Students participate in the discussion about the next ECU Chancellor. 

On Jan. 15, the committee formed by the East Carolina University Board of Trustees to search for a new chancellor held its first student listening session from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Blackbox Theatre in the Main Campus Student Center.

The listening sessions were first announced during the initial committee meeting on Dec.10, with the intention of generating student interest in the decision making process during the search for the next chancellor.

Roughly 50 students were present, including multiple members of the Student Government Association. The Chancellor search committee members present were Jeff Popke, Colin Johnson, Leigh Fanning, Michelle Bone, Angela Allen, Crystal Chambers, Grant Hayes, Chris Locklear and Scott Murry.

The discussion was led by SGA President Colin Johnson. Along with the rest of the committee members, Johnson kept his personal views of potential candidates to the minimum.

“It is our goal as a committee to have a new chancellor in place fall 2020,” Johnson said.

The questions asked by audience members followed predetermined talking points, such as preferred top priorities of the position, skills and leadership style, background experiences and educational credentials of the future chancellor.

A hot topic of the night, which brought applause from students, was the mention of the Center for Counseling & Student Development. Junior political science major Matthew Miller mentioned bringing more attention to the counseling center.

“Sometimes we lose track that ECU is unique and needs to be treated as unique. We aren’t

State, we aren’t Carolina, we are ECU and proud to be ECU. As Dr. Hardy said, we need to be the benchmark,” Miller said.

Students spoke up throughout the hour long session, bringing up strengthens the university has, involving accessibility to administrators, diversity and growth. Some challenges addressed by students included overpopulation, branding and marketing, reputation, athletic fees and parking.

Graduate student and President of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, Alexandria Cedrone, expressed her support for the committee after the listening session concluded.

“I didn’t know the past chancellors, but I do know the school cares. I have confidence that they’ll choose the right person because everyone here wants to be a Pirate and is proud to be one,” Cedrone said. “It’ll take a while to find a new chancellor up to the standard we want.”

Characteristics desired for the next chancellor voiced by students in attendance included personability, passion, care, diversity and service oriented. Sophomore political science major Holden Williams commented on the qualities of former intern chancellor Dan Gerlach.

“Our last chancellor (Gerlach) gave ECU a passion that has lacked in the past. I want to see that back again,” Williams said.

Senior political science and communications major Jahad Carter voiced his opinion on the importance of diversity through the discussion.

“We need someone who is more diverse in the chancellor’s office. To be frank, all of the past chancellors have been white men. I’d love to see someone more diverse- a woman or person of color in the seat,” Carter said.

When asked by The East Carolinian for a brief interview on the listening session, committee members Popke and Fanning declined to comment.

The next listening session will be held on Jan. 21 at 4 p.m. at the Health Sciences Campus, in the East Carolina Heart Institute Auditorium. Additional dates can be found on the chancellor search website.

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