Coach4aday is a daily blog featuring shared ideas to help people grow and learn. You can follow the blog with one of the like buttons found on top left of Coach4aday website.
In 2020 some Coach4aday posts will feature lessons learned by completing, planning, and experiencing 30 day challenges. The challenges include physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional.
East Carolina University
My alma mater is East Carolina and the university provided a lots of FORTUITY (30 Day Vocabulary Challenge) for me. The leaders at the institution gave me opportunities that shaped my professional and personal life. Having a chance to become a college basketball coach at 22 changed the path of my entire life.
During my stay as a student at ECU I witnessed some transformational and historical moments.
When I arrived in Greenville NC in the early 1970’s on a blistering hot day in September I remember a smell I encountered when I got off the Greyhound Bus from New York City. I wasn’t sure what it was but it had a pleasant sweet fragrance to it. I soon found out that was the smell of tobacco being cured in a warehouse. That was an aroma I never encountered growing up in Northern NJ. Those Greenville warehouses were all clustered together just a few blocks away from campus.
The train reaching Greenville, NC and connecting it to the rest of the state arrived in 1890. That event spurred growth including the first tobacco warehouse, the beginning of what later pushed Greenville into being the largest tobacco market in the state. Tobacco money flooding into the city meant beautiful mansions, expanded borders and new industries for Greenville. Tobacco and the train may have elevated Greenville a century ago but it is East Carolina University that is its economic engine today.
That growth in Greenville because of tobacco eventually resulted in the creation of the East Carolina Teachers Training School. The school was established by the state legislature in 1907. Its opening in 1909 transformed Greenville into the educational and cultural center of eastern North Carolina.
Each University has a leadership history. Leo Jenkins served as President and Chancellor at ECU and his tenure was memorable. He served as President and the First Chancellor from 1960 to 1978. He guided the institution from a college to a university, had them become part of the UNC system, lobbied for 4 lane highways, and securing a medical hospital.
Leo Jenkins and many others changed Greenville from a tobacco town to something much more important. Leaders who see the big picture can do that.
Leo Jenkins was my Chancellor the entire time (1971-1977) I was enrolled there. I left in 1977 and he retired in 1978. We also were both had ties to towns in Morris County NJ. He was born in Succasunna NJ and I spent my entire childhood in Morristown NJ.
A half century ago leadership at East Carolina changed not only the university but all of Eastern North Carolina. That is what transformative leaders can accomplish.
I am optimistic that the next leader at East Carolina will do wonders for a place that means a lot to me and nearly 200,000 individuals that call themselves alumni.