East Winter 2024

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Survey center preps for big 2024


Alumni advocate for mental health


WIN 2024



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Bailey Gray, a freshman from Raleigh and a global fellow at ECU, carries the flag of Norway during the Parade of Flags on Nov. 9. It was the kickoff to International Education Week on campus.


IN THIS ISSUE ECU Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Discovery. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Faculty Focus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Student Snapshot . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Pirate Nation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Pirate Spirit. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46

main feature

From left, Alec Makarewicz, Parker Byrd and Connor Rasmussen stand during the national anthem at the NCAA Charlottesville Regional in June. Read more about Byrd beginning on page 20.

More coverage, including links to videos and more photos, is at east.ecu.edu

24 Steadfast Champions

Thanks to two families, ECU’s top undergraduate scholarship program will support students for decades to come

17 Shifting Sands Scientists work to save Sugarloaf Island.

32 Navigating

the Numbers Center for Survey Research earns ECU national recognition with its work.

46 Athletic


Sophia LoCicero is on the attack in academics and lacrosse.

East Carolina University is a constituent institution of The University of North Carolina System. It is a public doctoral/research-intensive university offering baccalaureate, master’s, specialist and doctoral degrees in the liberal arts, sciences and professional fields, including medicine. Dedicated to the achievement of excellence, responsible stewardship of the public trust and academic freedom, ECU values the contributions of a diverse community, supports shared governance and guarantees equality of opportunity. ©2024 by East Carolina University


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center and a local public health agency partner to improve outcomes and well-being for rural residents. Another is RISE29, where students work with business partners in places such as Bertie, Hyde and Martin counties to find innovative solutions to the challenges and problems they face. And a new project I’m confident will lead to significant benefits is NCInnovation. This organization is supporting universities in transitioning research and inventions into commercial products and services. ECU is one of four hubs across North Carolina and the lead hub for the eastern region.

What’s one way ECU is addressing the mental health challenges in the region?

Chancellor Philip Rogers on ECU’s role in making the region and state a better, stronger, healthier place. In ECU’s new strategic plan, Future focused. Innovation driven., the university reaffirms its mission to be a national model for student success, public service and regional transformation. In addition, ECU established three vision priorities centered on social and economic mobility, workforce success, and rural health and well-being. We asked Chancellor Philip Rogers to talk about some specific examples of ECU’s leadership in these areas.

What are some partnerships or collaborations that have contributed to economic development and community well-being in the region? One is the partnership between our School of Dental Medicine and the Roanoke-Chowan Community Health Center in Ahoskie. It’s the only place in North Carolina where a dental


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That’s a great question. In November, we broke ground for a new 144-bed behavioral health hospital, a joint venture between ECU Health and Acadia Healthcare. The hospital will provide treatment, hope and healing that patients and families need when dealing with complex behavioral health issues. It also will have the first inpatient beds specifically for children and adolescents with behavioral health needs in our 29-county service area. And it will be an excellent teaching hospital for our medical, nursing, social work, family therapy and other students. That’s a big step forward.

Lastly, how is ECU contributing to cultural and social enrichment in the region? Our theatre, dance and music students and faculty provide so many incredible, innovative and, frankly, very affordable — if not free — shows and concerts for our region. I attended those as a kid growing up here and now take my own family. We also bring nationally known speakers to campus through our Voyages of Discovery series, speaking about the vital issues of today. And in just a few weeks spring sports will be underway. It’s great to see the community come out and support our programs. Go Pirates!

Staff Sgt. Griffin Mueller of the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights parachute team, based at Fort Liberty near Fayetteville, flew into Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Nov. 4 during Military Appreciation Day. Among other activities, ECU honored four alumni for their service to their country. Read more about them on page 15.


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ECU Report

In This Issue

AFROTC celebrates 75 years at ECU Experts embark on gambling research

Pursue Gold exceeds $500 million target ahead of schedule East Carolina University is painting the Pursue Gold campaign purple as it surpassed the goal of $500 million five months early. Pirate Nation has raised more than $514 million, and ECU continued accepting contributions through the campaign’s official end date in December. Pushing the campaign past the goal were friends and colleagues who made gifts toward a scholarship in memory of Jeff Charles Purtee, the Voice of the Pirates since 1988, who died in February. His famous “You can paint this one purple!” will forever be heard through the scholarship in the ECU School of Communication. Chancellor Philip Rogers kicked off the public phase of the campaign in November 2021 and asked Pirate Nation to come together to help propel ECU into the future. “These gifts keep ECU on the leading edge of higher education and help us strengthen the academic enterprise, advance our athletics programs, produce meaningful research outcomes, deliver quality health care services and more,” Rogers said. “Our ability to sustain this success is possible because of the tremendous response to Pursue Gold.” The university crossed the goal after completing the most successful fundraising year in ECU history. Christopher Dyba, vice chancellor for university advancement, said the momentum for supporting the campaign has been building since Rogers’ arrival in 2021. “Pirate Nation has stepped up. It is clear that ECU alumni, friends and donors are all behind our great university,” Dyba said. Pirate Nation donors have invested in the pillars of the Pursue Gold campaign by creating opportunities for student success through funding nearly $138 million in merit, need-based and athletic scholarships; championing research by


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giving more than $24.3 million to accelerate innovation and discovery; building ECU’s future with more than $248 million of discretionary and program funding; and sustaining the university’s value by investing more than $201.6 million to secure ECU’s endowment. University leaders urged supporters to keep the momentum going as they pushed toward completion of the campaign in December. Dyba said the overall success of the campaign will go a long way toward securing future funding of scholarships and other priorities. More information about the many ways to give to ECU is at give.ecu.edu. – Patricia Earnhardt Tyndall

QAR lab partners with Waccamaw Siouan Tribe to conserve 930-year-old canoe It’s not uncommon for children to step on a submerged log or stump while playing in a North Carolina lake or river. But what three kids stumbled upon a couple of years ago in Lake Waccamaw and told one of their dads about was no ordinary log, but a canoe that was more than 900 years old. “He realized that this piece of wood kept going as they kept digging, and he thankfully understood what needed to happen next,” said Kim Kenyon, lead conservator with the Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Laboratory on the ECU West Research Campus. “He contacted our office, the Office of State Archaeology here in North Carolina. He also contacted the chief of the Waccamaw Siouan Tribe, Mike Jacobs, whose ancestral lands are around Lake Waccamaw.” The canoe is about 30 feet long and about 930 years old, based on carbon-14 dating, Kenyon said. Made of a single tree, it is essentially a hollowed-out log. Native Americans in North Carolina would have used fire to fell the tree and carve out the inside, Kenyon said.

Above, Kim Kenyon, head conservator for the Queen Anne’s Revenge project at the ECU West Research Campus, says preserving the Lake Waccamaw canoe will be a years-long process. Watch a video about it at bit.ly/47qmX5w.

State archeaologists and tribal members converged on the lake to determine the best course of action. With the permission of the landowner, the canoe was stored underneath a dock until it could be safely recovered. That day came in April. The Waccamaw Siouan Tribe has been instrumental in the recovery and conservation effort, Kenyon said, providing a flatbed truck that could safely transport the canoe to the QAR lab and building the tank it will remain submerged in during the conservation process. “It is special to find one intact,” Kenyon said. “Many of the other canoes in North Carolina have only been parts and pieces.” Kenyon said since the canoe is from a freshwater environment, there’s less salt to contend with, which should shorten the preservation timeline. “We’ll go through the process of desalinating it thoroughly and documenting it,” she said. “Waterlogged wood is damaged at a cellular level, and if we just let it dry out it would crumble into pieces, which obviously no one wants to see. So we’ll take the next few years to slowly impregnate it with a material called polyethylene glycol, a waxy substance that will help strengthen it at the microscopic level so that it can eventually be dried safely.” – Jules Norwood


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ECU Report

Study by ECU medical student shows effects of wildfire smoke on infants Radhika Dhingra already had the letters “Dr.” before her name before she stepped foot into the Brody Medical Sciences Building as a medical student. Dhingra completed her undergraduate education in architecture and math and then collected advanced degrees in Atlanta: master’s degrees in environmental engineering and environmental health and epidemiology, and then a doctorate in environmental health. As a public health researcher with the Environmental Protection Agency and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she put her education to work investigating the impacts of wildfires on children’s health. “Wildfires are proliferating all over the world. They’re certainly

Radhika Dhingra

doing more damage than just to people’s property or land,” Dhingra said. “They are definitely doing damage to our mental health as well as our physical health, including impacts on our lungs.” Dhingra is lead author on a study published in February in the journal Environmental Health that showed wildfire smoke exposure in the six months after birth causes long-term effects on the respiratory health of children, which is seemingly intuitive. A surprising twist in the findings of

Dhingra’s study is the upper respiratory system — from the nose down to the larynx — was primarily impacted by the smoke, which presents a particular challenge for babies. Dhingra said she knows people think it’s a lot to take on medical school, but she said she is fundamentally interested in how people become sick and wants to combine her training in epidemiology with the practice of medicine to improve the health of marginalized populations who often are disproportionately affected by environmental pollution and climate change. She applied during the COVID-19 pandemic to get a sense of how the process of applying to medical schools worked so that she would be prepared for the future, not imagining that she might be selected. Dhingra is a nontraditional medical student, with a husband and a young child to consider, and a career that includes ongoing research with some of North Carolina’s marginalized populations, so staying in North Carolina was an important part of her decision to undertake the program. As important, Dhingra said, was the feeling of being welcomed by Brody’s leadership, particularly Dr. Cedric Bright, the vice dean for medical education and admissions. “Radhika is worthy of praise,” Bright said. “I think she’ll be a great ambassador for Brody. She already is.” – Benjamin Abel

Ashley Cox ’10 of ECU’s creative services department designed a 35-foot-by-28-foot mural that adorns the side of the ECU Research, Economic Development and Engagement office building on Fifth Street near campus. She said her ship-through-a-wall design “was my way of showing that we never back down, never surrender to the circumstances and always make a way where there seems not to be one.” Local vendor Signsmith created the mural, and it was installed Sept. 9.


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ECU joins partnership to boost innovation in NC Thanks in part to university research, North Carolina has great potential for research and development but trails other states in commercializing that research, according to NCInnovation, a nonprofit formed to encourage innovation throughout the state. ECU will play a leading role in the effort as one of four UNC System “anchor universities” serving as regional innovation hubs, and ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers has been named a member of the nonprofit’s board of directors. Western Carolina University, UNC Charlotte and N.C. A&T State University will serve as the other regional hubs. Their chancellors, along with UNC System President Peter Hans, also serve on the board. “NCInnovation has partnered with ECU to help orient applied research toward industry needs, and then support researchers in commercializing the results of their work,” said Kelly King ’70, NCInnovation board chair. “Chancellor Rogers shares our bold vision to center economic development around universities, especially in more rural parts of the state. I’m proud to call him a partner.” In September, the group named four regional directors. ECU’s hub will be led by Derrick Welch, who has been program director of RISE29 at ECU, a program that partners entrepreneurially inclined students with small businesses throughout eastern North Carolina in an effort to support the economy by helping businesses begin, navigate a challenge or expand. He has a master’s degree in public administration, and previously served as chief of staff at the New Mexico Department of Education and staff

Derrick Welch

director at the N.C. Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations. NCInnovation is working to address key challenges to the commercialization of research ideas, including a lack of resources and mentors for researchers and entrepreneurs, especially outside the state’s major cities; insufficient funding for commercialization efforts; and a lack of collaboration among academic, industrial and capital networks. “The innovation concept is that to be competitive with other states, North Carolina is going to have to invest in the translation of research into new entrepreneurial activities,” Rogers said. “This partnership will bolster ongoing efforts at ECU to leverage new ideas and technologies developed at the university to create lasting positive change in our region.” NCInnovation has raised more than $23 million from donors, and state lawmakers appropriated $500 million to the organization over the next two years in its latest budget, passed in September. – Jules Norwood


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ECU Report

Above, ECU Air Force ROTC cadets, from left, Karilynn Cuevas, Javier Fuentes, Miles Mayer, Porter Brown and Zackery Hankins look at memorabilia from their unit’s history.

Events highlight Air Force ROTC’s decades of impact and alumni ECU this fall celebrated 75 years of its Air Force ROTC unit. Stemming from a 1947 application initiated by then college President John Messick, Air Force ROTC Detachment 600 opened in 1948. Lt. Col. William Dye is the unit’s current commander. The detachment has racked up accolades and achieved notable milestones since its inception, including in 2017 when it received the Right of Line award as the best medium-sized detachment in the United States. It is the second-largest detachment in the state of North Carolina. A 75th anniversary ball was held at the Greenville Convention Center on Sept. 22. A Main Campus library exhibition, 75 Years of Detachment 600: East Carolina’s


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Air Force ROTC, was on display at Joyner Library during the fall semester. The detachment also is working with university advancement for an ongoing crowdfunding campaign. “Our detachment, at 75 years, is only one year younger than our United States Air Force as a separate service,” said retired Gen. Gary North ’76, before a Sept. 22 panel discussion at the library exhibition. “You see graduates around the world, and when two or more are gathered, it’s ‘Go Pirates’ and about Pirate Nation, whether it’s during peace time or they’re civilians who graduated from the university and hold jobs in the industry, in government or in the uniform of our country. … The pride that Pirate Nation brings is just phenomenal.”

