Don Parrott Oral History Interview, June 11, 2020.


Robert Donald Parrot
Narrator

Donald Leggett
Interviewer

Alston Cobourn
Ran WebEx technology

East Carolina University
June 11, 2020
Greenville, North Carolina

Alston Cobourn:
Don, you can go ahead and start.

Donald Leggett:
Okay, this is Thursday, June 11 2020, a little after 10 o'clock, about 10:10 and my name is Donald Y. Leggett and I'm a 50 year employee of East Carolina University and currently working out of the Chancellors division on a part time basis and doing special assignments. I retired in 1997 from a full time service Associate Vice Chancellor for Alumni Relations. Today I am here in my home in Greenville, North Carolina conducting an oral history interview with Robert Donald "Don" Parrot, by way of the Zoom system, I'm sorry, WebEx system, as a part of a project entitled The Rise of Alpha Dog. And Don is a longtime university and personal friend. And so Don, put all this in perspective, why don't we begin by just asking you to give us a very brief biographical outline. Such as where you were born, some places you've lived, jobs you've had, and and really your relationship with ECU for what now, I can't believe it's on 50 some years maybe. If you will do that for us, why we'll we'll get moving. (01:25)

Donald Parrott:
Hey Don, thanks. My name is Robert Donald "Don" Parrot and I was born in Granville County, Oxford, North Carolina, and after graduating from Oxford High School, I enrolled in Louisburg Junior College, did a two year associate arts degree. My junior year, I transferred to ECU and majored in accounting. I did a three day CPA exam, I work with Peat Marwick, an international accounting firm in Raleigh, North Carolina. After one year with Peat Marwick and traveling, my wife and I decided that we will move back to Greenville work with local CPA firm. I became a partner in that firm in 1971, and from 71 to 2000, e built a firm to five partners and 20 employees. Then we merged with a large regional firm in 2000 called Dixon Hughes Goodman. I retired from the accounting sector of my life in 2008. At that time, I was 65 years old. Dixon Hughes requires retirement at that age. I established an investment real estate company in 2010 with several clients that I had worked with over the years and we're about we're 10 years old today. So that's kind of a little bit of a history Don of where I came from, and jobs that I've had, and what I've done. I've been in the accounting business you know most of my life. (03:12)

Donald Leggett:
Well, you know if I was listening to your your age there, and I thought it was your graduation year that you were going 65. Is that your graduation year also?

Donald Parrott:
Yeah, I graduated from ECU in 1965. From high school.

Donald Leggett:
I had no idea that you were 65 years old. You look 20 years younger.

Donald Parrott:
I know. You're real nice, you've always been real nice

Donald Leggett:
Tell me Don, as you your career was in educationally and otherwise was getting off the ground, when were you first aware of East Carolina, as an I'll call it just East Carolina now because it's changed from college to university to whatever. So, when were you first aware of of East Carolina? (04:05)

Donald Parrott:
Well two of my real close friends in high school, they came to East Carolina in 1961 when when we graduated. Of course, I was at the Louisburg at that time and and I got to come down and see them some and I got familiar with the university and I was really impressed with East Carolina at that time. So that's how I became aware of East Carolina, through friendships that I had in high school. (04:35)

Donald Leggett:
I see, and your first impression then of East Carolina was was was favorable, as I've heard you say that you were quite impressed with it. And has your impression changed since then or is it just basically, you're, you have that same impression that you started off with? (04:57)

Donald Parrott:
Well, the university Don has grown so much from that time because when I when I came to East Carolina, I think we were about 6,000 students and now we're around 30,000 students. And the city of Greenville was about 16,000 people when I came here, and now it's about 100,000 people so, you know, the size of the city, and the county and the university, and it has grown considerably since since I came to East Carolina, and I'm very impressed with the the growth that we've added. And most of it has been quality growth. You know, with the university, the hospital, the med school, the nursing school, the dental school, you know, we we have had very good quality growth over those past 50 years or so. (05:56)

Donald Leggett:
As you were deciding where you were going to attend school and went through the decisions that all of us made along the way, was East Carolina your first choice institution or were you interested in going somewhere else? Maybe that didn't work out so you decided to come here or was this your choice from the beginning? (06:21)

