A friend of a friend-Steve Ballard-Chris Locklear-August 23

One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for August 23, 2015.

My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.

On Friday my wife and I dropped off our youngest son Mack at East Carolina University. We spent most of the afternoon moving him into his room and running around campus picking up books, a computer, and other college necessities. We got a big assistance from the Chief of Staff at ECU –Chris Locklear. I have gotten to know Chris over the past year and he has become a friend and trusted professional colleague.

Chris didn’t grow up in Robeson County, NC but has strong ties to the area. He is another example of someone from the Lumbee Tribe who has gone on to excel professionally.

Chris’s uncle is Spencer Howington who worked for years at Shaw Office Supply in Lumberton, NC. Shaw Office Supply is owned by Ray Shaw is a great benefactor to UNCP. Spencer today owns a company in Pembroke, NC called Howington Office Products. He has an office right on West Third Street in Pembroke.

Chris is an extremely articulate and intelligent higher education leader. He has earned his Ed.D from ECU. He does a great job supporting his chancellor Dr. Steve Ballard. Chancellor Ballard will retire in June 2016 so Chris and I have exchanged notes and checklist as it relates to transition. In my position as Chief of Staff at UNC Pembroke we have just gone thru that transition. In addition to that connection his chancellor Steve Ballard will serve as a mentor for my chancellor Robin Cummings.

Chris and I got to spend some time working together on joint press conference in late June that involved both of our universities. We even got four chancellor to pose for a photo that day.


(l-r) Dr. Robin Cummings, Dr. Charles Jenkins, Dr. Kyle Carter, and Dr.Steve Ballard

ECU MOU Ceremony

As a chief of staff Chris has to be very adapt and nimble in completing a number of various tasks. He has to brief the chancellor, he has to make sure that appearances and presentation are well coordinated and that all details are perfect, and he has to deal with people who might be disappointed with some aspect of what is going on at East Carolina. The job of a chief of staff is to make sure the chancellor is prepared and Chris does that marvelously.

Chris doesn’t just work for Chancellor Steve Ballard he considers him a friend.


Chris Locklear

The Friend of the Friend-STEVE BALLARD

Steve B

The Shortstop turned Chancellor

On Friday afternoon around 4:30 p.m. as my wife and I were getting ready to go in and say hello to Chris Locklear at Stilman Hall we ran into Chancellor Steve Ballard. He was walking across campus and coming up to his parked car. He had just left  Mendenhall Student Center where he addressed a group of new students. He could not have been any more gracious with his time on a hot Friday afternoon.

We talked briefly about him going to serve as UNC Pembroke Chancellor Cummings mentor over the upcoming year and how hectic the first month is for a chancellor. We didn’t talk about his retirement and I am quite certain that is the way he wanted it.

Dr. Ballard will remain as chancellor until July 1, 2016, giving the Board of Trustees time to find a successor.

Ballard joined East Carolina in spring 2004 as its 10th chancellor and is currently the longest-serving chancellor in the University of North Carolina system. During his tenure, enrollment has grown by 22 percent, ECU launched a College of Engineering, a School of Dental Medicine and an Honors College and the school’s athletic programs moved from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference.

During the past decade, ECU has received national recognition, including the Freedom Award for support of the military from the Department of Defense and the C. Peter McGrath Community Award from the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities.

Ballard spent his childhood in Galesburg, Illinois, then attended the University of Arizona, where he graduated with distinction in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in history. As shortstop and captain of the University of Arizona baseball team, he earned three varsity letters and played in the College World Series during his senior year.

After earning his doctorate in political science from Ohio State University in 1976, he spent the next two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oklahoma. He spent thirteen years on the faculty at Oklahoma and, in 1987, he was named director of the prestigious research center, the Science and Public Policy Program. During the 1980’s, he served on the City Council and in 1986 was elected Mayor Pro-Tempore of Norman, Oklahoma.

Steve Ballard entire career has been special -going from a college shortstop to chancellor is a lot to include in a box score but trust me the he has played the entire game with not too many errors.

Chris and Steve Ballard make a pretty good team.


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