Scott Wells Oral History Interview


Scott Snowden Wells
Narrator

Donald Leggett
Interviewer

East Carolina University
June 4, 2020
Greenville, North Carolina

Donald Leggett:
This is Thursday June 4 2020 at approximately 10:07am. My name is Donald Y. Leggett, they call me Don, and I am a 50 year employee of East Carolina University and currently working out of the Chancellor's division on a part time basis doing special assignments. I retired in 1997 from full time service as Associate Vice Chancellor for Alumni Relations. Today, I am working from my home in Greenville, North Carolina and conducting an oral history interview with Scott Snowden Wells by the Web, WebEx system as a part of a project entitled, The Rise of Alpha Dog. Alston Cobourn, ECU archivist, is serving as the host for the session. Scott, so as to put all this in perspective, why don't we begin by asking you to give us a brief biographical outline such as where you born, where you've lived, some jobs you've had, and your long going ongoing relationship with, with ECU. Just kind of a brief outline of where we are at this point in your life. (01:15)

Scott Wells:
Okay, thank you, Don and thank you Alston, this is this is going to be fun. I've enjoyed your questions and everything you asked me over the phone and everything but I was born actually in Rocky Mount, North Carolina and moved to Greenville when I was three years old. My mother was a Nash County native and that's where her doctor was. so she they lived in Tarboro and anyway, the rest is history. I am a very proud graduate of J.H. Rose High School and East Carolina University. I received a BS in English and in MA ED in learning disabilities and exceptional children's area. I taught at Rose High School, I went back to my alma mater and taught there for 11 years and then I moved to ECU when you hired me, Don, back in 1987, and I was your Assistant Alumni Director and I learned so much from you, as you know, I always remind you of how much you've taught me, you taught Cindy and me. I moved from Advancement to Athletics in 2010, and then I retired from the university in 2014. I did want to bring up to kind of preface something that will transcend through the whole interview I hope, I went to first through sixth grade. I'm going way back way back from high school at Wahl-Coates Laboratory school on ECU's campus. So I feel like I went to ECU from first grade through 12th grade, and then on to, you know, post secondary, secondary work. So it was, I've been at ECU all my life? (03:11)

Donald Leggett:
Well, that's what we like to hear. And I suppose that sort of precludes my first question, which I was going to ask you. When were you first aware of East Carolina, as far as East Carolina University, but when were you first aware of just East Carolina as an institution? (03:30)

Scott Wells:
Exactly, well, actually, it was when I was four years old, and my parents on Easter Sunday would take me in my Easter dress, and we would go over and take pictures on campus, the area along 10th Street near Christenbury Gym, where the Science and Technology Building is. There were ponds and bridges and beautiful flowers, and that that was my first time aware that we had a major campus, state University, state College at that time when I was four. But um, yeah, that was my first experience and then transcend into Wahl-Coates so from where we lived, and I've been there all my life, I guess almost. (04:19)

Donald Leggett:
Well, that sounds sort of like the experiences that I've had with it because I felt like that I had known the university all my life. I wonder if in your travels around the campus if your mother mentioned that the fable about there being a troll under the bridge that leads up to the hill? You know, the bridge that leads across it, they always said there was a troll under the bridge. (04:41)

Scott Wells:
I never heard that. I never heard that.

Donald Leggett:
Maybe she didn't want to tell you she didn't want to scare you.

Scott Wells:
Probably.

Donald Leggett:
Well, in doing all that, what was your first impression of East Carolina ? Of course this was back during those times you were talking about and so as time went along, I'm sure you impression changed because of the perspective and where you were coming from and looking at it. But sort of during that general period of time, what was your impression of East Carolina College/University? (05:18)

Scott Wells:
Well, having my picture made, you know, I loved going over there to do it. Campus was beautiful. I loved, the first striking thing that I really loved was the red brick buildings and the red tile roofs. I thought it was pretty spectacular and it captured me. Then the fountain, the fountain you know in Wright Circle, that was just beautiful. And then to sit at the fountain and be able to look at those red brick buildings with the white trim and the red tile road, that that made a big impression on me. (05:56)

