Foundational relationships propel Arthur Graduate School of Business

East Carolina University’s Thomas D. Arthur Graduate School of Business will chart the course for future Pirate leaders in business.

No matter where their futures lead, they all start in Room 1200 of the Bate Building.

From this space, the College of Business officially dedicated its second named school in a ceremony on Nov. 18.

“Transformative work has happened in this space for years and the Arthur School will ensure this continues to happen,” Interim Dean of the College of Business Michael Harris said.

Dr. Jim Bearden, left, talks to Tom Arthur during the Thomas D. Arthur Graduate School of Business event.

Dr. Jim Bearden, left, talks to Tom Arthur during the Thomas D. Arthur Graduate School of Business event.

“We are excited about the future. This investment allows us to take this program to new heights.”

The school has operated in Arthur’s name since 2021.

Arthur ’71 paired a $2.5 million commitment with an additional $2.5 million planned gift to support the College of Business. He also made a previous $1 million gift to establish the Thomas D. Arthur Distinguished Professorship in Leadership in 2010.

In addition to strengthening graduate-level business courses, a portion of Arthur’s gift will support student veterans and military personnel in the program.

Harris highlighted the foundational work done by others in the creation of the graduate school, including previous college deans Dr. James Bearden, Dr. Stan Eakin and former Chancellor Steve Ballard.

Because of Arthur’s investment, Harris said the College of Business will be even stronger and will continue to be a national model for leadership development and regional transformation.

Rising to meet one of the priorities of the Arthur School — to support student veterans — Harris announced a new military scholarship in Arthur’s name during the dedication.

ECU Provost Dr. Robin Coger reflected on the influence of Arthur’s Army service and his decision to join a very young MBA program at ECU after meeting Bearden.

“For all of us, the paths we take — and the things we learn in our journeys — directly influence who we become in the future. And, of course, Mr. Arthur’s journey to our College of Business was influenced by the steps he took before joining the Pirate Nation,” Coger said.

In 1969, Greenville native Arthur returned home after serving in Vietnam and met with Bearden, who convinced Arthur to join the university’s new MBA program.

“This speaks volumes to the difference each person can make by taking an interest in the individuals that comprise our current and future students,” Coger said. “The success of our students is one of our anchors here at ECU since we understand that each of our students has the potential to be a game changer for the future.”

Arthur’s investment deepens the College of Business’ ability to serve future generations of graduate students.

For Arthur, his decision to attend graduate school at East Carolina was second only to military service in important life choices.

“My experience here was just outstanding,” Arthur said. “I could land anywhere and do anything because of my MBA.”

“My experience here was just outstanding. I could land anywhere and do anything because of my MBA.”
- ECU Alumnus Thomas D. Arthur

Arthur said having his MBA opened doors and led to positions of authority and decision-making.

“My two years here were just wonderful,” Arthur said at the dedication. “I am delighted to further that into the future.”

New scholars, new Arthur Leaders and new regional transformation will have their start in 1200 Bate as the Arthur School begins to take shape in the space.

Tristyn Daughtry is one of the first Thomas Arthur Leaders named in the new school.

Daughtry, now program manager for ECU’s RISE29 student entrepreneurship program, sees the Arthur School as an inspiration to future students. The first-generation college graduate said she is honored to have been named an Arthur Leader and credits the school with providing an incredible network and opportunities to collaborate and continue learning.

“Being an Arthur Leader is an encouragement to show students that they should pursue great things and leverage all of the opportunities the graduate program offers,” Daughtry said.

The university has only three named schools in its 115-year history. The two in the College of Business were launched in the past six years, and both began at 1200 Bate.

The Miller School for Entrepreneurship recently moved into the Isley Innovation Hub, opening opportunities for launching the Arthur School in Bate. Room 1200 has a foundational connection to the newest COB school. Bearden’s last office before retirement was none other than 1200 Bate.

Bearden’s decision to recruit Arthur into the MBA program and later the Truist Center for Leadership Development shaped Arthur’s professional life, reconnected Arthur to East Carolina and set the future course for the College of Business.

“He had a background that was impressive,” Bearden said of Arthur. “I could just see he was going to do well.

“Now we’ve had a lifetime of seeing how correct I was,” he added. “His involvement means so much to so many others who can go through the program and go do great things.”

Arthur returned home after serving in Vietnam and joined ECU's new MBA program in 1969.

Arthur returned home after serving in Vietnam and joined ECU’s new MBA program in 1969.

The COB at East Carolina University was founded in 1936 and has been continuously accredited by the AACSB since 1967. Total graduate enrollment this fall exceeds 800 (MBA, MSA, MS Sustainable Tourism). Multiple graduate certificate programs are offered through the Arthur School.

ECU is in the public phase of the Pursue Gold campaign to raise half a billion dollars. This ambitious effort will create new paths to success for Pirates on campus, across the country and around the world. Donor gifts during the campaign will keep us constantly leading and ready to advance what’s possible. Learn more at