Evening of Philanthropy celebrates devoted donors

East Carolina University’s leading donors were honored at an Evening of Philanthropy on April 11 in the Main Campus Student Center ballrooms, which were transformed into a dazzling scene to match their spectacular support.

Members of Raas, an Indian folk-dance team, performed for donors at the Evening of Philanthropy. (Contributed Photos)

The evening was the first opportunity in five years to laud more than 400 individuals, households and organizations who were inducted into ECU’s most distinguished donor societies, and an occasion to celebrate the university’s historic Pursue Gold campaign.

“Thanks to donors like you, ECU is an engine of opportunity for our students, a hub for economic development and industry, and a provider of first-class health care to the people of eastern North Carolina. Our work is ongoing, and I’m grateful we are all on this journey together,” Chancellor Philip Rogers said. “Please know you do make a difference in the lives of students and the life of our beloved ECU.”

Rogers highlighted how gifts and contributions allow ECU to sustain recent successes of increasing scholarship dollars for learners, expanding needed programs and enhancing facilities. According to a recent UNC System study, well over 90% of undergraduate and graduate programs at ECU have a positive student return on investment. At least 90% of low-income graduates from ECU experience upward economic mobility, he said.

“We cannot be a future focused and innovation driven institution without the resources to fuel our work, so thank you and thanks to everyone who invested in our university during this campaign,” Rogers said. “Please know how grateful we are for you and your unwavering commitment to ECU and its future.”

The event sparkled with Pirate excellence with a showcase of accolades, art and perfomances by ECU students, alumni and staff.

Members of ECU Raas, an Indian folk-dance team, opened the night with a high-spirited dance performance. A trio of ECU jazz students provided background music throughout the evening, and the Magnolia Belles, ECU’s only all-female, student-run a cappella group, capped the event with a performance of “Someone to Love” and the ECU alma mater.

Honorees received items of recognition envisioned and designed by ECU School of Art and Design professor Matthew Egan and staff Jeb Hedgecock, and from Simple & Sentimental, a Greenville business created and owned by alumna Taylor Hicks.

Distinguished donors

Recognition in ECU’s most distinguished societies is based on combined gift totals to the ECU Foundation, the ECU Health Foundation and the ECU Educational Foundation (Pirate Club).

ECU’s donors have supported the areas of the university – academics, athletics and health care – which were most important to them. Through the campaign and beyond, their gifts all displayed a central idea – devotion to ECU.

“In this room, we have donors from across the university. Your support is what makes this university great,” said Christopher Dyba, vice chancellor for University Advancement. “It is what sets us apart from our competitors and peers and keeps our students, researchers, athletes, artists, health care practitioners and everyone in between pursuing each opportunity put in front of them.”

Dyba recognized the more than 30,000 university alumni and friends who supported the Pursue Gold campaign and raised nearly $527 million to fund scholarships, programming, research and capital improvements that ensure our mission of student success, public service and regional transformation.

“Every area of campus has felt and will continue to feel the impact of the Pursue Gold campaign for decades to come,” Dyba said. “With more than $209 million given to create or support endowments, decades will turn into generations.”

Order of the Cupola

The inaugural class of more than 120 Circle of Gold donors were inducted into the university’s premier leadership philanthropic society.

Nearly 300 new members were inducted into the Order of the Cupola. The Order of the Cupola recognizes ECU’s major lifetime donors who have made cumulative gifts or irrevocable planned gifts of $100,000 to $999,999.

The society’s name is taken from the campus’ most historic landmark, the Old Austin Cupola. The society was established after a replica Cupola was erected on campus in 1996.

As Dyba asked the more than 85 new members of the Order of the Cupola who were in attendance and past inductees to stand, few in the room remained in their seats.

Circle of Gold

Dyba recognized the inaugural class of more than 120 Circle of Gold donors and inducted them into the university’s premier leadership philanthropic society.

The new society – established in 2022 during the Pursue Gold campaign – recognizes ECU’s most generous lifetime donors who have made cumulative gifts or irrevocable planned gifts of $1 million or more. Inductees were presented a gift by Chancellor Rogers as each new recipient was honored.

Learn more about ECU’s giving societies and the new inductees by visiting the University Advancement facebook.

ECU talent featured

The artwork and award presented to inductees of ECU’s most distinguished donor societies symbolize the donors’ devotion to ECU and highlight the depth and breadth of artistic talent within the university community.This year, the Order of the Cupola honorees received a framed print titled Then and Now, created by School of Art and Design professor Matthew Egan. He says the print considers the cupola as a symbol of ECU’s rich traditions.The scenes in the print link past, present and future.

The limited-edition hand-pulled print is made in a traditional method of printmaking taught in the School of Art and Design. The custom frame was hand built with the support of technical assistant Jeb Hedgecock.

Egan is a professor of printmaking and has been on faculty at ECU for 19 years. Learn more about the artist by visiting matthewjegan.com.

Inductees into the university’s Circle of Gold society received an award created by Simple and Sentimental, a personalized gift business created by alumna Taylor Hicks.

The circular form symbolizes infinity and embodies a boundless commitment to the university’s mission. The gold accents adorning the base remind all who gaze upon it that members of the Circle of Gold have established a philanthropic relationship with ECU that is truly worth its weight in gold.

Hicks, a 2020 College of Business graduate, started Simple and Sentimental in her dorm room, creating unique hand-lettered goods. She won the Inaugural Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge in 2018. Learn more about this Pirate entrepreneur by visiting Simple and Sentimental.