Donald Leggett:
As time has gone on, well, to begin with, I wanted to go back and make a comment in that you were talking about the red tile roofs, were you aware that they have just replaced the tile roof on Ragsdale? The entire building, and it's a big building, and they replaced all those tiles or, I don't know replaced them, but they have redone the whole roof. And it's taken a long time and but that's the first time that roof has been changed since it was put on and that roof is what 100 and some years old. (06:31)

Scott Wells:
I have watched that progression the entire time since we moved up town, a year ago this month, I walk campus just about every day, and I've got a two mile route, a three mile route, and a five mile route. Sometimes a blend on it and it turns out four, but I always come back from one end of campus to the other end of campus and I come back so I can end up at the fountain one more time, and I've watched that as I'm on the north side of Wright Building, Wright Auditorium. I've watched that whole progress and it's been fascinating the steps that they've used. (07:16)

Donald Leggett:
You should have been underneath it, my office was underneath it. But anyway, it's been, you're right, it's been a fascinating project and I was just intrigued with how it was going on. But the fact that, what I heard, I assume is correct, that this is the first replacement of the roof. So tells you about tile roofs how long the list. Has your impression changed over the years Scott or tell us how is has changed? (07:43)

Scott Wells:
It has. When I started first grade on campus, it was not, you know, it turned into my schooling, not just where the pictures were taken. Between the Wahl-Coates Laboratory School, the tennis courts were on the east end and the soda shop building, student store, was on the west end of campus and we walked to school from east 9th street over behind St. James church, so we walked that way every day a group of us. And it was a fabulous opportunity to, to stay, um, be in that first through sixth grade in that building right next to campus, because it was pretty, we had a May Day thing every May Day, and we were on the ECU was, ECC was on the quarter system then and we had three student teachers every quarter, three different student teachers every quarter, and we would get close to, the only had one male student teacher my whole time, that was sixth grade. That was Bob Stewart and I know you know Bod Stewart. But we got close to some of the girls and occasionally, we, two of us Melinda and I, we would go home to Garret Dorm with one of the teachers we had gotten close to. So walking from Wahl-Coates to Garrett, you know, we got to see everything again. Having those non-student teachers every year plus your full time teacher, it was a great experience. (09:22)

Donald Leggett:
I don't know how you survived it, with that in the different personalities during the course of the year.

Scott Wells:
I know.

Donald Leggett:
Well, [unclear] it sounds like your experiences have all been been very pleasant and you've done very well with them. Well of course as time went along, you ultimately decided that you would attend ECU and why did you ultimately decide to come to East Carolina. (09:53)

Scott Wells:
Well probably because I've wasn't very smart. I did not, I did not follow my instincts and ECU was not my first choice. It, well ECU was not my father's first choice. My father grew up in Virginia, in Norfolk, and he attended William and Mary and he was he was bound and determined I was going to William and Mary. So I applied, was accepted at William and Mary. I never applied to East Carolina. Never. And I went to orientation at William and Mary, I met my roommate, I saw our dorm room and I came back home and started hanging out with my high school friends again, and most of them were going to ECU and I said, I want to go to ECU and so my mom, you know, that was back in the day, if you knew people, things could be done. I don't know. I don't know how my mother got this done, but she made a call to Werth Baker who went to our church and they were friends, Werth and his wife, and I cannot remember her name, but Werth Baker, I had, he told me that I was admitted but I had to go to a summer school session and I had to make two C's. So the summer of 1969, I went to summer school and took English and Health and made C in Health and an A in English. (11:23)

Donald Leggett:
Well, it sounds like you did what was required and did it well. And so well deserved your your interest into, into the university.

Scott Wells:
I'll get into this later, but another thing that, you know, growing up in Greenville, we went to ECU football games, we went in the old stadium behind Wahl-Coates and then we went to the new Ficklen Stadium. So you know, you kind of get rah rah About ECU and I think we played William and Mary in football then and I never was inspired by William and Mary sports, or William and Mary once I got there. My parents were Pirate Club members, we became Pirate, you know, that's it. (12:11)

Donald Leggett:
Well I'm glad that it worked out like it did because we're sure to please that you ended up here and part of the Pirate Nation. And I assume that, well let me just ask the question now that this all happened, are you glad that you ended up here? Are you proud of the fact that you're a Pirate? (12:33)

Scott Wells:
I've never looked back.

Donald Leggett:
Then what about ECU are you most proud?