In 1969, the U.S. Air Force chose ECU as one of five detachments to accept women. Martha Van Hoy was the first woman to join East Carolina’s program, and in 1974, Mary Kathleen Langan was the detachment’s first female commissioned line officer. Langan’s breakthrough came two years after William T. Mitchell was ECU’s first Black cadet to be commissioned, earning second lieutenant status in the U.S. Air Force. “When I hear about those moments, I feel an overwhelming sense of pride,” cadet Coriel Grannis-Ezell said. “When I am commissioned, I will be a fourth-generation female officer. It goes all the way back to my great-grandmother with officers in the Air Force. That alone fuels my pride even more and is a big reason why I’m here.” – Ronnie Woodward

Retired Gen. Gary North, center, talks while flanked by Lt. Col. William Dye, left, and retired Col. Derrick Floyd during a panel discussion celebrating 75 years of ECU’s Air Force ROTC unit.

Famed SR-71 pilot Brian Shul has died Shot down in Vietnam, Brian Shul ’70 recovered from severe burns not only to fly again but to fly the world’s fastest, highest-soaring aircraft. Shul died May 20 after delivering a speech in Reno, Nevada. He was 75. Shul was a history major at ECU, then joined the Air Force after graduation. In 1973, his aircraft was shot down near the Cambodian border. Shul was unable to eject, and the explosive impact severely burned him, but he managed to survive in the jungle while evading enemy patrols until a rescue mission arrived. Shul returned to flying just two days after being released from the hospital. He went on to pilot the SR-71 Blackbird, one of the most iconic

aircraft in history. He retired in 1990, switching his focus to writing and photography. He was also a regular public speaker, recounting humorous, self-effacing stories about his adventures in the Air Force. Aviation buffs know Shul as part of probably the world’s most famous groundspeed check, which took place 13 miles above Southern California. Here’s how he would tell it: “I heard a Cessna ask for a readout of its groundspeed. ‘90 knots,’ Center replied. Moments later, a Twin Beech required the same. ‘120 knots,’ Center answered. … (A)lmost instantly an F-18 transmitted, ‘Ah, Center, Dusty 52 requests groundspeed readout.’ There was a slight pause, then the response, ‘620 knots on the ground, Dusty.’” Shul and his crew mate couldn’t resist asking, too. “‘Center, Aspen 20, you got a groundspeed readout for us?’ There was a longer than normal pause. ‘Aspen, I show 1,942 knots’” — or 2,234 mph. “No further inquiries were heard on that frequency,” Shul would say. ECU recognized him with an Outstanding Alumni Award in 2015. – Doug Boyd


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ECU Report

Siddharth Narayan of the Department of Coastal Studies received $1.9 million to study sustainable coastal adaptation.


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ECU achieves historic research, grant funding ECU received $85.6 million in sponsored awards, its highest level on record, during fiscal year 2023. Sponsored awards come from a variety of sources, including industry and foundations as well as state, national and federal agencies, such as $3.6 million in Department of Defense-funded projects. Sponsored programs are projects or activities supported by funds from an external source or sponsor, and can include organized research, training and other scholarly, professional or creative projects. The process is often competitive, with ECU faculty vying for funding for their projects along with contenders from other universities. This year, ECU had 24 awardees receive $1 million or more in total funding through grant proposals. Seven received between $1.9 million and $6 million. Doyle “Skip” Cummings, a pharmacist and professor of public health in the Brody School of Medicine, received $6.1 million to lead a multi-institutional team implementing a statewide randomized clinical trial to test a

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new model of care for improving blood pressure control in high-risk patients. Archana V. Hegde, associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science, received $5.1 million to support a program that provides continued professional development for prekindergarten teachers in nonpublic schools. Elizabeth Hodge, assistant dean of the ECU College of Education, received $2 million to increase teacher retention, helping to address the teacher shortage throughout the state through the N.C. New Teacher Support Program, a collaboration with 11 other in-state public universities. Siddharth Narayan, assistant professor in the Department of Coastal Studies, received a total of $1.9 million for interdisciplinary research projects that explore sustainable coastal adaptation. Working with research teams at ECU and around the globe, Narayan is examining how ecosystems such as mangroves, tidal marshes and coral reefs protect people from storms and how to preserve them. A total of 439 faculty members conducted sponsored activities. Of the $85.6 million, $8.1 million provided funding to student researchers. “Undergraduate students who engage with leading faculty experts in research or creative endeavors can access boundless experiential and learning benefits,” said Tuan Tran, director of undergraduate research. ECU is projected to exceed the record during the 2024 fiscal year, and leaders say supporters and partners should be encouraged by the quality of innovative research and other activities generated by faculty, staff and students. – Kim Tilghman

Michelle L. Malkin

Malkin establishes gambling research, policy project at ECU Michelle L. Malkin, an assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology at ECU, is leading a project that aims to study the evolving landscape of gambling in North Carolina and the United States as legalized gambling continues to grow. The Gambling Research and Policy Initiative, operating within ECU’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, aspires to conduct research on gambling awareness, behavior, risks, gambling-related harms and diversion court programs for gambling treatment. Funded by an initial $750,000 grant from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, with the potential for ongoing funding, the GRPI has teamed up with ECU and Malkin, a respected figure in the field of gambling research. The collaboration is founded on ECU’s commitment to public health and outreach. Malkin, whose expertise lies in gambling among marginalized communities, problem gambling and related crimes, intends to collaborate with state, institutional and industry stakeholders. The goal is to allocate resources where they are most needed and ensure policies and regulations are based on empirical evidence. As gambling legalization continues to be discussed in North Carolina and other states, Malkin emphasized the importance of researching its impact on communities, families and individuals. Removing plans to add casinos

and gambling terminals from the state budget allows for more in-depth discussions on the types of gambling to be legalized and the pace of expansion. Malkin foresees more gambling legislation in 2024 as the state prepares for the launch of sports wagering. She believes slower expansion provides more opportunities for research to guide resource allocation effectively. The GRPI’s research will focus on various underrepresented communities, including veterans, homeless individuals, young adults, students and marginalized communities, particularly in eastern North Carolina. Research will help identify areas that require education, outreach or problem gambling services. Malkin emphasized the need for regulated gambling and the responsibility to invest in education, outreach and research. The goal is to provide more infrastructure for services such as mental health providers, inpatient and outpatient programs, and recovery meetings, particularly in eastern North Carolina where these resources are limited. The GRPI’s research projects will encompass topics such as gambling prevalence and risk among LGBTQ+ individuals, college students’ gambling habits across the UNC System and the relationship between gambling legality and self-exclusion opportunities. The initiative also plans to establish a five-year plan for regular gambling prevalence studies. – Lacey Gray


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ECU Report

Awards recognize outstanding ECU alumni and friends Five outstanding ECU alumni and friends were honored by the ECU Alumni Association on Oct. 19 during homecoming weekend. Mary Earp ’58 received an Outstanding Alumni Award. She is a community advocate and agribusiness leader in Brunswick County. She was a driving force in lobbying for one of the ECU School of Dental Medicine Community Service-Learning Centers to be built in her county. Scott Avett ’99 ’00 received an Outstanding Alumni Award. He is a founding member of the three-time Grammy-nominated band The Avett Brothers and an accomplished visual artist. His paintings and prints have been showcased in galleries around the country. He has also released two art books, Invisible and Purpose at Random. Matt Slate ’96 was honored with the Virgil Clark ’50 Distinguished Service Award for his dedication to ECU. Slate serves as a chair of the ECU Foundation board and as a member of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences advancement council. He and his wife, Kelly, have endowed scholarships and planned gifts in the Harriot College and ECU athletics and support numerous campus priorities through annual giving.


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Terry Holland was honored posthumously with an Honorary Alumni Award. Holland served as ECU athletic director from 2004 to 2013. At ECU, Holland led efforts that resulted in an expansion of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and the creation of facilities for softball, track and other Olympic sports. Felix Morton IV ’13 received this year’s Young Alumni Award. Morton serves as a well-being coach and assistant director for community well-being in the undergraduate business program at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. Morton advocates for access to higher education and culturally affirming clinical support for students, with special attention to the experiences of Black youth and men. Vivien Sansour ’02 ’06 was slated to receive an Outstanding Alumni Award. She is an artist, researcher, writer and a conservationist of international stature. Sansour was unable to attend the Oct. 19 event. The alumni association hopes to honor her at a later date.

Four ECU alumni were honored for their service to the country during the Distinguished Military Service Society ceremony in November. Retired Army Col. Elbert T. Buck Jr. ’67 ’76 served 34 years in the Army National Guard. His military assignments included corps support group commander, military police, maintenance battalion and headquarters of the N.C. Army National Guard. Buck served as executive officer of the 690th Maintenance Battalion while serving in operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He is an Army War College graduate, and his service has been recognized with numerous honors, including the Legion of Merit, N.C. Distinguished Service Medal and two presentations of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. During his work in rehabilitation and as a parole officer, Buck hosted interns from ECU who received training with rehabilitation clients and in the criminal justice system. Retired Air Force Col. Derrick J. Floyd ’97 served at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina where he was the director of manpower, personnel and services for the 9th Air Force (Air Forces Central). He led the team responsible for planning and executing support for Air Force personnel in the U.S. Central Command. He served during operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Noble Eagle. As the military personnel flight commander at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina, Floyd created a shadow program at that allowed AFROTC cadets to receive briefings and tours related to their potential career fields.

Air Force Lt. Col. Brent McCraney ’04 serves as F-16 lead programmer for the Department of the Air Force, A8 Strategic Plans and Programs at the Pentagon, where he manages the operational sustainment of the Air Force’s largest fleet of fighter aircraft. He deployed as a munitions flight commander and munitions accountable systems officer in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He has been awarded the Silver Cross of Honor of the German Bundesweher, a Meritorious Service Medal and National Defense Service Medal, among other honors. McCraney and other ECU graduates established an ECU alumni group at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. He was the recipient of ECU’s 40 Under Forty Leadership Award in 2021. Navy Capt. Jim Newman ’68 ’74 was the first ECU graduate commissioned as an ensign in the Navy at ECU commencement. He served 34 years in active and reserve service, including deployments in Vietnam, the Jordanian Civil War, and operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and a Defense Meritorious Service MedalDistinguished Service with Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Command. Newman served as a member of the ECU Alumni Association board of directors, including as treasurer and board chair. He received an Outstanding Alumni Award in 2017. –-Patricia Earnhardt Tyndall


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Latest Investigations

A mysterious muscle that can live withiout oxygen Shifting sands at the Crystal Coast

Research team identifies new type of muscle ECU physiologists and graduate students – as well as a high school student – have worked together over the past couple of years to discover and describe a muscle in the foot that’s different from other muscles because of how it behaves without oxygen. Their next step is to figure out why. Their work was published in March in the journal Function and has been funded by a three-year, $377,500 grant from the National Institutes of Health. Skeletal muscles are used for breathing, movement and temperature regulation – activities that consume a lot of oxygen from blood, said Espen Spangenburg, professor of physiology and chair of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the Brody School of Medicine. One, the flexor digitorum brevis, FDB for short, is in the feet of mammals. Researchers use FDB in experiments because it’s amenable to different types of physiological measures. Several years ago, Spangenburg helped ECU physiologist Joseph McClung with a study looking into therapies for peripheral arterial disease. The study called for reducing blood flow to the extremities of subjects in preclinical models. Because FDB is the muscle farthest from the heart, it should have been the first to show signs of damage from the blood flow restriction. But it didn’t. Spangenburg knew he needed to figure out why. Working with ECU physiologist Kelsey Fisher-Wellman and assisted by graduate students such as Everett Minchew, who completed his doctorate in December, the team screened thousands of proteins and identified a number of proteins unique to FDB. Spangenburg still had to compute the data, which he was doing at home one day when his son, Quincy, a student at D.H. Conley High School in Greenville who’s taken college calculus, asked what he was working on. Quincy said the data looked like a polynomial function, and he thought he could use a tangent line to calculate it. He took the data and returned an hour and a half later with a solution. “We had to make some adjustments to his approach, but he literally developed a method for how we would assess the data,” Spangenburg said. “But then I didn’t know what to do, because typically when


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Doctoral candidates Everett Minchew, foreground, and Nick Williamson work in the Spangenburg Lab at ECU.

somebody adds to the research like that, you would add them to the paper.” But how would it look for his son to be listed as an author? Spangenburg consulted some colleagues. “And they all came away with the same thing,” he said. “‘Could you have done it?’” Not the way Quincy did it, so he added him as a co-author. The findings are causing researchers at other institutions to question assumptions about how the body works. “I have one guy who just sent me a whole experiment with the FDB muscle and asked, ‘Am I wasting my time? Like should I even be doing this?’” Spangenburg said. “This finding could change what we put in textbooks down the road because this muscle is an exception to the rule. And that means that there might be other exceptions. It may not be the only one.” – Benjamin Abel

Experts seek ways to save Sugarloaf Island It might be winter now, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great time to be at the beach. That goes for tourists as well as ECU scientists, such as a group led by Hannah Sirianni, that’s studying erosion at Carteret County’s Sugarloaf Island. Sirianni is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment who specializes in geographic information science and technology. She is leading a team of researchers and ECU graduate students in studying the erosion of Sugarloaf Island, a popular, undeveloped recreational beach off Morehead City’s downtown waterfront along the North Carolina coast. “Sugarloaf Island is important to Morehead City because it provides a natural defense from severe storm impacts. Unfortunately, there are growing concerns over the island’s severe erosion problem,” Sirianni said. Since 2014, the island’s shoreline has eroded about 10 feet a year and lost nearly 10,000 cubic meters of sand. It would take 800 average-sized dump trucks to hold the amount of sand lost from the 47-acre island. In 2022, the state allocated $2 million toward the island’s restoration.

