Bate, who died last year in Greenville at the age of 93, was a philanthropist, investor and retired lumber executive. Before his death, he had made gifts to ECU totaling more than $2.7 million.
He also established the Harold H. Bate Foundation, which has assets approaching $60 million. ECU is one of three primary beneficiaries of the foundation, and will receive significant annual income.
Chancellor Richard Eakin said, "This naming is an opportunity to recognize a visionary friend of all of eastern North Carolina.
"He was a man of extraordinarily high character and honesty. He was a wonderful person and a wonderful friend."
Eakin said that because of Bate's strong friendship and generosity, "I told him several times that we would like to name the General Classroom Building in his honor.
"His humility and self-effacing nature would not permit that in his lifetime. But I am convinced that he would be honored by this recognition.
"Few occasions to name buildings or programs for individuals have given me as high a degree of satisfaction and joy as this one," Eakin said.
Bate was born in New York and graduated from Cornell University. He then joined his father and three brothers in the operation of a lumber company in New York City. The family business brought him to North Carolina and he moved to New Bern in 1964.
"He had a genuine love affair with the region," Eakin said. "He often said that of all the places he had lived, the people of eastern North Carolina were the friendliest and the most wonderful to live with."
The other principal beneficiaries of the Bates Foundation are the Twin Rivers YMCA of New Bern and Craven Community College. Other gifts will go to Craven, Jones and Pamlico counties.
The General Classroom Building, completed in 1988, is home to the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Business.
The naming was approved last year by the ECU Board of Trustees, and a ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Feb. 10 at the building. Participants will include Eakin; Greenville attorney Phillip R. Dixon, chair of the ECU Board of Trustees; Mayor Thomas A. Bayliss III of New Bern, also a member of the ECU board; and Dennis Ball, a Bate family adviser.
ECU News Bureau