Scott Wells:
Well, I've never looked back, I'm glad and proud of all these decisions made. I've never left Greenville once I moved here when I was three. I'm so proud of so many things on that campus. You know, luckily having worked there for 26 27 years, you get exposed to a lot. The growth of the academic programs, all the new, you know, the new schools, the school of Allied Health, I don't know where that used to be. The Med School, the Dental School, the theater programs, the athletic achievements, campus beautification, when Dr. Eakin embraced campus beautification. Again, I walked the campus and I'm still awed by how pretty it is. I'm so proud of everything academics has achieved with the Ph. D programs and the specialized program like the Step program over you know, in the library, connected with education for learning disabled students, the athletic training program, hospitality program, all these things. And in my home department, English, I'm proud of everything they do as well. And there's just so much to, the campus beautification, though that, and then just to see us grow, to see us grow, that's really special. (13:57)

Donald Leggett:
Do, and I'm sure you do talking about walking through the campus as much as you have all your life really, the big azaleas at that the entrance coming from Fifth street up to the campus. I miss those. They were absolutely gorgeous. That was the thing that kind of typifies the look of the campus I think, was those big, I reckon they were [unclear] azaleas. (14:27)

Scott Wells:
They were.

Donald Leggett:
But they were absolutely gorgeous and miss them. I mentioned to Nancy this spring that missed seeing those. When you were finally enrolled here and a part of the university as a student and being a part of all that was going on, did you ever feel that ECU was looked down upon or that we were not perceived to be what we knew that we had here. (15:02)

Scott Wells:
I do not remember while I was a student any recognition of being looked down, I did not, I wasn't aware I totally was not aware. Um, I mean it you know, that the people I grew up with, some of them went to other schools and they came home and they didn't look down on ECU, it was home for them too. Never have I, I'd never perceived it. But after graduating and getting out into the real world, and I went to work at Rose High, teaching there, you met other people that went to other schools, and I started perceiving that we didn't hold the highest esteem of what they considered important in higher ed. They just didn't. And I'm not gonna say what schools they've been to. Some were from out of state, not all of them were, you know, from North Carolina. But they that's when I started to notice how ECU was regarded. And it came to, I mean it really came to light and it hit me hard. Especially during, you know, the mid 70s when Leo was out campaigning for the medical school, you start being aware of the people that, the forces, the newspapers, the statesman, the Senate, the legislature, everything in North Carolina, how it was a fight for the medical school. I think Leo called it a fight. So I started proceeding even more how we were looked down upon a bit more with that medical school fight. I do not remember because I was still in high school, the fight for university status, but having worked there and heard how that came about, a lot from you, I just did not realize that was going on as a fight. (17:02)

Donald Leggett:
Getting around to the central theme of what it is we're we're doing today about moving from underdog to alpha dog and of the rise of alpha dog. Do you think that ECU has been or is currently perceived as as an underdog university? And then of course I know that if I just ask if he was looked down upon, but do you think it was sort of perceived by some that we were sort of an underdog university that when we accomplish things that it was like we had, we were doing it too in a since to, well we'll show you, we got a chip on our shoulder or this type thing. (17:59)

Scott Wells:
Ah, honestly, I do realize and I probably realized my first two years teaching that there is a hierarchy in higher ed. and I know that many universities like Harvard are very hard to get into and the other Ivy's. I do believe that the formation of the entire UNC system when that happened, and I believe that was when we got university status, they formed the system. I think that you the reputation of the UNC system has helped all our campuses and I think it's helped us being a part of you know, we got the best state system in the country you hear that over and over again. To me it, this outstanding system to me brought sort of equity, equality of all members, we were all good because we were part of this UNC system. Yes, I do know ECU was once perceived as an underdog, I don't believe it's an underdog today. Let me just say that. And I feel now that you know, with our graduates and our successful alumni and our schools that ECU's underdog label has diminished. I think it's going down. I really do. I don't hear it much anymore. (19:31)

Donald Leggett:
If considering those who might consider us to be an underdog institution, where do you think it manifests itself most? Where do you, where do people refer to that the most about the university? What aspect of it, what part of it, or do they do it just the whole university or do you get any sense of where they kind of aim that, that title? (20:07)

Scott Wells:
Um, I don't hear it as much as I used to. You used to always hear and working for the university, you hear, well, if I don't get accepted there, I'll always fall back to ECU. That'll be my fall back. I really don't hear that anymore. I hear people that want to come here for the programs. But whatever they're interested in, in getting their degree in, they're coming here for that program. And they're coming here because they perceive our campus, after visiting, to be extremely friendly. We have a lot to offer students here, our Student Life program, the new students center. I mean [unclear] transcending that but um I just don't hear it. I don't understand and you know, I'm a bring up CASE, Council for Advancement and Support of Education. (21:06)

Donald Leggett:
And you've been big in CASE and and you should bring it up you should be proud of it.

