ECU celebrates 90th anniversary

East Carolina University celebrated its 90th Anniversary with a series of programs and special events March 3 – 11.

The actual Founders Day was March 8. This was the date in 1907 that the North Carolina General Assembly passed the bill that created East Carolina Teachers Training School.

Campus committees put together a week-long program of events. For example, on Monday March 3, former Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder spoke in two programs on the east campus and at the School of Medicine. And there was much more going on throughout the week culminating with the main attraction — the Founders Day Celebration the Student Center on Saturday, March 8.

“Many colleges and universities recognize their founder’s day with annual programs,” said Ernest Uhr, dean of the ECU School of Business. He said ECU had held founders programs in its past and Chancellor Richard Eakin and others on campus thought it would be a good thing to do again.

“When we discussed the Founders Day idea during an administrative retreat this summer, the response was overwhelmingly positive, not just for a single program but to have a week-long celebration,” he said.

Uhr chaired a 10-member steering committee for the 90th Anniversary. There are also subcommittees involved with things such as decorations and producing print and video presentations. All told, about 60 to 70 people are working on the projects for this milestone event.

Projects include a commemorative program, historical video, anniversary souvenirs, newspaper supplement, and community decorations. A special 90th Anniversary logo was designed for display on the banners and on campus publications.

The last celebration of this type came in 1982 when the campus observed its 75th Anniversary which also included a week of events and culminated with a March 8 Founders Day program. Before that, there was a 50th year event in 1957 that included a parade, football scrimmage and speeches by dignitaries.

For the 90th Anniversary celebration, Dr. Mary Jo Bratton, the university historian and author of a book about ECU’s history, has researched and written an article on how the establishment of ECU was influenced by the era of dynamic reform that took place in the United States during the first two decades of the 20th century. Her findings were published in a commemorative publication that was distributed during the week of the events.

With interest in the 90th Anniversary growing stronger each day, what can one expect for the year 2007 when ECU celebrates its 100th Anniversary?

“That one will be even bigger and better,” said Uhr. “Some people are even calling our 90th Anniversary celebration a tune-up for the centennial event,” he said.