Members of the East Carolina University community gathered on a rainy afternoon Sept. 24 to witness the ribbon-cutting ceremony for ECU's new Gateway residence halls. The ceremony was held as part of the meeting of the ECU Board of Trustees Sept. 24-25. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

ECU Board initiates fundraising plans for Heritage Hall

Sept. 25, 2015

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

On the eve of one of the biggest home football games this fall, the East Carolina University Board of Trustees entered its fourth quarter of discussions on the planned Heritage Hall.

The hall will be a permanent place to recognize people of historical significance to the university including the namesake of Aycock Residence Hall.  

On Sept. 25, trustees voted 11-1 to raise an initial $300,000 for the development of Heritage Hall by Dec. 1 and to transition the Aycock name from the building as soon as possible once the money is pledged. Trustee Max Joyner cast the dissenting vote.

The board also asked Chris Dyba, vice chancellor for university advancement, to give updates every two to three weeks on the status of the fundraising effort. It’s estimated the hall will cost $500,000.  

During the Gateway residence hall tour, ECU board member Danny Scott gets a view of the kitchen provided by Sahiti Marella, left, and Bina Amin.

In other news, the Board of Trustees

  • Held a ribbon cutting on Sept. 24 for the new Gateway East and West Residence Halls on College Hill, the first new residence hall to open in about 10 years. The new complex replaces Belk Hall and houses 732 students. The complex features study areas, a conference room and community kitchen and two sound-proof music practice rooms. It is part of an ongoing revitalization of College Hill. Gateway will be home to 14 of the 17 ECU Living-Learning communities, including music majors and students in the Honors College.

  • Heard from Henry Hinton, who serves on the UNC Board of Governors representing ECU, who said the university fared well in the recently approved state budget and proposed bond package that includes $90 million for a new life sciences building to replace the Howell Science Complex.

  • Learned that the ECU College of Nursing will receive the National League for Nursing Center for Excellence Award for the third time and is one of only 35 schools in the country so named.

  • Voted to discontinue three centers and institutes whose work will be transitioned to existing departments. They are the Center for Health Systems Research and Development, Center for Diversity and Inequality Research and the N.C. Center for Biodiversity. The board voted to keep the Center for Natural Hazards Research.

  • Approved hiring the firm, LS3P (with AECOM) of Wilmington, to design a new press box for Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

“We as a board need to get behind Heritage Hall,” said Trustees Chairman Steve Jones. “We really need to get out and put some energy around raising this $300,000.”

Jones asked that each board member consider making a personal donation. “If we don’t raise the amount by December, we need to keep working toward it and transition the name as soon as possible,” he said.

The vote came after concerns were raised at the trustees’ Thursday lunch meeting about a possible delay in transitioning the name since the hall will be part of a new Student Services Center that won’t be completed until 2018. The eventual Heritage Hall is intended to occupy both a physical space in the student center as well as virtual space in a yet-to-be-developed timeline website.

Board members had not decided on a location for the hall when they voted to create it in February. A working group was formed to make a recommendation on the location, which was approved by the board this summer.

Provost Ron Mitchelson and Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance Rick Niswander unveiled a video, concept and proposed footprint for the hall on Thursday. Gerald J. Prokopowicz, professor in the ECU history department, updated the University Affairs committee on the history curriculum being developed in conjunction with the hall.

Prokopowicz suggested a thematic approach, centered on one theme each academic year, which would be supported through Wellness Passport events to encourage student participation and to optimize exposure to the university’s history over the course of four years.

Mark Matulewicz, SGA president and ex-officio member of the board, said he was pleased with the board’s decision and that the renaming of Aycock Hall will advance. “It’s a perfect example of how voicing student concerns can make a difference on the university as a whole,” Matulewicz said.

At the request of students and others, the board began discussions in 2014 about renaming Aycock residence hall, which honors Charles B. Aycock, a former governor, federal prosecutor and school superintendent who served as a spokesperson for white supremacy campaigns at the turn of the century.

Joyner asked that Heritage Hall be placed on the November board agenda due to concerns about the board’s previous motion and the process for developing Heritage Hall. “Obviously there were some discussions and meetings held between today and yesterday and I wish I could have been included in those,” he said. “I think everybody is trying to accomplish the same goal.”

However, the majority of board members voted to set a date to raise funds to keep the project moving forward.

-- Kelly Setzer contributed to this story.