Public Service & Community Relations

Public Service

Since 1915, ECU’s motto has been Servire or “to serve” and the institution’s history includes many examples of service to the region and state.

The ECU Strategic Action Plan includes ten objectives related to public service:

  • Build upon ECU’s engagement mission to develop student leaders who serve their communities
  • Extend leadership development activities to support rural communities and underserved populations
  • Leverage ECU’s Carnegie classification to raise awareness of the institution’s innovative model for leadership and engagement
  • Expand access to health services for North Carolinians by creating and implementing innovative service models
  • Prioritize and invest in programs that address pressing regional issues
  • Enhance inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary collaborations and partnerships with industry, education, government, and communities
  • Enhance social, environmental, and economic vitality by leveraging our core engagement, research, education and outreach enterprises
  • Strengthen regional access to learning opportunities in the arts
  • Partner to improve the preparation of PreK-12 teachers and support arts and humanities education in the public schools
  • Nurture lifelong partnerships to stimulate the local creative economy

These objectives serve to emphasize ECU’s role and commitment to public service, focus public service at ECU, and guide resource allocation for public service.

ECU Public Service Activities

Public service occurs when ECU faculty, staff, and/or students work to improve communities in eastern North Carolina and beyond. This work involves communities and benefits communities as it also advances scholarship by linking theory and practice across a wide range of academic disciplines. ECU faculty, staff and students work with communities through engagement and outreach activities, coursework and perform service to the community through continuing education, co-curricular service, extra-curricular service, and volunteerism.

Activities that use the professional expertise of ECU through a consultant type relationship. Includes the scholarship of outreach.

Activities that use the professional expertise of ECU and the expertise of the community in a mutually beneficial partnership through shared power. Includes the scholarship of engagement.

Activities tied to a course that address academic learning in a community setting (such as service learning, internships, fieldwork, and community based learning). Includes the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Action taken to meet the needs of others and better the community as a whole. The opportunities for service are identified by ECU, through formal or informal consultation with local nonprofit, governmental, and community-based organizations, and designed to improve the quality of life for community residents.

Operationalizing Public Service

ECU has twenty-two designated public service units (click here for a complete listing). These units along with the twelve colleges and schools, operationalize ECU's mission related to public service and regional transformation.

ECU’s Servire Society recognizes faculty, staff, and students who have committed 100 or more hours of volunteer service to the community external to ECU during the period from January through December. ECU acknowledges the work of faculty in engaged research through the institution’s Scholarship of Engagement Award.This award recognizes achievement in the scholarship of engagement and provides a sustained commitment to partnered scholarly endeavors with communities.

The state of North Carolina recognized ECU faculty with the University of North Carolina Board of Governors Public Service Award in 2008 and 2011. This award serves to identify, encourage, recognize, and reward distinguished public service and outreach by faculty across the university system, of which ECU is a constituent institution. 

In both 2008 and 2011 the state of North Carolina recognized ECU faculty with the University of North Carolina Board of Governors Public Service Award.. This award serves to identify, encourage, recognize, and reward distinguished public service and outreach by faculty across the university system, of which ECU is a constituent institution. The 2008 winner was Dr. Lessie Bass of the School of Social Work and then Director of the Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Community Center. More on Dr. Bass can be found here. Dr. Tom Irons, Associate vice chancellor for Health Sciences and professor of pediatrics, is well known for his work in providing medical care to the underserved in North Carolina. More about Dr. Irons can be found here.

In November 2012 ECU won the prestigious C. Peter Magrath Award. Supported by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities and the Engagement Scholarship Consortium, the award honors one community-campus partnership annually. For more information on the Award and the partnership Lucille W. Gorham Inter Generational Community Center, click here