“Sugarloaf Island is clearly disappearing at an alarming rate, and something needs to be done,” Sirianni said. Her team includes a group of multidisciplinary scientists, engineers and administrators from ECU as well as leaders and representatives from local government, academia and business. The group is working together to design and implement a shoreline stabilization project that may include wave-attenuation devices, living shoreline oyster reefs and terrestrial/aquatic plantings. Last summer, Sirianni’s coastal geography and terrain analysis lab used geospatial technologies, including GPS, the global navigation satellite system, modeling software and drones to map and monitor seasonal changes to the island. Graduate students Michael Moody and Sarah Pettyjohn are applying the technological skills gained from the project toward their master’s degrees. Moody has helped design field protocols and conducted an initial drone survey of Sugarloaf Island in November 2022. Pettyjohn, who found Sirianni’s lab website and Moody’s drone footage of Sugarloaf Island through an internet search, said Sirianni’s research is what attracted her to ECU. A graduate of the University of North Texas, she started her master’s degree in August and has made multiple trips to Sugarloaf Island. “It personally excites me because it’s a combination of the skills I really enjoy doing (field work) and skills I wanted to learn more about (geospatial mapping),” Pettyjohn said. Sirianni has published research from Sugarloaf Island as recently as the November 2022 issue of the journal Coasts.

– Lacey Gray

Graduate student Sarah Pettyjohn flies a drone to take photos of Sugarloaf Island, such as the one above.


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Yajiong “Lucky” Xue

College of Business Department of Management Information Systems Robert Dillard Teer Distinguished Professor

Yajiong “Lucky” Xue is on a mission to educate, empower and inspire children in rural North Carolina to care for their mental health. She is the Robert Dillard Teer Distinguished Professor in the College of Business. Xue is an essential player in the recent $3.2 million partnership between East Carolina University and the United Health Foundation. This grant focuses on children and adolescents, and Xue and her students are working on a project involving a virtual reality video game and a knowledge-management system to aid collaboration among mental health professionals, family members and community partners in eastern North Carolina. It also offers students the opportunity to apply their coursework knowledge and skills in system development. “We need to find innovative approaches to reach children,” Xue said. “So, we are building a virtual community house where they will be invited to enter as avatars, providing them with a sense of anonymity, making them more comfortable to speak out.” This virtual community house offers a wide range of activities, from sports and dancing to peer-to-peer support, and incorporates mental health education into all its programs. Mental health is a significant concern in North Carolina. Out of 100 counties, 92 are considered lacking in mental health care providers, said Xue. This virtual setting will expand access to care for children and youth across the state. For Xue, her project has a threefold mission. “First, we educate children about mental health care resources and knowledge. Second, we empower them with different capabilities and strategies to address their problems. Third, we inspire them to seek excellent resources when needed.” It’s no small task, but Xue is passionate about the work. “It’s very exciting to see these kids enthusiastic about having a virtual space with no barriers. They can not only play but also help themselves, addressing their mental health issues while enjoying their playtime.” – Reed Wolfley


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André Green is the new

Charles Ewen, a professor of anthropology, has been named a

dean of the ECU College of Education. He started July 19. Green comes to ECU from the University of South Alabama, where he served as professor of leadership and teacher education and associate vice president for academic affairs. Green has a bachelor’s degree from Alabama State University, a master’s in chemistry from Hampton University and education specialist and doctoral degrees from Virginia Tech. At South Alabama, he also served as chair of the Department of Leadership and Teacher Education, associate dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies and executive director of the Center for Integrative Studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

distinguished professor in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences at ECU. Ewen joined ECU’s faculty in 1994. In addition to teaching popular courses such as Aliens, Atlantis and Archaeology: Pseudoscience and Interpretations of the Past, Ewen has supported his research with more than $500,000 in grant funding. He also has written or co-written 10 books, more than two dozen peer-reviewed journal articles or book chapters and has participated in more than a dozen scholarly presentations and invited talks. Ewen has a master’s from Florida State University and a doctorate from the University of Florida.

Dr. Greg Chadwick, dean of the ECU School of Dental Medicine, in September was installed as president of the FDI World Dental Federation during the organization’s 2023 World Dental Congress in Sydney, Australia. He had served as president-elect since 2021. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, FDI leads the world to optimal dental health through policy, education and advocacy. Its membership comprises nearly 200 national member associations and specialist groups in more than 130 countries, making it the premier representative body for more than 1 million dentists worldwide.

Mark Hand, a clinical nursing professor at ECU, was named the Education Nurse of the Year by the North Carolina Nurses Association at a gala event Sept. 14 in Winston-Salem. He has a doctorate in nursing from ECU and a master’s from the University of New Hampshire. In addition to teaching at ECU, he has been a faculty member at Rivier University in New Hampshire and Durham Technical Community College.


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Weeks before he was to start his dream of being a college baseball player, Parker Byrd lost part of his right leg in a boating accident. But that’s barely slowed him on his drive toward success on the diamond and in the classroom.


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Parker Byrd strives to be 1% better each day STORY BY RONNIE WOODWARD

This fall was Parker Byrd’s first semester as a full-time student at East Carolina University. That milestone did not come without challenges. Byrd has faced and defeated many as he continues to adapt since a boating accident on July 23, 2022, led to the amputation of part of his right leg and ultimately 22 surgeries to save his life. Byrd is determined to play in a baseball game someday with his fellow Pirate student-athletes. He also describes himself as “old school” with academics. “I stick out probably a little differently than other people, because I have the (ECU baseball) book bag on and a prosthetic leg, but, thankfully, people respect each other and they don’t really come up to me much,” Byrd says. “I’ll get here, and there will be somebody come up and say they are praying for me, which is absolutely great and I love it, but typically, just living a normal college experience is pretty key.” Byrd, 19, was a part-time student for the 2022-23 academic year, his first at ECU. It was his most likely option as he balanced medical appointments, physical therapy sessions and online classes.


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Online learning is still part of Byrd’s daily routine, but he also enjoys being on campus and prefers learning in person. He has at least one in-person class every weekday. He drives to student parking lots and rides campus buses. One of his professors, Danica Spriggs, says Byrd is positive in interactions and active in course discussions. The former Scotland High School star shortstop verbally committed to ECU — the alma mater of his parents, Jeff ’98 ’02 and Mitzi ’98 — during his freshman year of high school. He is majoring in business with a minor in communication. He moved into off-campus housing with two roommates, who are childhood friends and not ECU athletes. The upgrade to full-time student has upped his focus on time management. Byrd needs to compensate for extra time to dress. He needs to monitor for any sores or pain near his prosthetic leg area, which he encountered in September and traveled to David Rotter Prosthetics in Joliet, Illinois, for adjustments. He might need to think carefully about his path to a bus stop or class building. As the often-smiling and witty Byrd continues to learn and navigate the student experience, he remains an inspiration to many people. Spriggs, a teaching instructor in the leadership and professional development program for the College of Business, was not aware of Byrd’s story before teaching him. “When I discovered that he is an athlete, which usually happens weeks into the semester, I was amazed by the entire situation, especially his commitment to being a full-time student-athlete and the effort that requires,” Spriggs says. “I do think his story is inspirational, in that he is a living example of tenacity and mental strength. His upbeat personality in the face of struggle puts many things into perspective for me, and likely his fellow classmates.” FOR MORE INFO


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See more at https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=zdVGLytfVm0

winter 2024

At left, Byrd and teammate Jake Hunter greet each other between innings during a game at Clark-LeClair Stadium. Below, Below, Byrd and teammate Merritt Beeker watch a game from the dugout at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

The Byrd family has learned they are not alone, especially after moving from Laurinburg to Greenville following Parker’s surgeries. Parker’s younger sisters, Gracen and Brinley, attend Pitt County Schools. Jeff is a pediatrician at Children’s Health Services in Greenville. “It’s really good,” Parker says of his family being nearby now, “because it gives that home feel. Whenever I want to go see my sisters, I can head 15 minutes to their house. My mom brings me food that she cooks, so there’s still a lot of benefits from being home. It’s been a really good adjustment.” Many local medical professionals have supported Parker, including at ECU Health, Youngs Physical Therapy and Sports Performance and Shane Coltrain, founder of Orthotics and Prosthetics East. Mega Pirate fan Jared Plummer ’04, a graduate in athletic training who posts in-game social media videos for a virtual snapshot into the passionate baseball fan experience at ClarkLeClair Stadium, spearheaded a Parker Byrd GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $90,000.

Plummer had no connection to the Byrd family before 2022. “They take care of their own in eastern North Carolina,” Jeff Byrd says. “We feel it. It shows how special Greenville and eastern North Carolina is.” Parker’s positivity and determination have led to his story reaching far beyond the state, including motivational speaking requests and a TV interview with a San Diego affiliate. In conjunction with the Challenged Athletes Foundation, he participated in an interview on the MLB Network and threw a ceremonial first pitch before a Houston Astros game in April. “He makes me better and makes our team better,” ECU head baseball coach Cliff Godwin said during the team’s media day event before the 2023 season. “Obviously it was a very tragic moment, but of all the people this could have ever happened to, he’s taken it and gone in a very positive way. He’s not only affecting our team, he’s affecting people all around the country in a positive way.” Byrd didn’t envision that level of attention when he signed to play for ECU before graduating from high school. But between that and starting classes, on that July day on Bath Creek, he was on an inner tube when the rope connecting the tube to the boat became entangled in the boat’s propeller, pulling him into it and mangling both his legs. Quick thinking and fast action by those at and near the scene as well as EMS professionals who answered the call saved his life. And after Byrd was released from the hospital, people would speak to him and his family when they ate at local restaurants. Parker remembers asking his mom how or why people recognized him. “It definitely was an adjustment, just getting all of that attention,” he says. “As long as I use it to the good, and try to focus on the positive things out of it, which I appreciate everybody’s support, that’s really how I look at it. … There is a bunch of rehab, just trying to get back onto the field. I have to outwork everybody else now. So I’m trying to find that extra way to do that.” Byrd’s year as a part-time student delayed the start of his athletic eligibility period until he became full time. After returning from

Charlie Hodges, left, and Byrd talk before a game at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

Chicago in late September, he focused on playing third base during fall practices. “I think it’s really the best fit, especially with my fast-twitch muscles not being as fast as they were at one point, so not being as mobile,” he says. “I’m just trying to get used to being back out there. It feels good.” Godwin says Byrd is a daily source of inspiration. For Jeff Byrd, the unwavering commitment the Pirates have shown to his son is invaluable. “The coaches have been phenomenal. They have such a special relationship,” Jeff Byrd says. “I don’t know if every place would have allowed that to happen, but coach Godwin still allows Parker to pursue his dream. Coach Godwin is the biggest advocate for Parker, outside of family, as anyone.” Given the life-changing and unexpected challenges he has faced since July 2022, Byrd has adapted and leaned on one of the Pirates’ core mantras — to get 1% better each day. “I really have to just focus on the dayto-day process,” he says. “I need to focus on every little aspect to get there. I think the end goal is going to be really cool, but I have to do all the work to get there first. It’s definitely trying to live 1% better, like we preach here, to get back on that field and hopefully inspire others to keep pushing forward.”

