Chancellor search process begins | The Daily Reflector

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Oct 062015


October 6, 2015

Steve Jones, chairman of the East Carolina Board of Trustees, announced Monday the formation and membership of two committees to begin the process of selecting the next chancellor of the university.

Jones will chair the statutorily required Chancellor Search Committee. The Leadership Working Group will be co-chaired by Vice Chancellors Virginia Hardy and Chris Dyba.

“I am delighted that we have identified a committee and leadership group composed of dedicated leaders willing to serve. This is an important first step in the process of finding and selecting the next chancellor to lead ECU,” Jones said.

“Utilizing a search committee and leadership group will allow for broader, more meaningful participation in the process by various constituencies and our university partners,” he said.

Chancellor Steve Ballard announced this summer his plans to step down effective July 1.

Ballard has served as chancellor since 2004.

At the conclusion of the search, the Board of Trustees will forward a slate of three unranked finalists to the UNC system president for consideration. Upon nomination by the president, the new chancellor must be elected by the UNC Board of Governors, which oversees the UNC system.

Updates on the committees’ progress will be posted online at


Tyson inspired by family loss | The Daily Reflector

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Oct 062015


By Tony Castleberry
October 6, 2015

Sources of inspiration are everywhere for B.J. Tyson.

His East Carolina basketball coaches and teammates push him to get better on a daily basis. Questions linger about whether Tyson can live up to the hype he helped create by having a stellar freshman season, and those doubts become fuel for his competitive fire.

But the primary source of motivation for Tyson comes from a little boy who died when Tyson was young. The little boy was even younger.

“Before every game, I pray with him. I tell him to be there with me through hard times because I know sometimes when I’m out there playing, things don’t go my way,” Tyson said of a brother who passed away at 10 months of age when Tyson himself was an infant. “But I hear that little voice in my head telling me to keep going. That’s him.”

Tyson, a 6-foot-3 guard from Wadesboro, was an instant hit with ECU fans last season — he led the Pirates in scoring in his first college game — and it was not long before he began making waves in the American Athletic Conference as well. After that 22-point outing last Nov. 14, Tyson went on to produce enough memorable moments for several highlight reels while building a statistically superb rookie season.

Without starting a game, Tyson led the Pirates in scoring with a 12.5 points per game average and was unanimously selected to the AAC all-freshman team. His play at and above the rim gave Tyson most of his notoriety, but his shooting percentages from the field and beyond the 3-point arc went up considerably in American games, a sign that he is more than just a high flyer.

Coach Jeff Lebo, entering his sixth season in charge of the Pirates, certainly seems to think of Tyson as more than a single-minded points supplier.

“He’s got a lot of toughness and he’s got a lot of leadership characteristics that you really can’t coach,” Lebo said. “He’s a great competitor.”

Tyson said part of that fighting spirit comes from remembering his brother and the strength his mother showed during that difficult time.

“I’ve seen my mom go through a lot,” said Tyson, who has three younger siblings. “If she can be tough, I can be tough.”

For his second act, Tyson, a gifted natural athlete who starred in football and basketball at Anson High, has been working tirelessly to ensure he does not suffer a sophomore slump. Challenging summer workouts in the weight room and in ECU’s practice facility pushed Tyson and his teammates — mutual inspiration — to their physical limits before practice officially began last Friday. Expanding his offensive repertoire will be key to Tyson elevating his game and he has put up thousands of mid-range and 3-point shots in an effort to make himself more unguardable.

The mechanics of most basketball movements can be taught, but being motivated — inspired — cannot. Tyson is not short on either of those intangible qualities, and regardless of their sources, he uses them in hopes of creating pleasant memories for himself and others.

“I’m here,” Tyson says, and one can envision him holding up his hand at eye level, measuring his growth, “but I ain’t done yet.”


Number of psychiatrists shrinks despite growing need for services | Times Free Press

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Oct 062015


October 6th, 2015 by Steve Johnson in Local Regional News

In this Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015 photo provided by East Carolina University, Dr. Sy Saeed, chair of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, speaks to a colleague, Clinical Telehealth Manager Gloria Jones, during a routine test of the telepsychiatry system in Greenville, N.C. In vast swaths of America, patients face lengthy drives to reach the nearest psychiatrist, if they can even find one willing to see them. Some states are promoting wider use of long-distance telepsychiatry to fill the gaps in care. (Cliff Hollis/East Carolina University via AP)

Photo by Cliff Hollis

Fast facts

› The total number of physicians in the U.S. increased by 45 percent from 1995 to 2013.

› The number of adult and child psychiatrists rose by only 12 percent, from 43,640 to 49,079.

› During that span, the U.S. population increased by about 37 percent.

Source: American Medical Association

The number of psychiatrists in Chattanooga and across the U.S. is shrinking, forcing many to cut back on extensive client counseling and rely more and more on drugs, often administered by nonpsychiatrists, experts say. And that is worrying some in the field.

State medical officials say the situation will only get worse, reshaping the way psychiatrists interact with patients.

“Drugs have become safer and easier to use and more effective,” said Dr. Lee Solomon, who has practiced psychiatry in Chattanooga for more than 30 years. “But all of the studies show that the best treatment is a combination of therapy and medication.”

“There are people suffering from acute psychiatric problems who require help, people who are suffering from a chronic need for psychiatric evaluation who are not getting evaluated,” said Dr. Nathaniel Clark, medical director at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital. He cited veterans, those who live in rural areas and the homeless as three groups in particular that are not being adequately treated.

Federal health officials believe the U.S. needs one psychiatrist for every 30,000 people. Using that standard, Chattanooga has less than 45 percent of the psychiatrists it needs. And demand is increasing as the Affordable Care Act gives more Americans access to medical care.

The reasons for the shortage are both national and local. In general, psychiatrists don’t make as much money as other doctors, and they don’t always win the public’s respect.

“There’s still a bit of a stigma about having mental illness, about having to go see a psychiatrist,” said Dr. Renate Rosenthal, a clinical psychologist who is director of medical student education in psychiatry at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in Memphis. “They’re seen as not really a doctor, particularly in our Southern region as opposed to the East Coast and West Coast.”

As fewer medical school graduates have chosen psychiatry as a profession, the average age of those in practice has risen.

“[The average age of] psychiatrists [is] the oldest of all of the specialties, so there will be a lot of psychiatrists retiring and that will exacerbate the shortage,” said Solomon, a psychiatrist at Behavioral Associates, one of the largest psychiatric practices in town.

To deal with the shortage, psychiatrists are increasingly spending less time talking to their patients and more time prescribing pills. That worries Rosenthal.

“Unfortunately, if you look at television and the advertisements for anti-depressants and sleep aids, we see people needing a pill for every ill, and that’s not a healthy development,” she said. “Why bother to come for a session and try to look at your life and see what you can do to help yourself when you can take a pill? Usually medication alone is not what makes a positive change in a patient’s life.”