Donald Parrott:
Well, you know, my kids and most people, they'll they'll apply to maybe three, four or five different schools when they graduated. But I only applied to East Carolina, I didn't have any desire to go anywhere else because of the friendships that I had had down here, you know, with people that I graduated with. I wanted to be with them and that kind of sold me in to coming to East Carolina, and. (06:53)

Donald Leggett:
Well are you glad that you made the decision and assume that you are, what about East Carolina are you most proud? If you're proud that you came here then, what is there any part of it that you're, you're most proud of it at this point? (07:14)

Donald Parrott:
Well, you know, I'm really, you know, I was involved through the [unclear] in the in the med school coming in. I was real proud that we got the med school, nursing school, and the dental school, and you know, that, that kind of, to me that kind of turn the objectivity and the prestige of the university at that point, when we got the med school and the dental school and our nursing program is, we don't, we can so in the areas of that we recruit from as far as the university is concerned, has been well known and well established and highly regarded throughout the state and throughout the surrounding states in the southeast. So I think the you know, getting into the medical field, and I was here when Dr. Jenkins was doing that and working on that. Really, really turned the university in a prestigious type direction. (08:41)

Donald Leggett:
Donald, going back now to the time that you were entering school and and looking at it now. If you were entering school now, would EC still be your first choice institution?

Donald Parrott:
Well, you know, Helen and I, we had four girls and the first three, they graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and my youngest daughter graduated from East Carolina. I don't think, you know, I could have done any better in my life as far as from a financial and from a family standpoint, and where I'm at today, so, knowing what I know now, Don, I would definitely enroll at East Carolina. I've enjoy living in eastern North Carolina, being close to the ocean and the beach and you know, those are the things that I enjoy a lot and it's been it's been very good for my family, it's been very good for me, you know, in several different ways, and I am glad that I came to East Carolina and I would definitely come again if I had to go. (10:04)

Donald Leggett:
And I to am glad that you came to East Carolina and have been here through all these years because your friendship has been awfully important to me, and to the university I might add. Let's shift gears just a little bit and and ask this. When you were enrolled or and as you after you enrolled, became associated with the with the university and otherwise, did you feel that East Carolina was looked down upon or sort of considered an underdog institution or anything of the sort? (10:47)

Donald Parrott:
Yeah, if you if you look back, you know, when the University of North Carolina was established, when NC State was chartered as a university, East Carolina, being number three in the state, is kind of the young one of that of that group. If you look, the University of North Carolina is probably 125 years older than, you know, when we first started. So, you know, you you got to look at, you know, the history and the background of these schools. So normally the younger person is kind of looked down on just a little bit. But the way we have grown, you know, professionally in way we have grown medically and economically, you know, East Carolina, not only is the hub of eastern North Carolina, it's the catalyst of eastern North Carolina, because without this university, you know, we just wouldn't have the access to things that we have today. So it's been it's just been very good, you know, not only to not only to Greenville, but to all of the eastern part of the state that the university is located here. (12:16)

Donald Leggett:
Oh well here again, moving ahead a little, putting the the time factor on go and moving to closer to the to the present. Do you think that ECU now is currently perceived as a as an underdog university? We talked about the time when you were in school here, but time has fast forward, do you think that even today that we might be looked upon as a "underdog" university or institution? And if so, why do you think it is? (12:57)

