ECU remembers Janice Hardison Faulkner

First woman to serve as chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party. First woman to serve as secretary of state in North Carolina. First woman to serve on the Council of State in her role as NC secretary of revenue. First chair of ECU’s Board of Visitors. Founder and first chair of the ECU Women’s Roundtable. First woman to receive ECU’s most prestigious honor, the Jarvis Medal.

Janice Hardison Faulkner was a singular force who left a rich legacy of leadership and service in eastern North Carolina when she passed away on Oct. 9, at age 87. Her connection and contributions to East Carolina University reach back to the 1950s, when she was first a student and then a faculty member in the English department.

At ECU, Faulkner also served as director of alumni affairs, chair of the board of the ECU Credit Union, director of the Regional Development Institute and associate vice chancellor for regional development.

She was active in state politics and government and, in 1981, became the first woman to serve as executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party. In the 1990s, as NC secretary of revenue, she became the first woman to serve on the Council of State; she was appointed secretary of state by Gov. James Hunt in 1997 and also served as commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Faulkner served on the board of University Health Systems/Pitt Memorial Hospital (now Vidant) and led fundraising efforts to establish the East Carolina Heart Institute as chair of the foundation fundraising committee. She also played an integral role in raising more than $17 million for the Children’s Hospital.

“Simultaneous with the women’s movements of the 1960s and beyond, Janice Faulkner embodied the highest ideals of individual achievement and engagement in academia, politics, government, and society, fully establishing that women were more than a match for any task. She continued a long tradition at East Carolina, tracing back to Sallie Southall Cotten and a number of the early ECTTS faculty such as Mamie Jenkins, of female empowerment through academic and professional participation,” said John A. Tucker, University historian and history professor.

The second-floor gallery space in Joyner Library was created and named in her honor in 2014. Jan Lewis, director of the library said, “Janice Hardison Faulkner was a role model for several generations of servant leaders, especially women. She had an unparalleled ability to bring people together and get things accomplished for the common good. I first met Ms. Faulkner in 2012 when we envisioned and created the Janice Hardison Faulkner Gallery in J.Y. Joyner Library. She was the quintessential East Carolinian – authentic, down-to-earth and focused on service to others. She was also funny, interested in other people and clearly dedicated to her family and friends. I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to know her. She leaves a lasting legacy at ECU, eastern North Carolina and the entire state.”

Faulkner said at the 2014 gallery dedication that she was proud to have her name associated with it “because it connects the university and the community in a special way.”

“I think she would be extremely proud to know the space named after her is currently hosting the exhibit ‘For All the World to See’ and continues to serve as a space to educate and inspire our students and our community,” Lewis added.

Dr. Michael D. Priddy, retired superintendent of Pitt County Schools and chair of Joyner Library’s Advancement Council when the gallery was named, said, “Janice loved talking about local, daily events affecting peoples’ lives. We especially enjoyed frequent conversations about the local newspaper’s coverage of the school system, as well as the editorials that often followed major stories. Even more than what was reported for the public, she and I enjoyed the ‘back’ stories. She had so many insights into the people responsible for leading the county. Janice offered insights that opened new channels of communication which then allowed many to find common ground and directions. No one, certainly no one so new to Pitt County, could have ever had a more special friend than Janice.”

Christopher Dyba, vice chancellor for university advancement, said, “Janice Faulkner was well known and highly respected for her extraordinary service to the university. Her contributions to the Board of Visitors, ECU Foundation and Women’s Roundtable demonstrated outstanding leadership and dedication to the university and will stand as a model for current and future Pirates for years to come.”