Vanderbilt’s Clark agreed.

“While mental illness is influenced by a patient’s biological background, it is also affected by their social situation,” he said. “You have to treat the whole person.”

A better approach, both Rosenthal and Clark said, is for psychiatrists to make themselves more efficient by working with other doctors and delegating some of their work to other medical staffers who need less training, such as nurse practitioners. Psychiatrists need at least seven years of training. They must graduate from medical school and then spend another four years as residents. A nurse practitioner, on the other hand, can graduate with only two years of training.

Solomon said he has hired two nurse practitioners in the last two years.

“They act just like I do, they see patients and evaluate them, and my job is to supervise them and make sure their care is good,” he said.

But adding nurse practitioners is not a complete solution.

“We’ve been adding nurse practitioners, and that has been very, very helpful, but adding more physicians is still a need,” said Brennan Francois, head of Parkridge Hospital’s Parkridge Valley campus for adults and children with psychiatric problems.

Psychiatrists are also working more with their colleagues.

“Sometimes the psychiatrist is a consultant and helps physicians with patients who are medically ill who also need psychiatric care,” Rosenthal said.

And technology is allowing psychiatrists to spend more of their limited time counseling patients. As the quality of video over the Internet has increased, more psychiatrists are seeing patients remotely instead of in their offices. But there is still debate over whether the quality of such care is as good as an in-office visit.

Rosenthal said she believes the initial interview should be done in person.

“But for a followup, where the patient has been stabilized and is doing better, there is no need to travel for hours to see a psychiatrist for a few minutes just to be told you are doing better.”

Solomon is willing to forgo the initial in-person visit.

“The studies that have been done have shown that when a patient first starts, there is some resistance [to video counseling], but over time we find they get a good relationship with the doctor,” he said.

Medical educators still hope to boost the numbers of psychiatrists by convincing more medical students that psychiatry is a desirable specialty, particularly with its opportunity for patient interaction and the quality of life it affords.

“It’s not a black-and-white business,” Francois said. “You can’t just go in and make a diagnosis — you need to spend time with people to figure out what to do.”

“You have a unique ability to develop a healing relationship with your patients,” Vanderbilt’s Clark said.

Rosenthal had more practical reasons.

“While a psychiatrist’s income is not that great the practice has very low overhead,” she said. “You need an office, a polite secretary or receptionist, and a pleasant environment where the patient feels comfortable and calm — that doesn’t cost very much.”

Dr. Solomon agreed.

“The burnout rate for psychiatrists is second from the bottom,” he said. “And the most expensive reusable equipment we have is Kleenex.”


In Memoriam: Thelma Brinson Sawyer | The Daily Reflector

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Oct 062015


Thelma Brinson Sawyer

Mrs. Thelma Brinson Sawyer, 92, died Sunday, October 4, 2015 at her home in Greenville, NC.

A graveside service will be conducted Wednesday at 3 p.m. in Pinewood Memorial Park conducted by the Reverend Patrick Cherry. The family will receive friends at Wilkerson Funeral Home on Wednesday from 1:30 to 2:30 pm prior to the service.

Mrs. Sawyer, daughter of the late Stephen and Hettie Brinson, was a native of Duplin County, NC. At age 17 she left Duplin County to attend Mars Hill College, and finished her nursing program at Lenoir Hospital. She met her future husband, the love of her life (Red), while working in Elizabeth City, NC. She worked in Perquimans County at the health department, was the Nursing Supervisor at Wayne Memorial Hospital, and retired after a number of years from East Carolina University Student Health.

She was an avid gardener, a loving wife and mother, had an unsurpassed passion for her grandchildren, and will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

Aside from her husband of over 71 years, she prided herself on her beautiful family, and is survived by her husband George Sawyer of Greenville, son Doug Sawyer and wife Ginger of Roanoke, VA, daughter Stephanie Elks and husband Carlton of Greenville, and son Rodney Sawyer and wife Sharon of the Outer Banks, NC. In addition, she is survived by 5 precious grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her beloved sisters Eloise Patterson and Marie Bullock.

Memorial contributions may be made to Jarvis Memorial United Methodist Church, Good Shepard Ministry, 510 S. Washington St., Greenville, NC 27834.

Online condolences at


Triangle HBCUs aim to stop smoking on campuses | The News & Observer

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Oct 062015


By Thomasi McDonald


Campus leaders and students from 33 historically black colleges and universities across the country gathered at Shaw University on Monday to kick off a campaign to make their schools tobacco free.

The Tobacco-Free HBCU Campus Initiative is a two-day conference featuring workshops on the harmful effects of tobacco, particularly among African Americans, and potential ways to develop public education campaigns that inspire students and faculty to establish tobacco-free policies at their institutions.

“We are really looking toward the students to make this a grassroots issue,” said Odessa Hines, a Shaw University spokeswoman.

The conference at Shaw coincides with “Race to Quit NC,” a statewide campaign this week to help tobacco users quit. The smoking cessation program is sponsored by Duke University, health care systems and health advocacy groups.

Some supporters of the HBCU initiative say the disproportionate number of tobacco-related illnesses and deaths among African Americans is a cause for real concern.

Each year, 47,000 African Americans die from smoking-related illness. Smoking is the No. 1 cause of death among African Americans, surpassing all other leading causes including AIDs, traffic crashes, homicides and drug and alcohol use, combined.

Derrick Sauls, chairman of the department of public health and exercise science at St. Augustine’s University, notes that the tobacco industry specifically targeted African Americans with menthol cigarette advertising. Menthol, a chemical compound extracted from peppermint or the corn mint plant, has a cooling effect to the mouth and throat that masks the harshness of tobacco, making it easier to get addicted and harder to quit.

As a consequence, almost one in five African Americans smoke menthol cigarettes, which are overwhelmingly favored by African Americans and teenagers. Though menthol cigarettes account for about a quarter of the U.S. cigarette sales, they make up about 85 percent of sales to black smokers and nearly half to young smokers overall, according to Truth Initiative, a national public health organization that urges young people to shun tobacco.

The quest to banish tobacco from historically black colleges and universities is the brainchild of Truth Initiative and Dr. Regina Benjamin, a former U.S. Surgeon General. Benjamin was not on the Shaw University campus Monday, but in a press statement she said, “for decades, the tobacco industry has targeted minority communities, particularly African Americans, with intense advertising and promotional efforts.

“As a result of this investment, African Americans suffer the greatest burden of tobacco-related mortality of any ethnic or racial group in the U.S.”

Three of the four North Carolina HBCUs participating in the initiative are located in the Triangle: St. Aug’s, Shaw and N.C. Central University in Durham. N.C. Agricultural and Technical University in Greensboro is also taking part.