“It’s been pretty cool to see people kind of rally and seeing myself be an inspiration for others. Obviously, it’s not what I thought would ever happen, but it’s been pretty cool to just see some positive things that have come out of such a negative experience. Seeing everything I can do and how I can impact people has been really cool to watch. I tell people all the time that Greenville is a special place, because I don’t think there’s any other place that would rally around me the way that Greenville has in the past year and a half. I’m really thankful I can be here for this (baseball) program, but also more for the city of Greenville and the fans and Pirate Nation.” east.ecu.edu

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STEADFAST CHAMPIONS Thanks to two families, ECU’s top undergraduate scholarship program will support students for decades to come


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The names Brinkley and Lane are synonymous with excellence at East Carolina University. In May, Robert Gentry Brinkley ’78 and Amy Woods Brinkley and Lewis Patrick Lane III ’67 and Lynn Lewis Lane made a transformational commitment to the university that elevated their names to legend and secured the future of the university’s most prestigious undergraduate award program, which now bears their name. Chancellor Philip Rogers described their passionate commitment to ECU, the Honors College and future generations of Pirates as evidence these families are committed to the ideals of ECU, committed to delivering on the mission of advancing ECU as a national model for student success, public service and regional transformation. Brinkley-Lane Scholars are known for their leadership in the classroom, in campus programs and at university events. Program director Katherine


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Ford describes the students as the program’s best ambassadors. The students hold the most prestigious undergraduate award offered at ECU. For these 80 scholars, the student experience is amplified, providing additional opportunities for leadership, service and professional development. Within the Brinkley-Lane program and the Honors College, the students find mentorship from their peers and faculty and inspiration to pursue every opportunity.

“Our faculty within the Honors College are always pushing us to take advantage of different opportunities so that we can be the best possible version of ourselves.” – Noah Sampson, Brinkley-Lane Scholar

Noah Sampson, a junior studying biology and chemistry, says being a BrinkleyLane Scholar has given him access to support systems that have helped him make the most out of his time at ECU. He’s channeled that motivation into being an assistant in a research lab at the Brody School of Medicine and being involved in Pirate PALS (Peers Advocating for Learning and Success) and the Pirates vs. Cancer organization. “Our faculty within the Honors College are always pushing us to take advantage of different opportunities so that we can be the best possible version of ourselves,” he says. The program has opened doors for Emily Bronson, who is working on a dual major in political science and communication with a minor in leadership studies. “The staff and the other students have helped me navigate my passions in a way that I didn’t realize college could,” Bronson says. “I am a freelance journalist for The Daily Reflector, and I have served as the campaign manager for two local elections. Of all the wonderful opportunities I have found here at ECU, I can credit them all to the Brinkley-Lane Scholars program.” Engagement with the students extends beyond the campus. Program alumni and donors are actively involved in the scholars’ success. Lauren Humann, a junior studying entrepreneurship, remembers being nervous at her first Celebrating Excellence dinner for Brinkley-Lane Scholars, where she met her scholarship donor. “I was hoping that I would be able to represent the college in a good way. She “Of all the wonderful remembered from my interview how much opportunities I have the Walt Disney World companies’ leadership found here at ECU, inspired me and gave me a book called The I can credit them all Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 to the Brinkley-Lane Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Scholars program.” Bob Iger,” Humann says. “I was blown away by the financial support, and the additional – Emily Bronson, Brinkley-Lane Scholar emotional support that I got was unexpected and greatly needed and appreciated.”


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Learning around the world

Marzuq Islam’s Doctors in Italy Fellowship participation was influenced by fellow Honors College student Ono Abhulimen ’23. Following her experience with Doctors in Italy, Abhulimen, Islam and other engineering students created a color-changing bandage that could detect infections based on the pH of the infected wound. The team presented it at a conference in Boston, where it got a lot of attention. “We were about the only ones doing a demo,” Islam says.

Marzuq Islam’s Brinkley-Lane Scholarship allowed him to spend five weeks abroad with the Doctors in Italy Fellowship. “I got a lot of experience in specialties I might be interested in,” he says.

Brinkleys believe in ECU’s regional impact Robert Brinkley grew up in Greenville, where ECU’s influence and impact are always present. Proximity helped him realize how important ECU is to the region. His experience as a student furthered his appreciation of the university. “I received an outstanding education at ECU and feel like it prepared me extremely well for life,” Brinkley said. “The university is also a very good steward of its public and private funding. Amy and I firmly believe that ECU deserves our support.” Brinkley was a summa cum laude graduate from the College of Business and a four-year letter winner on the Pirate baseball team. He earned a law degree from Wake Forest University, has practiced law in North Carolina for more than 35 years and is a partner in the Charlotte office of Womble Bond Dickinson. He has served on the ECU board of trustees including two years as chair; the ECU Foundation board of directors; the ECU Board of Visitors and the ECU Real Estate Foundation. He served on the steering committee for the Campaign for ECU Scholars and the ECU baseball stadium steering committee and serves on the Honors College Advancement Council. Amy Brinkley had a three-decades-long career at Bank of America. Over the course of her career, she served as the company’s marketing executive, president of consumer products and chief risk officer. She was named to Fortune magazine’s 50 Most Powerful


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Women in Business for nine consecutive years and cited by Forbes and The Wall Street Journal as one of the leading women in business. The Brinkleys have been champions of ECU for more than five decades, supporting the EC Scholars program, Honors College, College of Business, Access Scholarship program and athletics. Among their many gifts supporting the university, they established the Robert and Amy Brinkley Access Scholarship Endowment, Robert G. and Amy W. Brinkley Scholars Award and the Robert and Amy Brinkley Honors College Endowed Fund for Excellence. In May, the Brinkleys followed their belief in ECU’s mission with a historic commitment to the Honors College and the EC Scholars program. “North Carolina is known for its excellence in public higher education, and ECU is the cornerstone for this quality education in eastern North Carolina and beyond,” Brinkley said. “Simply put, ECU’s excellence mission requires a top-drawer merit scholarship program. The (Brinkley-Lane) Scholars program is critical to the continued success and growth of the ECU Honors College.” As an ECU trustee, Brinkley helped envision the Honors College to make sure ECU is and will continue to be an attractive place for high-achieving young people who seek academic challenges.

Thanks to his Brinkley-Lane Scholarship, which includes a study-abroad component, Islam spent five weeks with the Doctors in Italy Fellowship shadowing physicians at facilities such as the San Giovanni Addolorata Hospital near Rome. Islam rotated through internal medicine, emergency and other departments and learned how to read EKGs. He also observed surgeries and saw how heat stroke is treated during a week of 100-degree temperatures. “I got a lot of experience in specialties I might be interested in,” the future physician says. Sampson, who studied in Dortmund, Germany,

says he was able to study abroad because of the Brinkley-Lane program. “Less than a year ago, I had never left the country, but now I’ve been to 15 countries and have had a wealth of life-changing experiences,” Sampson says. Leading in service

Following the university’s mission and values, Brinkley-Lane Scholars are motivated to serve ECU and the community. “Serving the East has been the bedrock for my passion in public service, so choosing ECU to pursue

Lanes motivated by student success Being recognized at campus events is overwhelming for Pat and Lynn Lane, and the greetings and thanks from others in Pirate Nation reinforce their pride in supporting ECU. Their philanthropic decisions demonstrate how much the couple believes in higher education and in ECU. Their scholarship support began with a Marching Pirates scholarship and later shifted to an endowment in performing arts. In addition to their estate gift and endowment supporting the Brinkley-Lane Scholars program and performing arts, they have an endowment in STEPP and annually support four scholarships in the College of Education. Additionally, they have established an endowment and leadership gifts at Lynn’s alma mater, Greensboro College. “For us, it is all about the students. They are the true motivators of our giving back,” Pat said. “It is the best way to positively influence the most members of society.” The Lanes are invested in ECU beyond their financial gifts. They also are doers and advocates, serving ECU on boards and committees, mentoring, and engaging with their scholarship students. “We see this as the opportunity for us to give back to society. If we can help students in their time at ECU, we are happy to, and it also makes us feel fulfilled in many ways,” Lynn said. Pat remembers watching the Marching Pirates change formation from ECC to ECU

as a symbol of support for former Chancellor Leo Jenkins’ effort to earn university status in 1967. The moment is one of the early points on the chart of Pat’s unwavering dedication to his alma mater. He is a College of Business accounting graduate and earned an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is a retired CPA. He has served on the College of Education advisory board, the alumni association board of directors, the Pirate Club executive committee and the Pirate Club Circle of Excellence as executive director. For Lynn, the memories have come over time. There was attending ECU’s football win over Miami after Hurricane Floyd and, more recently, attending the Brinkley-Lane Scholars celebration with their granddaughters. She has served on numerous ECU boards, including as chair of the ECU Foundation board of directors, the Health Sciences Foundation, the College of Education advisory board, and she is chair of the Honors College Advancement Council. She is also the 2001 ECU Honorary Alumni Award recipient. One memory both share as a full-circle moment was when one of their College of Education scholarship students started a scholarship at her high school in her hometown. During her senior year at ECU, she announced she was changing the name to the Pat and Lynn Lane Scholarship.


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Marzuq Islam studied abroad in Italy thanks to his Brinkley-Lane Scholarship.

Twenty-five years of student success 1998 ECU establishes the EC Scholars program as the most prestigious undergraduate merit scholarship program at ECU.

2010 my undergraduate degrees was an easy decision for me,” Bronson says. “ECU and the Brinkley-Lane Scholars program have made it simple to get involved in local communities beyond the university.” Her ECU experiences have solidified Bronson’s plans to pursue a career in policymaking and legislation, and she hopes to earn her doctorate in legislative policy. Islam and Sampson plan to pursue careers in medicine. Islam will graduate in May with a degree in engineering. He intends to take a gap year and work as an EMT and engineer before continuing his education. Humann says she is honored to serve on the executive board of A Moment of Magic, a national nonprofit organization, and on campus as a Pirate Navigator with undergraduate admissions. She will be applying for internships with Disney parks and products and is considering the immersive MBA program at ECU.

“I was blown away by the financial support, and the additional emotional support that I got was unexpected and greatly needed and appreciated.” – Lauren Humann, Brinkley-Lane Scholar


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Honors program established as a college within the university. Former Chancellor Richard Eakin becomes founding dean of the Honors College. EC Scholars program incorporated into Honors College.

May 2014 Eleven EC Scholars are among the inaugural Honors College graduating class.

April 2023 Todd Fraley, who holds the Bill and Emily Furr Honors College Distinguished Professorship, is named dean of the Honors College.

May 2023 EC Scholars renamed Brinkley-Lane Scholars program to honor $30 million commitment to the institution from Robert Gentry Brinkley ’78 and Amy Woods Brinkley and Lewis Patrick Lane III ’67 and Lynn Lewis Lane. The program ensures full cost of attendance for all scholars.

August 2023 Katherine Ford named director of the Brinkley-Lane Scholars program and associate dean of the Honors College. She is the Linda McMahon Distinguished Professor of Foreign Languages.

Emma O’Brien ‘20 turned her Brinkley-Lane Scholarship into a job with USA Triathlon.

Creating a career trajectory

Emma O’Brien ’20, an alumna of the BrinkleyLane Scholars program, credits it for transforming her college experience and career trajectory. “When I first started at ECU, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do,” she says. “I was given the space to be curious, take classes in all different realms, say yes to experiences I was unsure about and truly figure out who I was and who I wanted to be.” One of those opportunities was the chance to study abroad in Italy, Australia and New Zealand. “Studying abroad opened up a world of cultural immersion and personal growth that I couldn’t have achieved through traditional classroom learning alone,” O’Brien says. “These experiences not only enriched my academic journey but also equipped me with invaluable life skills that will benefit me in all aspects of my future.” During her four years, O’Brien was able to explore her interests in sports studies through research with Greenville Recreation and Parks and further her leadership skills through the Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows Program in Washington, D.C. These experiences culminated in an internship with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee that led to her current role as the youth programs assistant manager for USA Triathlon.

Looking back on her experience, O’Brien credits the high-impact trips and the community created with her cohort for building a supportive environment that helped her thrive. Representing the Brinkley-Lane Scholars program holds personal significance for O’Brien and is a chance for her to lead by example, inspire others and give back to the community around her. “They were my biggest cheerleaders, and the bond that we created will last far beyond our time at ECU,” she says. “I was supported every step of the way by my fellow scholars and faculty when I had no idea what the future held for me.” Doug Boyd and Kristen Martin contributed to this article.


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CENTER FOR SURVEY RESEARCH EARNS ECU NATIONAL RECOGNITION WITH ITS WORK Campaign ads and stump speeches signal the start of another election cycle that will be watched closely in East Carolina University’s Center for Survey Research. Six years ago, with seed funds from an ECU alumnus, the center added election polling to its scope of work and, in the process, has earned national recognition for the university as a reputable and reliable polling source. Two people lead the center: director Peter Francia and senior polling scientist Jonathan Morris, longtime faculty members in ECU’s Department of Political Science in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences.

