‘A Fitting Tribute’
A new gallery space at Joyner Library will honor East Carolina University alumna and former faculty member Janice Hardison Faulkner. Pictured above, Faulkner browses through photographs that trigger memories of her service to the state of North Carolina following a career at ECU. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)
New gallery at Joyner Library to honor Janice Hardison Faulkner
By Jeannine Manning Hutson
ECU News Services
A planned gallery and meeting area at Joyner Library at East Carolina University will be named to honor Janice Hardison Faulkner, a university graduate and former faculty member who went on to serve in state government for almost a decade.
The campaign to raise $150,000 toward the total cost of $275,000 for the renovation project began in August. As of early January, more than $124,000 had been contributed to the campaign.
Faulkner said she’s proud to have her name associated with the new project “because it connects the university and the community in a special way.”
“It will provide a facility for up to 150 people to sit down in the gallery and will be available to the public for functions and readings. It’s not necessarily filling a gap, because we do a pretty good job now, but it will put a new twist on it,” Faulkner said.
An open area on the second floor of the library will be renovated to provide gallery space for exhibitions, seminars, conferences and receptions for events such as scholarship announcements.
The interim dean of Academic Library Services said the project is a continuation of the library’s mission. “Joyner Library strives to provide an enriched environment for scholarship, collaboration and interaction,” said Jan Lewis. “We appreciate the opportunity to showcase the talents and hard work of East Carolina’s students and faculty while giving the community the opportunity to experience art, culture and history.”
Faulkner said she likes that the gallery will have easy access for the public – “not buried in a basement somewhere” – and that it is a facility that the university provides for the community.
“And it will encourage art shows, poetry readings and the kinds of activities that lots of people in college expect to engage in,” said Faulkner, who earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees in English from then East Carolina College.
‘Building a nest’
The design of the Janice Hardison Faulkner Gallery allows it to serve as a student study area when not hosting seminars and conferences. The area will have exhibition lighting for the student and faculty art shows that will be housed in the gallery space.
“One of the first things we do when we’re separated from home as college students is to build a little nest, a place that is familiar and comfortable, and meets the requirements you’re looking for like a quiet place to study or a place to put your feet up while you read. So it has an ambiance that is missing from the strictly academic structures (on campus),” Faulkner said.
Faulkner arrived at East Carolina College for the summer session immediately after graduating high school. She joked that it was a way to avoid having to work on her family’s Martin County tobacco farm. “I wasn’t lazy and I didn’t mind working. It was just there was something else out there and I was anxious to know what it was and experience it,” she said.
“My grandfather was so proud to have a granddaughter in college that he left $1,000 in his will, when tuition was $90 per quarter, for me to pay for my education. He paid for the rest of my college degree and the first quarter of my masters,” she said. “He was stingy and everybody speculated what he would do with his money, but I got a pretty good chunk of it.”
The gallery is the first venture of the Joyner Library Advancement Council. The group wanted a project that would reflect the mission of the university and the library by “providing cultural enrichments and powerful inspiration as we work to sustain and improve the quality of life,” said Harry Stubbs IV, chair of the committee.
Stubbs and Dr. Michael Priddy, chair of the council’s fundraising committee, created the plan to honor Faulkner by naming the new gallery after the renovation of the library’s second floor open area. The library has allocated $125,000 from the Verona Joyner Langford Endowment for the project as well.
“Janice Hardison Faulkner has served our university and state with grace and honor. This special place will be a fitting tribute to an outstanding citizen,” said Priddy, who is the former superintendent for Pitt County Schools.
Priddy and Faulkner share a dedication to education and public service.
After earning her undergraduate and master’s degrees at East Carolina and post-graduate work at the Breadloaf School of English in Vermont, Faulkner joined the East Carolina faculty in the Department of English in 1957. She published two English textbooks and numerous articles on folklore, local history, historic preservation and economic development. She was the first chair of the university’s Board of Visitors.
Gov. Bev Perdue presented Faulkner with the North Carolina Award for Public Service during an October ceremony at the N.C. Museum of History. (Contributed photo)
Her love of books is still evident in her home today – a bookcase dominates one wall in her living room, housing works ranging from “Tarheel Politics” and Bill Clinton’s “My Life” to a Norton Anthology of English Literature and an Oxford Annotated Bible. She donated 350 books from her collection to Joyner Library several years ago, she said.
After a notable tenure at ECU, Faulkner became a well-known and highly respected participant in state politics and government. She served as former North Carolina secretary of revenue, secretary of state and commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles. She was known for her hands-on leadership of the agencies.
Faulkner was honored in 2009 as the first female recipient of the Thomas Jordan Jarvis Medal, East Carolina University’s highest service award, during Founders Day events. She is the sixth recipient of the recognition by the university.
In October, Faulkner received the North Carolina Award for Public Service during a ceremony at the N.C. Museum of History.
She’s pleased with the fundraising efforts for the project thus far. “I think it’s been successful as a fundraiser, it has attracted a lot of support, and I think one of the reasons is because it fills a need,” Faulkner said.
And does she see the success of the campaign as a tribute to her years of dedication to the university and the state?
“It is a presumption of the folks in fundraising. I don’t know how to think about that. It’s not modest to be proud; that was one of the things we learned out in the country,” she said with a smile.
“I have been very gratified by the responses of people who I hadn’t thought of in a long time. I like to think the response is driven by the pursuit of a worthy cause.”
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To learn more about the Janice Hardison Faulkner Gallery project, contact Dawn Wainwright at 252-328-4090.
At her home in Greenville, Faulkner expressed her pleasure that the gallery will provide an accessible public place for community functions and cultural activities. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)