greenville to pursue a master of business administration degree at ECU, which he completed in 1971.
Dr. James Bearden was the dean of the School of Business at that time and is now director of the BB&T Center for Leadership Development.
He said Arthur has been involved with the center since it was proposed and has been a member of the center’s board since its founding.
“We think the chancellor’s aspiration for this university to be a leadership university is valid and exciting because higher education is about preparing leaders for society,” Bearden said. “We hope each of our 10 colleges and schools will have a leadership professorship.”
“All of us are pleased whenever the theme of leadership is given such prominence, attention and support through such a magnificent gift. Mr. Arthur’s gift comes at an interesting time in the life of this university and pays honor to the Arthur name in our institution’s founding,” he said. “He is the grandson of one of the first families of ECU. The timing is perfect for us to announce this gift at our centennial celebration.”
Arthur’s gift qualifies for $500,000 in matching funds from the University of North Carolina Distinguished Professorship Endowed Trust Fund, which is funded by the North Carolina legislature.
The BB&T Center for Leadership Development at ECU was established in 1983 with a $250,000 grant. Throughout the years, BB&T has made several significant contributions to the center, including $1 million in 2005.