The four schools, along with the other participating institutions, received grants in March and in September to hire and train student interns to do campus and community outreach about the dangers of tobacco.

Ritney Castine, Truth Initiative’s director of youth activism, said the “spirit of activism and community involvement” of HBCUs makes them an apt incubator to get the word out about the use of tobacco. He noted that the two-day workshops and training sessions at Shaw this week will equip faculty members and students with information based on scientific research, along with innovative tools and techniques to engage their respective campuses and surrounding communities about the issue.

“We are counting on students and specific student organizations to engage the student population,” Castine said. “We want them to get their peers to care about the issue in the same way they care about financial aid, housing and ‘black lives matter.’ That’s how we want them to care about tobacco.”

According to Truth Initiative, more than 1,500 colleges and universities have adopted smoke-free policies. Yet the majority of the 105 HBCUs across the country do not have comprehensive smoke- and tobacco-free policies to protect their students from the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke.

Sauls, the public health professor, called the initiative “a monumental task.” He said there are at least eight retail outlets that sell cigarettes within two blocks of St. Augustine’s campus.

“Two of them are right outside the school gates, 30 or 40 yards away,” he said. “There are six places on New Bern Avenue from Bojangles to Raleigh Boulevard.”


Grade Point: The new college admissions coalition: Is it really about access? | The Washington Post

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Oct 062015


By Nick Anderson
October 5 at 11:12 AM

In the college admissions world, debate has sprung up about the best way to recruit students from low-income families. The Common Application, used by more than 600 schools, is a major player in the field. But a new coalition of prestigious schools is forming an alternative application. Here is a viewpoint about that coalition from Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president of enrollment management and marketing at DePaul University in Chicago. DePaul, the nation’s largest Catholic university, is not a member of the coalition but does use the Common App.

By Jon Boeckenstedt

Last week, a group of 83 public and private colleges and universities made an announcement that stunned much of higher education: They were joining together to form “The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success.”

Although details were somewhat vague, the purported goal of the group was to encourage more students from low-income families to consider and apply to this group of colleges, which includes all eight Ivy League institutions and many other prestigious private and public universities.

The group plans a new application for admission and a collection of online tools to provide guidance and advice to students, as well as a portfolio tool for students to begin to collect materials to support the college application as early as ninth grade.

The collective response of high school counselors, independent consultants and college admissions officers at the annual meeting of the National Association for College Admission Counseling in San Diego was, “Huh?” Followed immediately by, “What?”

Access for underserved populations is a popular topic these days in the admissions and financial aid worlds, so this was not likely the reception the coalition members expected. But an inspection of the details — or at least those that have been revealed — yields more questions than it answers, and even causes many to ask if this isn’t either counterproductive, or perhaps an attempt to introduce something else in the attractive wrapper of a popular topic.

Buzz was so intense that a session on a normally sleepy Saturday morning at the NACAC conference was moved to a ballroom to accommodate the interest. There, three representatives of coalition members, reading carefully prepared statements to a room of several hundred, indicated that the inspiration for this project was not really access at all, but rather a widely publicized dissatisfaction with the Common Application related to the rollout of a new platform in 2013 that had not been adequately tested and was riddled with problems. In addition, they said, there was great concern that Common App was a “monopoly” (a charge leveled in a recently-dismissed lawsuit against Common App by College Net, the group building the new coalition application) and was restricting what colleges could do with their admissions processes. “Our applications were not really ours,” said one panelist.

While acknowledging that this discussion has been two years in the making, the coalition also pleaded for help from guidance and independent counselors, claiming to be “only four days old.” Its representatives said repeatedly that “we don’t have all the answers.” Even so, the group plans to launch its tools in January, without doing any public beta- or even alpha-testing. The coalition only recently added a group of counselors to serve on an advisory board. The irony of launching an untested product that arose from dissatisfaction with another untested product was not lost on the crowd.

It is one of the dirty secrets of higher education that the most selective and prestigious private universities carry far less share of the load when it comes to enrolling low-income students, especially in light of the enormous wealth they collectively hold. Unfortunately, though, the coalition seems unable to answer how, exactly, an increasingly fractured application process is likely to help low-income students, who, already handicapped by a lack of information and guidance, seem confused by the current esoteric system, and whose lack of applications to these institutions is ostensibly the problem to be addressed.

News, of course, travels at different speeds in different communities. Several guidance counselors from the high school side indicated that they had already heard from the wealthy, driven, successful and college-educated parents of their ninth graders, who want to get an early start on the process and have asked how to start a portfolio. No one suggested they’d heard similar things from the target audience of low-income parents or students. In fact, when someone asked, “Why don’t you make this application and suite of tools available only to low-income students?” the response was effectively, “we’d never even considered that before.”

If the group of colleges seems like strange bedfellows, you’re right. The apparently non-negotiable requirement for admission is a 70 percent six-year graduation rate for freshmen, but private institutions in the coalition must also meet 100 percent of full demonstrated financial need. Public institutions must have “low” in-state tuition and offer need-based financial aid. This seems reasonable until you understand what this means, and the data lying underneath it.

“Meeting need” is largely dependent on two things: First, a student needs to be admitted, of course, and many of the private colleges in the coalition are “need aware” (that is, ability to pay is a factor in the admissions decision), meaning poorer students are not treated equally in the admissions process. Even when a college claims to be need-blind, virtually every single factor the admissions office uses in their evaluations favors wealthy applicants (which may be why many of these institutions have problems enrolling low-income students).

Second, “need” is essentially what the college says it is. Most of these institutions use a tool called Profile, in addition to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, in an attempt to collect more information than the government form requires. That often raises the expected family contribution — leading to the expectation of a substantial contribution from summer work, for example, even from students who do not have summer jobs or who may be actively contributing to the support of their family.

Ultimately, the data do not lie. Several of these private institutions are among the very worst when it comes to enrolling Pell grant students, who are from the lowest-income brackets. There are notable exceptions, but some coalition members had as few as 1 in 20 freshmen on Pell in 2013. Nationwide, nearly 40 percent of undergraduates receive the Pell.

The public university requirements are equally puzzling. While all have the requisite 70 percent graduation rates, some have graduation rates for Pell grant students in the mid-50’s, with 15-point differences between Pell and non-Pell students. Some have low Pell participation rates that mimic the most selective private institutions. In recent years, many have ramped up efforts to recruit wealthier students from beyond their borders to offset decreases in state funding. Given the strong relationship between standardized test scores and family wealth, and given colleges’ continuing, almost rabid, quest for prestige via impressive statistical profiles, this is not surprising.

