Rogers: Welcome Back — Fall Semester 2023

Welcome to the start of the fall semester. Always a time of great promise, the new academic year brings opportunity, the chance to embark on exciting pursuits and explorations, and the guarantee that we will all grow in meaningful and profound ways.

As many of you know, we launched an updated strategic plan last year. With the input of faculty, staff, students, and the broader community, we outlined a bold plan to propel ECU through 2028. The plan highlights three fundamental areas of focus tied to our mission. They include:

  • Student Success: The ECU experience is transformative for students, and we must take every opportunity to ensure we continue to support our current students while expanding access for future Pirates. This means we must invest in new resources, including experiential learning and the types of programs we know are driving our local and regional workforce. At the same time, we must actively look at how we support all students to reach graduation and become lifelong learners.
  • Public Service: ECU is rooted in the community — it is one of our greatest strengths. Our university is dedicated to the service of our community, and we have a sacred responsibility to ensure we act to further that community trust. Our future relies on increasing public engagement, expanding local access to educational and cultural offerings, and being a trusted community partner.
  • Regional Transformation: Our region is changing, as are the skills our workforce will need to prosper and thrive. ECU is at the front edge of this regional transformation, and we are best equipped to develop the educational offerings and partnerships necessary to ensure our region remains strong and that our workforce is prepared for the opportunities ahead.

Fulfilling these bold priorities will be a large undertaking. It will require that we question assumptions and practices to allow all of us to play the right role in supporting and achieving these goals. For my part, that means taking active steps to ensure my leadership team is empowered to actively lead their requisite constituencies and drive the engagement and communications necessary to achieve these goals. I will focus on bringing the community together inclusively and comprehensively while ensuring we do what is necessary to build community support and strengthen critical external relationships.

What does all of this mean in practice? Well, here is a great example: In the early part of the fall semester, I will be hosting a campus-wide convening. This will be a chance for me to lay out our work tied to the strategic plan, as well as to have some informal time to connect with faculty, staff, and students. This is a new type of event for ECU. Rarely have we had the type of events that bring all of our most critical constituencies together simultaneously. An announcement on the date and time of the campus convening is forthcoming. I’m also asking my senior leadership team to take on more active roles in engaging with you—faculty, staff, and students. While I will provide a brief welcome at the beginning of Faculty Convocation this year, Provost Coger, as ECU’s Chief Academic Officer, will engage as the lead administrative representative on faculty matters. I know that Dr. Frye will be looking for similar engagement opportunities with students as Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and that Vice Chancellor Stephanie Coleman, in her role overseeing HR, is likewise focused on a comprehensive engagement plan with staff.

While subtle, these changes are critical to helping ensure that we are all acutely focused on making a meaningful impact that moves us forward. Most importantly, it also means that there will be greater opportunities to engage in essential conversations with the leaders best positioned to drive that change. To that end, I’m excited to continue the ongoing series of small lunches I’ve been fortunate to have with faculty and students. These sessions have been a tremendous source of insights and inspiration. I will also be activating a lunch and conversation series with our staff this semester. 

I’m excited about the promise and possibilities of the new academic year. Together, we’ll shape a university and community that drives progress, supports innovation and strengthens our collective lives.

Thank you for making ECU your home. Your work, spirit, and commitment to our University is greatly appreciated.

— Chancellor Philip Rogers