East Carolina University officials are looking to the future into the fall 2019 and spring 2020 semesters with optimism for leadership, athletics and Pirate nation.
In an interview with The East Carolinian, Interim Chancellor Dan Gerlach said his expectations are high for the upcoming year, and he is excited to see the enrollment numbers for the incoming freshman class.
“We’re going to have one of our largest freshman classes in history,” Gerlach said. “(With) the orientation sessions, that whole first-year experience team has done a great job, so I’m excited about the new Pirates coming in.”
Gerlach said the university is looking into ways to help grow the enrollment numbers across the board, which includes incoming first-year students and transfer students. He said looking at ways to increase enrollment, and succeeding in it, will allow more Pirates to become a part of the ECU experience.
In June, Gerlach announced his plan to reduce ECU’s budget by $16 million for the 2020-21 fiscal year. This plan to stabilize the university’s finances was due largely in part to the decline in enrollment from the previous year.
“We’re looking at ways to help grow our enrollment to give more Pirates the opportunity to be a part of our university experience, that’s a goal. I try to stabilize our (ECU’s) finances, that’s another goal,” Gerlach said. “Trying to grow the number of people and the amount of giving to the university for various things that we do, that’s a goal.”
According to Gerlach, he has five main goals he would like to achieve for the 2019-2020 year, all of which are “priorities.” His goals include: improved financial condition, increased enrollment, improved graduation rates and postsecondary outcomes, increased external funding and support and an improved image of ECU.
Additionally, in reference to ECU accomplishments, he said he hopes to see all performances, whether it be in fine arts or athletics, go well in the upcoming year.
“We have to remember students are the core of what we do. It’s the most rewarding part of the job, finding out where people are from, what they’re interested in, why they’re passionate, what are they finding out about themselves and (what’s) helping them grow,” Gerlach said. “But most importantly, if we forget about students we lose our way and I don’t plan on doing that.”
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Virginia Hardy described Gerlach as a personable individual. She said he likes to get involved on campus by walking the campus, meeting and talking to people within the ECU community.
Hardy said Gerlach is learning about what the ECU community represents from on campus experiences as he continues to be highly engaged in student life and he attends various events to learn more about the university.
“That can only help, right, the more engaged he is, the more that he knows and the more he can advocate for the institution when the time comes,” Hardy said.
Hardy said she is excited to welcome a larger freshman class in the fall, and she views it as a great opportunity for the university. Bringing in a larger freshman class has shown to be beneficial to the university.
Hardy said ECU is ready to bring in the incoming first-year students, and she anticipates for them to have a great experience during their four years spent at the university.
“I think that things are looking up, and that it’s going to be a great year from an academic perspective, but also from an athletic perspective. I really do have great hopes for all our new coaches,” Hardy said.
Hardy said she has great hopes for Football Head Coach Mike Houston, Men’s Basketball Head Coach Joe Dooley, Women’s Basketball Head Coach Kim McNeill, and existing coaches such as Baseball Head Coach Cliff Godwin and others.
Hardy said she believes the upcoming year will be positive for ECU Athletics and she hopes there will be lots of victories and times to celebrate.
ECU Athletics Director Jon Gilbert said he hopes and wants to see Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium full during the 2019 football season. He said ECU is a grassroots institution and “everyone matters” when it comes to university athletics.
“I’m encouraged about where we are, we’re more season tickets sold this year at this time than we were all of last year, so that’s a positive,” Gilbert said. “Now, we still have a month and a half to sell before our first home game, and then we also have single-game sales that we’ll be able to put on sale so both of those are positives.”
As of Thursday, July 11, ECU Pirate football ticket sales reached 13,000, which is more than what was sold at this time in 2018, according to Gilbert.