Scott Wells:
I'm very proud of it. But the most, a highlight of being involved with CASE and somebody saying well Scott what school are you with, what university what, you know, private school, whatever? And I say ECU and they say first of all they say oh your medical school. Second they say oh, your football program, oh your baseball team. But they they don't say your an underdog. They don't say if you can't get in anywhere else people go to ECU. They don't say that. They were impressed that ECU was represented at the table and they were impressed by the university. They all had good things to say. So I think they held it pretty much in high esteem. (21:58)

Donald Leggett:
Yeah, I've heard many times Scott as you probably have that people furthest away tend to see us in a greater light or better light sometimes and people closer, the closer you get to the campus for some reason. (22:15)

Alston Cobourn:
Scott, could you maybe tell us a little bit about what CASE is?

Scott Wells:
Okay

Alston Cobourn:
What it stands for?

Scott Wells:
Okay, Don and I were both members of CASE. It is the council for advancement in support of education, and it's a professional organization for people at universities and independent schools and community colleges that are in alumni relations, marketing, fundraising, all of those external focused areas that tend to support the university's academic mission. We are not academic divisions, but we are professionals in that field. (23:02)

Donald Leggett:
Very good definition there. I think that's kind of sums it up really. Okay, let's move into another area here that we haven't touched on yet to just skim past it maybe. Has the underdog role, whether people consider it such or not, or if they do to some degree, has the underdog role served as a positive for athletic teams? (23:37)

Scott Wells:
Um, I think it's a motivational issue. Um, a motivational force with the players and the teams and the coaches. They seem to be motivated by being the underdog for individual games. For example, when we would go to Chapel Hill and play at Carolina and and everybody perceives Carolina as the team that's going to win because they're in a power five conferences, am I saying that correctly? And the the perception is our players get more motivated, our coaches get more motivated, because of those perceptions. So I think they take the role of the underdog in terms of this game. I'm not saying sport or anything, and they say we're going to beat them and we're proud of our program and this is what we want to do. It, I don't, I don't believe at a lot of athletic events were perceived as an underdog university. I don't think the university's academic mission is put on you're the underdog there. I think it's just the, I don't know what Las Vegas does in creating a spread and numbers, but we're always picked, you know to be lose by three or something, some, you know, very small margin. But um, no, I think just underdog is is a motivational thing, we're not supposed to win so let's show them. (25:21)

Donald Leggett:
Well let's go a step further with that if if somehow we erase this underdog thing altogether and we considered ourselves to be equal with anybody in terms of athletic prowess and and we're one of the, and as we surely hope to be, at some point, one of the top 10 in the country, the top five or whatever, will the Pirate pride and the Pirate spirit be as moving then as is and as intense as it is now being what I call a front runner as opposed to an underdog? And getting back to that motivational thing that you were talking about a while ago? (26:08)

Scott Wells:
Yeah, I think. Yeah. Yes, yes, most definitely. Um, I think it'll, it puts us on equal footing. I just remember when I worked with Coach Holland. You know, he was a bulldog of sorts to and he didn't give up. There were athletic directors, not in our conference, but there were athletic directors that would, wouldn't return his phone calls to schedule games. Um, and, and I do think that, you know, he was a bulldog and he stayed in there and he worked, the channels and all of that to finally get to them and schedule the games years out. But they didn't want to play us. I think there was a fear there. So maybe the fear, you know, they're gonna beat us and that won't look good for us, put us in the underdog category there. But um, I just think our coaches and our players embrace this underdog label to motivate the team. I don't think we are perceived. I don't I don't think we're underdogs Don. (27:26)

Donald Leggett:
You know, I have before I came here, I was in the public schools for 12 years and part of that time I coached both in schools that we never won a championship and I've coached in a school that was expected to win championships regularly. And there's a whole different approach to motivating players in those two situations. It's not hard to get a team up if they consider that they are going to go out and be a giant killer. And then it is if, well, you know, we're expected to win because we always do and this type thing. But I think is just two different approaches to motivation. And is as you said, you can motivate both ways, but it's not all the same, and I have seen it personally, and know that there is is some difference there. (28:23)

Scott Wells:
I just don't see. I don't I don't think we're perceived wholly as a university now as an underdog. I don't hear it.

