Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences

Dean Downs Delivers State of the College at 54th Annual THCAS Convocation

August 21, 2017

By Lacey L. Gray
Director of Marketing and Communications
Thomas Harriot College of Arts & Sciences


Dr. William M. Downs, dean of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, praised the faculty and staff for their work during his State of the College Address at the college’s 54th annual convocation.


“We have much about which to be proud as a college. We have much about which to be excited,” said Downs. “As I have said each and every year that I’ve had the privilege of speaking to you, I like who we are as a college. I like the value we bring to this university and to our community. I like the partnerships that we’re building on both campuses. I like that we have stayed creative, entrepreneurial and forward-looking.”


During his address, Downs touched on various aspects of what makes the college great and what the college provides that is important to the university, students and the region.


Harriot College has expanded, reviving ECU’s Center for Survey Research and welcoming the University Studies Program into its academic fold.


Faculty researchers are not only bringing in additional grant dollars ($7.1 million in 2016-17) but they are impacting lives and strengthening the community through their research.


The college increased its philanthropic gifts to $5.5 million in 2016-17, up from the previous year’s $1.3 million, and it continues to steward donors by saying thank you through the college’s annual Scholarship Donor Recognition Luncheon.


College programs are increasing in student popularity. Thirteen out of 16 departments increased their undergraduate majors in the past academic year. The college also is graduating more students and is dedicated to the goal of getting more students to finish in four years.


Students in Harriot College have more experiential learning opportunities and the college partners with the Center for Career Services on panels and workshops for arts and sciences students to be prepared for their lives after graduation.


“We’re committed to helping our students to be more confident and to be knowledgeable about launching their careers,” said Downs. “We want each new cohort of Harriot College graduates to enter the post-ECU world with every possible advantage; ready to make their impact.”


Downs also discussed some major goals for the year ahead.


He touched on six priorities and initiatives for the college, including 1) launching a Water Resources Research Cluster, a partnership between Geography, Geological Sciences, Chemistry and Engineering; 2) increasing college financial support of the Interdisciplinary Programs and the establishment of a Council of Interdisciplinary Program Directors; 3) establishing a semester immersion program in Washington, D.C. for Harriot College students interested in politics, policy, economics, justice, social issues and leadership; 4) increasing student proficiency in foreign languages; 5) strengthening the college’s graduate programs and increasing enrollments; and 6) providing a critical role in support of the university’s coastal initiatives and programs.


In closing, Downs thanked the college faculty and staff for their continued commitment to the students, their disciplines and to the community.


“We have a full plate. I look forward to us tackling these and other issues together,” said Downs. “Thank you for your daily demonstration of professionalism. Thank you for your collegiality.”