UNC Board Chair Lauds ECU Leadership in Region
By Erica Plouffe Lazure
Jim Phillips, chair of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, urged East Carolina University’s leaders last month to continue their commitment to the people who live in the region.
“I think the leadership you have and direction in which you all are headed is the right one,” Phillips told ECU’s Board of Trustees Oct. 6. “We know that ECU is the single most important asset of eastern North Carolina. If you are not leading eastern North Carolina, nobody will. We are counting on you to do that.”
Phillips, who assumed leadership of the UNC Board of Governors this year, was accompanied by UNC board members Craig Souza and Phil Dixon. Souza, vice chair of the board, said he was looking forward to having the full Board of Governors meet at ECU in March 2007 to commemorate ECU’s centennial celebration.
“I’ve never felt as positive as I do now about the present Board of Governors and the chancellors,” Souza said. “I think East Carolina’s second hundred years will be as bright as ever.”
As chair of the Board of Governors, Phillips said he hopes to launch a study for the future and goals of the UNC system.
“The question is not, ‘What’s good for the university?’ The question is, ‘What’s good for the people of North Carolina?’ That’s why the university exists.”
Phillips also assured the trustees that a proposal for a school of dentistry is on the table.
“There is a dire need in rural eastern North Carolina for dentists,” he said. “I think things are on track and that process will continue. You have every reason to have high hopes and expectations.”
Phillips applauded ECU’s recent achievements in research and urged leaders to continue their commitment to combining service to the region with its research and academic aims.
“The research component is a big part of meeting your obligations to the community and to the regions that you serve,” Phillips said.
“Continuing to balance those two things, your growth as one of the nation’s leading research institutions, and your obligation to the people who live here, is critical to the future of the university as well as the state.”
ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard noted that ECU has generated $40 million of research dollars this year, and that generating more research that would better eastern North Carolina is a key aim in the draft of the strategic plan he presented to the trustees Friday.
“We’ve been engaged in the prioritization process every month since I’ve been here,” Ballard said. “I want to ensure that all of us identify what our priorities should be. We have a huge opportunity to design our own future. There is no barrier from what we can achieve in the future if we are all together.”