Peter Francia, left, and Jonathan Morris lead the Center for Survey Research. east.ecu.edu

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Methods and impact

The Center for Survey Research has sampled public opinion on a range of topics including legalized sports betting, vaping and e-cigarettes, gun control, impeachment, COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war. The center’s first national survey, developed by researchers in ECU’s departments of public health, political science, psychology and sociology, asked about the nation’s founding principles of life, liberty and happiness. “So many researchers, businesses and community members have important questions to ask, and they know they can get high-quality information and insight by leveraging the expertise of ECU’s Center for Survey Research,” says Dean Allison Danell of the Harriot College. “These survey results help our society understand complex issues and appreciate the role ECU plays in helping address them.” Francia and Morris work with vendors to collect information from people via phone, online and text-to-web, which sends a survey link in a text message. The center added the technology in 2022, and it has helped improve accuracy, because almost everyone has a cellphone, Francia says. Once data is collected, Francia and Morris take the mixed-mode survey data files and combine the results into one dataset. “Then the fun begins, because you have to look at what you ended up with, and you have to pay close attention to your demographics and some other factors,” Francia says. “Then you weight the data, so that it looks like the electorate that you expect. There’s some statistics, math and a little bit of estimation based on past exit poll results.” ECU’s poll for North Carolina’s 2022 Senate race between Ted Budd and Cheri Beasley was well within the margin of error. In Georgia, the center accurately predicted a runoff between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and his Republican


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challenger Herschel Walker, although some pollsters had expected Walker to win outright in a red wave of support. “I went into my campaigns and elections class that Tuesday and told my students, ‘I have to trust my numbers, and I’ve told the press that I think we’re headed for a runoff. But I’m nervous,’” Francia says. “We ended up being right, and that felt great.” Political consultant Karl Rove, advisor to President George W. Bush, singled out the center for its call on the Georgia races. RealClearPolitics ranked the center near the top for accuracy in 2022 among regional and statewide polling organizations. Closer to home, the North State Journal and Carolina Forward noted the accuracy of ECU’s 2022 election polling. “On election night, you really don’t want to be wrong. I guess if we were, we’d have plenty of company. A lot of good pollsters have missed, by a lot, in some places,” Francia says. The center has also surveyed registered voters in Ohio, South Carolina and more recently in West Virginia. In May, the ECU poll asked about a hypothetical 2024 U.S. Senate matchup between Republican Gov. Jim Justice and incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. The poll showed a significant 22-point lead for Justice, spelling trouble for Manchin. The results were immediately SO MANY RESEARCHERS, BUSINESSES AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS HAVE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO ASK, AND THEY KNOW THEY CAN GET HIGH-QUALITY INFORMATION AND INSIGHT BY LEVERAGING THE EXPERTISE OF ECU’S CENTER FOR SURVEY RESEARCH.” Allison Danell Dean, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences

picked up by national political observers, including David Axelrod, senior political commentator on CNN and chief strategist for President Barack Obama’s campaigns. “We were the first to poll it. That was news. Sometimes it’s timing and sometimes it’s your results saying something that is newsworthy; it’s just as simple as that,” Francia said. Manchin announced in early November he will not seek re-election. Between 2020 and 2022, the center generated roughly $12 million in earned media. Francia has been interviewed by CNN, National Public Radio, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal as well as local, regional and statewide outlets.

In July 2019, the center released the findings of its first national survey on Americans’ attitudes and behaviors on topics related to the nation’s founding principles.

Retired News & Observer political reporter Rob Christensen says he talked to a lot of voters in his 45 years in Raleigh. “But you can never be sure that you are talking to a cross section of voters,” he says. “The polling done by the ECU Center for Survey Research provided invaluable hard data about what voters were thinking. Peter Francia was someone who I relied on to help interpret not only the polling but share his wisdom about North Carolina and national politics.” Nonpartisan, objective research

Francia and Morris are members of the American Association for Public Opinion Research and its regional chapter, the Southern Association for Public Opinion Research, where Francia serves as president. The CSR is an institutional member of the Association of Academic Survey Research Organizations. The CSR is a nonpartisan organization, dedicated to objective polling and surveys. “Our statistics are objective. Our reports are objective,” Morris says. Still, people can get upset by questions or results. “We get complaints calling us leftists; we get complaints calling us ultra-conservative. We figure if both sides, especially the extremes, are complaining about our work, we’re doing OK,” Morris says. “We’re not trying to convince anybody of anything. We are providing as accurate an estimate of what groups of the public are thinking about given political or social issues at

the time,” Morris says. “You can’t cover politics and social issues without ruffling some feathers. We’re fine with it because we know that we do everything we can to be objective.” The team works hard to generate clear questions without bias. “We want to be as straightforward as possible,” Morris says. “We don’t want to ask anything that’s going to be confusing or leading.” ECU undergraduate students learn about public opinion polls and how to construct objective, clear, measurable questions that are unbiased. Political science students review data analyses to replicate findings and conduct their own polls each semester. “It’s fun to show the students the nuts and bolts of the process and that there are correct ways to measure public opinion and there are incorrect ways to do it. The correct way isn’t necessarily intuitive,” Morris says. ECU alumna Brittany Meier worked in the center as a doctoral student from August 2020 through May 2022, conducting research independently and with other students, professors and professionals within and outside ECU. She developed surveys, collected data,


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Wayne Holloman speaks during the Center for Survey Research dedication in 2018.

Holloman donation makes election polling possible The ECU Center for Survey Research started election polling with the support of ECU alumnus Wayne Holloman ’64. A plaque recognizing the philanthropy of Holloman and his wife, Sherry, hangs just outside the entrance to center director Peter Francia’s office in the Brewster Building. “None of this is possible without Wayne, and that’s not an exaggeration. Without his generosity, we could not have done election polling,” Francia says. “And the (advisory) board has given money as well.” Holloman and Francia met through the ECU Department of Political Science’s John East Scholarship, named for the late U.S. senator and political science professor. Holloman was a close friend of East and endowed the scholarship in 2000. Francia is a member (now chair) of the committee that distributes the $7,500 annual scholarship. In 2017, the center moved from the then-Office of Innovation and Economic Development to the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. Francia was named director, starting in January 2017 with a $5,000 budget. He brought in a guest lecturer from MIT and began thinking about next steps. A few months later, Francia bumped into Holloman at a restaurant. Francia told Holloman about becoming director for the center and shared his vision for a combination of election polling and survey research on a range of issues impacting people’s lives. Holloman remembers the conversation. “He pointed out to me how it could be a huge asset to the political science department and how much recognition ECU could get from it, and how


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beneficial it can be to the university. It would be nonpartisan, which it is. There’s no partisan lead to it,” he says. ECU could get positive national media coverage with political polling, but the center lacked the financial resources to do it. “I listened to him and thought about it, and I said, ‘You know, Peter, I think you’ve got something, and you ought to drive the train. The person who drives the train is the one that’s going to make a success of it.’” Holloman committed to giving $25,000 a year for four years — $100,000 — as seed money for the center. When that four-year period was up, he pledged another $25,000 a year for four more years through 2025. “My hopes for the center are that they will continue to get the support they are getting from the university, and they will offer courses, student employment, research and internships,” Holloman says, adding an academic minor or major could possibly be developed to attract prospective students. “And we will continue to do more polling, not all political polling by any means. It should be diverse in its polling.” In addition to the center and political science department, the Hollomans have supported Honors College programming and the Voyages of Discovery lecture series, the ECU Health Foundation and ECU Athletics. Wayne Holloman served on the board of directors of the ECU Foundation, the ECU Real Estate Foundation and ECU Alumni Association. Sherry Holloman served on the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Advancement Council.

cleaned and analyzed data, wrote and edited articles and briefs, prepared presentations and reports, and did consultations. She now works for a Boston-based independent market research firm. “During my time in the center, I improved my data analytic skills, my confidence as a consultant and knowledge of various tools and practices,” Meier says. “I learned more about numerous fields of study. This has helped me approach my current consultative, analytic and reporting work thoughtfully, collaborate with cross-functional and cross-disciplinary teams, and continue to learn new skills.” Meier says the center’s strengths begin with its dedicated staff and its location at ECU. “As a knowledgeable and collaborative team, they share insights and add value to each other’s interpretations of sound statistical research. This, mixed with years of experience, means the center staff can effectively predict trends and results, and report on findings in meaningful ways,” she says. Looking ahead

CSR activities will gear up with the South Carolina Republican presidential primary in February, one of the earliest primaries in the country. The center will poll the N.C. Republican presidential and gubernatorial primaries before turning to general election polling in North Carolina, Georgia and Ohio in October. “We’re getting more comfortable with what we’re doing, we’re getting more efficient in fielding polls, writing the reports, publishing the reports, and then getting them into the news very quickly, but each poll costs money, and our funds are finite,” Morris says. The work would not be possible without ECU alumnus Wayne Holloman ’64 and the center’s advisory board, which raises funds to supplement ECU’s in-kind support and stipend, Francia says. This fall, ECU University Advancement secured an anonymous gift for the center that will provide $50,000 this fiscal year. “ECU has done a very good job of giving us time to concentrate on polling research during primary season and general election season,” Morris says. “We have the willingness to poll as many competitive races as we can.”

FACTS ABOUT THE ECU CENTER FOR SURVEY RESEARCH • It started in 1989. • It conducts election polls, issue polls, university surveys and more. • It offers services including survey design, data cleaning and analysis, and report writing. • It has conducted election polling in five different states. • It has polled on topics such as sports gambling, vaping, COVID-19 mandates, gun control and more. • It has worked on projects for the Greenville ENC Alliance, the N.C. Chamber of Commerce, the Brody School of Medicine and Wahl-Coates Elementary School. • Between 2020 and 2022, it generated an estimated $12 million in earned media. More information is at surveyresearch.ecu.edu.

The center doesn’t have its own calling center or staff and must outsource those activities. Some undergraduate students have had unpaid internships although the center would like to grow its capacity to employ and teach students in the center. “We have to be very smart with how we allocate our resources,” Morris says. Quinnipiac University, Marist College and Monmouth University have increased visibility and raised their respective profiles through election polling, which can serve as models for what the CSR can achieve, Francia says. “We’re helping to raise the public profile of the university, and it’s rewarding for us when we hear our research be mentioned alongside a CNN poll or other nationally known polling houses like The New York Times,” Morris says. “We’re mentioned on equal footing with a lot of other prominent polling organizations. And the more we do this, hopefully the more commonplace that will be.”


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Telehealth, training and outreach Diverse efforts aim to prioritize mental well-being In the wake of surging demand for mental health support, the U.S. is grappling with a critical shortage of mental health providers, creating a stark imbalance between the need for assistance and the available resources. Whether it’s through educating new mental health professionals or alumni working in the community, East Carolina University is working to create solutions. “Access remains an issue because we quite simply do not have enough providers,” says Dr. Michael Lang ’02, chair of the ECU Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine and chief of psychiatry at ECU Health. Many providers report wait times between five and eight weeks, with some specialties having monthslong waitlists, he says. For perspective, here are some numbers from the National Alliance on Mental Illness: • One in five U.S. adults experiences mental illness each year. • One in 20 experiences serious mental illness each year. • One in six U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year. • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14 and 75% by age 24. • Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people aged 10-14. And while there has been an influx of patients seeking treatment for mental health concerns, there has not been a corresponding 38

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increase in providers. The federal Health Resources and Services Administration in 2022 designated 2,774 of the 3,144 counties in the U.S. as mental health provider shortage areas. Training future providers

ECU offers a range of degrees aimed at training the next generation of mental health practitioners, from counseling and social work to nursing and medicine. Alumni in these disciplines are working to serve rural populations, expand national knowledge and teach the next generation of providers. For example, all ECU medical students spend a rotation in the psychiatry department. Lang, as department chair, manages the largest conglomeration of behavioral health providers in the East. “I do a lot of education of fellow physicians and medical students so they are not afraid of psychiatric medicines or are not afraid to sit down and talk to their patient about what can be going on,” he says.

As chair of the ECU Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Dr. Michael Lang mentors future medical professionals such as Samantha Studvick and Mark McAlister.

