ECU’s comprehensive campaign exceeds $500 million goal ahead of schedule

East Carolina University is painting the Pursue Gold campaign purple as gifts supporting the Jeff Charles Scholarship fund have taken the comprehensive campaign over its $500 million goal five months ahead of the campaign’s close. Pirate Nation has raised $503.7 million and ECU will continue accepting contributions through the campaign’s official end date in December.

Gifts and ticket sales for a 50/50 fundraiser and football kickoff event are part of the $25,000 endowment that carried the campaign past the goal. “The Voice’s” famous “You can paint this one purple!” will forever be heard through the endowed scholarship in the ECU School of Communication.

Charles, the Voice of the Pirates since 1988, died in February. A group of his friends and colleagues came up with a game plan to endow a scholarship in his memory. For Jonathan Ellerbe, who worked with Charles at Pirate Radio, the endowment was a good way to remember a friend and mentor.

“Jeff was a very special person. He was one of the nicest people I have ever known,” Ellerbe said. “His loyalty to ECU and dedication to being one of the best voices in the business needs to be remembered. By establishing a scholarship, it will help future ECU students wanting to be in the broadcast business and help keep Jeff’s legacy alive.”

Public fundraising phase

Chancellor Philip Rogers kicked off the public phase of the campaign in November 2021 and asked Pirate Nation to come together to help propel ECU into the future. In modest and monumental ways, benefactors have answered the chancellor’s charge and met the ambitious $500 million goal five months ahead of the campaign’s close.

“When Pirates come together and keep our focus on fulfilling our mission and vision in a unified way, we achieve our goals and work together toward reaching our highest aspirations,” Rogers said. “Through the campaign, Pirate Nation is consistently allowing the university to make the greatest impact and create the greatest good for the people we serve.”

The university crossed the goal after completing the most successful fundraising year in ECU history. Christopher Dyba, vice chancellor for university advancement, said the momentum for supporting the campaign has been building since Rogers’ arrival in 2021. “Pirate Nation has stepped up. It is clear that ECU alumni, friends and donors are all behind our great university,” Dyba said.

Pirate Nation donors have invested in the pillars of the Pursue Gold campaign:

  • Creating opportunities for student success through funding nearly $138 million in merit, need-based and athletic scholarships;
  • Championing research by giving more than $24.3 million to accelerate innovation and discovery;
  • Building ECU’s future with more than $248 million of discretionary and program funding; and
  • Sustaining the university’s value by investing more than $201.6 million to secure ECU’s endowment.

Rogers said donors have gone above and beyond to allow the university to better serve the region and bring innovative solutions to the most urgent challenges at ECU.

“These gifts keep ECU on the leading edge of higher education and help us strengthen the academic enterprise, advance our athletics programs, produce meaningful research outcomes, deliver quality health care services,and more,” Rogers said. “Our ability to sustain this success is possible because of the tremendous response to Pursue Gold.”

University leaders urge supporters to keep the momentum going as they push toward completion of the campaign in December. Dyba said the overall success of the campaign will go a long way toward securing future funding of scholarships and other priorities.

For more information about the many ways to give to ECU, visit ECU University Advancement.

ECU’s Pursue Gold campaign to raise half a billion dollars will end in December. 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 ECU constantly leading and ready to advance what’s possible. Learn more at 


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