East Carolina University Board of Trustees (BOT) met on Sept. 10 for its first meeting of the fall semester in which ECU officials discussed goals for the upcoming school year and recaps from the BOT committee meetings from Sept. 9.
Chancellor Philip Rogers started off the meeting by reflecting his thoughts on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, 2001. He reminisced on his experience during and after the events and said the ECU community must continue to remember the lives that were lost and individuals who sacrificed and served our nation since the 9/11 attacks.
The meeting proceeded with Rogers providing institutional updates and challenges that were faced related to COVID-19. He said the current vaccination rate of students on ECU campus is 52%. He said although there has been an increase in vaccination numbers, the university should not be complacent.
“There is still much work to be done on this front to protect our campus community, especially as new variants cause severe disease among a wide array of ages and people continue to emerge,” Rogers said.
Rogers said ECU has promised the campus community to monitor local COVID-19 conditions by remaining in contact with public health officials. Rogers said he met with Pitt County Public Health Director John Silvernail who helped review the university’s testing protocol and was supportive of the current operations the campus was taking.
One operational change the university has made, Rogers said, is the increased volume of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing within the COVID-19 surveillance program. He said there has been a 40% increase on the surveillance programs on campus over the last four days.
“Capacity and participation are important factors for a vibrant testing program, and we're working with our own campus experts, external partners and others to ensure we're meeting the expectation of our public health professionals in this space,” Rogers said.
Student Government Association (SGA) President Chandler Ward said during the pandemic there has been a low level of clarity between students and the university regarding updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the University of North Carolina System. He said as ECU returns to normalcy, direct communication with students will improve.
Ward said one of his and Vice President Savannah Slade's platform is to increase transparency from university officials and its departments. He said SGA hopes to increase the marketing communication from student organizations by encouraging a more digital approach when promoting information to students. He said SGA hopes to bring information to students in a more college friendly format.
Another point from his and Slade’s platform, Ward said, is to promote safety of ECU students off campus in the Uptown Greenville area and the Grid districts. He said SGA hopes to continue to work in close relations with the ECU Police Department along with the Greenville Police Department.
“To close, ECU will continue to battle the effects of COVID-19 throughout the semester. However, it is my hope that SGA will serve as an important resource for students just as it has for many years before myself,” Ward said.
Athletics and Advancement Committee Chair Fielding Miller provided a recap of the Athletics and Advancement Committee meeting on Sept. 9. He said the ECU Director of Athletics Jon Gilbert noted a success in managing a difficult financial cycle in ECU Athletics due to COVID-19. He said a $20 million deficit in the ECU Athletics budget turned out to be a $4.5 million loss.
Miller said ticket sales for ECU Athletics are in a better position and can expect a big crowd at the football game against the University of South Carolina on Sept. 11. Regarding the student athletes name image and likeness (NIL) deals, Miller said there have been 60 students who have submitted a disclosure form for social media promotions.
There was discussion around conference realignment for ECU, Miller said, and some schools in ECU’s conferences are leading to join the Big 12. There has been concern regarding the conference realignment, Miller said, and Gilbert is working to figure out the best path for the university.
“The Pirate Club is fully staffed for the first time in a while and the highlight there is that premium seating has been a hot commodity and there is going to focus on growing the Student Pirate Club and we're up to about 3,700 members there,” Miller said.