Logic might suggest that membership for public institutions also require high graduation rates for all students, especially those in the target audience. And, beyond “low in-state tuition,” low net price to students might also be a good guide. Unfortunately, about 1 in 5 of these public universities has a net price (out-of-pocket costs for tuition, fees, room and board) of over $12,000 for families with incomes under $30,000 a year. A reasonable person might expect an actual commitment to access before attempting to find more students with more need. Many of the public and the private colleges in the coalition have done so, but others clearly have not. Perhaps the motivation for membership in this group was that it was simply too attractive to pass up. Maybe, as the origins of the coalition suggest, it’s not really about improving access at all.

At the heart of this is a simple question: Are low-income students really hard to find? Or could the admissions processes simply be ignoring them by requiring students from resource-poor backgrounds to look and act like wealthier students? In 2013, the 52 private colleges in the coalition denied admission to 631,000 students; the 1,231 other private, degree-granting, four-year colleges in the United States denied only 1.4 million among them. The eight Ivy League members of the coalition alone denied over 220,000. If one believes the rhetoric that as many as half of those denied at the Ivies are academically capable, and if only 10 percent of those are low-income, the eight most prestigious institutions in the nation might be sitting on a pool of over 10,000 good candidates from which to choose. (Of course, some of these are the same students denied at one place and admitted at another.)

Here the old adage seems true: Things that look, walk and quack like ducks are ducks. I have even suggested in an earlier piece in The Post that Google could serve as a good basis for portfolio repositories for students, although that was intended to be inclusive rather than limited to a group of elite institutions. But while the wrapper the coalition puts on this initiative attempts to make it look like it’s about access, it doesn’t walk and it doesn’t quack like a duck. What makes more sense is that a group of America’s most high-profile private colleges, already obsessed with prestige, are attempting to grab more. They are doing so by joining with some of America’s most prominent public universities, and by making hollow promises to low-income kids they could already serve if they really wanted to.


James Summers saves East Carolina Pirates again | The News & Observer

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Oct 052015


By Mark Zeske


For the second consecutive week, East Carolina quarterback James Summers came off the bench to lead the Pirates to a come-from-behind victory. This time, they trailed Southern Methodist by 16 before Summers rallied ECU to a 49-23 win Saturday at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.

With Summers under center, the Pirates scored six unanswered touchdowns. He rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries, while completing 9 of 10 passes for 153 yards and another two scores.

Summers downplayed his impact.

“We know that no one can stop us,” he said. “We have so many weapons on the field, they can’t cover everything.”

Summers had plenty of help from other Pirates as six different players scored. Chris Hairston and Trevon Brown each added touchdowns, with Hairston rushing for 95 yards on 18 carries while Brown caught 4 passes for 85 yards.

The Pirates pounded away at SMU, rushing 54 times for 306 yards. They piled up 555 yards total offense.

ECU’s comeback was a replay of its game last week, when they rallied from a 14-point deficit at home to beat Virginia Tech 35-28. Blake Kemp was the starting quarterback in that game, just like he was at SMU. Summers came off the bench last week, however, and excelled. Summers rushed for two touchdowns and 169 yards (the second most by a quarterback in ECU history), while completing 5 of 8 passes for 110 yards and another score.

The win evened East Carolina’s record in the American Athletic Conference at 1-1, upping its season mark to 3-2. The loss dropped SMU’s record to 0-1 in AAC play, 1-4 overall.

The Mustangs hardly looked like a struggling team for the first 20 minutes of Saturday’s game. SMU used a series of big plays, as well as two interceptions which led to scores, to build a 23-7 lead.

Though Blake had a 10-yard touchdown pass to Davon Grayson to give ECU an early 7-6 lead, he also threw two interceptions that turned into 10 SMU points. The second interception was Blake’s last play of the game.

Summers entered the game, taking over with 10:08 left in the second quarter.

Summers’ impact was immediate. He completed a 12-yarder to Isaiah Jones for a first down, then rushed 14 yards for another. Summers’ threat as a runner opened up the field for the ECU running backs. Summers scored on a 27-yard run around the corner, closing the gap to 23-14.

After a three-and-out for the Mustangs, Summers marched the Pirates 56 yards in five plays. Chris Hairston scored on a 34-yard run, and ECU went to the half trailing just 23-21.

East Carolina head coach Ruffin McNeil said Summers’ dual-threat capability is hard for teams to defend.

“They have to respect him as a runner, but James can throw the ball, too,” McNeil said. “That opened the lanes for the running backs. It helped up front, and with the threat of the pass, it stretches the defense.”

Summers’ spark spread to the Pirate defense, which shut down the Mustangs in the second half. The Pirates lineman dominated on both sides of the ball.

McNeil said the turnaround included both offense and defense.

“They were feeding off us early,” he said, “I told them we needed to stop the feeding frenzy and have one of our own. They knew what that meant and they made it happen.”

Before the substitute quarterback entered the game, the SMU offense averaged more than 9 yards a play, piling up 243 yards in just 26 plays. After the switch to Summers, the Pirate defense surrendered just 60 yards in 25 plays and almost twice as much game time. While the Mustangs built their lead with three passing touchdowns of 19, 40 and 60 yards, they had very little time on passing plays in the second half.

Linebackers Montese Overton and Zeek Bigger led the ECU defensive charge. Overton had four sacks and another tackle for a loss, while Bigger led the Pirates with six tackles. Linebacker Yiannis Bowden was credited with the first two sacks of his career, while defensive end Terrell Stanley added two sacks in the second half.

Summers said he would have no problem continuing coming off the bench, not knowing exactly when he would play.

“It’s definitely hard, but my job is to be ready,” Summers said. “Like coach always says, be ready for my teammates, and that’s what keeps me going.


Summers sparks ECU win | The Daily Reflector

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Oct 052015


By Nathan Summers
Saturday, October 3, 2015

DALLAS — East Carolina threw a barrage of bliztes at SMU on Saturday afternoon, but none were as staggering as the one that saw the Pirates score 42 unanswered points in a 49-23 rout in Gerald J. Ford Stadium.

For the second week in a row, ECU fell behind early before offering a resounding answer for the rest of the game. The Pirates (3-2, 1-1 American Athletic Conference) unleashed a season-high 555 yards of offense and six different players scored touchdowns in the win, including a pair by junior quarterback James Summers.

But it was the ECU defense battering the Mustangs for most of the second half that rendered any further SMU comeback impossible. The combination of the defensive pressure and the steady rush on offense gave the Pirates a one-two punch that has been lacking early in the season.

“At the end of the first (quarter, when ECU trailed 13-7), I told (the players), ‘They’re having a feeding frenzy. We need to have one,’” sixth-year ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill said of the win. “And that’s when you saw it happen, and not because I told them, but because they saw it happen to them.”

Senior outside linebacker Montese Overton terrorized Mustang QB Matt Davis (249 pass yards, two TDs) for four of the Pirates’ eight sacks, and redshirt freshman OLB Yiannis Bowden came at Davis from the other side, adding the first 2.5 sacks of his career.

