REDE leaders speak with chancellor as part of listening tour

Leaders from the Division of Research, Economic Development and Engagement met with East Carolina University Chancellor Philip Rogers on Wednesday for his latest Pirate Perspective listening tour session.

REDE leaders discussed the university’s advantages in areas of research and economic development and spoke on the challenges and opportunities facing ECU over the next several years.

During the listening session, a key theme was support for faculty and staff, particularly around their capacity to carry out the university’s mission.

As ECU’s research enterprise continues to grow reaching a record $75 million in sponsored awards in 2021 making sure that faculty and staff have the time and resources to support that growth is critical.

REDE leadership meets with ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers

Members of the Division of Research, Economic Development and Community Engagement’s leadership team met with ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers as part of his Pirates Perspective listening tour. (Photo by Matt Smith)

“We have to be better with capacity building,” Rogers said. “We have to carve out that capacity to be innovative in the work we’re doing.”

REDE leadership also focused on the recruitment of graduate and undergraduate students, as well as faculty and staff. The specialized work carried out by many in the division’s research compliance and administration offices can be challenging to recruit in eastern North Carolina, leaving gaps when employees retire.

Recruiting new faculty who bring research projects to the university is also an area of focus.

“We have to focus on faculty,” said Kathryn Verbanac, assistant vice chancellor for research development. “How do we meet faculty needs?”

Verbanac mentioned ECU’s faculty reassignment awards and seed grants, which provide funding for faculty members already on campus to pursue research endeavors, and continuing to recruit new faculty members with startup packages that allow them to get set up and established at ECU.

REDE leaders also highlighted areas in which they believed the university is excelling.

“We’re coming up with collaborative solutions,” said Sharon Paynter, assistant vice chancellor for economic and community engagement. “We have smart people tackling hard questions. Our research group is able to mobilize these skills.”

Among those skills included REDE’s increased use of data analytics, its creation and implementation of research tools for faculty including eTRACS and its PI Portal, and its infrastructure to support research programming at the national and international levels.

Over the next five years, REDE leaders said they want to see ECU in the headlines for community empowerment, innovative activities, recruiting top talent, and being recognized as “The People’s University.”

“We’re creating a culture of ongoing listening,” Rogers said. “These sessions have been incredibly revealing … expect to hear more from me.”

The Pirate Perspectives listening tour continues on Sept. 21 with the College of Human Health and Performance.