Service is theme of Founder's Week
(Mar. 25, 2004)
While the East Carolina University community celebrated its 97th birthday in style, those gathered at the Founder's Day Convocation Thursday were encouraged to follow in the footsteps of Leo Jenkins, a man who dedicated his life to serving Eastern North Carolina.
Jenkins, a former chancellor who is credited with establishing ECU as a university as well as launching athletics programs and the medical school, posthumously received the Jarvis Medal, the university's highest award.
Jenkins' son, Jack Jenkins, who accepted the medal on behalf of his family, challenged ECU's faculty, staff and students to follow in his father's footsteps and strive to improve the life and conditions for the people of eastern North Carolina. "He had a passion for Greenville. He had a passion for East Carolina College and he had a passion for eastern North Carolina," Jack Jenkins said. "He wanted the best, not just for his own kids but for all kids in the east."
School officials emphasized the university's continued commitment to public service, noting that Founders Week is an important way to reflect upon the past as ECU prepares for the future.
"This celebration is more than a birthday party; we're here to celebrate our history, our reason for being," said ECU Chancellor William Shelton. "From those humble beginnings, from 119 students undergoing a teacher training curriculum to more than 20,000 students, ECU will never forget its roots. This also celebrates our current successes, designed in large part, from our past successes and past excellence."
University of North Carolina President Molly Corbett Broad, who attended the convocation, said ECU is poised to meet the demands of an ever-shifting economy.
"If this region is to take its rightful place in developing the economy of this region, eastern North Carolina needs East Carolina University. It needs all the brainpower and willpower we have as it reshapes itself for the future," Broad said. "Eastern North Carolinians truly love and respect ECU and I believe this is so because ECU has never lost touch with the people it services," she said.
Entering its 97th year, ECU is building up to its centennial celebration in 2007. This year's emphasis is on health sciences. A groundbreaking for the new Learning Village at the Brody School of Medicine will take place at 11:30 a.m. March 26, near North Emergency Drive.
Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences, Michael Lewis, addressed a trend toward child obesity in the country and the role of the university in raising a healthy generation.
"Our Founders Week message is that we are all role models," he said. "We must make healthy choices and know that our children are watching us."
James Talton, chairman of the ECU trustees, thanked Shelton for his work as interim chancellor and said he hoped the incoming chancellor, Steven Ballard, will continue to improve ECU and its surrounding communities. Ballard, currently the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, will start his new post June 1. "ECU is going to take the high road and extend our reach across the region and help lift the east up. I hope Steve Ballard will be the leader to take us there," Talton said. "I personally can't wait for each of you to meet, get to know, and work with Steve Ballard. He'll be inhaling purple, exhaling gold in no time, no doubt about it!"