“That’s really how football should be played,” said Overton who finished with six tackles along with inside LB Zeek Bigger. “We needed to start being more effective on defense, so we called more blitzes and started sending more people to make (Davis) scramble and make him feel uncomfortable.”

But it wasn’t that easy all day.

The Pirates battled back from a 23-7 deficit in the first half, pulling to within two points at halftime before blanking the hosts 28-0 in the final two quarters.

“There were some lulls there in the third, but the 42 consecutive points and zero given up by our defense was big,” McNeill said. “I thought our third down control, 2-of-14, was huge. The balance of rushing and passing helps too.”

Offensively, the win was built on the run, as senior back Chris Hairston (91 yards, TD), Summers (85 yards) and sophomore back Anthony Scott (69 yards, TD) helped the Pirates run up a season-high 306 ground yards.

“It felt great and everyone — the offensive line and the receivers — did a great job of blocking downfield and holding their blocks,” said Hairston, who charged for 154 yards in ECU’s season opener against Towson. “We got back to how the running game should be, how it was Week 1.”

The Pirates took the ball to start the second half and marched into their second and final lead of the day in short order. After a long connection with tight end Bryce Williams (four receptions, 50 yards), Summers found Trevon Brown alone behind SMU coverage and floated a 47-yard TD strike to him to put the Pirates ahead, 27-23.

Later in the third, Scott rambled into the end zone to cap a nine-play drive and push ECU ahead 35-23.

Summers’ 8-yard draw and his 16-yard pass to Jimmy Williams rounded out the blowout.

“We wanted to come in and run our game plan because we feel like no one can stop it,” Summers said of his outing, which also featured 153 pass yards, after taking over for starter Blake Kemp. “You’ve got to cover something, and we feel like we have so many weapons on the field, if we run our game plan, they can’t cover everything.”

Isaiah Jones led all pass-catchers with six receptions for 76 yards, followed by Brown (4-85).

Terrell Stanley and Johnathon White also got in on a pair of sacks.

ECU dug itself a hole with a couple of turnovers on offense that equaled 10 SMU points, and the ECU defense fell for a trick play for another Mustangs’ score.

Despite trailing by as much as 23-7 in the half, however, the Pirates battled back to make it a 2-point affair, 23-21, at the break.

The game started with a bang, as Bigger tipped a Davis pass on the second play of the game, and it fell into the hands of a galloping Jeremiah Gaines for a 60-yard TD and a 6-0 SMU lead after a failed 2-point conversion.

On the ensuing drive, Kemp (96 pass yards, TD) marched the Pirates the length of the field before zipping a scoring pass to Davon Grayson on a slant for a brief 7-6 ECU lead.

SMU went back in front on one play after Kemp was picked off. Davis sent a lateral to Xaiver Jones, who then lofted a 40-yard strike to Xaiver Castille for an untouched touchdown.

The Mustang lead grew to 20-7 in the second quarter when Davis threw to Ryheem Malone, who spun out of a handful of missed tackles on his way to a 19-yard score, and Chad Hedlund booted a field goal to make it 23-7.

Then a couple of long runs had the Pirates right back in the game. Summers entered the game and, on third-and-three, he took off down the left sideline, got some key blocks and dove over the cone with the football for a 27-yard TD that made it 23-14.

Then Hairston, bottled up the last three games, exploded through the middle for a 34-yard TD dash with less than 5 minutes to play in the half.


Summers: A man for all seasons | The Daily Reflector

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Oct 052015


Sunday, October 4, 2015


This time, it happened on dry land.

In a week in which North Carolinians were reminded of times of crisis during hurricane season, the East Carolina Pirates staged another stirring football comeback far from home and far from the weeklong deluge on the East Coast.

Unlike a week ago in Greenville when the Pirates scored a rebound victory over Virginia Tech on their saturated home turf with a seemingly rain-ready offense largely centered around James Summers, on Saturday they repeated the feat on a typical dry autumn day at SMU.

The rainy-day game plan, in fact, has less to do with fall weather and more to do with Summers.

The sort-of backup ECU quarterback for the first five games of the season, Summers has become his team’s man for all seasons in a matter of weeks.

For the second straight game, he took the field in the second quarter after Blake Kemp started the game, this time with the Mustangs leading. Before he was done in Dallas, his team was scoring mop-up touchdowns in a 49-23 blowout.

Summers has an undeniable effect on his team, and in this case, his rallying spirit also rubbed off on the ECU defense, which for all intents and purposes saddled the Mustangs.

The passer continued to be a brilliant runner, tearing loose around the left end not long after walking onto the field and rambling for a 27-yard touchdown complete with a deft, ball-inside-the-cone dive.

Not willing to be corralled as a mere running passer, Summers also tossed his second TD pass as a Pirate, a 47-yard connection with Trevon Brown, to open the second half and begin the team’s remarkable 42-0 turn of the tables.

Once the offense was ignited, the ECU defense took charge.

The Pirates pounded SMU quarterback Matt Davis, quite literally at times, in an eight-sack barrage. That left little need for any teeth clenching for ECU in a second half in which the Mustangs were shut out completely.

Now comes the question of Kemp, who despite a couple of interceptions on Saturday, also threw his eighth TD pass and has routinely provided some sparks himself since becoming the emergency starter late in the preseason.

Kemp has started all five games to date, but Summers’ impact on the team has become undeniable, begging the question of what he might do with a full 60 minutes. Kemp had the run of the offense against Towson, Navy and most of the Pirates’ game at Florida.

ECU has been a strict one-QB team since Ruffin McNeill became head coach in 2010, until now. The 3-2 Pirates would not be the first winning team to maintain a two-quarterback attack for a whole season, but they would be the first McNeill team that did.

On his way to rewriting much of the ECU offensive record book, former passer Shane Carden took the field for the first time in place of struggling Rio Johnson in 2012, and he never had to look over his shoulder after that.

As Carden, a native Texan, reunited with the Pirates in Dallas over the weekend, he surely had a unique perspective on the current QB situation.

Regardless, Carden and Kemp share in common getting the chance to not only start for the Pirates but also to prove themselves over an entire four quarters.

The rainy fall season in Greenville has already been characterized by two ECU quarterbacks, but this might be Summers’ time.


As Veterans Head To College, Schools Hire Specialists To Serve Them | WUNC

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Oct 052015


By Jay Price

Jay Price reports that a growing number of universities are hiring dedicated staff members to serve student veterans.

The gulf between the distinctive cultures of academia and the military can look pretty wide. Not to Amber Mathwig, though.

“I don’t see this humongous gap,” said Mathwig, who just started work as UNC-Chapel Hill’s first ever Student Veteran Assistance Coordinator. “It’s more of an adjustment period that tends to create some hurdles for people.”

“And all hurdles are clearable even if we just have to knock them down so they’re no longer there,” she said.

