A New Fall | Eastern North Carolina Now

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

Anne Ticknor, chair of the East Carolina University Faculty Senate, speaks during Faculty Convocation at Wright Auditorium on Friday. (Photos by Rhett Butler)

    A gathering of nearly 200 faculty and staff members Friday in Wright Auditorium marked the start of a fall semester that, for the first time since 2019, will not be overshadowed by a pandemic and all the rules and restrictions that went with it.

    The 2022 East Carolina University faculty convocation featured optimism and inclusion for the new academic year - ideals speakers including Chancellor Philip Rogers emphasized.

    After a recitation of ECU's land acknowledgement by Student Government Financial Advisor Aleshia Hunt and a welcome by Faculty Chair Anne Ticknor, professor of education, Rogers highlighted accomplishments of the previous 12 months and anticipation for the new academic year.

    "This is a moment to recommit ourselves to the bold pursuit of our mission," Rogers said, "and it's a celebration of renewed hope, energy, optimism and forward momentum as we launch into the fall semester."

    In the past year, he said, ECU has accomplished the following:

  • Begun construction on the public-private partnership along 10th Street, Intersect East; opened the doors to the Life Sciences and Biotechnology Building; and signed a memorandum of understanding for face-to-face instruction in industrial technology and distribution and logistics at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.
  • Announced a new doctoral degree program in occupational therapy within the College of Allied Health Sciences, the first at any public university in the state.
  • Welcomed U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, the first Native American poet laureate, to campus.
  • Received a record of nearly $82 million in sponsored awards.
  • Been recognized as a top online college by Newsweek.
  • Kicked off a $500 million comprehensive fundraising campaign, Pursue Gold, and achieved a record of nearly $70 million in fundraising during the past year.
  • Launched a clinical integration with Vidant Health under a new brand, ECU Health.

    In addition, he noted, graduation rates exceed the national average and have improved by 10 percentage points over the last decade. "Nearly 90% of our students (surveyed) are employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation, and we continue to be in the top 10% in the nation for social mobility," Rogers said.

    He said the coming year will see work to refresh the university's strategic plan while adhering to the mission of student success, regional transformation and public service.

    "The timing is perfect given the UNC Board of Governors approved a refresh of the system's plan in May and the current ECU strategic plan ends this calendar year," he said. "Our effort is not to build an entirely new plan. Instead, we will build off those commitments and our many areas of excellence to imagine who we want to be as a university three to five years from now. Let's challenge ourselves to consider innovation as a central theme of the updated plan, which I hope we can launch early in the new calendar year."

    Rogers also noted ECU's history of accepting students of wide-ranging abilities and the need to keep enrollment figures robust as birth rates and number of graduating high school seniors decline.

    "Academic supports, health and wellness services, community engagement opportunities and a safe environment are among the many important considerations as we prepare for this future," he said. "In every dimension of student success, let's recommit ourselves to innovating and ensuring we have the structures, programs and services to meet the needs of today's learners."

    He also advocated expanding educational offerings to more types of learners, from adults seeking to complete a degree to full-time workers who need to advance their skills to numerous others and using new educational tools to accomplish that.

    In addition, Rogers noted efforts to increase and improve diversity on campus and promote civil discourse.

    "Let's challenge ourselves to use our gifts to make a difference," Rogers said, "to keep the mission at the center of our work, to value and respect each other, to seek new and innovative ways to boldly pursue our commitments, to take advantage of the momentum before us and to move forward as one ECU."

    Next, Ticknor spoke about political and other pressures weighing on educational systems and educators over what is and what is not taught in schools, colleges and universities as well as "the secret hurt" experienced by students and faculty members of color, those in the LGBTQ community and others.

    "We must do better," Ticknor said of her fellow faculty members. "Our voices must be centered, affirmed and visible. When we are left out of these decisions, we are left with ambiguity and uncertainty about the choices that are made that impact our profession. We must go beyond writing anti-racism statements to enacting change that will positively impact lives."

    Brandon Kyle and Cierra Buckman of the Brody School of Medicine discussed work of the Sexual and Gender Diversity Committee on the Health Sciences Campus. They noted eastern North Carolina is a "health care desert" when it comes to providing care for people in the LGBTQ community.

    Angela Wells, associate professor in the School of Art and Design, and Mark Rasdorf, director of the Dr. Jesse R. Peel LGBTQ Center, discussed an annual photography exhibit "True Colors," that started during LGBTQ History Month in October 2016. The exhibit will continue this fall with the theme "We Say Gay." A reception will be Oct. 4 at 5:30 p.m. in the Peel Center in the Main Campus Student Center.

    The convocation was also the first for Provost Robin Coger, who started in July.
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