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Heart Center opens its doors After two years of construction, the university and Pitt County Memorial Hospital jointly dedicated the East Carolina Heart Institute on Dec. 11. The $220 million heart institute includes a six-story patient bed tower to be used by the hospital and a 206,000-square-foot research, education and outpatient care facility for the Brody School of Medicine. The dedication capped more than four years of collaboration between ECU and PCMH supported by $60 million from the N.C. General Assembly and $160 million from PCMH for the bed tower. Just how blue is ECU? The widespread perception that college professors and top administrators are politically liberal would seem to have even greater credence now that North Carolina has turned blue for the first time since 1976. But according to records at the State Board of Elections, the East Carolina community, at least, is about as divided in its politics as everyone else. According to a search of records of the 500 highest-paid employees of East Carolina University available online from the State Board of Elections (SBOE), 36 percent are registered as Democrats and 23 percent are registered as Republicans. A little less than 20 percent are unaffiliated and about 21 percent of them couldn’t be found in SBOE records. As state employees, the university’s employee and salary records are public documents, as are state voter registration lists.

ideological scale,” says political science professor Bonnie Mani. “Remember that ideology and party affiliation are two different concepts—although Republicans are more likely to be conservative and Democrats are likely to be further to the left.” Despite ECU’s Democratic leanings, the Republican Party does target students with groups such as College Republicans and Students for McCain. Kim Hendrix, the chair of the Pitt County Republican Party Executive Board, echoed Mani’s sentiments. “Most educators are Democrats, but there does seem to be a Republican presence on campus.” “I’ve noticed that just driving through the faculty parking areas during the day that most cars are sporting Obama bumper stickers, ” says grad student and teaching assistant Nicole Keech. “There are very few in support of McCain—maybe that just

means that McCain supporters are more conservative in publicly expressing their political stances.” A Democrat hasn’t carried North Carolina since Carter in ’76. In 2004, George Bush defeated John Kerry here 56 percent to 44 percent. In Pitt County, Bush edged out Kerry 53 percent to 46 percent. Barack Obama carried Pitt County by 54 percent to 46 percent. Of the 14 other counties that host a UNC system campus, only New Hanover County, home of UNC Wilmington, went for John McCain, and that by only the slightest of margins. —Kellen Holtzman

Editor’s note: East occasionally publishes original writing by ECU students. This story was prepared by Holtzman as a research project for the Communications 3320 Investigative Reporting class.

The fact that Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin all campaigned in Greenville stoked a noticeable increase in political activity on campus. Obama filled Minges Auditorium on April 18 and Sarah Palin did the same on Oct. 7. Three weeks later, Joe Biden walked out of the student center wearing an ECU baseball cap and talked to students gathered on the mall.

Nancy Ballard welcomes Barack Obama to Minges.

Those statistics indicate that ECU employees—at least the highest paid ones, most of whom work on the medical campus—are less Republican than the state as a whole. Statewide, 45 percent of all registered voters are Democrats, 34 percent are Republicans and 21 percent are unaffiliated, according to SBOE data. “Those with higher levels of education are likely to be further to the left on the 9

East Spring 2009  
East Spring 2009  

The magazine of East Carolina University.