ECU is located in Greenville, North Carolina. North Carolina has an area of approximately 48,000 square miles (~126,000 square kilometers) and a population of approximately 8.8 million people. It is located in the middle of the Eastern seaboard of the United States approximately 5 hours by car from Washington DC and about 10 hours by car to New York City. It is a part of the US region known as “the south.”
"More than any other part of America, the South stands apart...Thousands of Northerners and foreigners have migrated to it...but Southerners they will not become. For this is still a place where you must have either been born or have 'people' there, to feel it is your native ground. "Natives will tell you this. They are proud to be Americans, but they are also proud to be Virginians, South Carolinians, Tennesseans, Mississippians and Texans. But they are conscious of another loyalty too, one that transcends the usual ties of national patriotism and state pride. It is a loyalty to a place where habits are strong and memories are long. If those memories could speak, they would tell stories of a region powerfully shaped by its history and determined to pass it on to future generations."– Tim Jacobson, Heritage of the South Before we discuss Greenville and North Carolina proper, we should discuss what it means to be a part of the south. Compared to other parts of the United States, people living in the south tend to live a little bit more of a relaxed lifestyle, speak more slowly and be very polite. Southerners also tend to have conservative values and be very religious with the majority practicing some form of protestant Christianity. Of late, however, the south, especially North Carolina, is going through some changes. More and more people from different regions of the country are moving to the south to take advantage of the favorable climate and lower cost of living found here. These migrants are bringing their different beliefs, values and practices with them.
Even with this influx of immigrants from other regions of the United States, the South still maintains a certain flavor…especially when looking at the food of the region. Southern cuisine is an extremely important feature of southern culture that which people, even immigrants to the region, take much pride. There are two hallmarks to southern cuisine…Fried food and pork products. Fried chicken, fried fish, fried okra, all are southern staples. With fried chicken especially, every southern family has their own special recipe. Pork, prepared in a variety of ways, are also extremely prevalent in southern cuisine. Pork barbecue is perhaps the most iconic of foods in Eastern North Carolina…and I specifically say Eastern North Carolina because even within the south, there is variation in the type of barbecue served. Here in the east, barbecue consists of slow cooking a whole pig until the meat falls off the bone, then chopping that meet up and adding a special vinegar based sauce. Some say Eastern North Carolina barbecue is the best in the country…but people from other parts of the south would likely say the same about their own. For special occasions such as family reunions and pre-football game parties (known as tailgating), having a pig-pickin’ is fairly common. At a pig-pickin’ a whole pig is slow cooked just like it is for barbecue, however, instead of doing anything else with the meat, people just take the meat right off the carcass themselves and eat it. Pork products are so prevalent that vegetable dishes aren’t even exempt. Southern style vegetables such as green beans, okra, kale, summer squash and cabbage are all slow cooked in bacon grease and typically have bacon pieces added to the dishes. All who have experienced southern cuisine would likely agree that while it is not the healthiest of cuisines…it is quite tasty.
Geographically, North Carolina can be separated into three distinct areas: the mountains to the west; the piedmont, or rolling hills, of central North Carolina, and the flatlands to the East that then lead to the coast. Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina, is located in the central part of the state. We are located in the center of the flatlands in the east—hence our name, East Carolina University.
East Carolina as a region is flat and in some areas, it is a swamp. We do, however, have the luxury of being close to the coast. We have 301 miles (~780 sq. km.) of coastline, but because of the unique land mass known as the outerbanks, we boast over 3,000 miles (~7800 sq. km.) of actual shoreline. Although in terms of land mass we are 29th in size compared to other states…in terms of coast and seashore, we rank 6th. The outerbanks are a popular summer vacation spot for many Americans. The closest beach to ECU is only about 1.5 hours away and for many of our students going to the coast is a favorite past time.
East Carolina is more than just the coast though. East Carolina is largely agricultural. We primarily produce tobacco, soybeans and to a lesser extent, cotton. We are also the largest produces of pigs and chickens in the country. There are actually more pigs than people in Eastern North Carolina.