Donald Parrott:
Well, you know, I know people that have graduated from, you know, University of North Carolina, three of my kids did and, you know, but it's, it's, it's not looked on, as it did, you know, in the 1960s when I when I came here because we have, we have grown so much in the, you know, with with kind of the medical family, you know, it's a catalyst for a lot of that growth. So, I don't think we're looked at as much as an underdog now, as we did, you know, 50 or 60 years ago. This, a lot of these things that are here now was just getting off the ground. I know that a, I read in the paper and then when when we got to med school that are one of the college professors at Chapel Hill made some comments about East Carolina in the eastern part of the state, not needing a med school. And when I was lobbying for the for the dental school, I got the same impression that that we really didn't need that down here, but we can see that what's happened since we got the med school, nursing school, and the dental school, that the need was, is very obvious that the need was here. They not only have done great things for for the eastern part of the state, which is our main purpose for existing, but we've had people to come here for heart surgeries, you know, international so it's been, it's recognized us in several different ways that we would not recognize that before. So I think the, the underdog situation is, is going away, might not be all the way. We still have that little chip on our shoulder. So we it makes us work harder to do that. So but but but I think we're gradually moving away from the underdog. I know in in athletically when we played UNC and NC State now, our record for the last 10 15 years has been pretty good. So, that also has brought, you know, some attention to university. But with the academics that we've had in the increase in the medical profession, winning some athletic teams and beating those teams. You know at first Don, you remember they they wouldn't come down here and play, we had to go go to Raleigh and Chapel Hill to play and then finally we got them to start coming down here and they when we beat them and then they decided they didn't want us on the schedule anymore. So but we've had a lot of changes that has happened that's been good for East Carolina University. So I think we're gradually getting away from the from the underdog perception. (16:45)

Donald Leggett:
Nothing change minds any better than success, right?

Donald Parrott:
That's right.

Donald Leggett:
And we've had a lot of that. But assuming that there is some underdog attitude still remaining, where do you think you do you see it most? Where's it most obvious or where does it seem to manifest itself? Have you had any thoughts about the first, then you talk about all underdog, where any particular part of the university that comes to mind or an area that maybe we think about first? (17:26)

Donald Parrott:
Well, you know, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC State, they get a lot more research money then we do. We have increased our funds, you know, in those areas because, I mean, I remember I used to do the audit for the foundation, our research funds and that's, it's always been limited and you know, that's something I think we need to improve on over the next 20, 30, 40 years, it's a we need to we need the research is something that, you know, not only does it help the student at the university, but it also upgrades, you know, the credibility of our faculty. And so I think we, if we're, if we're at a point where any thing of our weakness shows is in the, in the funds for research. We need to concentrate more on. (18:39)

Donald Leggett:
You know, someone once said, I'm not sure who the quote on this but anyway, that athletics could be considered the front porch of an of an institution and that being the case, do you think the underdog role has served as a positive for athletic teams? (19:04)

Donald Parrott:
Oh definitely. I've always been told, you know that athletics is a is 20% ability in 80% mental and when you when you've got that little chip on the shoulder, you know, and you go into the game and then even though you've not even recruited by NC State or, or Carolina, and that, that gives you an advantage to work harder. So, definitely, the underdog played a big role in our growth and also in adding to the medical school that we've developed, you know, last few years. (19:59)

Donald Leggett:
With that being the case with athletics then, do you think this carries over into other areas of the university? That it served as a positive maybe in in, in some other areas other than athletics and making people a little more aware of the the, the the motivational aspect of doing our best driving to be on top and this type thing? (20:31)

Donald Parrott:
Well, you know when you when you are the young person on the block and you're trying to improve and you know, it always helps to have that, that underdog label because it makes you work harder. Most of the people, the athletes that go to universities, you know, they might be four or five star in, in high school but they don't work harder because they think they're already there. So it does make a big difference. (21:15)

Donald Leggett:
Yeah, I think you and I've talked about this from time to time that in working with youngsters you've coached, I've coached and there's a difference between motivating kids who consider themselves to be the underdog and in coaching those who feel that they are always the front runner. And it's just a whole different motivational scheme to to get the most out of out of a team and the individuals as well. Let me ask you this, talking about all the underdog aspects of our conversation, what difference does it make if ECU is perceived to be an underdog? Does it really make a difference? (22:04)

Donald Parrott:
And in my mind, it doesn't. But you know, the athletic teams that I've been associated with, when you are considered the underdog, you know, it gives you an advantage. So, they, you know, I can remember the athletic director at NC State, I don't think she's around, but she she said it meant more to East Carolina to beat NC State in football the it did for NC State to beat East Carolina. So you know, when you're when you are the underdog, it does give you an advantage and, you know, when you are perceived basically as the underdog it does. When, when you when you [unclear] win in something, this human nature, you just don't seem to work as hard.(23:04)

