Insights and Observations
Monday, May 8, 2006
By Henry Hinton
Basnight gets honorary
degree from "my university"
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Graduation is always a
special time at East Carolina. It is also a great time to invite dignitaries
and politicians to campus to learn more about what the university is
accomplishing and what the needs are for the future.
Dr. Steve Ballard,
chancellor of ECU, pointed that out when introducing the commencement
speaker on Saturday in Minges Coliseum. There was no reason to hide the fact
that Senator Marc Basnight of Manteo, the president pro tempore of the North
Carolina Senate, had been invited to give the commencement address just
weeks before the General Assembly will take up the proposal for a new dental
school in Greenville.
Basnight, considered by
state politicos as the most powerful man in the state, gave his speech
before a packed house in the basketball arena both before and after lunch to
accommodate the large number of students in varied departments.
He called the graduates
“our future stars” and not surprisingly used his address to talk about
issues facing the state and the nation. He implored the audience to “do more
than my generation” to make their communities and country a better place to
As always, if you can
excuse Basnight’s outer banks grammar and twang, the speech was right on
target except for one embarrassing moment when he could not remember Ross
Perot’s name. He was actually making the point that Perot was right about
the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
In spite of the fact that
Basnight did not attend college, he referred to Ballard as “my chancellor”
and ECU as “my university.”
Ballard made sure to
close the deal on that point by presenting Senator Basnight with an honorary
degree from ECU at the end of his speech.
Basnight has said
publicly on several occasions that he believes Ballard is one of the best
college presidents in the nation. The relationship between the two was
obvious during Saturday’s events, a clear sign that Ballard has a knack for
politics and nurturing relationships with the state’s biggest players.
It is hoped the dental
school will be on a fast track when the legislative session opens this week.
With Basnight carrying the water in the senate it could come down to getting
the votes in the House of Representatives, where Speaker of the House Jim
Black is considerably wounded after recent board of elections hearings and
an ongoing investigation that many believe will lead to his indictment.
ECU may have gotten a
break in the house on Friday, however, when Black appointed Pitt County
Representative Marian McLawhorn as one of three tri-chairs of the powerful
house rules committee. Essentially that means McLawhorn can help guide the
dental school legislation through the hoops necessary to get it passed.
Ballard, Vice Chancellor
of Health Affairs Mike Lewis and their dental school consultant, Dr. Greg
Chadwick of Charlotte, have done an excellent job of getting the initiative
to this point. Barring an unexpected budget fight and the kind of “me too”
piling on we saw during the heart institute debate, funds for the dental
school should become reality within the next three months.
Bucs' backs against the
The tough weekend in
Hattiesburg for the East Carolina baseball team does not doom the Pirates
but it certainly dealt another blow to their hopes for an NCAA regional bid.
If the magic number is 35
wins, then the Pirates have some work to do and not many games left to do
it. After the Southern Miss sweep this weekend, East Carolina has just eight
regular season games left. With a 28-20 record the math is working against
ECU at this point.
Two games with Coastal
Carolina, a team with which the Pirates always seem to struggle, remain. The
Pirates host Coastal on Wednesday for the last mid-week game of the year in
Clark-LeClair. Then, ECU returns the game to Conway the following Tuesday.
Only a home series with
UAB this coming weekend and season-ending Memphis series remain in league
play. After that, the C-USA tournament will be played in Houston. By then
the fate of this edition of the ECU Pirates baseball team could be sealed.
The manner in which the
weekend in Mississippi unfolded was particularly painful considering the
Pirates blew a 7-run lead on Friday
to lose 11-10 in two extra innings.
Then on Saturday night
came another collapse as ECU lost a 5-0 lead and
went on to lose 8-5. Being down from
the outset and going on to lose on Sunday was no consolation. Southern Miss
completed the sweep
with a 10-1 shellacking of a Pirate
team that limped back to the airport.
ECU is not exactly
peaking. Now Coach Billy Godwin must find a way for an unprecedented late
season rally or the season will end for this Pirate squad when the games run
out on the current schedule.
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This page updated
04/21/08 07:03 PM.