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ECU trustees select finalists for chancellor; appointment expected by next semester

ECU trustees select finalists for chancellor; appointment expected by next semester

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East Carolina University ECU fountain

The Trustees Fountain in Wright Circle at East Carolina University. Wright Auditorium (left) is in the background.

GREENVILLE — East Carolina University is close to getting a new leader, more than a year after the abrupt resignation of the former interim Chancellor Dan Gerlach. 

The school's Board of Trustees met late last week to determine a final slate of candidates that will be presented to UNC System President Peter Hans for selection.

"This concludes the work of the chancellor search at the campus level," said Vern Davenport, who chairs the board.

Hans will review the candidates and can nominate one to the UNC System Board of Governors, who will then vote on the selection. Hans or the board also could reject the candidates and ask East Carolina to continue its search.

"It's my opinion ... that we're still on track to have a new chancellor of East Carolina University named by January," Davenport said.

The search process is closed to the public. Davenport reminded university trustees and search committee members to keep candidate and applicant information confidential.

The position has been open since former Chancellor Cecil Staton was unexpectedly forced to resign in March 2019. Gerlach replaced Staton and held the position for about six months before resigning in October 2019.

The search for new candidates officially began in November 2019 when the chancellor search committee was announced. That search was halted by the coronavirus pandemic in March and resumed in September.

Ron Mitchelson has been serving as interim chancellor since Gerlach resigned during an investigation after he was seen drinking at bars with East Carolina students. Mitchelson has led the university through the coronavirus pandemic on campus, financial challenges in the athletic department and a controversy over university trustees meddling in student government elections.

Mitchelson arrived at the school in 1999 and has held several faculty and administrative positions. He was the provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs since 2015, where he oversaw East Carolina's academic programming, enrollment, research and diversity.

"While we face some significant challenges, I am so excited about our recent successes and our expanding capacity to assist our students and the region," Mitchelson said.

Those challenges only grew when COVID-19 disrupted campus life and university operations last spring.

East Carolina plans to bring students back to campus this spring with a new chancellor at the helm.

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