Trustees Transition | Eastern North Carolina Now

Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of ECU News Services.

Dr. Philip Rogers announced the launch of a listening tour during his first Board of Trustees meeting as ECU chancellor. | Photo: Cliff Hollis

Dr. Ron Mitchelson, former interim chancellor, was presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest honor awarded by the governor of North Carolina, during the ECU Board of Trustees meeting. | Photo: Cliff Hollis
    The East Carolina University Board of Trustees welcomed ECU Chancellor Dr. Philip Rogers to his first meeting of the full board and its committees Thursday and Friday.

    "I want to say publicly that I'm grateful to this board in particular for your overwhelming support during this transition and for your unwavering commitment to East Carolina University," Rogers said during his remarks to the board.

    Rogers announced the launch of a listening tour called Pirate Perspectives. "I plan to spend the next few months engaging directly with a broader range of ECU constituents to hear their individual perspectives and ultimately to drive action," he said.

    The board also accepted the report of the naming standards committee. BOT Chair Vern Davenport said the board, with its new members as of the next meeting and a new chancellor in place, should engage in a comprehensive look at ECU's history and its present in the context of race, diversity and equity.

    "In the life of a university names on building are but one part of a larger conversation," he said. "We cannot lose sight of how this institution began ... and just how far we've come in 114 years."

    Rogers agreed and said ECU is not alone in considering such issues. "The naming conversation ... is part of the broader expectation that higher education institutions be a leader in bringing our society together to tackle the most challenging problems," he said.

    Rogers commended the university for its efforts to improve diversity and inclusion, but said there is hard work to be done, acknowledging the gap between the diversity of ECU's student body, faculty and staff compared to the region it serves.

Jon Gilbert, director of athletics speaks to members of the BOT during the Athletics and Advancement committee meeting Thursday, April 22. | Photo: Rhett Butler
    "I want the broadest set of constituencies across Pirate Nation to engage in a collaborative and comprehensive effort in addressing issues of race, diversity, inclusion and social justice at ECU. We must continue to get comfortable with having the hard conversations that make us uncomfortable as we develop pathways to healing," Rogers said. "Together we can take a holistic approach as we seek to bring meaningful change to our campus."

    He said he envisions a three-part process of completing a historical analysis of ECU, authentically assessing its current reality and setting a vision for the future.

    "The naming conversation is one important part of this conversation and I hope we can expand the dialogue further to drive even more intentional outcomes," he said.

    During the board meeting, the board approved resolutions honoring outgoing board members Davenport, Max Ray Joyner Jr., Bob Plybon and ECU Student Government Association President Tucker Robbins, as well as Dr. Ron Mitchelson, former interim chancellor, who was presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest honor awarded by the governor of North Carolina.

    "When this chapter of ECU's history is written, Dr. Mitchelson's tenure will be viewed most favorably," Davenport said. "Throughout his career at ECU he has always answered the call to serve our students, our faculty, our staff and our region."

    Davenport also welcomed two new board members who will be sworn in at the board's next meeting July 22. The new trustees are Cassandra Burt of Emerald Isle and David G. Fussell Jr. of Duplin County. Current members Jason Poole and Fielding Miller were reappointed to two-year terms on the board. All four were appointed by the UNC Board of Governors earlier this week.

    Burt worked for Hastings Ford in Greenville for 28 years, and since retiring has devoted time to several organizations including the Petty Family Foundation and the American Heart Association. She currently sits on the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation board and the donor relations committee. She is also involved with the ECU Pirate Club.

    Fussell majored in economics at ECU, graduating in 1990 and joining his family's business, Duplin Winery. At ECU, Fussell has served on the board of directors of the ECU Alumni Association and ECU Foundation. After a four-year sabbatical, Fussell was again appointed to the foundation board in 2020. Fussell is also a member of the ECU Pirate Club.

    In other business:

  • Trustees approved the conferral of degrees for spring graduates by recommendation of the University Affairs committee. Also in the committee, Stephanie Whaley, assistant vice chancellor and director of admissions, shared the successful use of artificial intelligence technology — ECU's PeeDee Chat Bot — in communicating with prospective and admitted students.
  • Trustees approved the site for construction of a 6,000-square-foot multi-sport strength center. The facility is donor-funded, Athletic Director Jon Gilbert said in a presentation to the Finance and Facilities committee. "We have 17 sports and one weight room," said Gilbert, noting it will provide much-needed equipment and fitness space when practice times overlap. All sports will have access to the center, which will be built next to the soccer stadium. The exterior is designed to match surrounding buildings and will be similar to the baseball hitting facility.

    Trustees also approved a $275,000 lease for 110,000 square feet of warehouse space at 220 Industrial Blvd., Greenville. The space is needed to relocate offices and warehouse space for the Research and Innovation Campus. The lease with Elliott Sidewalk Communities, developers of Intersect East, will increase 2.5% each year over the 10-year agreement culminating at $343,437.
  • During the Health Sciences committee meeting, Dr. Mark Stacy, dean of the Brody School of Medicine and vice chancellor of ECU's Division of Health Sciences, gave an overview of COVID-19's continued impact on ECU Physicians but also offered encouragement that some of those challenges are showing signs of improvement.

    Stacy shared the medical school's success on Match Day in March when 58% of soon-to-be residents matched to primary care residency programs — including 14 students in family medicine, 13 in internal medicine, 10 in pediatrics and eight in obstetrics and gynecology. Thirty-five percent of graduates will remain in North Carolina for residencies.

    Stacy also highlighted the high national rankings that the colleges and schools across division received in the 2022 U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools rankings.

    ECU's Dr. Robin Tutor Marcom, director of the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute, told the committee about the important role that the institute plays in identifying and addressing the health and safety risks of farmers, foresters, fishermen, their families and communities across North Carolina.

    Kelsey Booth, doctor of nursing practice student in the College of Nursing's Family Nurse Practitioner program, talked about her involvement in the RURAL Scholars program and the Agromedicine Institute.

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