A 1961 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, the late Captain Erchul joined VMI's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 1981 following a 20-year career in the Navy during which he earned his doctorate in Ocean Engineering from the University of Rhode Island. While at VMI he has taught a variety of courses to include basic engineering, soil mechanics, materials, foundations, and physical, historical, and engineering geology. He is responsible for creating a minor in Environmental Leadership and Management which was first awarded in May 1997.
His second year at VMI he was appointed the Assistant Director for VMI Research Laboratories (VMIRL) a relationship which would blossom and prove to be the catalyst for numerous research contracts awarded to VMI and conferences established at the Institute. Possibly his most significant initiative was the Environment Virginia Conference (EVA) which began in 1990 and has developed into a highly successful and regionally recognized annual state symposium on environmental issues averaging 600-800 attendees.
By 1994 Captain Erchul had brought more than $250,000 of research contracts to VMI through the VMIRL; and with the success of EVA and the annual Virginia Transportation Conference, he and Colonel Jim Groves established the Conference Office at VMI to handle these events and other major conferences. Through his efforts, the statewide annual conference on information technology (COVITS) was inaugurated at VMI in 1999 as was the annual Commonwealth of Virginia Energy and Sustainability (COVES) Conference in 2006. Today, the Center for Leadership and Ethics, among other duties and programs, organizes conferences.
He continued research and classroom development throughout his career. He was the recipient of VMl's Matthew Fountain Maury Research Award in 1990 and again in 2006. He published a text in Environmental Leadership and Management for his EL20I class with applications of leadership as they apply to environmental issue and affairs and developed a web-based module for the course. He also initiated a student environmental leadership summit as part of EVA 2006.