Welcome back!

New students learn Pirate football traditions at convocation Aug. 18.

As members of the class of 2023 walked into Minges Coliseum for convocation Aug. 18, they were handed small buttons with one very important word: Connect.

Connecting and making the most of opportunities available at East Carolina University were consistent messages during events held the weekend before the start of the academic year.

Some 4,366 freshmen were among approximately 28,650 total students who started class Aug. 19. More than 5,700 students moved into residence halls for the 2019-20 year.

Athletic director Jon Gilbert and ECU head coaches opened convocation by introducing new students to football traditions such as No Quarter, Jolly Roger and the Boneyard. And football coach Mike Houston, who is leading the Pirates for his first season this fall, had a message for students.

“Game day here at ECU – there’s a lot of traditions – and one of the ones I can’t wait to experience is our students in the Boneyard,” he said. “We need your help on game day to make that… the loudest, most intimidating room in the entire stadium. You’re going to set the tone for game day.”

Students walk across campus on the first day of fall classes at ECU.

Interim Chancellor Dan Gerlach and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Virginia Hardy welcomed students and drove home the importance of “finding your family” at ECU and being engaged with faculty and staff.

“How will you invest in yourself? What will your legacy be when you leave this wonderful institution of higher learning? And remember, we’re all here to help you grow and to make wise choices as you invest in yourself and in your future,” said Hardy.

Following move-in, students had a chance to get to know campus and new friends during Pirate Weeks of Welcome.

Events kicked off Aug. 15 with movie night and Raid the Rec on Aug. 16.

On Aug. 17, students and community members attended the 25th annual Meet the Pirates event at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, which included a tour of the new TowneBank Tower addition to Bagwell Field. The $60 million southside renovation added 1,000 premium seats.

Later, students participated in ECU’s largest welcome back event, Pirate Palooza, in the Main Campus Student Center. Gerlach joined staff and volunteers in passing out T-shirts while students participated in games and enjoyed entertainment, music, trivia, laser tag and free food.