|Enrollment, Construction Break Records
By Nancy McGillicuddy and John Durham
Record-setting construction and enrollment greeted the opening of the new academic year at East Carolina University. The anticipated headcount, including distance education, stood at about 23,500, with the final, official tally available on the 10th class day.
Those numbers make ECU the fastest growing university in North Carolina, by far, with more than 3,300 new students in the last three years.
Construction crews are working full tilt to make sure they all have a place to study, live and play. The university in the fiscal year that just ended spent a record $57 million on construction projects. The comparable figure this year could be higher. Projects scheduled to be completed during the current academic year include the new home for Nursing, Allied Health and the Laupus Library, the new all-suites residence hall on College Hill and the addition to the Fletcher Music Center. The Old Cafeteria Building renovation will be nearly complete.
|Provost Jim Smith encourages faculty to work together during the annual convocation Aug. 22.
Scheduled to get under way this year are the new cardiovascular institute and the new student recreation fields north of the Tar River. Renovation of the Belk complex and the Rivers Building will begin as Nursing and Allied Health vacate those quarters.
A new family medical center will begin design; plans for expansion and renovation of Mendenhall Student Center and the Ledonia Wright Cultural Center are under development.
Further down the road a new dental school is possible. The Board of Trustees approved a feasibility study to examine the pros and cons of opening a dental school on campus to help improve the oral health of eastern North Carolinians. On campus, Dr. Timothy Hudson joined the School of Communication as director, coming from the University of Oklahoma.
Henry Peel, senior associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, accepted an additional role as director of Institutional Planning, Research and Evaluation. Bob Thompson, the former director, returned to a faculty position in the Department of Political Science.
John Durham, director of public affairs, was named to the new position of interim executive director of university relations and chief public affairs officer. He will oversee all university communications and marketing. Durham was also named assistant secretary to the Board of Trustees. For the first time in two decades, the university held a student convocation to introduce new students to the serious side of a college education. Hundreds of them who gathered in Wright Auditorium got advice from Chancellor Steve Ballard; Vice Chancellor Garrie Moore; Provost Jim Smith; Catherine Rigsby, chair of the faculty; and Sallye McKee, the new assistant to the chancellor for institutional diversity.
Most new ECU students moved into the residence halls beginning Aug. 18, a period that coincided with the hottest temperatures of the year. But at least they had some help. About 80 volunteers helped students move into Garrett and Aycock halls as part of the Pirate Move-In Crew program. The pilot initiative was created through the Office of Campus Living. Faculty, staff and members of student campus organizations helped with the effort, which will be expanded next year. At the annual faculty convocation on Aug. 22, Ballard outlined five main opportunities for implementing a vision he said will help ECU become “The University for North Carolina” (see excerpts on Page 2).
Ballard said opportunities lie in the realm of fostering student leaders, creating national prominence in teacher training, building a performing arts center, transforming the economy of the region and innovating medical technologies and treatment.
“Our future is bright,” Ballard said. “Our aspirations will be bold and will be fueled by our strengths and opportunities.” Ballard said the university must build on its commitment to create student leaders. Initiatives, such as the new Discovery Leadership Academy, which prepares first-generation college students for leadership roles, are important springboards for such training on campus, he said.
Ballard also touched on ECU’s dedication to its original charter: teacher training. “ECU has a significant role to play and will be a national leader in providing the teachers for the 21st century classrooms,” he said.
A strong factor in the quality of life of the region depends on intellectual diversity and excellence in the arts, Ballard said. He proposed a comprehensive performing arts center for ECU and for the region. “Added to the natural resources of this area and the strength of our College of Fine Arts and Communication, this new center can help ECU and Greenville become a mecca of the arts.”
Another role of the university is its effect on the region’s economy. Greenville can be the next major city-state, comparable to the Triangle, the Triad and Charlotte, Ballard said. To do this, there will be a focus on retaining ECU graduates to work in the region and help them lead the way to improving health, education and medical services.
“For North Carolina to prosper, eastern North Carolina must prosper,” he said. “And, for eastern North Carolina to prosper, ECU must prosper.”
“The foundation is here and the opportunities abound,” Ballard said. “It will require a strategic approach, ownership throughout the campus and aggressiveness.”