Donald Leggett:
I think you probably answered this with a while ago and in ongoing conversation. But I'm assuming that, that you feel that eventually we will wear this out, I think he said that a while ago. But do you think it will require a conscious effort to try to shed the image or will it just take care of itself? I know from my point of view, when I first came to work here, there's a lot of conversation about about party school, party school, party school, and but I don't hear that much anymore. And I think those things do tend to wear themselves out but oftentimes it's like running the copy through the copying machine and running the same item through so many times that after a while it will wear itself out and won't copy anymore. But I think that's what happens with these kinds of things, it just takes a long time to from generation to generation for, you don't change attitudes overnight and just kind of has to wear out over period of time. But I assume that you feel this is basically what will happen that once people see what we have here and are aware of it, the more that we can put that in front of people, that then quicker we'll we'll wear it out and move on to big and better things. (24:35)

Donald Parrott:
Well, the, you need a good perception and then the underdog will go away. Your students that you're graduating are very successful in life. And you know Don, we've got several alumni that have done very well financially, and a lot of them have given back to the university. And it I think, but the it's nothing that we can do about the perception. When I was mayor, it was the perception that downtown, you know, was that it was not safe to go downtown. But it was just a perception. You know, we had we had crimes and things all over the city in different places, but downtown was kind of pegged as an unsafe place to go and, but it's a but there's nothing you can do about that. Basically, it takes time. But it can change over a period of time as our graduates go out in the world and they do very well socially and financially and give back to university. That helps do away with that perception. But just to try to do it ourselves, you know, I just talking about it out of all saying that we're not that evil? Well, I think it's hard to do. (26:09)

Donald Leggett:
You know, I was talking to a very knowledgeable and very good friend of mine yesterday, and and he was making some statements along the same line. He says that, perception is reality. That basically that that if it's perceived to be, then it might as well be because, you know, that's the way we perceive it, then that's, that's the way it is in the minds of those people who perceive it that way. I suppose he had a point there. But do you, I notice some of this myself, I think. Do you think there's some reluctance to give up this underdog role or attitude or have we been has it been ingrained in us alone that this is our comfort zone and maybe we just have a reluctance to move into another mode? (27:12)

Donald Parrott:
Well, it you know, it doesn't bother me to be perceived as an underdog because I think it's made me be more successful and work harder in my life to you know, show people that, you know, that I was not an underdog. But it's sometimes being an underdog as we talked about on is it gives us motivation to work hard and do things. But but I do think the perception in other parts of the state, the things that East Carolina has done, we put you know, we talked about serving eastern North Carolina. That's that's our motto is to serve and mostly to serve our region. But on a football field, we have the whole state of North Carolina. And you know, I think that kind of set some people in the triangle, the Piedmont, and the western part of the state, when East Carolina thinks they they represent the whole state of eastern North Carolina. But I think that perception is beginning to happen, because we get students are all over the state and it's, it's beginning to change and, you know, we can't rely on being the underdog. Going forward, I think we were beginning to be perceived as is not an underdog. (28:52)

Donald Leggett:
Well, here again, let's, let's shift gears just a little bit and move from one category over into another. We've talked about the underdog role for quite a while now. Let's look at the other side of it in, in, in the alpha dog role. What do you think our alpha dog university would look like? We're able to rip away with from the the underdog, we've now become the alpha dog university. What does it look like? (29:26)

Donald Parrott:
Well, you know, Don, I think if you look I mean, I think East Carolina should focus on helping the other universities in our state. You know, I know, you look at our athletic schedules, we schedule you know, Appalachian State, we're going to play them here, we're going to play them in Charlotte, we're going to play them in Boone. 50 years ago, you know, we were trying to get Carolina and NC State, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and NC State to work with us on things, athletically and academically, on the academic side. And you know, it was hard for us to even get [unclear] to do that. But but I think we should reach out, as the alpha dog role, we should reach out to help other universities within our state because when we do or when we focused on helping App State, I mean, their athletic problems are pretty close to ours now anyway, but we agreed to play them and we were ready to go there, ready to play them in Charlotte, which is closer by than we are to Charlotte. But I think that those things are important that we don't forget where we were and what we're trying to do, you know with the University of North Carolina and NC State. It's important that we play them I think as a as a North Carolina citizen because all the money's stays within the state. These athletic events creates a lot of dollars and they don't go anywhere else. But I don't think we should, you know, put our head to high in the air that we can't work with other universities. Maybe they're not as [unclear]. (31:35)

