ECU's interim chancellor touts athletics, addresses finances
By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector
Monday, May 6, 2019
East Carolina University’s Interim Chancellor, Dan Gerlach vowed to improve enrollment numbers and address financial woes at ECU during his first meeting with the media on Monday morning.
Gerlach also highlighted ECU athletics and other challenges the university faces during the news conference at the Spillman building on campus.
Enrollment is an issue the university will address, he said.
“Our enrollment is a little bit down, mainly because we graduated a record number of people just on Friday night,” Gerlach said. “But we’re looking to rebuild that because we have room here, we have capacity here. We have a lot of talented hard working faculty and staff ready to go.
Gerlach also said a firm had been hired to address low enrollment but stopped short of naming it.
“They’ve gotten together some recommendations and we’ll be taking a look at later this week,” he said.
When it comes to finances of the university, Gerlach said he was up for the challenge of helping to right the ship.
“I think there’s been a lot written about the challenges facing the university and I have not really had the chance to get every detail back together but I’m confident that we can work through this,” he said. “People should trust that whatever challenges we face, they’re going to be manageable. I’m not intimidated by any of it.”
He also said that he plans to work with the new board of trustees and the board of governors to ensure the needs of the university are met.
The athletics department is showing signs of improvement, Gerlach said.
“I think the athletics department under the leadership of John Gilbert, our new athletics director, has a lot of momentum in the right direction,” Gerlach said. “I sense a palpable excitement here in Greenville and the east that I haven’t really felt in the last couple of years.
“I think Coach Houston has our people fired up and they’re selling well ahead of pace for season tickets,” he said. “Our baseball team is No. 8 in the country right now and we’re leading the AAC and we’ve had a lot of success. Joe Dooley has come back to coach men’s basketball and we have a new women’s basketball coach as well. We’ve got a lot of forward momentum in athletics and I think Pirate Nation is sensing that.”
Gerlach said he spent most of the morning in meetings with staff members who can help him learn more about the challenges he faces.
“It’s not about Dan Gerlach or any particular individual,” he said. “It’s about the team of people we’re going to be able to assemble, draw on each other’s strengths, build each other’s competencies and stay ahead in the right direction. There’s a lot of work to do here and I have to get right to it.”
Gerlach did not say whether or not he will move into the former chancellor’s home in Star Hill Farms.
“I don’t know about the transition to the chancellor emeritus (home),” he said. “I think we’ll be looking at that. There’s some options I’ve been told about but I rather work on the big issues affecting the university before I get to that.”
Gerlach said that he wants to take things one day at a time and help students be successful.
He also noted that the chancellor’s role is one of service to the community.
“We’re the face of the university,” Gerlach said. “We help work with a talented team and get the best out of them to help guide the strategic direction of the university.
“We’re here to serve students and provide them with a high quality and excellent education at an affordable rate,” he said. “We’re here to serve our communities and we do that in so many ways, not only providing the workforce to businesses but also expertise on business and economic development recruitment, on healthcare which is our bread and butter. The Brody School of Medicine and all the schools around health affairs are cutting-edge.”
Gerlach also noted that all chancellors have their own way of doing their job.
“I’m not going to be Leo Jenkins, Robert Wright or Cecil Staton or Steve Ballard or anybody else. I’m going to be Dan Gerlach,” he said.
Contact Tyler Stocks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-329-9566. Follow him on Twitter @Tylerstocks1987