Lang is overseeing the building of a behavioral health hospital in Greenville’s medical district in conjunction with Acadia Health. It’s scheduled to open in 2025 and will feature the region’s first inpatient beds dedicated to children and adolescents. He’s also working to create five psychiatric medicine fellowships at ECU. Marissa Carraway ’07 ’11 ’14, a licensed psychologist and clinical assistant professor with the ECU departments of family medicine and psychology, teaches family medicine residents to recognize and work with behavioral health issues among their patients. “We know that most patients who come to a primary care Marissa Carraway appointment for any reason will not follow through with a behavioral health referral,” Carraway says. “We know that the majority of people utilize primary care providers for mental health care, so we need to meet them where they are.” Ways to bridge the gap

In an American Psychological Association survey, 96% of psychologists said they would continue to incorporate telehealth into their practices after the pandemic. “As a therapist with a significant percentage of clients in abusive relationships, virtual sessions allowed far more privacy and accessibility than we ever would have had otherwise,” says Michelle Tennant ’20, who owns Morning Light Counseling in Greenville. “It’s a lot easier to keep a session private when it’s just a call while you’re at work versus driving to and from a therapist’s office when your partner Michelle Tennant ’20 is tracking your every move.” Dr. Requita Lee ’11 ’17 of Charlotte, a psychiatrist at the Center for Emotional Health, sees all her patients remotely and notes that patient safety and not needing transportation are positives. ECU family medicine is working on the Healthier Lives at School and Beyond, a telemedicine project that connects behavioral health and medical providers with students in rural schools. Erica Taylor ’14 leads the project. (Read more about the program at bit.ly/3sN2BVw.) Telehealth isn’t the only advantage technology provides for mental health awareness and treatment. Victor Armstrong ’98, a social work alumnus in Charlotte, says

technology can be a way to reach communities in rural areas and create hubs for resources for individuals seeking help. He’s the vice president for health equity and engagement at the American Foundation for Suicide and Prevention. “It affords us an opportunity to get upstream in ways that Victor Armstrong ’98 we have not been able to before,” he says. “One of the things I often share with people is that suicide itself is not a disease. It’s the worst possible outcome of a combination of a lot of very complex things that can include mental health challenges. But if it’s a combination of complex things, it means there are often opportunities to intervene before someone reaches that point of suicidality if we have the right resources at the right time and can reach people. “When you start thinking about how we can use technology in a more creative way and think about those communities that have historically had difficulty accessing resources, technology provides us a whole different way of looking at them,” he says. Along with technology, churches can also be a resource. “The church may be a hub where you can go there and connect and reach out to a coalition, or it can be a place where you may open the doors for a therapist to come on site at that church and people can access services that way,” Armstrong says. Peers can also be a resource, especially on campus. For example, Grace Marks, a senior nutrition and dietetics major from Charlotte, felt stressors such as cramming for tests, juggling priorities and plain old loneliness. She sought out resources on campus and now is passing along what she knows Grace Marks as a well-being ambassador with Campus Recreation and Wellness. She talks with students about topics such as mental health, nutrition, drugs and alcohol, safe sex and others. “The experience has been great,” she says. “It makes me feel good knowing that I am able to impact the students of ECU and direct them to different resources.” Doug Boyd contributed to this article.


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Ashr Burgess

Hometown: Conover, N.C. Class: Senior Major: Fine arts Career goals: Photographer

How do you know if your education will translate into career success? That’s the question fine arts major Ashr Burgess was asking himself as he prepared for his final semester at East Carolina University. Burgess pursued photography during his time at ECU and has an interest in alternative processing, a more creative approach to the medium. With his sights set on a December graduation, he wanted a chance to step into the art world he hoped to pursue outside of school. So when he received an email about the State Employees’ Credit Union Public Fellows Internship program from a professor, he jumped at the chance to apply for the position with the Greenville Museum of Art.


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He won the fellowship and went to work using his talent and expertise by photographing events, tours and artwork at the museum. “I’m trained in the fine art way. I work in controlled environments with portraits where I’m thinking out those shots and can control the lighting. It’s very different from doing an event where you don’t have a lot of control and you have to move around to try to get the shots,” Burgess said. The opportunity also gave him the perspective he needed to follow his dream. “Without this opportunity, I never would have proven to myself that I actually know what I’m doing,” he said. “That has been the most rewarding thing — getting the chance to see that my education mattered, and it actively made me a better person. I’m not just throwing money away to say I have an art degree.” – Kim Tilghman


Calendar ON CAMPUS



S. R U DO LP H ALE X ANDE R P E RF O RM I NG ARTS SE RI E S Six-time Grammy nominee and NAACP Image Award Winner for Outstanding Jazz Album-Vocal Category, Marcus and Jean Baylor share a combined musicianship that is unmatched. With their wideranging musical influences, The Baylor Project generates an eclectic sound at the intersection of jazz and gospel whose overall effect is spiritual, buoyant, feelgood music for all generations. Feb. 16. Formed in 2007 by Norwegian trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth as a fun and exciting collaboration among musical friends, the 10-piece allfemale brass ensemble tenThing have established themselves on the international scene to great acclaim. tenThing are celebrated for their commitment to outreach and access to music through a diverse repertoire that spans Mozart to Weill, Grieg to Bernstein and Lully to Bartok. March 15. Olympic gymnast, author and TV presenter Laurie Hernandez won gold and silver medals at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. In 2017, she wrote her first book, I Got This: To Gold and Beyond, which made The New York Times Best Sellers list. In 2018, while serving as a literacy champion to promote readership as a path to leadership, she released a children’s picture book, She’s Got This, also a New York Times Best Seller. Later, Mattel created a Laurie Hernandez “Shero” Barbie in her honor. Between school and gymnastics, Hernandez travels the country speaking to the next generation about following their dreams. She will speak Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. in the Main Campus Student Center Ballroom. Tickets are available at ecu.edu/voyages.

You will hear those who sing for the seas. From Taiwan to Aotearoa/New Zealand, Madagascar to Rapa Nui/Easter Island, Small Island Big Song maintain the cultural voice of their people, sing in the language and play the instruments of their land. These unique lineages mixed with their diverse contemporary styles – roots-reggae, beats, grunge, R&B, folk and spoken-word – establish a stunning contemporary musical dialogue among cultures. April 6. As a brilliant reflection of the vibrant and growing music community in Greenville, the Alexander Series is proud to present the New Carolina Sinfonia. This professional orchestra gathers ECU faculty members, talented and accomplished alumni and other regional professionals under the baton of Jorge Richter as the cream of the crop in classical music. May 25.

All SRAPAS events are at 7:30 p.m. in Wright Auditorium. Tickets are available at artscomm.ecu.edu/alexander-series.


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Dance @ Wright includes

On the night of his 35th birthday, Robert struggles to think of a wish as he blows out his birthday candles. The bachelor, surrounded by his married and engaged friends, is uncertain whether he should be happily single or should wish for his own romantic partner. Over a series of dinner parties, first dates and thoughtful conversations, Robert attempts to understand relationships from his diverse and frequently hilarious friends, and he begins to make sense of his own persistent bachelorhood. Company is an intelligent yet riotous musical that looks at relationships, vulnerability and “being alive.” Ages 16 and up for mature themes and language. Feb. 21-25.

FA M ILY FA R E Get ready to “Activate.” Dance, sing and learn about being active in your community with 123 Andrés! Andrés and Christina are the Latin Grammy-winning music duo whose catchy songs and lively performances get the whole audience dancing, singing and learning. Feb. 9. Shows are at 7 p.m. in Wright Auditorium. Tickets are available at artscomm.ecu.edu/family-fare.


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a cornucopia of movement styles and eclectic music with a lineup of ballet, jazz, tap and contemporary. This collection features original works from ECU dance faculty, students and surrounding dance schools. March 1-3. The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society is proud to present their new production of a 1920s murder mystery. However, the set is not yet complete and there is no time to finish it. ... Oh, well — the show must go on! The Play That Goes Wrong is an uproarious comedy where sets collapse, lines are forgotten, props start to disappear and actors go missing. Mayhem and chaos abound, the acting gets worse, and the set becomes progressively more dangerous, but the cast and crew struggle on regardless. Will any of the company members will remain standing, or conscious for that matter, by the final curtain? April 17-21. Performances are in McGinnis Theatre. Tickets and showtimes are available at theatredance.ecu.edu or by calling 252-328-6829.

As the first Polkadot in an all-Square school, Lily faces an almost impossible task of gaining acceptance from her peers. From daily bullying to segregated drinking fountains, Lily’s quest seems hopeless until she meets Sky, a shy Square boy whose curiosity for her unique polkadot skin blooms into an unexpected pal-ship. Inspired by the events of the Little Rock Nine, Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical serves as a colorful history lesson for children, reminding them that our individual differences make us awesome, not outcasts. March 28.


The North Carolina NewMusic Initiative presents Jesse Jones & EZRA, a progressive bluegrass ensemble, Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m. at A.J. Fletcher Recital Hall. Free and open to the public. ECU’s Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival presents Behind the Scenes with Mozart & Mendelssohn Feb. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at A.J. Fletcher Recital Hall and Feb. 11 at 3 p.m. at Hayes Barton United Methodist Church, Raleigh. On March 15, they perform Muses and Inspirations at 7:30 p.m. at A.J. Fletcher Recital Hall and 3 p.m. at Hayes Barton. On April 26, they perform The Brilliance of Five at 7:30 p.m. at A.J. Fletcher Recital Hall and April 28 at 3 p.m. at Hayes Barton. Tickets may be purchased at fourseasons.ecu.edu or by calling the ECU Central Ticket Office at 252-328-4788. The ECU Jazz Ensemble takes the stage April 20 for the Billy Taylor Jazz Festival Gala. 8 p.m. in Wright Auditorium. Free and open to the public.

For more information about musical performances, call 252-328-6851.

O RC H E STRA The ECU Symphony Orchestra is in concert Feb. 10 performing Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in D and Antonín Dvořák’s Czech Suite, Op. 39. On March 16, they perform William Grant Still’s Danzas de Panama for Strings, Jean Sibelius’ Pelleas and Melisande Suite, Op. 26. On April 13, they perform Lukas Foss’ Renaissance Concerto and Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 in C “Jupiter,” K. 551. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. at Wright Auditorium and are free and open to the public.


The Material Topics Symposium Exhibition is on view Jan. 8-26. The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition is Feb. 9–24. From March 1-22, the Spring 2024 MFA Thesis Exhibition will be on view. Spring BFA Senior Exhibition 1 is April 1-12, and Exhibition 2 is April 22-May 3.

Exhibits are at the Wellington B. Gray Gallery inside the Jenkins Fine Art Center. For information, call 252-238-6665.


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A college education provided Meredith College President Jo Allen ’83 a foundation from which she learned, questioned, taught and led in administrations at five institutions.

Allen believes in the value of education and will continue to be an advocate for higher education when she retires at the end of this academic year following 13 years at the helm of her alma mater. “I am so fortunate to have been able to make a career out of something I love so much and that’s had so many different facets,” Allen said. “It’s not only that I’ve been to different institutions in different roles, but that I’ve used my language skills in so many different ways. It’s been really, really rewarding.” Allen earned a bachelor’s degree in literature from Meredith in 1980 and followed her curiosity and abilities to earn a master’s in English and technical communication at ECU and then her doctorate at Oklahoma State University in 1986. She was introduced to ECU as an undergrad. Her sister was taking graduate school courses,


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and Allen decided it would be a good opportunity to take a couple of summer classes Meredith didn’t offer. “My real reason for choosing ECU for graduate school was because I’d had such a positive summer experience there and it just felt like a natural next step for me,” Allen said. During graduate school, Allen was tapped to teach freshman composition. “I remember feeling very, very honored that the program leaders thought I had a skill set to teach, and that was quite exhilarating to me,” Allen said. She accepted an offer to join the ECU faculty in 1987. Allen became a tenured associate professor of English/technical and scientific communication during her 12 years on faculty and was director of the University Writing Center. “The collegiality of the graduate students and the faculty was always really a special highlight to me of my time at East Carolina as a student and then later as a faculty member,” Allen said. In 1997, on leave from ECU, she was an American Council on Education Fellow at the University of Virginia. Allen left ECU in 1999 for N.C. State University. She later became a full professor and served as senior vice president and provost at Widener University in Pennsylvania before being named president of Meredith in 2011. During Allen’s first week at Widener, President James Harris III asked what her plan was and if she wanted to be a college president. He frequently brought job openings to her attention, and Allen declined them each time. “He asked if I knew where I’d like to be a president. I said, ‘That part is easy: Meredith,’” Allen said. In her seventh year at Widener, Harris approached Allen again. “He came in and said, ‘Do you know about Meredith?’ I said yes. And he said, “‘It’s time.’ And I said, ‘Yes, it is time.’” Leading Meredith has been the pinnacle of Allen’s career. Particular points of pride include the impact Meredith has on its students and the institution’s fundraising success. Allen said Meredith students know their strengths and are work ready when they graduate. Meredith surpassed its capital campaign goal, raising $90 million a year ahead of schedule. What carried more weight for Allen was receiving 33 gifts of $1 million or more. “What was so important to me was that it sent the message that Meredith was worthy of million-dollar gifts and large investments,” Allen said. “We have had 15 to 20 major capital projects from constructing buildings to major renovations, and all of that was done without borrowing a penny.” – Patricia Earnhardt Tyndall

REHABILITATION LEADER In time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first graduating class of East Carolina University’s occupational therapy program, a large group of nonprofit therapy and rehabilitation hospitals and clinics, run by Robert Larrison Jr. ’90 ’98, has been inducted as an inaugural member of the World Health Organization’s World Rehabilitation Alliance. Larrison, who graduated from ECU’s OT and MBA programs, leads Atrium Health Carolinas Rehabilitation, which has dozens of rehabilitation hospitals and clinics across North Carolina and Georgia. Atrium Health Carolinas Rehabilitation is one of only two hospitals in the country to receive the global honor from the WHO. Larrison’s family is about as Pirate as they could get. He was a top scoring midfielder for the soccer team. His wife, Katrina ‘90, is a fellow ECU OT graduate who ran the 100-meter hurdles for the track team and was founder and president of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. Their children are carrying on the Pirate tradition; their daughter, Michaela ’23, graduated from the physical therapy program, and their son, Robert ’17, has a history degree. The man who now oversees thousands of employees who constitute a successful health care enterprise didn’t have a direct route to getting his MBA. He had to wait for a second chance for an acceptance letter. “I was admitted to a couple of other MBA programs in North Carolina, but I really wanted to go to the ECU College of Business because it was one of the best and AACSB-accredited programs in the state,” Larrison said. “I went part time at night, forever. That was when

Above, Robert and Katrina Larrison celebrate the 50th anniversary of ECU’s occupational therapy program’s first graduating class with program chair Denise Donica, center, at the College of Allied Health Sciences. Right, as an undergrad, Larrison played soccer for the Pirates. distance education meant you drove a distance. I commuted from Raleigh for about four years.” Larrison considers himself a nontraditional student: He was a male, fraternity member athlete in the femaledominated occupational therapy world. “I’m incredibly grateful for the education that I got at ECU,” Larrison said. “ECU took a chance on me as a student.” In the U.S., Larrison’s organization serves patients with low health literacy and often life-altering, catastrophic injuries and disease processes, which he said puts the Atrium team in a strong position to serve as charter members of the WRA. “This seemed to be a natural fit for the work we were already doing, just on a larger scale. And ECU, our service attitude has always been a part of me,” Larrison said. “It’s been a really good fit for me personally.” Denise Donica, chair of ECU’s occupational therapy program, said Larrison is an inspiration to everyone in the OT community, and his leadership in getting his hospital system included in the WRA program is a testament to his dedication to health care globally. “It is always amazing to see how our occupational therapy alumni use their skills in creative and life-changing ways to impact individuals, groups, populations and the world,” Donica said. – Benjamin Abel


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Athletic aspirations LOCICERO ON THE ATTACK IN ACADEMICS AND LACROSSE From an early age, Sophia LoCicero ’22 knew she wanted to play college sports.