Donald Leggett:
Yeah, good point and in that mode, and assuming that we are, and are convinced in our own minds that we now are in the in the alpha dog role. Where we get that same motivation that, not necessarily the same, but similar motivation that you were talking about a while ago after we move out of the underdog room into the alpha role. When will, or from whence will we derive our passion for success and dominance at that point? (32:19)

Donald Parrott:
Well, you know as an underdog, you, you arrive that by beating the top dog. I think an academic standpoint, you know, we are now known with it with the dental school, we are establishing clinics, you know, throughout the state. And to me, that that brings a lot of positive publicity, PR, to the university and to eastern North Carolina. I mean back when I first came down here, I can remember going back home which is up in the Piedmont, and I think most of the people that lived in the Piedmont, really they didn't, the only thing they cared about eastern North Carolina is having a way to get to the beach. If you look at the roads that were built, you know, like I40 going to Wilmington and they spent a lot of money on 70 going to Atlantic Beach. Those things were done just to get people from Piedmont and triangle to the beach on the weekends or during the summer. So I think, you know, if the underdog goes away, we still have have a role to play in helping other institutions have been [unclear] (34:09)

Donald Leggett:
You know, let's let's think a little broader even than that and expand our vision a little bit. What do you consider to be ECU's ultimate destiny, and I referred to it here I think as our own Manifest Destiny. Where do you see us going down the road? Where do you think ultimately we are destined to be in the educational world in this in this country? And I reckon maybe even in the world (34:46)

Donald Parrott:
Well, we're, if we ever, we're never going to get to be looked on as a Harvard or Yale, you know, even in the state and around the world. But, we do have some, some clinically related issues that have brought attention to us internationally and within the United States. So with the heart center and those things and the the other hospital the, having a partnership with the hospital I think is very important for our medical school to have that a good relationship and we've struggled with that over the past several years. And I'm not saying we struggled because it was [unclear].But I think we need to get rid of some of the feelings that are there between the hospital and university. The hospital at Chapel Hill is owned by Chapel Hill, so that's that's, well it's owned by the state of North Carolina but so that's, that's, they don't have a problem there. But our hospital here is a separate nonprofit and sometimes working together from a financial standpoint, makes it tough to do. We have a lot down the road that we can accomplish that can make us a better university and also a stronger region. But from an economic standpoint and a cultural standpoint, you know, if you looked at the regions in our state, we got a lot of work to do there. You know, just an example Don, when I was mayor, I had the opportunity to go out and visit all the industry in Greenville, and I was talking to one of the CEOs and he said, you know, they probably would have never come to Greenville if they had known that the education of our people that work in here was not up to standards. So we got to develop, we got to keep some of our smart people here, but we gotta we gotta have the jobs for them to stay here. So you know, we, it's kind of the chicken and egg thing and it's hard to do that because, but I think we're beginning to get a lot of people that to stay here that maybe went to Charlotte or Atlanta or other places to work. But we do have a weakness here economically in eastern North Carolina. But you know, I've noticed lately Don that we've got people moving here from from Ohio, from New York, from Connecticut, from New Jersey. With what's going on now with the medical situation out there with the virus, we don't have a lot of people moving here, that's going to be a big asset to our region and to the university. (38:33)

Donald Leggett:
And, you know, Don, Greenville is a good compromise place to live between the beach and otherwise because I noticed that when the hurricanes come in, the people come to Greenville to get out of the way of the hurricanes. So, I reckon we're just far enough out of the path most of the time that people tend to come here to stay during the time that they're in danger down that way, but a great place to live and I can understand why anyone might be looking at Greenville as a very desirable place to come to live or to retire even. (39:13)

