March 22, 2017
Welcome to installation week! Nine months ago, Catherine and I moved to Greenville to take up my position as Chancellor of ECU. Those nine months have passed quickly and we’ve learned much about ECU, our superlative faculty, students, and alumni, the great support for ECU throughout this community, and the trajectory of this great university. Candidly, we’ve been welcomed by several interesting challenges during these early months. We’ve even survived our first hurricane, though what’s a little hurricane to a pirate, right?
We’ve learned that as pirates we are “undaunted.” We are fearless and unafraid to grasp opportunity. And we give “no quarter” to those who oppose Pirate Nation. But most of all, we have learned that the horizon for this institution is boundless. ECU is well on its way to becoming America’s next great national university. I believe there is no limit to where we can sail this pirate ship! What does that mean, how do we get there, and what could stand in our way?
ECU is uniquely North Carolina’s university. We boast the largest business school in the state. We put more allied health professionals and nurses into NC healthcare than any other institution. When you take our bachelors, masters and doctoral students in the College of Education, we put more educators into NC schools than any other institution. Our doctors and dentists are leading the way in providing healthcare in much needed underserved and rural areas of our state. We have wonderful performers, artists, and athletes who inspire us. We produce engaged citizens who will serve and improve their communities. 29,000 students strong, we have more than 5,800 faculty and staff, and more than 165,000 alumni. There is much to be proud of, but we haven’t reached our horizon yet.
ECU is now 110 years old. As I anticipate being installed officially as chancellor on Friday, I am humbled by our history and heritage, and yet the opportunities that are before us are profound. Many challenges confront public higher education today as we prepare to address societal challenges and changes of unimaginable complexity. But no university has more assets or potential than ECU. If we can avoid distractions, small-mindedness, and sometimes even personal self-interest, we have enormous potential. If we can focus on innovation, quality, research, and international opportunities for more of our students, preparing them to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, and able to work collaboratively, our horizon is unlimited. And then there is the need to do what all great universities do, and what makes universities great—raise the resources and endowments to fuel our ambition for success. Our new $500 million capital campaign can take us there.
If we do these things, nothing can stand in the way of ECU achieving its destiny of greatness. America’s next great national university is here—ECU! We are proud to be along for this journey. There are plenty of seats on this pirate ship. All hands on deck! Let’s capture the horizon!
Cecil P. Staton,