"This feels like the right time," Eakin said. "Thanks to the intelligence, commitment and magnificent spirit of the entire university family, East Carolina has achieved unparalleled success. It has been a rare honor and privilege to lead this university for the past 13 years."
"As is evident to all, the university is strong and confident and well-positioned for the future," Eakin said. "However, it is also clear to me that the opportunities ahead will require a long-term commitment, and now is an appropriate time to recruit a new chancellor.
"We are at several natural turning points," the chancellor said. He cited the development of a new master plan, a new five-year strategic plan, the successful campaign to raise money for new scholarships, and the self-study for the university's 10-year accreditation.
He also pointed to the university's acceptance by Conference USA for competition in all sports beginning in the fall of 2001. On the horizon, Eakin said, are the celebration of the university centennial, the design and execution of a fund-raising campaign of more than $100 million, and the expansion of the student body by as much as 50 percent.
In recent months, Eakin, 61, has guided the university through the recovery from the unprecedented flooding spawned by Hurricane Floyd last fall. He said that at the request of the Board of Trustees, he would stay on the job until a new chancellor arrives. The search process for a campus chief executive typically lasts nine months or longer. Eakin said that after stepping down, he will take a research leave and then return to the campus as University Professor of Educational Leadership.
University of North Carolina President Molly Corbett Broad said: "With a mixture of regret and deep professional admiration, I have accepted Dr. Eakin's decision to retire as chancellor of East Carolina University in the coming year. "Over the past 13 years, ECU and eastern North Carolina have been the beneficiaries of his leadership and vision, for even as he has worked to strengthen ties with the local community, Chancellor Eakin has helped push the reach of ECU farther out into the region and the state. At no time was this more apparent than last fall, when in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd, Chancellor Eakin led extraordinary efforts to keep the campus operating and to put its resources and know-how to work in helping the surrounding region weather the crisis and begin rebuilding.
"Under his watch, the ECU campus has achieved Doctoral II status and has made great strides in sponsored research, fund-raising, and technology initiatives. While I regret losing such a committed member of my administrative team, I look forward to working closely with Chancellor Eakin during the remaining months of his tenure."
Phil Dixon, chair of the ECU Board of Trustees, said: "The designation of East Carolina as a doctoral institution, the phenomenal growth of private support for the campus in recent years, and the university's recent admission to Conference USA all demonstrate the exceptional leadership that Dick Eakin has provided for our campus. The university has grown and prospered in nearly every way during his tenure. What we have accomplished in recent years, from academics to fund-raising to athletics, has been truly remarkable, and the chancellor has played a major role in all our achievements.
"I consider it a special privilege to have known Dick Eakin throughout his tenure as chancellor and to have had the opportunity to work closely with him in my role as chair o
ECU News Bureau