Mathwig is a ten year Navy vet and is working on a master’s degree at UNC-Greensboro, where she helped found that university’s veterans center. Now, at Chapel Hill, she’s the go-to person for students with military ties.

“They are navigating this university system for the very first time and they probably also have other responsibilities such as families to take care of,” she said. “They’re already older, so they’re coming in with a little bit different background than what a lot of people bring in.”

In the past two years, the UNC system has seen a 13 percent jump in the number of people using military education benefits, which includes active duty service members, veterans, and dependents.

Eleven of North Carolina’s 16 public universities have opened campus veterans centers, all in the past three years. And most now have at least one full-time staff member like Mathwig.

At East Carolina University, another Navy vet, Nicole Jablonski, is Assistant Director of Student Veteran Services. She says the job means helping veterans understand university life — and sometimes helping the rest of the campus understand the vets.

“Many people are really interested in hearing about the military culture but they may not go about it in the best way,” she said.

Jablonski said veterans sometimes hear questions from fellow students along the lines of, “Did you see anyone die?” “Did you kill anyone?” or “Do you have PTSD?”

While a few student vets do have post-traumatic stress disorder, they typically have it well under control before enrolling. Much more common for ECU student vets are problems with the complex VA benefits paperwork, and for some, dealing with the sense that their younger peers are consumed by frivolous things.

“They’re always frustrated when the student is complaining that the professor is giving a lot of homework, or their parents don’t want to pay their cell phone bill,” Jablonski said.

“Student veterans are always saying (non-veteran students) don’t know what real problems look like. So we always talk to student veterans and let them know that these traditionally aged students are just like any other set of diverse population. You have to learn about their culture and accept and act respectfully with it.”

And once they realize that they have a place on campus where they can vent frustrations, trade a little military lingo, and talk with people who ‘get it’, they feel more comfortable going back out and working with their new peers.

“We really want the student veterans not to keep tightly within that veteran group,” Jablonski said. “They’re now veterans who are in the civilian world.”

At UNC-Chapel Hill, with so many veteran students now, Provost Jim Dean said it was clearly time to bring in a staff member to serve them.

“We’re just becoming more aware that the needs of veteran students aren’t necessarily being met by the more generic services that we offer through Student Services,” Dean said.

In one more measure of the university’s interest in becoming more veteran-friendly, Dean himself recently carved six days out of his schedule to go through a kind of Pentagon boot camp aimed at helping civilian leaders in business and academia better understand the military.

Other administrators at Carolina also are enthusiastic about having more veterans enroll.

“Even the ones who don’t have combat experience have had two, three, four, sometimes more years of maturation and independence out in the world that they then bring back to the classroom,” said UNC-Chapel Hill Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp. “They add a perspective that just certainly enriches the experience for all of our students.”

In short, Crisp says, the veteran students don’t just learn, they also teach.


Breast Cancer Awareness Month: screening locations | WNCT

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Oct 052015


By Kelly Byrne
Published: October 4, 2015

To view news video at WNCT, click here.

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, dedicated to informing women about the disease.

One in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, and over 230,000 are expected to be diagnosed in 2015.

Dr. Ann Schreier of ECU’s College of Nursing, wants women to know the importance of getting screened.

“The earlier that it’s detected, the better it is,” says Schreier. “We want them to come in, if they’re over 40, and get, as the American Cancer Society recommends, a mammography.”

There are screening locations all across the East, making it simple to get a mammography.

Physicians East Farmville (252) 753-7141 Farmville 27828
Physicians East P.A. (252) 757-3131 Greenville 27834
Physicians East (252) 758-4181 Greenville 27834
Physicians East Diagnostics (252) 413-6101 Greenville 27834
Eastern Radiologists, Inc (252) 752-5000 Greenville 27834
Carolina Breast Imaging (252) 565-8951 Greenville 27834
Nash Breast Care Center (252) 962-6100 Rocky Mount 27804
Boice Willis Clinic, P.A. (252) 937-0482 Rocky Mount 27804
Rocky Mount Family Medical (252) 443-3133 Rocky Mount 27804
Mammography Center (252) 535-3417 Roanoke Rapids 27870
Coastal Imaging and Vascular (919) 353-3759 Cedar Point 28584
Naval Health Clinic (252) 466-0250 Cherry Point 28533
Onslow Imaging Center (910) 577-2690 Jacksonville 28546
Onslow Radiology Center (910) 577-1171 Jacksonville 28546
Kinston Medical Specialist (252) 559-2200 Kinston 28501
Physicians East PA Kinston (252) 523-0026 Kinston 28504
Eastern Radiologists, INC (252) 527-7077 Kinston 28501
CGH Imaging Center (252) 808-6200 Morehead City 28557
Carteret OBGYN Associates (252) 247-4297 Morehead City 28557
CCHC Imaging (252) 637-5480 New Bern 28562
Carolina East Diagnostic (252) 634-6400 New Bern 28562


Hazing allegations persist | The Daily Reflector

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Oct 052015


By Sharieka Breeden
Saturday, October 3, 2015

First in a two-part series. On Monday, a hazing expert reviews details in the case.

A cable television show that aired in Greenville recently is the latest attempt to link a 2010 wreck that killed two East Carolina University students to hazing.

The Investigation Discovery channel aired “Deadly Devotion: Pledge Your Life” on Sept. 7. The show summarized its version of what led to the deaths of Briana Latrice Gather, 20, of Winston-Salem and Victoria T’nya-Carter, 20, of Raleigh, who were joining ECU’s Kappa Sigma chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

The wreck occurred on Nov. 20, 2010, on Greenville Boulevard near Rosewood Drive. Four students were in the car when Kamil Arrington of Nashville fell asleep at the wheel about 6:30 a.m., crashing the vehicle in the residential area. She was 21 at the time and was driving a 2008 Toyota.

Arrington and Taylor Nicole King, 20, of Chapel Hill survived. Arrington was charged with two counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle and sentenced to one year of supervised probation and 100 hours of community service.

A wrongful death civil suit has been filed against the Kappa Sigma chapter and members of the sorority associated with the chapter by Carter’s family, according to attorney John McCabe, who is representing the Carter family. It was filed in 2012 in Nash County.

McCabe said Gather’s family also has a civil suit against the sorority. Several attempts were made to reach people involved with the case but they were unsuccessful. Calls and emails to the sorority’s national headquarters and a local sorority officer were not returned.

Court documents said the women began a process to join the sorority during the spring semester of 2010. It continued into the fall semester.

The morning of the wreck, they were heading to hair appointments scheduled by members of the sorority, referred to in the suit as their big sisters. The trip followed a “hell week,” when sleep deprivation and hazing intensified, according to the suit.

Investigation Discovery, or ID, dramatized hell week events with actresses portraying 17 students moving into a two-bed, two-bath apartment called the duckpod, where they lived throughout their process.