“I wanted to be able to follow in my parents and siblings’ footsteps,” LoCicero said. Growing up with three older siblings, LoCicero found herself tagging along to practices and clinics. She would use any excuse to pick up a lacrosse stick and play. Both of her parents were Division I athletes, and her brothers played college lacrosse. Following their example ignited her love for lacrosse. LoCicero found ECU matched her academic and athletic goals. Her sister Gabrielle is a 2018 graduate of the College of Education. “The moment I stepped onto ECU’s campus for a visit, I immediately knew this would be the school I would attend,” she said. “The atmosphere of ECU and the pride for purple and gold made it feel like home.” LoCicero’s success extended from the classroom to the lacrosse field. She received the Pat Draughon Postgraduate Scholarship award from ECU athletics and the American Athletic Conference’s Commissioner’s Postgraduate Leadership Award. Both provided her $5,000 postgraduate scholarships.


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LoCicero completed her undergraduate degree in communication sciences and disorders with magna cum laude distinction and is pursuing a master’s degree in speechlanguage pathology. She plans to begin a clinical fellowship to become a licensed speech-language pathologist. “For me, ECU has been a home away from home,” she said. “ECU allowed me to continue my athletic and academic aspirations. It was a no-brainer to stay at ECU to complete my master’s degree.” LoCicero played five seasons as an attack position player for ECU lacrosse, scoring 51 goals in 56 games. She scored a seasonhigh four goals against Vanderbilt this past season. She and her team made the AAC playoffs for two consecutive years. “Playing for ECU is special to me for many reasons. I was (part of ) the second recruiting class in program history. My fellow class members and I had the opportunity to create a culture and history for the program at ECU,” LoCicero said. – Haley Jackson

Sophia LoCicero Year: Graduate student Major: Speech-language pathology Hometown: Lynbrook, N.Y.


5 minutes with

AMANDA MURER ’99 By Patricia Earnhardt Tyndall

Position: ECU associate vice chancellor for alumni relations Degree: Political science Hometown: Joliet, Illinois

What was your path to becoming associate vice chancellor for alumni relations? To come back to ECU is such an honor. To be able to serve in this capacity, serve the university, to live that motto, Servire, is even more of an honor. I majored in political science with aspirations of being an attorney. ECU really prepared me for my nonlinear career path. Working at Rutgers University, I was able to marry my love for higher education and nonprofit work, and I got a great understanding of alumni relations as a whole. I took an opportunity at New York University to build benefits and volunteer engagement programs. When the director of alumni engagement job opened here, I knew this was the time for me to be back at ECU. After a year and a half as director, I was named the associate vice chancellor.

How does Pirate Nation benefit from the alumni association? ECUAA has a real opportunity to connect alumni with the university and remind them they are part of Pirate Nation. ECU is very much a part of your DNA. I think we can get alums excited about ECU.

We want to hear stories from alumni about how their experiences at ECU shaped them today and how they pass those lessons to others. Send us an email at easteditor@ecu.edu.

What opportunities do you hope the association adds in the next couple of years? There are a couple of programs I would love to see. One is a day of service. Second is the creation of an alumni business directory, so Pirates can support Pirates. Is there anything else you’d like Pirate Nation to know about you? I have been a Pirate fan since my first football game freshman year. I have come back every year since for at least one game.


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Kayla Peters What do you like most about your major? I have wanted to be a teacher since I was in kindergarten myself, so I am extremely passionate about my major and teaching. Teaching is so impactful, and you can see the direct impact you have on students and in the community. When I am in classrooms and meeting students, I know I am doing good for them. I am not only teaching children to be good students but also to be good people.

What advice would you give someone thinking about applying to ECU? When I visited campus way back when, I just knew it was for me. Walking around campus I had a gut feeling that I belonged here, and I still feel that way. You can practically feel the Pirate pride throughout campus. ECU has provided me with so many opportunities ranging from in the classroom to outside of the classroom, so take advantage of all of the opportunities ECU has to offer. You won’t regret it.

What does receiving scholarships mean to you? Receiving scholarships helps to lighten the financial burden college brings so I can continue pursuing my higher education. I also feel scholarships provide a sense of validation and encouragement. I put a lot of work into all I do, so to know that someone else out there believes in me and wants to support my future endeavors means the world.


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Hometown: York, Pennsylvania Major: Elementary education with concentration in mathematics Career goal: To become an elementary school teacher and instill a love of learning in my future students Scholarship: Eloise Faison Teaching Scholarship

Why should alumni support scholarships? There is so much to juggle in college between classes, extracurriculars, work, leadership, career advancements and so much more. Students are putting so much effort into these areas to be successful in the world postcollege. Alumni can help these students be successful, which in turn will better our future society members.

Donor spotlight: Julianne Mehegan Julianne Mehegan established the Eloise Faison Teacher Scholarship in 2009 in honor of her late mother. Through the scholarship, Mehegan ensures her mother’s passion for education lives on by supporting rising juniors and seniors in the College of Education. Eloise Faison ’41 taught in the Nash County school system for 40 years. Mehegan feels great joy in knowing her mother’s legacy continues to enrich the lives of teachers and, through them, many young people.



ECU alumnae from left, Julie Marco Finn, Leah Fundora Mangum, Lori Brantley Stockdale, Leanna Fundora Holder, Stephanie Bond and Chi Omega sisters Donna Dees Aldredge and Emily Nelson Weaver, not pictured, have created the first sorority-specific scholarship endowment.

A group of Chi Omega sisters, led by Stephanie Bond ’02, are relying on their strong sisterhood to create East Carolina University’s first Panhellenic sorority-specific scholarship endowment.

“ECU and Chi Omega highly impacted the trajectory of my life,” Bond said. “These institutions provided confidence to excel in the real world. My college experience was defined by academic success, a sense of belonging and active involvement in the sorority.” In Chi Omega, Bond found her closest friends. The sorority provided her a space where she felt authentic, with sisters whom she related to immediately. Bond lived at the house her junior year and served as house manager, planning menus every week. Her passion for food, even back then, led her to organize girls’ nights out to enjoy meals together. Bond said the ECU Rho Zeta Chi Omega Scholarship Endowment is a tribute to the unbreakable bonds of sisterhood and an unyielding pursuit of academic excellence. Six sorority sisters have joined Bond as founding donors of the endowment. Donna Dees Aldredge ’00, Julie Marco Finn ’03, Leanna Fundora Mangum ’02, Leah Fundora Holder ’02, Lori Brantley Stockdale ’02 and Emily Nelson Weaver ’04 each have pledged to give a portion of the $25,000 to establish the core endowment. They also have established a $5,000 supplemental fund, allowing for immediate scholarship support while the endowment grows. “The group of remarkable sisters who united to establish this trailblazing scholarship holds a special place in my heart,” Bond said. “Their commitment, resilience and shared vision to uplift and transform lives through education stand as a testament to the profound power of sisterhood and collective action. Together, we are shaping futures and fostering opportunities that will resonate through generations.”

The first scholarship will be awarded in 2024 with priority given to active members of the Rho Zeta Chi Omega who have a demonstrated financial need. Relatives (gender inclusive) of Chi Omega alumnae also are eligible. Bond was appointed to the ECU Foundation board of directors in 2022. She also serves on the fashion merchandising advisory board in the College of Health and Human Performance, allowing her to create opportunities for students similar to those she had at ECU. She previously initiated a board scholarship in fashion merchandising. Through the ECU Foundation, Bond recognized the potential of an enduring legacy of an endowment and felt the idea mirrored the emotion and experience of her Chi Omega sisterhood. The notion of being pioneers in fraternity and sorority life at ECU was compelling, too, and Bond and her Chi Omega sisters embraced the opportunity. The founding members are passionate about creating an opportunity to help someone else. They also see the scholarship as a strategy for retention at ECU. Bond is proud the Chi Omega endowment is the first of its kind at ECU. She feels Chi Omega has paved the way and removed barriers for giving so other fraternities and sororities can consider the same opportunity. “I love that it’s trailblazing, but I don’t want it to be the only one,” Bond said. – Patricia Earnhardt Tyndall


East magazine


In Memoriam A LU M N I 1940s Janice Lister Burge ’44 of Baton Rouge, La., on March 15, 2023. Hazel Byrd ’44 of Greenville, N.C., on March 23, 2023. Mimi Tripp Denton ’48 ’58 of Greenville, N.C., on May 23, 2023. Kathleen Evans ’49 of Kingstree, S.C., on March 21, 2023. Margaret I. Henderson ’45 ’51 of Manteo, N.C., on March 7, 2023. Jessie C. McDonald ’46 ’52 of Raleigh, N.C., on March 11, 2023.

1950s Linwood Adams ’56 of Waynesboro, Va., on May 13, 2023. Jerry B. Cahoon ’59 of Manteo, N.C., on April 23, 2023. Doris B. Creech ’57 of Brunswick, Ga., on Dec. 5, 2022. Marvin R. English ’59 of Morehead City, N.C., on May 7, 2023. Euzella “Lee” Ford ’54 of Allen, Texas, on July 6, 2023. Harriet W. Goff ’54 of Williamston, N.C., on May 10, 2023. Janet M. Fishel ’58 of Virginia Beach, Va., on March 14, 2023. William K. Hardee ’56 of Wilmington, N.C., on May 13, 2023. Molly Finch Hundley ’55 of Boone, N.C., on March 23, 2023. John A. Jones ’59 ’65 ’81 of Jacksonville, N.C., on July 15, 2023. Hazel B. Meares ’53 of Cary, N.C., on April 21, 2023. Vincent B. Oglesby ’56 ’60 of Danville, Va., on May 4, 2023. Letha T. Parker ’54 of Stella, N.C., on May 20, 2023. Andrew Jackson Pickett Jr. ’54 of Covington, La., on Feb. 23, 2023. Jane H. Ross ’55 of Elizabethtown, N.C., on March 13, 2023. Sarah Rowan ’59 of Aiken, S.C., on May 29, 2023. Herbert H. Ruffin ’58 of Chesapeake, Va., on March 29, 2023. Harold G. Smith ’59 of Mesquite, Texas, on June 28, 2023. John Spoone Jr. ’59 of North Charleston, S.C., on March 18, 2023.