Donald Parrott:
Well, I know when we do have the hurricanes and the storms that come, our hotels fill up. You're right in that people come here to get out of the direct danger of the storm, but we're also close enough, I mean, we're about an hour and 15 20 minutes to Atlantic Beach. You know, that's not very far at all. So, it's a big advantages you know, to live in, in eastern North Carolina. If you hunt, you've got a lot of advantages there. You got a lot of open land, which makes that popular activity more desirable. (40:09)

Donald Leggett:
I know when I was active on the Convention and Visitors Authority Bureau, I would sit down from time to time and just in my own mind enumerate the numbers of reasons why someone, to why Greenville should, and could be, considered a retirement community as well. And about everything that one could ask for in retirement mode, we've got right here in Greenville or quick access to it if we don't have it here in town. (40:42)

Donald Parrott:
Well, then, you know, the cultural aspect that the university provides is something that you can't find anywhere else in eastern North Carolina. And then so the university has a lot of plusses for for that type thing, to have people retire here. And most people want to retire where there is a large medical school, we got that. But you know, the big problem that I have seen even when I wasn't mayor and even now, is that the region, we don't work together, like, you know Kinston, and Greenville, and Newbern, and Rocky Mount, and Wilson. We're satisfied this without having partnerships and working together like like is happening the triangle with Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. They have built, you know, the Research Triangle, you know, in the if you look back, I don't think it will ever happen now, but we couldn't even get a airport here in the region because it was so much jealousy between the different towns and but but now you know even the airport in Raleigh Durham has trouble sometimes. So we will never get a large airport here. With the roadwork network, we got the we can get to Raleigh Durham in about an hour and 10 or 15 minutes. So, that's not that far away that we can't rely on that for international travel. We've got, we need to improve our airports. Normally an airport represents a large area and we can't get the people to work together. I don't know if that'll ever happen. (42:56)

Donald Leggett:
But let's, is a good lead in to the next category that I want to get into and and we can close it out with this, course I think is a is a good way to do it because of its importance to this university from day one until now and I'm sure carrying forward. The thing that I see, the common thread that I see that runs through all of this, that maybe makes us stand out from from the from the pack, to a large degree, is our continual and long standing emphasis on service. This is run through everything that we have done and planned for since 1907 until today, and it is interwoven into everything that that we do and are charged to to serve our region. And, and as we are talking about moving from underdog to alpha dog, my view is that whatever we do, if we do it, well, then it's going to catapult us to the next level, the next level. But we can't skip over those things that are most important and services is one of those and we have to continue to do that and do it well. And if we do that well then other things will will happen too. So, I didn't mean to take words out of your mouth, but can you comment on that on the service area? And let me read you a question I jotted down here to ask and maybe to put it all sort of in perspective. 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 as primary service area includes one of the most impoverished and economically and culturally deprived regions in the state? So can we serve both purposes and still accomplish all the things that we won't see happen to the university? (45:18)

Donald Parrott:
Well, you know, Don, it's hard to do that. You know, we're gonna serve this region, and we talked about the economics of this region and the culture of the region. We just we got, we got to admit that economically, you know, we all know our part in that respect, and it's gonna take a lot of time. But you know, will will probably never be, and I don't even want us to be, maybe that's just selfish on my part, but we'll never be a Harvard or Yale, you know, that type of university. But, uh, you know, even it would be hard for us to reach the aspects of aspect of Chapel Hill because they get, they get a lot more money Don then we do. You've got to have money to do that, do some of the things that [unclear]. But I'd rather see us grow and serving in our state in our region then I would because I think there's a lot of universities now where they got in 35 or 40% of their students are international students. I think we will play a great role in eastern North Carolina serving our region. I think we have done, if you look at from a medical standpoint Don, where would people get the service that they get now if we didn't have the medical school here? What bothers me a little bit is the surrounding towns, they don't support us a lot on those things. Like Kinston Lenoir County that their tied in with with Chapel Hill. Rocky Rocky Mountain, I think they're tied in with Chapel Hill or Duke Medical. It's, you know, you get back to the to the jealousy aspect of our local towns working together. And so I don't know if we'll ever get to that point, unless we can get the whole region to establish some type of partnership with with with the counties surrounding our school. When I became mayor, I tried to get, you know, I invited the mayor of Newbern, and Rocky Mountain, and Kingston. We had about 10 of us down at Havelock.. We met on the base down there. You know, it was I just want to get us out of town and see if we could do things to work together. You know, most of what we talked about is, you know, Greenville hasn't done enough to help us with our airport, or Greenville is not doing this, not doing that. It's just hard to to get rid of some of those things and I don't know if we ever will or not, but. (48:55)