Donald Leggett:
Well where Scott, and maybe this is a little unfair in terms of trying to pinpoint, just where is that tipping point between underdog and alpha dog? We have come through from from being a all teacher training institution to be in a major first class, nationally renowned university. So if there has been some feeling of being an underdog along the way, where was that tipping point that maybe we crossed the line from under two alpha? (29:16)

Scott Wells:
I think it's happened and I'm trying to pinpoint.

Donald Leggett:
and if you think it's happened, you know, sure.

Scott Wells:
Ah, ah, I think underdog for the whole university is gone. I don't think we are, I think the tipping point. Maybe it was a successful medical school. I think the dental school. Showing that we live true to our mission of putting doctors in North Carolina, particularly in eastern North Carolina, and the dental school the same thing. You know, we have counties that didn't have dentists. I think having those medical programs kinda push the that that might have been, it might have been the dental school Don, because it wasn't, it wasn't a decades ago, it was it was years ago, I would say since the beginning of the dental school and then an established good medical school that lived true to its mission of putting general doctors out there, everywhere, you know, in North Carolina and and wherever else. Just the general practitioners. I think I think the medical programs have helped us I think they were the tipping points and I would probably say it as soon as the dental school was blessed and approved before we got it built, the tipping point happened. That's my thought, I'm not getting that from anywhere else. (30:52)

Donald Leggett:
And that's what we want. That's exactly what this is all about is is your thoughts and and we value those to be sure. Do you think there, if there is some underdog attitude still floating around , do you think that there's some reluctance to give up the underdog role in particular maybe in athletics, when there's some motivational value to going into a game as an underdog and being a giant killer. Do you think among the fans particularly, if there is some reluctance to to give up the the the underdog role and and the chip on the shoulder type thing and and whatever? (31:45)

Scott Wells:
I don't think there's reluctance for the whole university, I don't. No, I think if everybody's ready to say we're you know not an underdog anymore. But in athletics say the underdog word would come back if and when we ever played Clemson or Alabama. (32:09)

Donald Leggett:
Yeah, we might be considered underdog

Scott Wells:
Definitely. Or UConn women's basketball, we would definitely be the underdog there.

Donald Leggett:
Scott, you have been around and amongst this university for a long time and you've seen a whole lot of its history firsthand by being right under the the shadow of the university and, of course I've seen almost half the life of the university myself. And looking at the whole picture the whole university, what do you consider ECU's, for lack of a better term, manifest destiny? What do you consider the greatest obstacle maybe in reaching where we ultimately are expected to be. (32:59)

Scott Wells:
Well, first of all, I had to research really what Manifest Destiny meant.

Donald Leggett:
And I was using a very loosely. As you can remember that it wasn't the definition maybe that you found in the dictionary but something close to that.

Scott Wells:
I think we're almost there. Um, I think we've done a great job expanding our domain in the state and out of state, especially. More, probably it was harder in state and out of state. I think we were already there. Our programs are growing. We recognize changes in our country. We make changes to meet those easily. I mean, the virus we are experiencing, I mean, the changes the university it just, it just seemed to flow very evenly. So that shows good leadership. We change creating new programs and changing programs happen every year here. And my daughter now is working for [unclear] in the assessment area, and I hear her talk about, oh, there's a request for this new program and it sounds really cool. We're not sitting still, we're still working to achieve our whole why we are here, why ECU, East Carolina, ECTC. All of us were put in the eastern part of the state. So we are still adapting to current things going on, and making changes, and programs are evaluated and I just think it's wonderful. But they happen every year, but we have to be aware of what's needed next. We need to be looking at the forefront, we need to be at the forefront of changes. And I think as we recognize that and and and do it and I'm not saying we're not doing it, I'm saying we'll probably doing it better than ever. I think that will be our manifest destiny to be able to quickly make changes for the needs of our area of the state, the state of North Carolina and the country, whatever the situation is, be able to get that up and running that program up and running to train people to handle the situation. It's it's, it's just, I think we're almost there and, you know, to be that university. I do I just and the key thing is we all need to talk Ron Mitchellson into being the real Chancellor not the interim. (35:35)

Donald Leggett:
I had the pleasure of introducing Ron Monday at our Kiwanis Club, such a nice guy.

