Humorous anecdotes, stories of her love of learning and teaching, and praise from a former governor showered Janice Hardison Faulkner as a gallery space in Joyner Library was dedicated in her honor March 11.
Former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt lauded Faulkner for her love of eastern North Carolina along with her passionate work to move the region and the state forward.
“Janice Hardison Faulkner loves this state. She loves where we come from. She loves this university. And she has served us all so well,” said Hunt, wearing a purple and gold tie for the occasion.
“Janice Faulkner is an example of the finest in politics and in government leadership,” he said. “So we’re gathering here today to honor her at this university that she loves so much and has served so well and in this state where she has made history. We’re here to honor her and to thank her.”
Formerly an open space, the Janice Hardison Faulkner Gallery now is an exhibit area to showcase art created by East Carolina University faculty and students. The 3,700-square-foot gallery area will accommodate up to 200 guests.
ECU vice chancellor Rick Niswander greets Janice Faulkner at the gallery opening held in her honor.
More than 125 people donated $130,000 to fund the renovation, said Jan Lewis, interim dean of Academic Library Services. The Joyner Library Advancement Council selected the gallery as its flagship project in fall 2012. Chartered in 2010, the council provides advocacy, consultation and opportunity for involvement with library initiatives.
While greeting attendees before the dedication, Greg Hardison said the library renovation project was a fitting tribute to his aunt’s service.
“First, we’re truly humbled. To have an honor like this attached to the university that she has so much love for is a wonderful thing,” Hardison said. “I’ve heard her say often, I spent some of the best years of my life on that campus.
“She realizes that this university helped shape her into the leader, educator and public servant she has become,” he said.
Michael Priddy, former Pitt County School superintendent and current Joyner Library Advancement Council chair, worked with former chair Harry W. Stubbs IV to launch the fund-raising campaign.
At the dedication, he told the attendees to look around the beautiful space. “Now look again and a third time. What a great tribute to Janice,” he said.
“If you’ve been to her home, her walls are full of books. Her name –that’s all it took. As people heard about the project, they wanted to be a part of it,” he said. “Why? You know why, because we love Janice. We wanted to recognize Janice.”
Priddy said in the materials about the project they used the phrase, “Service has no bounds,” because it is one of her favorite expressions because it captures one of her deepest values.
The gallery features state-of-the-art technology, including two 80-inch LCD panels for digital art, two projectors with 100-inch retractable screens and 16 ceiling speakers. Art will be displayed using cables and hooks to hang traditionally framed and non-traditional works.
When not in use for planned events, the space will be furnished with comfortable seating for student study. The gallery includes a room that doubles as a place for large group study and collaboration when not reserved for presentations.
Funding was also provided by ECU’s Division of Academic Affairs, Joyner Library and the Fred Timms Langford and Verona Lee Joyner Langford Endowment.
Provost Marilyn Sheerer said the new space is a win-win for students, faculty, staff and guests to the university. “Because of you and the generous donors, there will be all kinds of creative, inspiring things in here and you’ll be able to feel that energy across the entire campus,” she said. Sheerer first met Faulkner in 1996, when she first came to ECU and a colleague suggested she meet the “female leader.”
Through the years, they became friends as they discussed various topics. “She gave advice when I was trying to decide if I should accept a new job, and she had a lot of experience in that,” Sheerer said. “She gave advice about approaching and analyzing a situation.”
“Janice, you’ve shown us how to ‘lean in’ and take a stand,” Sheerer said, referring to the bestseller “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” by Sheryl Sandberg. “And you’ve done it with grace and humor.” At the entrance of the gallery, a tribute case honors Faulkner. The items on display represent important moments in her outstanding career. She earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from then East Carolina College. In 1998, Faulkner received an honorary doctorate from ECU.
Among her many accolades, Faulkner was recognized by ECU in 1993 with its Outstanding Alumni Award and in 2007 as one of ECU’s 100 Incredible Women by the ECU Women’s Roundtable. She received the Jarvis Medal in 2009, East Carolina’s highest honor, and in 2012 received the State of North Carolina Award, the highest civilian award given by the state.
The former governor praised Faulkner’s work ethic and ability to bring people together.
“Janice and I come from rural eastern North Carolina. We know our roots and we’re proud of it,” Hunt said. After knowing and working with her for years, “I asked her to be in my cabinet, to be my Secretary of Revenue. She was a great administrator. People respected her. People appreciated her, and she got them working hard, working together.”
Then, his administration had a vacancy in the position of Secretary of State. “I asked Janice to become Secretary of State. In that position, she was in the highest-elected position of any woman in the history of North Carolina. That’s the kind of pioneer she is.”
Hunt said then he needed someone to fill “the toughest position there is in Raleigh,” head of the Department of Motor Vehicles. “So what did I do? I picked the strongest, maybe toughest woman I’ve ever worked with. Every position I put her in, I’d say, ‘Fix it, Janice. Fix it.’ And she did.” These were just a few examples of Faulkner’s “willingness to take on tough challenges, to go in and make it work,” he said.
“A great leader of North Carolina, one of the finest people who’s ever been in our government leadership,” Hunt said. “Janice, thank you for all you have done for our great state.”
Her nephew read a statement from Faulkner before the ribbon was cut to officially open the gallery: “I am so honored today to stand among the many men and women who made it possible for us to be here today. I proudly and humbly say thank you to everyone who has helped make this possible. There’s no way to measure the depth or the height or the cultural value of your collective influence on bringing this moment into existence. It warms my heart to see so many people support this project through their generosity, their time and their effort. Thank you all very much.”
Cutting the ribbon for the Janice Hardison Faulkner Gallery are Michael Priddy, Faulkner, former state governor Jim Hunt and Jan Lewis, interim dean of Academic Library Services.