Tuesday, July 31, 2007

By Danny Whitford
Publisher & Editor

Don't take the 'chip' lightly

By Danny Whitford
All rights reserved.

Editor's note: Robert Morgan passed away on July 16, 2016, at age 90. This article, which reflects on the pivotal role he played in shaping ECU's history, was originally published on this site on July 31, 2007.


East Carolina alumnus Robert Morgan, pictured in his days as a member of the U.S. Senate, is the focus of an article by Al Myatt in the 2007 edition of Bonesville The Magazine. During his tenures on the East Carolina Board of Trustees and in the N.C. legislature, Morgan bucked the establishment and shaped his alma mater's future in significantly positive ways that still reverberate.

Did you ever wonder about the genuine origin of that collective chip on the shoulder that is associated with East Carolina partisans?

Even among those of us who matriculated at ECU in the 'sixties and 'seventies, there are many who misguidedly think of the chip's history in relation to athletics.

Some assume it was spawned on the football field, that it sprang out of the grass and the stands of Carter-Finley Stadium and Kenan Stadium in the era when N.C. State and UNC-Chapel Hill used the always-outmanned Pirates and their caravan of free-spending fans as lucrative schedule fodder while ridiculing the mere suggestion of paying reciprocal visits to Greenville.

Others are under the impression the chip didn't really fester until the Bucs finally became competitive with their western brethren, followed by rationalized pronouncements first from Chapel Hill, then from Raleigh that their series with ECU would end.

Outsiders are puzzled by the chip. Some get downright condescending about the chip. Vociferous segments of the Wolfpack and Tar Heel constituencies are particularly disdainful toward the chip.

Many ECU students and younger graduates have inherited a watered-down version of the chip without grasping from whence it came.

How soon the old ones forget.

How little the young ones know.

They can be educated by reading the 2007 edition of Bonesville The Magazine, which is on its way to the mail boxes of Pirate Club members, is available for order online and is on sale at selected retail outlets.

They will learn that the chip traces back to events much more profound than those that took place in a sports venue.

In an extensive and unambiguously candid interview with Bonesville's Al Myatt, venerated East Carolina alum and longtime political mover and shaker Robert Morgan decided it was time to go on the record never-before-reported details included about the partisan conflict that began almost 50 years ago with a skirmish over then East Carolina College's proposed School of Nursing and escalated in subsequent years into epic political warfare over ECC's bids for a medical school and university status.

The battles pitted advocates of East Carolina and the rural eastern part of the state against the entrenched, "cosmopolitan" interests associated with what is known today as UNC-Chapel Hill but was then simply called the University of North Carolina.

The fighting was of the bare knuckles variety and sucker punches were part of the spectacle.

Sucker punches, as one knows, can arouse intense anguish on the part of the recipient.

And give birth to a chip.

In addition to recording for posterity Morgan's first-hand account of some of the most pivotal moments in East Carolina's history, Myatt's article documents the life and times of a modest man of great impact, one whose footsteps echoed in the aisles of the N.C. General Assembly and in the halls of the U.S. Capitol.

Most importantly, the article documents the heretofore underappreciated role Morgan played in shaping the future of his alma mater.

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07/17/2016 03:25:32 PM