Scott Wells:
Oh, he was my favorite Department Chair in Geography.

Donald Leggett:
You know, we served with him on Phi Kappa Phi when when he was president of that. He always seems to end up being president of things, you know.

Scott Wells:
He's a leader. He's a true leader. he shows, he exudes leadership in everything he does.

Donald Leggett:
Yeah, I made the statement to our Kiwanis that it would not surprise me, maybe he was not the ghostwriter to these leadership books that we are reading all the time.

Scott Wells:
That's a good point.

Donald Leggett:
But leading off of your answer to the other question, which I think was a very good one. And you mentioned a couple of times that I think we're almost there, I think we're almost there. How will you know when we arrive? When can you say we have arrived? Probably not fair. (36:41)

Scott Wells:
No, um, I think we are there when everyone recognizes what we're doing here and our enrollment outgrows our facilities here, maybe. Everybody wants to come here for undergrad. Everybody wants to come here for graduate school. Everyone wants to come to our medical and dental schools. When when we can't, we have no more seats. That would that would be one measurement. I don't know. I think we're so close to being there. Recognition of what's going on in the world and being on top of it and our professors and our leaders being called on for expertise information. I don't know being recognized as the forefront leader. (37:40)

Donald Leggett:
What about success in our athletic programs?

Scott Wells:
I think athletics goes hand in hand. I think Dean Smith said it years ago, it's the front porch, but not the most important part of the university. Athletics has got to come along and do their thing. I mean, we were known as a football and baseball school. Improve those other sports and come up and you know, we'll win championships. I hate to see some of the more programs that have won a lot of championships. For example, swimming, and diving, I hate to see that one go away. I understand the purpose. We've got to do it. But athletics, it's got to be a partner with us too. And I think it can be, it's been before it can be now. I really, you know, I look back to the Peach Bowl I just think about everybody saying, oh, applications are going up and Tom Powell, our admissions director then said, well, I'd like to thank my staff doing a good job. Athletics I think did help us, the front door open the door for people to want to come in. So, yeah, they've got it's a marketing tool. It puts our name out there. Um, it's a good it's a it's a good program. (39:12)

Donald Leggett:
I think I remember another, I might be wrong in this, but thinking back in what you were talking about Tom Powell having said that, I think there was some conversation as I remember that winning the Peach Bowl was not going to affect admissions that much. But then later on after that, yeah, it did affect admissions. Yeah. (39:36)

Scott Wells:
It did.

Donald Leggett:
Um, let me get into one area here and I'll let you off the hook for a while. And this one, let me just kind of run two questions together maybe. And let me go through one and then sort of lead into another, and the question is, is it possible for ECU to be among the best and most respected institutions in the nation and also serve the needs of the region? Given that its primary service area includes one of the most impoverished and economically and culturally deprived regions in the state. And then is there a conflict between ECU's role in terms of the economic development of the region and striving for the highest tier in academic excellence? In other words, I think we're, you know, where I'm going with this, as to whether we can serve our region well and meet the needs of the region, as we know they are special needs in this part of this area of the state, and then at the same time, reach the highest tier of academic excellence in the nation. (40:46)

