Donor support sets record for main campus fundraising

Donor support in the last year helped East Carolina University continue its transformative education and regional impact. From multi-million dollar planned gifts to grassroots crowdfunding efforts, donations established scholarships in music, education and occupational therapy; enabled access to better health care for mothers and babies in rural areas; improved technology for students with learning differences; and even started an orchard on campus.

Beatrice Chauncey

ECU received many donor gifts this fiscal year, including a surprise $5 million from former School of Music professor Beatrice Chauncey. (File photo)

In the fiscal year that began July 1, 2020 and ended June 30, alumni, friends, faculty and other supporters committed $48.3 million to the university. The fundraising total comprises $30.5 million for main campus, $9.5 million for athletics and $8.3 million for the health sciences campus. The amount raised for main campus is the highest ever for the university.

“It’s remarkable to see that, despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, so many Pirates opened their hearts and made commitments to ECU this year. Their generosity will most certainly lead to better outcomes for our students, more resources for our faculty and continued innovation by our researchers,” said Christopher Dyba, vice chancellor for university advancement and president of the ECU Foundation.

The most donations in a single day to ECU came during Pirate Nation Gives, its annual fundraising day, when a record 1,200 donors gave a combined $6.2 million to the university, far surpassing its goal of $3.2 million.

The university also received a surprise $5.2 million gift from former School of Music professor Beatrice Chauncey. Her love of ECU — and a penchant for trading stocks — led to the largest planned gift the school has ever received and will drastically improve the school’s recruiting efforts. A portion of the gift was counted toward Pirate Nation Gives.

The College of Education received its largest ever gift from donors Edward and Sara Coble Roos, who established the Roos Elementary Education Scholars Program. The Roos scholarship will positively impact the preparation of teachers for many years to come.

In addition to individual donors, corporations and foundations awarded numerous grants to ECU in the fiscal year. The United Health Foundation gave $1.25 million to expand access to health care and improve health outcomes for North Carolina’s mothers and babies. The project is a collaboration among Maternal Fetal Medicine, Psychiatry and Nutrition Science. The Golden LEAF Foundation, a longtime supporter, invested $1.9 million to create a pharmaceutical manufacturing training center in the College of Engineering and Technology.

“These gifts show the breadth and depth of the incredible work happening across our campuses and the willingness of others to invest in our future,” Chancellor Philip Rogers said. “Of course, in addition to these big-ticket projects, there were myriad gifts whose collective impact cannot be overstated. To all our donors in Pirate Nation, I say thank you.”

Other gifts made to ECU in the fiscal year include:

  • Stephen C. and Bonnie S. Smith Endowed Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to students with a diagnosed disability. The Smiths created the scholarship in honor of Steve’s brother, Bill ’76, who had cerebral palsy.
  • The Dr. Lewis Randy Strickland and Dr. Laura Schluter Strickland Scholarship. The scholarship supports occupational therapy students earning doctoral degrees and is the largest single donation in the history of the College of Allied Health Sciences.
  • Endocrinology professorship. Mary Katherine Lawrence created a professorship in endocrinology at the Brody School of Medicine that will enable the school to recruit a senior faculty member with research skills, which in turn will attract more fellowship candidates.
  • Technology gift from MrBeast. One of the most-subscribed YouTube creators in the country gave more than $27,000 in laptops, iPads and headsets to ECU’s STEPP program, which provides support and resources for students with learning differences.
  • IT Suite in College of Nursing. Melanie Sartore Baldwin, associate professor of kinesiology, named the College of Nursing IT Suite in memory of her late husband Charles “Chuck” Baldwin, who worked as a tech consultant for the college. All of the funds raised supported Beacon Nursing scholarships.
  • Crowdfunding for the Dr. Jesse R. Peel LGBTQ Center. In its first crowdfunding campaign, the Dr. Jesse R. Peel LGBTQ Center achieved its $15,000 goal weeks early and ended up raising more than $35,000.
  • A new orchard. A group of Honors College students raised $6,464 to create an orchard on campus. Students will be able to access apple, pear and persimmon trees; blueberry bushes; grape vines; an herb garden and a pollinator garden.

Confetti rains down in the Black Box Theater during a celebration for fundraising success for the Dr. Jesse R. Peel LGBTQ Center. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)