Chancellor Rogers’ Message, May 2024

To the Pirate Nation Family:

With May 3 commencement just around the corner, we have plenty to celebrate. Together you made this semester — and the whole academic year — a prolific chapter of accomplishment, purpose, and progress.

Our soon-to-be graduates capture that forward motion as they prepare to gather with family, friends, and keynote speaker Ronnie Barnes in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Just a little early, I’m delighted to recognize these students — close to 5,000 in all — who are embarking on new paths and possibilities. Their wonderful achievements here foretell the long impact they’ll have in their communities and on the world. Nominated by faculty and staff, seven Pirates reflect on their educational journeys as they prepare to graduate, their stories will inspire you.

It’s tough to capture just a few highlights from the year, which the community packed with big moments throughout. I can’t fit in every accomplishment from the fall and spring semesters, so I’ll share a handful that signal the breadth and significance of our collective work.

Our first University Day celebration launched the academic year in September with a focus on community itself. Students, faculty, and staff joined to organize and shape the inaugural event, helping unify our focus while showcasing ECU’s heart and soul: its people.

In November, we were proud to report the University’s ranking — again — among the best institutions for military service members and their families. The Best for Vets distinction from the Military Times underscores not only our commitment to those who have served the country, but also the deliberate, practical work to support and empower them every day.

In December, the Pitt County Board of Commissioners spotlighted professor Melanie Sartore-Baldwin, a state Governor’s Volunteer Service Award winner. Her Kinesiology 1010 fitness-walking course merges health with community: Students in the class walk dogs housed at the Pitt County Animal Shelter. Sartore-Baldwin’s outside-the-box approach symbolizes the service imperative and innovative spirit in our mission.

In February, we paid tribute to three longtime staff members who have put decades into the ECU community: Dennis Wayne Gibson, Judy Sawyer Harrison, and Lou Anna Hardee received the Richard Caswell Award. Hardee, who started in the College of Education in 1968, is counted among the longest-serving members of the University: 55 years. They represent the backbone of the community, their contributions a constant reminder of the strength in staying power and dedication.

And in April, students in the Brody School of Medicine led the eighth annual Pirates vs. Cancer fundraiser, bringing in nearly $15,000 for pediatric cancer patients at ECU Health’s James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital. As student Carly Uhlir put it: Every dollar raised makes a difference for children with cancer, who are “among the strongest and bravest in our community.”

Throughout the year, the Pirate Nation took incredible steps in those areas that matter most. I hope you’ll join me in reflecting on these strides — and all the work that made them possible — as we welcome the summer. We’re at our strongest when we all contribute to our momentum.

Thanks again for a remarkable couple of semesters, congratulations to the Class of 2024, and best wishes for the summertime.

Philip G. Rogers
Chancellor, East Carolina University