Donald Leggett:
A lot of local pride, and it's hard to, to steer around that and to compromise with it from time to time, it's a difficult thing to deal with. You know, we have talked about sort of the history from the very beginning until now and, and and kind of watching the growth, and then we mentioned what do we consider to be our ultimate destiny or Manifest Destiny or whatever. And how will we know Don when we've arrived? Or maybe we will never know because maybe we won't ever arrive. Maybe we won't ever arrive to where we really, there's always going to be something else to strive toward. So do you think we will there'll be a time to say well, we are now alpha dog, we have arrived and this is where we want to be? (49:56)

Donald Parrott:
Well, in a way, I hope we never get to that point where we we cannot lean back on our chair says we've arrived we don't need to do anything else. I mean, I don't think we'll ever get to the point where, especially in our region, you know, as we talk about things that economically and culturally that we need to do. You know, just for us to arrive from our creating jobs and therefore, for our people. We got a long ways to go. So I don't it sometimes, you know, I remember with with churches, I went to a meeting one time when I was [unclear], they were saying churches always need to have debt because that makes you work, that makes you work to do more things. If you get your church paid off, we just don't strive to do things you should do. (51:10)

Donald Leggett:
Does that work with families to now Don and that must be the reason I'm working so hard.

Donald Parrott:
Well the reason you and I have to work Don is we enjoy it, we enjoy what we do. We, it. I know it's always been in your heart, you know how, how close you are to the university and to this region. I just, I don't want to stop. I guess. I will stop one day because, you know, everybody that's here is going to slow down at some point and go visit Mr. Wilkerson. But But it's uh you know, I don't want to see us get to the point where we feel like we're so comfortable that we don't have to work on it. (52:07)

Donald Leggett:
Well Donald, this has been a pleasure and I wish we could go on for another hour or so, but I detect your voices getting a little bit tired and mine is too and maybe we can compose this down at this point. Bot golly this has just been I think a wonderful session and so much to to be looking at and to consider and you've done such a great job putting it out on the table for us. I just appreciate you coming in and doing this because I know you've got things to be doing otherwise to with all the things that are going on in this day and time. But Donald, thanks again and I imagine I'll call Alston back in and see what she needs to do to close us down. (53:01)

Donald Parrott:
Okay, and Don, I want to thank you for doing this. I think it's very important that we do have some of the history here that that's, that's important for us to preserve and maybe this will help do some of that. (53:16)
Donald Leggett:
Well it will, and your kind to help us with it. Alston are you there?

Alston Cobourn:
Yes. Thank you very much, Don for like, like Don Leggett said, for joining us, and I'm gonna just go ahead and stop the recording now and that will be all.

Donald Parrott:
Okay. Thank you.


Title
Don Parrott Oral History Interview, June 11, 2020.
Description
Sound recording of Don Parrott's 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." Parrott describes his early life, education, and accounting career, and his experiences as an East Carolina student and alumnus. Leggett asks Parrott whether he believed East Carolina was perceived as a subordinate or "underdog" institution when he enrolled in ECC, and whether and in what areas ECU is still seen as subordinate to other universities. They discuss how "underdog" status can be an advantage in athletics and other areas, if East Carolina's "underdog" status will take conscious effort to change, and whether the university community will be reluctant to give up the role. Next they discuss what role ECU would have as an "alpha dog," what will motivate ECU to improve further, and ECU's ultimate destiny as an educational institution. Finally Leggett and Parrott discuss the advantages of Greenville and the East Carolina region, whether ECU can continue its role in improving the region while becoming a respected academic institution, and what will mark ECU's arrival at "alpha dog" status.
Date
June 11, 2020
Original Format
oral histories
Extent
Local Identifier
UA95.18.03
Creator(s)
Contributor(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