Court documents said that Linda Wilson, a former regional director of the sorority, required the women to stay in Arrington’s apartment where they slept on the floor, in closets, on couches and on other furniture.

Another scene shows women standing in a line, while actors portraying members and advisers order them to hold bricks while reciting sorority history.

The civil suit charges that members rubbed the pledges’ lips with hot sauce, or “Delta Lipstick,” and forced them to eat raw onions, “Delta apples.” They also had to eat cottage cheese and drink buttermilk while squeezed in a tight kitchen where they often felt hot, sweaty, faint and fatigued.

Advisers reportedly attended some of the activities, the suit charged. They started about midnight and went to as late as 5:30 a.m. The women were subjected to tests of physical endurance, insults and ridicule, and strict rules regulating attire and personal conduct.

Activities intensified during hell week, which concluded on Nov. 20, 2010, when the women were to be officially inducted. Court documents said that Arrington slept no more than six or seven hours during hell week.

According to the show and court documents, Wilson designated Arrington to be one of the drivers for the women and specifically instructed Carter, King and Gather to ride with Arrington.

Before November 2010, ECU’s Office of Greek Life informed Wilson and chapter advisers about allegations of hazing against the chapter, according to court documents. Wilson claimed the reports were false, trumped-up complaints made by bitter, jealous girls not selected for the pledge line, the suit charges.

The civil suit contains sorority documents that demonstrate the chapter violated its own rules. An application, a statement of rights and responsibilities and other documents expressly prohibit hazing and list about 20 examples of banned physical and psychological abuse.

By failing to enforce the anti-hazing policy and failing to implement the checks and balances to ensure compliance with the anti-hazing policy, Wilson consented to and condoned the hazing, according to documents.

Part of the show’s conclusion focuses on a 2013 deposition of Arrington and other pledges under oath. In video of the June 21, 2013, examination, Arrington said she did not report the hazing because chapter advisers were taking part in the activities.

Other pledges who had been silent about the hazing also changed their stories during depositions obtained by the Investigation Discovery.

The ID show alleged that chapter members conspired to cover up details about the hazing. The allegations rose after the dead students’ phones were returned to their mothers, Bernadette Carter and Renata Leonard.

Carter’s phone reportedly had been submerged in water and had no messages, while Gather’s phone contained a message that instructed sorority members to delete all messages pertaining to Delta from their phones.

According to the show, the sorority retrieved the phones from a Greenville Police Department employee who also was a member shortly after the wreck. Attorney McCabe said the phones should have been returned to the next of kin by an officer.

Greenville police Deputy Chief Ted Sauls said the phones had not been seized and were not considered evidence because hazing allegations did not exist at the time.

The devices were ringing steadily, and a civilian employee who worked in telecommunications offered to return them to her contacts with the sorority. She returned the phones to an adviser, Sauls said.

The investigator asked her to return the phones thinking it would be helpful to people involved in the tragedy. Had she not offered to take the phones, the investigator would have given them to a family member, another member of the sorority or whomever he thought would have given them to the rightful owners, Sauls said.

“It’s very easy to see how it can be looked at now in hindsight that she was trying to cover up by getting the phones to get any information off of them,” Sauls said. “I can completely make that link. That’s not hard to make.”

The department’s policy now requires officers to return such property to the next of kin or a person who has legal authority to possess it, Sauls said. The individual now must sign for the property with proper identification.

“The way things were being done then, it was never seized or taken into property, so it could be given to whoever the officer felt appropriate. The goal then was to get the property back to the owner or family member. … In a fatal crash now, the goal is to look at that electronic evidence to see if it was a cause of the crash. In this particular case we did that through search warrants and subpoenas but there was no evidence presented in those early days of hazing. That’s what would’ve caused us to potentially seize the phones in this case. Had we had allegations that there was hazing and a hush order was given, we would’ve known to seize them.”

Following the incident, the chapter was suspended from ECU until 2015. The suspension has been extended by the sorority until 2025, according to Chris Stansbury, senior operating officer and executive director of the division of student affairs for ECU.

McCabe said lengths that chapter members took to protect themselves and the chapter after the deaths included lies to law enforcement, university officials and national sorority investigators.

“They did not admit to a lot of the hazing and they continued the cover-ups,” McCabe said. “As the case went on, they began to talk more and more about the hazing that took place, to the point where everybody would concede that the hazing took place.”

The defense in the case has shifted to a point where defendants can’t deny the hazing and can no longer put the blame on the victims, McCabe said.

“We have an incredibly strong case,” he said. “I don’t think the members of the community are going to allow this sort of conduct to go on in our state. They are going to send a very clear message to any organization that is hazing that it won’t be tolerated.”


Hazing presents challenges | The Daily Reflector

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Oct 052015


By Sharieka Breeden
Sunday, October 4, 2015

This is the second in a two-part series.

Hazing like the activity linked to the deaths of two East Carolina University students in 2010 presents challenges to students and administrators, experts said.

A television report on the Investigation Discovery cable channel is the latest attempt to link the deaths of Briana Latrice Gather, 20, of Winston-Salem and Victoria T’nya-Carter, 20, of Raleigh to hazing by their sorority, ECU’s Kappa Sigma chapter of Delta Sigma Theta.

Gather and Carter were killed in a car crash on Nov. 20. Civil suits by Investigation Discovery state that another woman pledging the sorority fell asleep at the wheel of the car they were in because of sleep depravation suffered during intense “hell week” hazing.

Walter Kimbrough, president of Dillard University in New Orleans, has worked as an expert on hazing cases since 1998. He is serving as an expert witness in civil suits filed by the families of Carter and Gather.

Kimbrough said hazing practices in the ECU case were reminiscent of what was done to pledges before there was a greater awareness about the dangers involved.

“This case was different,” Kimbrough said. “From what I read, it looks like the pledging that took place in the ’80s. It looked like what I saw when I was in school, which is a surprise to me.”

The students in the wreck were among 17 forced to live in a two-bedroom apartment and abide by strict sorority codes of conduct from the spring semester through the fall, according to allegations. There was not enough room for them to comfortably sleep, eat and use the bathroom and they were subjected to mental, emotional and physical abuse, according to a lawsuit filed in Nash County in 2012.

The hazing intensified in the week leading up to Nov. 20, the day they were supposed to be inducted. The pledges were on their way to a 6:30 a.m. hair appointment when 21-year-old Kamil Arrington of Nashville fell asleep at the wheel of a 2008 Toyota and crashed into a tree off of Greenville Boulevard near Rosewood Drive

Arrington and Taylor Nicole King, 20, of Chapel Hill survived. Arrington was charged with two counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle and sentenced to one year of supervised probation and 100 hours of community service.

Following the incident, the chapter was suspended from ECU until 2015; the suspension has been extended to 2025 by the sorority, according to Chris Stansbury, senior operating officer and executive director of the division of student affairs for ECU.


