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Installation will top off ECU week of celebration

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Ron Mitchelson

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Michael Abramowitz

Friday, March 24, 2017

A week spent celebrating East Carolina University’s 11th chancellor will culminate today with his formal installation ceremony and a gala in his honor. But in a larger sense, it will be a celebration of the university and all it means to the region and state, Provost Ron Mitchelson said.

Mitchelson chaired a committee of 20 people who planned and orchestrated this week’s installation activities for Chancellor Cecil P. Staton, who was hired last April and assumed his position in July. It took time for Staton to get acclimated to his new home and position, which allowed the planning committee the time it needed to plan his formal installation, Mitchelson said.

“East Carolina University has had just 11 chancellors in its 110-year history, so the magnitude of an installation event is such that you have to plan well in advance,” he said. “It takes months of coordination just to make sure that the cast of people can be on the stage for the formal ceremony.

“Most new chancellors want to make a statement about what they’ve learned about their university and share their vision for the future, and it takes a while for that base of knowledge to formulate,” Mitchelson said. “Most of the chancellors I’ve worked with over the years have taken six months to a year to come to grips with all of that. I think our chancellor is going to make a significant statement about where we’re at as a university and share his vision of a bold new direction for the university.”

Mitchelson said Installation Week points to ECU’s motto, “Servir,” the Latin verb “to serve.” Staton on Wednesday announced a $100,000 commitment to endow the Cecil P. Staton and Catherine D. Staton Study Abroad fund that will support international travel and educational opportunities for ECU students.

“The whole week is a manifestation of our desire to serve the students and the region — both the community and the private sector,” Mitchelson said. “Our emphasis on health, reflected again in the presentation of our new west campus Health Sciences Student Center, is part and parcel of that service mentality.”

In keeping with a topic that is important to the new chancellor— international study — this week’s celebration started on Monday with a reception for the university’s international faculty, staff and students. Staton celebrated all ECU students with Tuesday’s “Rock the Mall” extravaganza on the east campus mall.

To kick off Wednesday’s Pirate Nation Gives Back day of service, the Statons announced their $100,000 commitment to endow a study abroad program. University dignitaries and state representatives gathered Thursday at the West Medical Campus to cut the ribbon on the new Health Sciences Student Center, followed Thursday evening by a lecture on student success in the 21st century from Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

Following this morning’s installation breakfast at Mendenhall Student Center, officials will welcome all academic delegates who, clad in their full academic attire and regalia, will serve as official representatives from institutions of higher education at Staton's installation ceremony.

The list of dignitaries on the platform will include N.C. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, University of North Carolina President Margaret Spellings, Mercer University President William Underwood, UNC Board of Governors Chairman W. Louis Bissette Jr. and ECU Board of Trustees Chairman Steve Jones.

Included in the ceremony will be a musical composition by sophomore Christopher Short, titled, "The Thinker and the Seeker." Short was chosen in a commissioning competition among ECU student composers to write a piece to be performed by the ECU Chamber Singers at the installation. He adapted the lyrics from a poem by John Masefield, late British poet laureate, chosen by Staton.

“All of this week’s activities illustrate this campus’s commitment to doing things the right way and making sure that ECU, Greenville and our eastern region shine,” Mitchelson said.

Contact Michael Abramowitz at mabramowitz@reflector.com or 252-329-9507. 

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