Eye To The Future | Beaufort County Now | Trustees announce $500M fundraising campaign, approve first step to create ECU Health

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    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of ECU News Services. The author of this post is ECU News Services.

Dr. Philip Rogers gives a report to the ECU Board of Trustees. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

    East Carolina University marked several milestones Friday as it kicked off a historic fundraising campaign and took the first step in the final approval process of creating ECU Health.

    At the ECU Board of Trustees meeting, Chancellor Philip Rogers publicly announced a $500 million comprehensive campaign - the largest in school history. Trustees also approved a joint operating agreement to clinically integrate the Brody School of Medicine and Vidant Health with a goal of becoming a national academic model for providing rural health care under ECU Health.

    The announcements came one day after ECU officials cut the ribbon on a new $90 million Life Sciences and Biotechnology Building that will serve as an interdisciplinary research space for faculty and students.

    "Three great examples of how 'One ECU' will leverage our assets to be a national model for student success, public service and regional transformation," Rogers said.

    The fundraising campaign will benefit almost every facet at ECU with a focus on increasing support for ECU's scholarship opportunities, research, facilities and endowment.

    "This campaign will allow us to better serve our region and bring innovative solutions to the most urgent challenges we face at ECU," Rogers said.

    Trustee chairman Scott Shook read a resolution formally endorsing the public phase of the campaign. More than $300 million of the $500 million goal has already been raised through all-in efforts such as the annual Pirate Nation Gives initiative as well as gifts, pledges, estate gifts and in-kind contributions.

    "We're now ready to build on this momentum," Rogers said. "I know Pirate Nation will go above and beyond to propel ECU into the future."

    In another eye to the future, the joint operating agreement between ECU's medical school and Vidant Health will enable the two organizations to more effectively and efficiently address issues such as health disparities and care delivery obstacles while also better anticipating future health and educational needs, officials said.

    Under the agreement, the Brody School of Medicine and Vidant Health will retain their separate legal entities, but will function collaboratively under a new, shared brand to launch next year, known as ECU Health. Most Vidant Health entities and ECU Physicians will operate under the new brand while the medical school's name will not change.

    "This agreement represents an important milestone in the long-standing affiliation between two entities bound by the same mission as we work toward the creation of ECU Health," Rogers said. "It signals the point where we can begin to move forward together on our journey to launch a clinically integrated academic health system and deliver on the commitment to provide quality health care for all eastern North Carolinians."

    The agreement requires approvals from the Vidant Health Board of Directors, Vidant Medical Center Board of Trustees, the Pitt County Board of Commissioners and the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. The UNC Board of Governors is expected to consider the agreement during its Nov. 17-18 meeting. With those approvals, the agreement would take effect Jan. 1.

    The majority of Vidant Health's locations, Vidant Medical Group and ECU Physicians will rebrand to ECU Health. However, there are no changes to the employment status or benefits of current employees - and no assets are exchanged - as a result of the approval of the joint operating agreement.

    ECU and Vidant Health announced their intentions to clinically integrate in June when Dr. Michael Waldrum, chief executive officer of Vidant Health and distinguished professor at the Brody School of Medicine, was appointed dean of the medical school. Waldrum continues to serve as CEO of Vidant Health in a dual role that is further outlined by the joint operating agreement.

    "Today's announcement is about the residents of eastern North Carolina and brings into reality the collective vision our two institutions have shared for nearly 50 years," Waldrum said.

    In other business:

  • ECU trustees approved the conferral of degrees for approximately 2,000 graduates at fall commencement on Dec. 17.
  • Following a recommendation from the University Affairs Committee, the board approved a request from the ECU Honors College to make use of a North Carolina statute that allows out-of-state students to be considered in-state students when receiving a full scholarship. The Honors College is working toward covering the full cost of attendance for recipients of its EC Scholars Award, said Dr. David White, dean of the Honors College, and the change allows the college to be more competitive in attracting top students from out of state.
  • Trustees approved fee increase proposals for housing, dining, parking and dental students as recommended by the Finance and Facilities Committee. The increase for dental student housing and preclinical materials fees must be approved by the UNC Board of Governors, which is expected to consider it at a meeting early next year. In addition, officials approved a ground lease with Elliott Sidewalk Communities to begin leasing space at Intersect East and to demolish up to eight buildings on the site.
  • Trustees also approved a slate of naming opportunities for the new Life Sciences and Biotechnology building following a recommendation by the Athletics and Advancement Committee. The committee recommended and trustees approved a non-salary compensation plan for athletics that would provide bonuses for coaches and certain athletics personnel based on competitive and academic success.

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