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Insights and Observations

Henry's Highlights
Monday, June 26, 2006

By Henry Hinton

ECU triumvirate busy building bridges

New leaders bring makeover to public face of ECU


7:00-9:00 a.m.

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It seems Skip Holtz has been in Greenville much more than the year or so he actually has been here. In just one short year, Holtz has endeared himself to the Pirate fan base and the community.

This past week, Holtz participated in the NGA Hooters Golf Event in Greenville. The Touchstone Energy Open is one of the four major events for the Hooters Tour this year. While the young pros trying to make it to the PGA tour compete in the actual tournament Thursday through Sunday at Brook Valley Country Club, there is ample time for the community and area celebrities to participate with them earlier in the week.

Taking advantage of some of the only free days available for golf, Holtz played in the pro-am events on Tuesday and Wednesday. The affable East Carolina coach also hung around the course and spent time with some of the young golfers and fans as well as older ECU fans.

The consensus of those in attendance was that Holtz genuinely enjoyed himself, and he made quite a positive impact on them as well.

A month ago, Holtz participated in a Camp Lejeune golf outing with some of the soldiers injured in the Iraq and Afghan wars. Holtz said it was a sobering and motivational experience to play with some of the men who were aided by the use of artificial limbs and other maladies resulting from their time in battle.

Coach Holtz has an unusually approachable style. Perhaps watching his father, who has labored in the public eye since the 1960’s, has been a benefit, but more than that the younger Holtz seems to genuinely enjoy contact with people. That is a trait that is hard to find in today’s sports celebrities, considering the day to day demands on their time.

Since his arrival in town, Holtz has made every effort to become a factor in different fund-raising events. The capper was his involvement and willingness to be the protagonist in this month’s Drew Steele-Skip Holtz Golf Classic which raised money for special needs children in Pitt County.

Director of Athletics Terry Holland has been equally as generous with his time and talents. Not only did Holland step forward and offer the department’s support and facilities as part of that particular event but he has been equally as helpful in other community efforts.

Holland, an avid jogger, has participated in area 5K fund-raisers and when asked to be the Honorary Chairman of the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce’s membership drive earlier this year, Holland agreed.

”We’re all in this together,” Holland said, displaying a refreshing attitude toward the community, which is something that has sadly been missing from ECU officials in past years.

It is possible to even take that compliment up one more level at the university. Chancellor Steve Ballard, too, has taken an active role in community affairs. Just this past week, Ballard addressed the local chamber board of directors and thanked them for their help in lobbying the legislature on the university’s behalf.

The Greenville business community has been more active than ever in approaching key legislators on issues such as the recent efforts to bring a dental school to ECU and the successful efforts to fund the new East Carolina Cardiovascular Center.

Ballard has worked very hard with Greenville Mayor Don Parrott and other city officials on a public-private partnership which will eventually result in a downtown center that will house various entities including a hotel and new alumni center.

The new attitude toward the community will pay dividends in the end for the university and vice versa.

As Holland put it, when speaking about Holtz’s involvement in the golf event earlier this month, “You could say this kind of thing has nothing to do with winning football games and then again it has everything to do with winning football games.”

Holland is right. The more unity that takes place between ‘town and gown,’ the more success will be realized at every level of the university.

Finally, ECU has an administration that realizes that.

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This page updated 04/21/08 07:05 PM.

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