1960s Donald Causby ’67 of North Myrtle Beach, S.C., on June 15, 2023. Clifton S. Collins ’67 of Murfreesboro, N.C., on June 30, 2023. Mary Grotgen Cowand ’66 ’68 of Wilmington, N.C., on June 5, 2023. John Allen Crew ’69 of Washington, N.C., on April 30, 2023. Vernon Crumpler ’61 of Southern Pines, N.C., on Feb. 5, 2023. Sara Dunn ’66 ’73 of Collierville, Tenn., on April 23, 2023. Carlton R. Edmondson ’61 of Tuner, Maine, on Feb. 22, 2023. Liston “Jerry” Edwards ’67 of Goldsboro, N.C., on June 30, 2023. Nannie Sue Fields ’63 of Greenville, N.C., on April 17, 2023. Daniel R. Finch ’69 of Bailey, N.C., on April 8, 2023. Walter Franklin Jr. ’63 of Charlotte, N.C., on March 19, 2023. K. Edward Greene ’66 of Chapel Hill, N.C., on May 23, 2023. Jerry Hardesty Jr. ’69 of Beaufort, N.C., on April 18, 2023. Jackson B. Harris ’63 of Rocky Mount, N.C., on March 20, 2023. Jane Hendrix ’61 of Goldsboro, N.C., on July 2, 2023. Rachel M. Kennedy ’61 of Mount Olive, N.C., on March 27, 2023. Ralph J. Kennedy Jr. ’60 of Wilson, N.C., on April 5, 2023. Marion Wesley Kirby ’65 of Greensboro, N.C., on June 19, 2023. Dorothy Knowlton ’61 of Arlington, Va., on May 4, 2023. George LaRoque ’80 ’81 of Newport, N.C., on June 18, 2023. Douglas Latta ’64 of Broken Arrow, Okla., on March 5, 2023. Robert A. Lee ’66 ’71 of Warsaw, N.C., on May 4, 2023. Alice Kay Lewis ’63 of Clinton, N.C., on July 16, 2023. Dalton W. Mayo ’65 ’67 of Clinton, N.C., on March 22, 2023. Norma McDonald ’63 ’71 of Mount Olive, N.C., on April 11, 2023. Samuel J. McHorney ’68 of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on May 6, 2023. Thomas “Gene” Mercer ’62 of Boiling Springs, N.C., on June 28, 2023. William P. Miller ’62 of Greensboro, N.C., on May 12, 2023. Gerald A. Mitchell ’67 of Powell, Ohio, on May 23, 2023. Marsha T. Moore ’67 of Winterville, N.C., on May 8, 2023. Robert N. Moore ’60 ’61 of Wilmington, N.C., on July 16, 2023. Benny M. Pearce ’69 of Eastover, N.C., on July 17, 2023.


East magazine

winter 2024

Betty Peele ’60 ’62 of Sylva, N.C., on June 13, 2023. Joyce Person ’62 of Charleston, S.C., on April 24, 2023. Janice H. Preddy ’61 ’63 of Franklinton, N.C., on June 19, 2023. Joanne Purnell ’61 of Wilmington, N.C., on April 14, 2023. Nancy G. Redding ’61 of Greenville, S.C., on March 16, 2023. Nace B. Ridge ’61 ’68 of Richlands, N.C., on July 11, 2023. Willis J. Stancill ’60 ’62 of Greenville, N.C., on May 1, 2023. Donald G. Strickland ’64 of Youngsville, N.C., on July 14, 2023. Dora S. Sullivan ’61 ’65 of Washington, N.C., on March 27, 2023. Dorothy Beaver Tobias ’67 of Costa Mesa, Calif.,on May 7, 2023. Davie Y. Trammell ’67 of Mint Hill, N.C., on June 10, 2023. Rachel W. Ward ’67 ’74 of Whiteville, N.C., on May 5, 2023. Patricia F. Warren ’61 ’77 of Cary, N.C., on March 25, 2023. Matilda T. West ’63 of Roseboro, N.C., on June 22, 2023. David G. Whaley ’65 of Wilmington, N.C., on June 1, 2023. Linda T. Whitehurst ’68 ’71 ’90 of Greenville, N.C., on July 19, 2023.

1970s Robert “Bob” Barrett ’78 of Clemson, S.C., on March 15, 2023. Terry Beckwith ’71 of Candor, N.Y., on May 19, 2023. Anne Dail Booth ’71 ’05 of Winterville, N.C., on July 12, 2023. Katherine Bratton ’75 ’97 of Greenville, N.C., on April 20, 2023. Marianna Brown ’75 of Newport, N.C., on April 28, 2023. Reva Brown ’72 of Greenville, N.C., on Feb. 24, 2023. Carl W. Chestnutt ’71 of Nakina, N.C., on July 25, 2023. James G. Chrysson ’78 of Winston-Salem, N.C., on May 21, 2023. Flora M. Dunbar ’74 of Charlotte, N.C., on April 3, 2023. Gwendolyn M. Edwards ’76 of Eastover, N.C., on June 12, 2023. Linwood Ferguson ’75 of Washington, N.C., on March 13, 2023. Teri Ferguson ’75 of Raleigh, N.C., on June 23, 2023. John Gaffney III ’71 of Greensboro, N.C., on July 23, 2023. Cathy Gaskill ’77 of Atlantic, N.C., on March 28, 2023. Sandra M. Hardison ’74 of Grifton, N.C., on April 5, 2023. Marjorie C. Harris ’79 of Grifton, N.C., on June 12, 2023. Sandy F. Harrison ’74 ’76 of Greenville, N.C., on March 3, 2023. Anita L. Holley ’74 of Winterville, N.C., on April 16, 2023. Paul A. Hudson ’71 of Southport, N.C., on March 22, 2023. Willie Loftin ’79 of Fayetteville, N.C., on March 15, 2023. James R. Manuel Jr. ’70 of Kernersville, N.C., on April 28, 2023. James A. McMahon ’73 of Fuquay-Varina, N.C., on April 16, 2023. Steva Mervin ’76 of Concord, N.C., on March 9, 2023. Linda S. Montague ’75 of Emerald Isle, N.C., on July 28, 2023. Allen Moore ’71 of Lexington, N.C., on May 18, 2023. William D. Moore ’75 of Raleigh, N.C., on April 30, 2023. Walter Pettus ’74 of Winston-Salem, N.C., on May 10, 2023. William L. Pollard ’72 ’77 of Rocky Mount, N.C., on May 4, 2023. John Wayne Renegar ’70 of Charlotte, N.C., on May 4, 2023. Robert L. Sauer ’70 of Manchester Township, N.J., on May 4, 2023. Evelyn “Penny” Sigda ’75 of St. Augustine, Fla., on Feb. 19, 2023. Paula G. Speight ’75 of Garner, N.C., on July 25, 2023. Randy Tyner ’74 ’82 of Goldsboro, N.C., on July 7, 2023. Iola W. Walton ’77 of Carthage, N.C., on Feb. 27, 2023. Sharon Worthington ’73 of Ayden, N.C., on March 25, 2023. Claiborne Young ’74 of Atlantic Beach, N.C., on April 5, 2023.

1980s John W. Beavans ’82 of Raleigh, N.C., on April 1, 2023. Dr. A. William Blackstock Jr. ’89 of Winston-Salem, N.C., on June 18, 2023. Ted A. Cashion ’81 of Raleigh, N.C., on June 18, 2023. Charles David Clark ’85 ’90 of Greenville, N.C., on May 23, 2023. Phyllis Copeland ’82 of Merry Hill, N.C., on March 4, 2023. Julia Credle ’84 ’87 of Savannah, Ga., on July 2, 2023. Chloe M. Crumpler ’80 of Greenville, N.C., on March 20, 2023. Cheryl M. Davis ’84 ’91 of Greenville, N.C., on June 4, 2023. Kathy S. Fleming ’80 of Greenville, N.C., on July 1, 2023. Michael D. Gibson ’80 of Fayetteville, N.C., on May 20, 2023. Jonathan Health ’85 of Greenville, N.C., on April 20, 2023. Marie Kares ’85 ’93 of Ayden, N.C., on April 11, 2023.

Walt Koch ’82 of Lindenhurst, Ill., on April 28, 2023. George W. LaRoque ’80 ’81 of Newport, N.C., on June 18, 2023. Gregory McCall ’84 ’86 of Wilmington, N.C., on June 29, 2023. Donald Medlin ’86 of Pine Knoll Shores, N.C., on March 6, 2023. Betty Lou Taylor ’89 of Williamston, N.C., on May 6, 2023. Stuart M. Thomson Jr. ’86 of Washington, N.C., on May 4, 2023. Deborah T. Weseli ’86 of Columbus, Miss., on July 8, 2023. Lynn R. Whitfield ’88 ’90 of New Bern, N.C., on July 20, 2023. Robert G. Wilson IV ’82 of Greenville, N.C., on July 23, 2023.

1990s Katherine Bratton ’75 ’97 of Greenville, N.C., on April 20, 2023. Tracey S. Daughety ’98 of Winterville, N.C., on July 6, 2023. Rhonda B. Dorn ’91 ’93 of Charlotte, N.C., on April 18, 2023. Mary Frances Gaskins ’90 of Morehead City, N.C., on April 20, 2023. Jimmy Dale Godwin ’95 of Lewisville, N.C., on March 6. 2023. James Kennon ’95 of Lafayette, Colo., on July 14, 2023. Joe “Jody” Mills Jr. ’96 of Washington, N.C., on July 17, 2023. Florence F. Moore ’95 of Greenville, N.C., on May 4, 2023. Brenda Oliphant ’93 of Greenville, N.C., on March 18, 2023. Elizabeth Ann Perry ’92 of Bethesda, Md., on May 17, 2023. Stacey Ann Rodemer ’97 of Sewell, N.J., on June 28, 2023. Lelia “Lela” Rouse ’92 of Kinston, N.C., on May 3, 2023. Randy Sommers ’97 of Elizabeth City, N.C., on July 13, 2023. Tommy Sumner III ’90 of Kitty Hawk, N.C., on June 16, 2023. Lenna T. West ’99 of Greenville, N.C., on March 24, 2023.

2000s Michael “Brandon” Adams ’08 of Leland, N.C., on July 23, 2023. Benjamin Mack Buie ’06 of Clayton, N.C., on March 24, 2023. John L. Collins Jr. ’04 of Morehead City, N.C., on May 29, 2023. Richard W. Green ’09 of Nebo, N.C., on June 8, 2023. Susan B. Owens ’04 of Roper, N.C., on July 12, 2023. Matthew B. Paramore ’07 of Ayden, N.C., on March 15, 2023. James Rochelle ’06 of Wilmington, N.C., on, June 25, 2023. William D. Smith ’08 of Winterville, N.C., om June 24, 2023.

2010s James A. Galloway ’17 of Winterville, N.C., on May 17, 2023.

2020s Benjamin T. Jarrell ’23 of Clayton, N.C., on May 8, 2023.

F A C U LT Y / S TA F F William L. Baker III (medicine) of Edenton, N.C., on March 18, 2023. John Richard Ball Jr. (social work) of Franklinton, N.C., on Feb. 28, 2023. Thomas A. Chambliss (education) of Greenville, N.C., on April 5, 2023. Lokenath Debnath (mathematics) of Weslace, Texas, on March 2, 2023. Nellie A. Droes (nursing) of Carson City, Nev., on April 7, 2023. Mark Evans (medicine) of Frankfort, Mich., on April 24, 2023. Gary Greenstein (library) of Olean, N.Y., on April 5, 2023. Patricia Higson (library science) of Greenville, N.C., on Feb. 28, 2023. Gwen Hill (accounts receivable) of Greenville, N.C., on April 15, 2023. Dr. James Jones (medicine) of Hampstead, N.C., on May 16, 2023. Georgia K. Lewis (nursing) of Albany, Ore., on June 10, 2023. Peter Makuck (English) of Wilmington, N.C., on June 21, 2023. Cherilyn Nelson (art and design) of Owatonna, Minn., on July 24, 2023. Bruce Peterson (CET) of Greenville, N.C., on June 13, 2023. Sharon Peterson (foreign lang. and lit.) of Grimesland, N.C., on June 14, 2023. James Pressley (education) of Chocowinity, N.C., on April 12, 2023. Donald K. Shaw (physical therapy) of Surprise, Ariz., on Feb. 20, 2023. Nicki Mills Smith (medicine) of Greenville, N.C., on March 24, 2023. Linda Kay Taylor (pharmacy) of Greenville, N.C., on June 10, 2023. Dr. Jon Tingelstad (pediatrics) of Greenville, N.C., on Feb. 28, 2023.

CONNECT WINTER 2024 VOLUME 22, NUMBER 1 East is produced by East Carolina University

Managing Editor Doug Boyd ’99

Art Director Mike Litwin ’01

Photographers Rhett Butler, Cliff Hollis

Contributing Writers Benjamin Abel, Crystal Baity, Lacey Gray, Haley Jackson, Kristen Martin, Jules Norwood, Kim Tilghman, Nicole Stokes, Patricia Earnhardt Tyndall, Reed Wolfley ’22, Ronnie Woodward ’08

Contributing Photographers Ashr Burgess, ECU Athletics, Mike Litwin, Patricia Earnhardt Tyndall

Copy Editor Jimmy Rostar ’94

Chief Communications Officer Jeannine Manning Hutson Contact Us • 252-737-1973 • easteditor@ecu.edu • www.ecu.edu/east Customer Service To start or stop a subscription or to let us know about a change of address, please contact Advancement Services at advancementservices@ecu.edu or 252-328-GIVE (4483). Send letters to the editor to: easteditor@ecu.edu or Howard House Mail Stop 107 East Carolina University Greenville, N.C. 27858-4353 32,900 copies of this public document were printed at a cost of $32,368.00 or $.98 per copy.


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Howard House Mail Stop 107 East Carolina University Greenville, NC 27858-4353

DueEast 11.14.23 From left, ECU School of Theatre and Dance students Taylor Rouse, Kayla Perry, Julianne Martinez-Woodward, Hannah Watters, Lenayah and Jurnee Freeman perform at a dress rehearsal at McGinnis Auditorium for Once on This Island. Information about upcoming performances at ECU begins on page 41.

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