A newspaper for ECU faculty and staff
Pieces of Eight


(left to right)
Marilyn Sheerer
Todd Johnson
Linner Griffin

(left to right)
Lynn Roeder
Virginia Hardy
Austin Bunch

Changes Reflect New Directions

By Jeannine Manning Hutson

With the beginning of the academic year come changes in several East Carolina University administrators’ job responsibilities.

Chancellor Steve Ballard has announced new responsibilities for some administrators as well as the combining of the divisions of academic affairs and student life, which will be under the supervision of the provost. A new position of vice provost for student life will be created to provide day-to-day oversight for functions in that area.

Ballard said the changes are in keeping with the university’s strategic initiatives as well as those of Erskine Bowles, president of the University of North Carolina system.

The chancellor said the university’s “new directions emphasize integration, efficiency, the whole student, the concept of a leadership university, and new signature programs that speak to the core mission of ECU.

“It is time for ECU to speak boldly about where it is going and what it wants to accomplish,” Ballard said. “We must create vehicles and accountability measures to enhance quality, create change and respond to the needs of Eastern North Carolina.”

The changes include:

• Dr. Marilyn Sheerer, vice chancellor for student life and former dean of the College of Education, has been named interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs for a two-year period, which began July 1.

When naming Sheerer to the position Ballard said, “Marilyn Sheerer is one of the ablest higher education administrators in the country. She has a well-earned reputation for innovation, effectiveness and decisiveness, and I am delighted that she has accepted this new assignment.”

Ballard said Sheerer’s new position is part of a number of organizational and personnel changes designed to provide an enhanced student experience at ECU. “Marilyn has my complete confidence in her ability to carry out the changes that we need to make to move ECU forward,” he said.

Sheerer joined ECU as a faculty member in 1996 and was named dean of education in 1998. She has been vice chancellor for student life since last summer, and she has also served as interim vice chancellor for university advancement. As provost, she succeeds Dr. James LeRoy Smith, who announced in June that he will step down from the position to return to teaching.

Sheerer said, “ECU is a dynamic, exciting institution. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work closely with our superb faculty and deans as we enter our second century. It is because of them that we will continue to be able to make such a difference for this region and this state.”

• Todd Johnson, associate vice chancellor for campus living, dining and transit, has been named interim vice provost for student affairs.

The vice provost position is new and will oversee student affairs areas including housing and dining, recreation services, transit, student health services, student union and student experiences, Ledonia Wright Cultural Center, marketing, career services, and the dean of students office. Johnson joined ECU in 2004 as associate vice chancellor for campus living and dining services.

• Lynn Roeder, associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs, was named dean of students in July. Roeder, who has worked at ECU since 1993, and has served as the interim in the position since November 2006.

“What I’m excited about is there’s a lot to do,” Roeder said. “It makes me excited that we can make a difference in our students’ lives.”

The Dean of Students office, housed in the Division of Student Affairs will serve as a clearinghouse for concerns that pertain to student services, said Roeder. She added her main goal is to streamline services for students and parents in need of help, and to let people know that the Dean of Students Office is the place where students can ask for help. Roeder would also like to implement a student creed and a student grievance policy.

Roeder joined ECU’s counseling staff in 1993 and was named director of the Center for Counseling and Student Development in 1997. In 2000 she was named assistant vice chancellor for counseling, career and student development. In 2004, she became associate vice chancellor for student life.

• Dr. Linner Griffin, a longtime faculty member and administrator at the university, was been named associate vice chancellor for academic programs in early July.

Griffin, who had been serving in an interim role in that position, will oversee the development and refinement of university undergraduate and graduate programs. Her office is responsible for publication of the university catalogs and assuring that academic programs are in compliance with rules and regulations of the university as well as those of the University of North Carolina system, the North Carolina General Assembly and regional accrediting agencies.

She will also oversee the offices responsible for volunteer and service learning, faculty excellence, the university writing program and the early math placement testing program.

In announcing her appointment former Provost Jim Smith said, “Linner Griffin is a talented and experienced administrator and she was the unanimous choice of the 10-member search committee. She will do a great job in this critical role.”

Griffin joined ECU in 1990 as a faculty member in the School of Social Work. She has served as interim dean of the School of Social Work and Criminal Justice Studies and also as interim director of the School of Communication.

• Dr. Austin Bunch, chief of staff to the chancellor, has been named special assistant to the provost.

Ballard and Sheerer, jointly announcing the appointment, said Bunch has a rare combination of skill and experience that will be invaluable in assisting Sheerer in leading the new Division of Academic and Student Affairs. He will continue to provide support for special initiatives for the chancellor for an interim period.

Sheerer said, “Austin’s breadth and depth of experience make him exactly the right person for this position. He has been a tenured faculty member, a department chair and a dean. He has developed academic programs, strengthened entire institutions and led special projects. Plus he has worked closely with university chief executives for nearly two decades. I look forward to his advice and counsel, and I am grateful to Dr. Ballard for agreeing to this new assignment.”

Bunch joined ECU in 1999 as assistant to the chancellor for constituent relations and was named chief of staff in 2001. He came to Greenville from Mississippi University for Women, where he was head of the division of interdisciplinary studies and professor of education and where he held several leadership roles including executive assistant to the president.

• Dr. Virginia Hardy, a veteran administrator at the university, has been named senior associate dean for academic affairs at the Brody School of Medicine.

Hardy, who has been serving in that position in an interim role, is also the university’s interim chief diversity officer.

Dr. Phyllis Horns, interim dean of the medical school, said Hardy was selected after a national search. “Virginia Hardy is ideally suited for this position,” Horns said. “She is exceptionally knowledgeable about our academic programs, our mission, and our students. Among her many accomplishments are the development of a strong academic support and counseling office that provides comprehensive confidential counseling for medical students and residents. I am delighted that she has accepted this appointment.”

Hardy, who has been at ECU since 1993, previously served as associate dean for counseling and diversity and as director of the academic support and enrichment center at the Brody School of Medicine.

This page originally appeared in the August 24, 2007 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at