Centrally located within North Carolina’s agricultural region, is the city of Greenville. Currently the population is about 75,000 people. This is up from about 60,000 just 6 years ago. Greenville is growing at an incredible rate. Now, for those of you from big cities, 75,000 might not seem so large…but for Eastern North Carolina, Greenville is the big city. It is the shopping, business, entertainment, cultural, education, and healthcare hub for the entire region. Because of this, the city is actually larger than the population suggests. Although only about 75,000 people permanently live in Greenville, on any given day the number of people coming to work and/or visit Greenville swells to double that number. In addition there are approximately 25,000 students who reside here during the academic school year who are not included in the count of permanent residents.Greenville is a fairly classic university town. While there is a part of town that caters to the needs of the surrounding communities, the area of Greenville known as “Uptown” caters to the university community. Although a very small area—only approximately 6 square blocks…within that area you can find over 10 bars and clubs, a number of restaurants, art galleries and shops. It is immediately adjacent to the university, so during the day you may find students and faculty taking a break to relax at the local tea shop, perusing the student run art gallery or joining friends for lunch at one of the local independent restaurant. Once the sun goes down, though, Greenville transforms into its alter ego—G-Vegas.
The name G-Vegas pays tribute to Las Vegas—the ultimate American party town. As mentioned above, Uptown Greenville has over 10 clubs/bars in a 6 block area. While busiest on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, on any given day the bars and clubs are buzzing with activity from approximately 9:00 pm until 2:00 am when, by state law, they must stop serving alcohol. Students go to these clubs to socialize, listen to music and drink. Current students are often joined by university alumni and other young adults from Greenville and the surrounding areas…but it is definitely a place for youth. G-Vegas is recognized as a place to “party” far beyond the confines of Eastern North Carolina. G-Vegas is at its finest on Halloween when people from all the surrounding states travel for hours to join the festivities. On Halloween, all of Uptown Greenville is closed to traffic to make way for the tens of thousands of costumed visitors who join the biggest party of the year.
Originally primarily a trade town for the sale of tobacco, Greenville truly began to develop as the University grew. However, East Carolina University (ECU) was not always the institution it is today. What is now East Carolina University started as East Carolina Teacher’s College (ECTC), a regional teacher training school founded in 1907. It was created by the North Carolina state legislature to fill a need for teachers to work in the surrounding rural areas where educational opportunities were limited and poverty was high. ECTC was renamed East Carolina University in 1967 when it was repurposed to become a comprehensive four year university.
In the 1970s Brody School of Medicine was added to the university. Currently our university has over 25,000 students, close to 2,000 faculty and offers over 100 degree programs. While the scope of the university has changed, one thing that hasn’t changed is our mission to serve the population of Eastern North Carolina.
Aside from the educational mission of the university, we do also serve a major cultural and entertainment role for the surrounding community. The university regularly sponsors traveling orchestras, theatre groups and sponsors to come to the university. Additionally, our departments of art, music, theatre and dance are very active and are constantly putting on performances and exhibits.
As for more popular entertainment, sporting events are extraordinarily popular. ECU has teams in many sports, however, by far, football (American football) is king, followed by baseball. On days when there is a football game, all of Greenville and the surrounding areas stop as people go to watch the games and partake in the tradition of “tailgating.” Tailgating consists of people arriving at the sports venue a few hours prior to the game and setting up picnics with their friends in the parking lots. Many don’t even go to the actual game and just partake in the tailgating and listen to the game on the radio or watch it on TV while in the parking lot. Beyond the role of education, East Carolina University is truly the heart of Eastern North Carolina. We are proud of our heritage and what we have to offer to the region. We look forward to sharing our culture with our partners around the world.
East Carolina UniversityGreenville, North CarolinaUnited States of America
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The SouthDark Red: States almost always considered a part of the south.Red: States usually included in a definition of the south.Striped: States occasionally thought of as a part of North the south. Carolina