Scott Wells:
I think our region helps us helps us strive and be motivated to be able to do things other universities can't go because we're sitting here. But you know, meeting people from other states, through these CASE meetings and everything, we're not the only ones that are sitting in impoverished areas in the nation. And I think we've had great success we're the economic engine for this part of the state, which is a benefit. We serve our region well, enrolling a lot of the students. We serve our region well by addressing problems, in industry and farming and, you know, coastal studies areas. We embrace the area and see what's here and then we build a program around it or branch off with it. Like I remember in Geology when I Reid Corbett came as a professor and his, his, his expertise was coastal studies, he got his Ph. D. at Florida State, but and he runs our Coastal Studies Institute out at Manteo. So we've got that huge facility out there that's just fabulous and we've got good talented people and then they become connected, since they're connected with ECU and they're doing things all over the country, it reflects positively back on us. So yes, we have we have an impoverished area, but we serve a purpose out here. We're an economic engine. Our experts are helping. We've got social workers and everything else that our region needs; dentists, medicine, doctors, nurses, I haven't even mentioned the nursing program and that is such a stellar stellar star. I mean, it's just wonderful that we have this nursing program and have had it forever. (42:53)

Donald Leggett:
And quite an accomplishment when we got it to begin with

Scott Wells:
Exactly. We have the the program where you can get what your masters or Ph. D. or something in nursing so you can help train them and we want to keep those in our area, because our area of the state has a lot of illness, pre-existing conditions from different families. One that runs in my mother's family and they also wasn't because where we live. I've never thought about it in terms like that. But yet we're, we're the economic engine we're we play we we play the role out here. (43:39)

Donald Leggett:
You know, I have always said for a long time not just about ECU but probably a large part about ECU, if we do the things that we are assigned to do well, whatever they are, then it will lead to bigger and better things. But you can't skip over those things and go on and be great up here if you haven't done the basics. (44:13)

Scott Wells:
Exactly.

Donald Leggett:
And so this is where I think I might have, in a sense already answered this question by the other things I've asked you but, is the key to our roadmap to our destination interwoven with an inseparable and unbending commitment to serve? And I think in my conversation with Alston yesterday, I brought that out that the thread that runs through all of this, and it's might be the most important thread that runs through all of this, is that motto that started back in Dr. Wright's era, to serve. You might want to elaborate on that. (44:59)

Scott Wells:
I think I think to serve is the key to our successes, I think be the key to our future. We need to focus on how our university embraces to serve. It is our motto and it's, my my granddaughter now looks at me and goes, why are you going to that meeting? Why are you going in? Why are you taking those clothes to My Sister's Closet? Why are you taking that stuff and donating it at My Sister's Attic? And, and and I learned that at ECU when you had to stand on the street and collect money for a drive and almost get run over by cars, you know, at the stoplight. [unclear] We weren't beggars we were doing for the Tuberculosis Association. I think East Carolina taught me to serve and I still do it. It's very important to me to this day. So students can learn from this motto, they got to learn it at orientation. And they've got to understand what service means. And to have a university that serves the area and serves the people of North Carolina and beyond, (46:14)

Donald Leggett:
And do that well and then.

Scott Wells:
yes, yes. And take it with you after graduation. I mean, my mother, I mean, she didn't go to ECU, but she was a member of the service league and you know, all they do. You know, Nancy's been involved in that forever, and just helping others and I think we do that. Um, I think these alternate Spring Break trips that all the student groups are doing or staying here and raking things, all the people that go out after storms and help clean up yards for elderly people or you know anybody that's got trees down on the yard sawing them up. I think our university really pushes this service to serve as well as they could. It's just amazing to me how well we perform in that. (47:12)

Donald Leggett:
And I just want to get on the stump and go out and preach to people how meaningful it is to get into serving.

Scott Wells:
Exactly

Donald Leggett:
Causes whatever my Kiwanis Club has surely reemphasized that to me over the past few years in particular. This year as president of it, it's just, it's been quite a meaningful experience.

Scott Wells:
My granddaughter, to get back that, last, the last two Christmases we have done, um, pack a shoe box. And the first year we packed one, and this past Christmas we packed five. She packed five shoe boxes because she wanted to pack five and both years they've going to Peru. So we found out where they're from. But it all came up because she asked me why are you doing all this? Why do you do go to this meeting you know. So she is now learning to serve at an earlier age than I learned. (48:18)

Donald Leggett:
Do you ever hear back from the shoe box, any of the shoe box people who received the shoe boxes?

Scott Wells:
No, just what country they go to. And I would love to hear back from them. I love watching the videos of them opening them. I mean we do the whole thing we go the letter of the whole instructions on how to do it from start to finish.

