Ballard’s decision will propel ECU to even greater heights

Published 12:54 am Saturday, January 31, 2009

By Staff
Phew. That was a close one.
But fortunately, East Carolina University Chancellor Steve Ballard is sticking around. Ballard withdrew this week from consideration for the president’s position at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan.
ECU’s leader had been among three finalists for KSU’s top job and had recently visited the university for interviews and meetings with university and community leaders. But eventually, Ballard’s decision came down to this, he said Thursday: “The simplest reason is that Kansas State just didn’t feel as good to me as ECU does. You always learn something interviewing for competitive positions, and this one reminded me what a great place ECU is and how much I like working with the people here.”
That’s good news for ECU and the community.
Since coming to ECU in 2004, the man with the gracious smile and omnipresent purple-and-gold striped tie, has unwaveringly steered the university’s ship through sometimes turbulent waters. His vision and leadership have helped propel ECU to unprecedented heights.
ECU is now the second-largest university in the University of North Carolina system and is growing faster than any other institution in the 16-school conglomerate. Other milestones in his tenure so far include the recent opening of the East Carolina Heart Institute — a partnership between the university and Pitt County Memorial Hospital — that is one of the premier cardiovascular care and educational facilities in the country.
During his presidency, the school has also pushed through plans for a dental school, opened a fabulous nursing school facility and enlarged the education and music buildings on campus.
ECU’s sports teams haven’t done too poorly, either. The football teams have played in several bowl games, baseball has mostly lived up to high expectations, basketball is improving and other sports are periodically being recognized as outstanding.
For all we know, Ballard could be calling down football plays from the press box to Head Coach Skip Holtz during ECU’s games. That’s how involved he is in the school’s activities.
Given Ballard’s ECU achievements, it’s little wonder KSU prized him.
Add to that the experience he gained as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and before that as vice provost for research and dean of the graduate college at Bowling Green State University, and you have a college presidential candidate with few peers.
So, yes, we’re glad Ballard’s staying at ECU, but we’re realistic, too. As with any highly successful professional — think Coach Holtz, to name one — other schools will hunt and peck until one day Ballard receives an offer he can’t refuse.
But in the meantime, we’ll enjoy his continued leadership and hope for many more years to come.