Speaking at the annual fall commencement in Minges Coliseum, Ballard said, "The next step is to embrace, search for and become the leader that you can be. I'm not talking power, status or money. I'm speaking of your ability to make a difference for other people."
Ballard, presiding at his first ECU commencement since becoming chancellor in May, said, "Leadership starts with integrity, and it is the hardest characteristic to master." He said leaders have a critical role in focusing on the future. "It is the leader's job to focus on the possibilities, to identify the new beginnings."
Nearly 2,500 students who completed their studies during the summer or fall were eligible to receive bachelor's master's and doctoral degrees. Thousands of family members and friends applauded and cheered them during the morning ceremony on campus.
In addition to conferring degrees, the university awarded the Jarvis Medal, its highest honor, to former U.S. Sen. Robert B. Morgan, a 1947 East Carolina graduate. The medal is named for the late Gov. Thomas Jordan Jarvis, who is regarded as the father of the university.
Morgan, described as one of ECU's most loyal and treasured alumni, is a native of Harnett County and has served as a United States senator and a senator in the North Carolina General Assembly. During his career, he also served as the Attorney General for North Carolina and the director of the State Bureau of Investigation.
Upon receiving the Jarvis Medal, Morgan thanked the university and reminisced about his days in Greenville when ECU was still known as East Carolina Teachers College. "At the age of 79 I still love ECTC," he said.
ECU News Bureau