Wright Auditorium on East Carolina University's campus. 

Spring classes begin today for the nearly 30,000 students at East Carolina University. After a month-long break, classrooms and lecture halls are opening their doors once again.

“I do hope that everybody has a productive and fulfilling semester, and at the end of the semester they can say they’ve had a good experience at ECU. I want everybody to have such a great learning experience, classroom and out of classrooms. It’s all about growth,” Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson said.

Vice Chancellor and Head of Student Affairs, Virgina Hardy, said 2020 is expected to be a year of great change for ECU as the search for a permanent chancellor begins. She explained how excited she is for the search process to begin after nearly a year without a permanent leader.

“I’m happy that myself, my colleagues and, of course, our students are coming back refreshed and full of energy, ready to start the spring semester,” Hardy said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the people who are interested in serving ECU, and who will be the ‘chosen one.’”

Hardy said she hopes that students will be engaged and motivated to get the best experience possible inside and outside of the classroom this semester. She mentioned that students should get involved on campus, citing future events such as Pirates After Dark, Polar Bear Plunge and Pirate baseball.

Hardy emphasized how important it is to be involved on-campus. Joining campus organizations was recommended by Hardy for a well-rounded experience for student’s spring semesters.

“Hold the university accountable for doing what we say we’re going to do. This is a two-way relationship. We will provide the opportunities and hopefully students take them and make good decisions along the way,” Hardy said.

Many returning and transfer students may find it difficult to adjust back to campus life after a month-long break. Freshman international studies major Claire Abercrombie shared her advice for students adjusting back to academia.

“If you want to get on top of things, do them at the get go instead of making the change in the middle of the semester. Don’t let your grades go down in the first place,” Abercrombie said.

Mitchelson will continue his role as interim chancellor into 2020 as the search for a permanent leader continues. Mitchelson works with ECU’s Rebound each year, a program focused around helping students who have a challenging first year at college. Mitchelson said he struggled as a college student adjusting to the new level of freedom he had and understands it’s difficult for many.

“My biggest advice is, first you work, then you play,” Mitchelson said. “Get the work done, don’t procrastinate, and earn the right to play. There’s no substitute for a good work ethic.”

Both Hardy and Mitchelson emphasized how important it is to utilize the resources available to students on campus such as The Pirate Academic Success Center, which offers free tutoring for students. The Counseling Center, Career Center and academic advisors are also all available to help students when needed.

Additionally, Hardy said she wants students to learn as much as they can about the candidates for the 2020 local and national elections. She said ECU usually gets candidates who come and speak on campus and want students to take advantage of the opportunity.

“Push the envelope. Ask lots of questions,” Hardy said. ”It’s okay to ask people to explain, that’s where learning comes from. Use the information that you gain and go vote in November.”

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