By Interim Chancellor Dan Gerlach

I’m excited to welcome returning students back to campus and new students to Pirate Nation. As you begin your journey for the academic year, I wanted to provide a few thoughts about our expectations of you and your expectations of us.

Be grateful. To the newest Pirates: We are grateful that you chose to continue your education journey with us. I know that you undoubtedly had many other options, and I’m confident you made the right choice – a choice we do not take for granted. But you should be grateful too. First, you didn’t make it here on your own. Somewhere along the way, your parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches – someone – made a difference in your life to allow you to be a college student. Be grateful to them. Also, you should be grateful to be a Pirate. We declined admission to over 4,000 applicants last year. Do not take Pirate life for granted.

Be engaged. In my previous job, the organization I served gave hundreds of scholarships to students from rural North Carolina to attend any public or private college they wanted in our state. I noticed that the ones that grew the most from senior year of high school to college graduation were the ECU students. That’s because all of us – faculty and staff alike – want to be engaged with you to help you on your journey. Our first goal is to “maximize student success” and engagement is our tool to do so. But you can’t just sit there. We have hundreds of opportunities for you to be involved in and out of the classroom, in class, in research, in extracurriculars. So find something for you – and do it.

Be proud and passionate. There’s no room in Pirate Nation for people who just sit around. We’re proud of everything we are – be it our nationally ranked baseball team, our faculty who win prestigious state and national awards, our highly ranked academic programs. And we do it with passion. Find that passion and make a difference.

Be not afraid. We all have moments of self-doubt. I admit that when Dr. Bill Roper introduced me as the university’s interim chancellor, I wondered for a second if I was up for it. I’m not an academic administrator nor a faculty member. But then I looked out at the ECU leadership team, many well-known to me, and realized that I could not be afraid because I have so, so much help and so much support in seeking success for ECU. There will be times when even the most confident among you has doubts, and I simply would say that we all – your fellow students included – are here to help when you need it. Just ask.

Be yourself. We accepted you for admission because of who you are, not because you are like every John, Emily, TaKesha or Jose who has ever enrolled here. We recruit and attract faculty, staff and students from all over our region, state, nation and world. This diversity makes us stronger. It allows us to learn more and to learn better.

So those are the “be’s” of my advice. Now, as an English major, let me end with a quote from Mark Twain, who once wrote, “Now and then we had a thought that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates.”

You must have been very good, because you’re all Pirates. Welcome home!

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