Donald Leggett:
Well Scott, I've taken enough of your time this morning and however, I would like to spend another hour because after we get through this, let's just sit down and talk about it further because I just enjoyed interacting with you on all of this because we see things so much alike and have through the years and and we've worked together closely along the way and I feel like I know what you're thinking before I even ask it most of the time because I know how loyal you are to this university and how hard you work for it. (49:17)

Scott Wells:
Yes, I'm gonna finish up with this, and you can ask me anything else. But Don, you know how much your leadership has meant to me and my family, they know. I learned a lot from you and and a lot of it was service and a lot of it was how to do things. And a lot of it, I walked out of your office going oh no that again. You I saw the wisdom in it, and it has enabled me I think to be a much better person. And I just appreciate all you have meant to me and all you'd have done for me to make me that better person. (50:04)

Donald Leggett:
Scott, you're so kind and you don't want to see a grown man cry so I'll get off of this very quickly. But thank you for those kind words, you don't know how much I appreciate that and how much i value the relationship that we've had through the years. Is there anything else that you want to add that I haven't asked you about? (50:25)

Scott Wells:
Well, you know, we talked about how to become the questions how to become the alpha dog and I mean it's not going to be that hard. Um, but I think marketing has to get involved. I really like, you know, how we feature this many teachers who remain in North Carolina. How many doctors remain in North Carolina, nurses. Market all those measurement tools that marketing could put out there. Our successful alumni really need to get behind this institution. And I mean, I'm not just talking about giving money, of course that's very important and supporting the institution, but sharing their time, being here on campus and meeting with students and offering their expertise to whoever you know. And you know, I'm talking about Kelly King and and, no he's involved I know. But all these successful not just the stars, not the Ron Clark and the Sandra Bullocks of our school, but all these people that are successful in their careers. I just wish they would come back and meet with the students and talk with faculty and get more involved that way. It's not always, it's not just the dollar, it's their involvement and working with the kids and the faculty. (51:51)

Donald Leggett:
You know and it's amazing how many very, very successful people we have out there. And they might not have been the most outstanding students when they're in school here, but somehow they got the basis and they were the kind of people who for whatever the reasons they have found a way to be successful using their East Carolina education. And it may be for some reason did not have the opportunity to get as involved in in things because of their financial situation. But ended up with a good education and the basis to add to their own desire, their own determination to be successful in this world and many of them are highly successful people and we just have a great alumni base as you know, and golly I still miss being a part of that association. Well, I am a part of it but I am not the director of it anymore. (53:02)


Title
Scott Wells Oral History Interview
Description
Sound recording of Scott Wells' interview for the "The Rise of Alpha Dog" oral history project conducted by Don Leggett. The project explores perceptions of East Carolina as an "underdog" or "alpha dog." Wells speaks about her childhood in Rocky Mount and Greenville and her experiences with ECC/ECU as a student at Wahl-Coates Laboratory School, a ECC student, and working for ECU as Assistant Alumni Director. Wells and Leggett discuss historical perceptions of ECC/ECU as an "underdog" school and how that influenced the university's growth and the athletic programs. Leggett asks Wells several questions about the tipping point between an "underdog" school and an "alpha dog" school, whether she thinks ECU has passed that point, if any part of the university community or athletics fans have felt reluctant to give up the "underdog" role, the largest obstacle ECU faces in reaching its potential and how to tell when that potential has been reached, and whether working to increase academic excellence conflicts with ECU's role in the economic development of Eastern North Carolina and the commitment to serve. Leggett asks if Wells would like to add anything further, and she replies that ECU should market itself by emphasizing the number of teachers, doctors, and nurses that graduate from ECU and remain in North Carolina, and that successful alumni should be involved and support the university.
Date
June 04, 2020
Original Format
oral histories
Extent
Local Identifier
UA95.18.02
Creator(s)
Subject(s)
Spatial
Location of Original
University Archives
Rights
This item has been made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. Researchers are responsible for using these materials in accordance with Title 17 of the United States Code and any other applicable statutes. If you are the creator or copyright holder of this item and would like it removed, please contact us at als_digitalcollections@ecu.edu.
http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC-EDU/1.0/

Contact Digital Collections

If you know something about this item or would like to request additional information, click here.


Comment on This Item

Complete the fields below to post a public comment about the material featured on this page. The email address you submit will not be displayed and would only be used to contact you with additional questions or comments.


*
*
*
Comment Policy