East Carolina University is currently being guided by acting Chancellor and Provost Ron Mitchelson following the resignation of Dan Gerlach and the University of North Carolina (UNC) System’s pending search for a new interim chancellor.
A month after Dan Gerlach was placed on administrative leave, following the release of photos of him drinking at a downtown Greenville bar with students and news of a distributed media package circulated, ECU’s former interim chancellor resigned.
In his statement, Gerlach said “upon reflection and discussion” his resignation is in ECU’s best interest. He said the responsibility is his, and he did not display the behavior the university teaches students to uphold, nor the university creed which states, “members of our academic society exemplify high standards of professional and personal conduct at all times.”
“On the night of Wednesday, Sept. 25 and early morning of Thursday, Sept. 26, I did not live up to these standards as well as the UNC System standards that demand excellent judgement and discretion from campus leaders,” Gerlach said in his resignation statement.
Gerlach said he is thankful to have been part of the university during his time as interim chancellor.
“Words cannot express the embarrassment and regret that I feel toward my family, my close colleagues at ECU and the UNC System, and all of the Pirate Nation who believed in me so strongly,” Gerlach said in his resignation statement.
UNC System Interim President Bill Roper, who initially appointed Gerlach to ECU’s Interim Chancellor position, issued a statement relating to Gerlach’s resignation on Saturday.
The resignation of Gerlach was effective immediately, according to Roper’s statement. He said he believed the resignation was in the “best interests” of the university.
“I have begun the process of identifying the next interim chancellor for ECU and will share more information with the university community as soon as possible,” Roper’s statement said.
On Friday, Oct. 25, an official petition from the Police Benevolent Association of North Carolina and the North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police was submitted to request videos of Gerlach going to several downtown Greenville establishments.
Over the weekend, that street-camera video footage of Gerlach on the night of Wednesday, Sept. 25 surfaced on social media. The video footage depicted Gerlach walking through downtown Greenville after a night of drinking. The footage showed Gerlach get into a parked car and driving away around 2:11 a.m.
In the street-cam footage, Gerlach is seen walking alone through Greenville’s downtown area early in the morning on Thursday, Oct. 26. In the footage, viewers can see Gerlach lose a shoe and struggle to put it back on.
UNC System’s Director of Media Relations Jason Tyson said in an interview with The East Carolinian that the investigation into Gerlach remains on-going despite the former interim chancellor’s resignation.
“I’m not sure whether or not they’ll (the investigation’s findings) be made public,” Tyson said. “That’s something I will probably know more (of) when we get closer to it being completed.”
Tyson said the law firm Womble Bond Dickinson was hired to assist the UNC System with its investigation. He said a private firm was hired to bring in an impartial perspective to the situation. As of yesterday, the UNC System had not received a bill from Womble Bond Dickinson, Tyson said.
According to Tyson, the UNC System learned of the street-cam footage over this past weekend after a Greenville citizen had obtained them from a court ordered petition. He said the videos will be used in the investigation.
“In light of these new videos, they’re looking at those now. Not only our lawyers here at the system, but also Womble Bond, and they will be a part of the ongoing investigation,” Tyson said.
Tyson said Roper is currently working to identify the next interim chancellor for ECU. He said Roper will be announcing the next interim chancellor “as soon as possible.”
During the time Gerlach has been on administrative leave from the university, Mitchelson has been acting chancellor. In an interview with The East Carolinian, Mitchelson said the past month has not made him consider being a candidate for ECU’s permanent chancellor position.
“The acting chancellor has the full authority of the chancellor, so I’ve been carrying on with projects that (former) Chancellor Gerlach had started. We’re continuing on with the hiring freeze process and that’s a weekly set of meetings. Renewing and disapproving of large contracts, anything over $25,000,” Mitchelson said.
For the past month, Mitchelson said he has been both ECU’s acting chancellor and provost, sitting down each Monday morning with administrative assistants to sort out calendars weeks in advance for both positions.
Mitchelson said he cannot do the job of ECU’s provost and simultaneously complete his responsibilities as acting chancellor fully while being as engaging or public on-campus.
“I am willing and able to serve in the ‘acting’ capacity for as long as needed,” Mitchelson said in an emailed statement to The East Carolinian.
Mitchelson said he had not kept in contact with Gerlach while he was placed on administrative leave. He said he “trusts” the investigative process in regards to the situation.