New provost sees people, teamwork as key

Robin Coger, ECU’s new provost who began in July, said she appreciates the enthusiasm and commitment she has seen from Pirate Nation.

“I learned a long time ago that a university’s people are its most important resource,” she said. “And at ECU, starting with the chancellor, and inclusive even of our incoming new students across every level, we all have an opportunity to apply our diverse talents, our perspectives and our hard work to ensure that tomorrow’s ECU will be even stronger than the ECU of today.”

The role of provost at ECU has grown following a 2022 reorganization. Coger will oversee all academic programs and functions, including health sciences and research. She said the model will create new opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and coordination.

From her first job as a student intern in a research lab when she was in high school, she has seen the importance of details and teamwork. At the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, she was founding director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering Science, a unit designed to synergize the efforts of biomedical faculty from four colleges, multiple academic departments and two medical establishments.

“When you’re bringing different minds and expertise together to create exciting results, it really is a wonderful place to be,” she said. “The strengths ECU has in health care and health sciences, combined with the excellent academic research that’s going on, I think we’re going to create some wonderful things together as one ECU.”

Coger said she also admires the role ECU plays in the community and in eastern North Carolina and recognizes the importance of the partnerships between the university and business and industry, local government and community organizations.

A longtime advocate for women and underrepresented demographic groups in engineering, Coger also embraces the opportunity to contribute to ECU’s efforts to improve diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Every university can do better in the DEI arena, including ECU. I think it begins by first realizing that all people are human beings — no matter what the surface layer appears to be, or the accent by which I speak,” she said. When a community embraces and welcomes “people of all different hues, and all different cultures and all different religions, you make an environment that is actually better for everyone. That always results in a stronger university.”

Coger received her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University, earned her master’s degree and doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of California-Berkeley and completed her postdoctoral research as a fellow at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. She is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and serves or has served on numerous boards and committees.