Back in the Day: ECU installs Eakin as its ninth chancellor
The Daily Reflector
Saturday, April 21, 2018
It was a day of pomp and pageantry.
Richard R. Eakin was installed as the ninth chief administrator of East Carolina University on Friday, April 15,1988, in an inaugural ceremony at Wright Auditorium.
“I pledge to those assembled and to the countless thousands of East Carolina loyalists who stretch across our state, nation and indeed around the world, my steadfast devotion to the mission of service given to us by the founders and I offer my tireless efforts on behalf of East Carolina University,” Eakin said after taking the oath of office administered by N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Gerald Arnold, a 1963 East Carolina graduate
C.D. Spangler, president of the University of North Carolina, presided at the inaugural, which was attended by Gov. Jim Martin, Lt. Gov. Bob Jordan, representatives of many colleges in universities and delegates from professional societies. The dignitaries joined members of the ECU faculty and administration in a traditional academic procession which begin the formal 11 a.m. ceremony.
Philip G Carson chairman of the UNC Board of Governors, said in the inaugural address that East Carolina had experienced amazing growth since it was chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly on March 08, 1907.
“It was the established after two struggles,” Carson said. “The first was the statewide conflict over the need for an educational institution in the east, and the second was a regional rivalry over which of eight cities would be the home of the school.”
“Robert Wright — for whom this building was named — became the first president in 1909, the year when the first students were enrolled for two-year degrees.”
By 1921, Carson said, the institution had been elevated to college status renamed East Carolina Teachers College and authorized to offer degrees. In 1929, a master of arts was authorized and in 1951 the institution’s name was changed to East Carolina College
Then in 1967 the name was changed again to recognize the graduate and professional programs that brought it to university status, Carson said. In rapid developments, the medical school was authorized and the first M.D. degrees were conferred in 1982 and the first Ph.D. degree was conferred in 1983.
“East Carolina University had become that only the pride of the east, but the third largest institution of higher education in North Carolina,” Carson said. “It also was recognized in 1985 when U.S. News and World Report ranked it among the top 10 comprehensive universities in the South and border states.
“This is the institution that Richard R. Eakin has been called to lead, and it is already very clear that the man in the institution are well met,” he said.
Eakin said he was happy to take on the leadership role.
“East Carolina is blessed to have support from the people of North Carolina that is second to none,” he said. “We should be proud of our state's commitment to higher education and we should build on that commitment.
“Clearly East Carolina University is not resting on its laurels,” Eakin said. “It has never has and never will. If there is anything that can be said about East Carolina, it is that the meeting of challenges is the fabric of which our university is made. More than once we have seen the need for service and we have stepped boldly forward to serve.
“Today I am proud to be among those who can say this is my university,” he said.
Back in the Day is a weekly feature compiled from The Daily Reflector’s archives.