ECU awaits bond issue outcome
(Oct. 28, 1993)
The East Carolina University community will be holding its breath next Tuesday. That’s the day voters decide if the state sells bonds to finance capital improvements at state university campuses.
“No other day...will be as important,” ECU’s Chancellor Richard R. Eakin told about 200 people attending a Pitt-Greenville Chamber of Commerce program earlier this week.
It was a message that Eakin has delivered repeatedly to community and civic organizations and in radio and television interviews for nearly two months.
Not since the early 1970s when the ECU medical school was the focus of legislative and public opinion debate has an ECU leader played such a diligent role in trying to rally public support. Eakin and other administrators have taken bond message to communities throughout the eastern region.
Students have also lent their support. The Student Government Association produced “Let’s Bond” and “Vote Yes” T-shirts along with “Vote for Your New Library” buttons. Students have also distributed banners and yard signs throughout the community.
At stake, is the construction of a new addition to the J. Y. Joyner Library and the purchase of property that was formerly the home of Greenville’s Rose High School. The property borders the southeast edge of the ECU campus.
About 10 percent of the referendum’s $310 million will go to these two ECU projects. The library addition is $28.9 million while the price tag on the high school property is $5 million.
Both are crucial for ECU’s future development.
The school property is important because it will let ECU move some of its services departments to the perimeter of the campus. This will free up some of the space in the central campus for academic uses. It will also provide more campus parking space and will contribute to ECU’s long-range plan to make the central campus for pedestrians only.
Most of the capital improvement funds are earmarked for Joyner Library. Built in 1954 and expanded in 1975, the library has reached a crisis in providing seating space for students and shelf space for books.
Eakin said about 1,000 of ECU’s nearly 18,000 students can find seating in the facility. To add further complications, there is not enough space in the library to house all of its books.
About 75,000 books are stored in an off-campus warehouse. Next year ECU will have to rent an additional warehouse to take care of 30-40 thousand volumes projected for storage next year.
The library’s problems got the attention of an accreditation team that visited the campus last year. While the team from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools issued accreditation to the ECU, the team’s evaluation expressed concerns over the library facility and requested a follow-up report.
The report, due this October, could only inform the accrediting agency that the library’s funding was finally on the ballot.
The Chancellor said it is “impossible to overstress” the importance of the Joyner Library addition “in terms of our future academic progress and our ability to serve our students and the people of eastern North Carolina.”
The new addition to the library will include an electronics center that will enable communications with many outside agencies including the Library of Congress. It will also allow the library to transmit material obtained from other libraries—or from its own holdings—to libraries throughout