Providing education

Stansbury said the office of Greek Life provides education about hazing during new student orientation, fraternity rush and sorority recruitment as well as other university events such as “Meet the Greeks.”

The office held an event on Sept. 21 during which Gregory Park, assistant professor of law at Wake Forest University, spoke to students about hazing prevention and being active members and contributors to their communities without abuse of power.

“Hazing is a topic on campuses nationwide, including ECU, and relates to athletics, band, club sports and student organizations as well as Greek life,” Stansbury said. “It is very important to note that hazing is not specific to the Greek community on college campuses.”

The practice is not permitted in any organization on campus in accordance with North Carolina law and university policies, Stansbury said, including the ECU Interfraternity Council and the North American Interfraternity Conference and the National Pan-Hellenic Council and Conference.

“All acts of hazing by any organization member and or alumni are specifically forbidden,” he said. “Since hazing is a violation of the student code of conduct for individuals and organizations, the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities investigates reports to determine if the report is substantiated. During this time Greek Life, staff members provide support to OSRR and also liaises with the chapters and national organizations, when necessary. Once again, not all reports are found to be hazing, but each is investigated.”

Efforts to educate and eradicate issues with hazing have resulted in ECU Greek Life partnering with Plaid, a national consulting firm to deliver programs, training and educational opportunities during the next two years, Stansbury said.

Hazing culture

The culture of hazing dates back to the 1400s, Kimbrough said. It made its way to college campuses in the mid to late 1800s, where freshmen were scalped, wrestled and endured other violent encounters. The practice has been adopted by many organizations since the 1920s.

Kimbrough said being an adviser to a college fraternity or sorority is a difficult job due to the risks being taken by those who decide to haze. Kimbrough encouraged students to use resources such as the Internet to research and understand the process prior to completing any official paperwork. He also suggests journaling every step of the process to note any illegal activity.

Ending hazing is not in the hands of the universities or organizations but the people who decide to participate, Kimbrough said.

Much of the hazing experienced by pledges comes at the hands of people outside of the traditional college age who have not achieved accomplishments worthy of protecting, Kimbrough said.

“It’s the only power they’ve ever had,” he said. “The ages of people involved are usually people who are extended adolescents. What I usually tell students is that if they decide to pledge illegally and see adults come in the room, your life is in danger.”

Slaps on the wrists are no longer the response to the behavior that Kimbrough said is resulting in lawsuits and jail time along with other repercussions that didn’t exist when he joined Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. in the 1980s.

“More and more people are going to jail,” Kimbrough said. “Look at the (Florida A&M) band incident. I worked that case. Three people went to jail for six years. Thirty-seven guys were indicted and five are facing murder for the case up in New York. People are going to have to make more decisions and find out if it’s worth it for me to conduct this process and people gambling with their future on foolishness.”

The three ex-band members of Florida A&M University were convicted in the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion.

Greenville Police Department Deputy Chief Ted Sauls said hazing is a misdemeanor in the state and has a statute of limitations of two years but he encourages people to come forward about issues and trust law enforcement to protect and serve.

“They are not things that I would allow to be done to myself. It takes one person letting us know what is occurring for us to be able to do something about it, so I just tell people to stand on their principles.”


Young entrepreneurs pitch plans | The Daily Reflector

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Oct 052015


By Michael Abramowitz
Friday, October 2, 2015

Young entrepreneurs with ideas that can make a difference in Greenville pitched their plans to a panel of judges at East Carolina University for a chance to win $10,000 in a statewide contest to turn their ideas into reality.

The city’s first Discovery Forum, hosted Thursday by the ECU College of Business and the N.C. Small Business and Technology Development Center, gave 10 individuals or teams an opportunity to share their ideas and business plans with a panel of distinguished business educators and successful entrepreneurs.

Judges included the business college dean, Stan Eakins; Metrics co-founder Jeff Basham; ECU Small Business Institute Director Michael Harris; ECU Provost Ron Mitchelson; and Scott Daugherty, executive director of the technology development center.

“This event showed us that Greenville’s entrepreneurial community is strong and growing,” David Mayo, ECU business professor and community entrepreneurship liaison said.

Mayo talked about the millennial generation, which he and the contestants partly comprise.

“Millennials came of age during the Great Recession, with job prospects fewer than those of previous generations and mass layoffs from companies,” he said. “They also saw the advent of higher connectivity through the Worldwide Web and social media.”

The uncertainty and rapid change the millennial generation grew up in has given them some different values than their parents and grandparents, Mayo said.

“Previous generations might have valued loyalty to a company, while this generation has come to value community and family, making them more likely to seek a work-life balance that allows them to spend time doing things they love outside of work,” he said. “They’re highly motivated and bring a lot of energy and passion to our business community.”

The Discovery Forum contestants pitched ideas judged to be collaborative, creative and socially innovative. From among the 10 presentations, the judges chose three who earned a leadership development weekend at N.C. State and a chance to compete for the $10,000 prize.

The first-place winner of $1,200 was Mona Amin, creator of FreshSpire, a mobile application and text system that notifies consumers, including low-income shoppers, about discounts on near-expiring foods at local grocery stores, allowing them to take advantage of healthy foods at lower prices.

Second place and $500 went to Carlyle Rogers, who conceived an online platform that will focus on bringing together all web-related applications, courses and programs developed by ECU into a single marketplace. Third-place winners Sara Dover and Ferdinand Rouse took home $250 for their business model, called TextChange, a website that can make textbooks free for college students by offering them free digital access through a website while simultaneously allowing students the ability to buy, sell and trade textbooks they currently own, thus lowering student debt.

Other contestants included Carlyle Rogers; Brian Mitchell and Kathryn Denaro; Cameron Jennings; Anthony Pappas; James Huza; Daris Scott, Tina Lassiter and Raymond Lassiter; Enoch Young; and Lee Everette and Kendrick Ransome.

Basham opened the evening by sharing what he finds to be four critical components of successful accomplishments.

“People are first,” Basham said. “Surround yourself with smart and honest people who understand your goals and will give honest evaluations and criticisms to complement your ideas. You also must have a vision, a view from different distances, with detailed steps along the way and a time line for accomplishments that has some flexibility. A passion for doing your best, with an even keel to stay the course also is critical, as is the ability to define, assess and take risks. There is an intellectual component to risk taking, but there is also a gut feeling that comes into play.”

Closing speaker Vin McCaffrey, founder and CEO of Game Theory Group International, urged the young entrepreneurs to put their hearts into their efforts and make their work a family affair whenever possible.

The business college is itself a competitor to become the best in the North Carolina university system, Eakins said.

“This event represents our inauguration into entrepreneurship activities, thanks to the $5 million donation from Raleigh-based entrepreneur J. Fielding Miller (founder of investment advisory firm Captrust) to establish a school of entrepreneurship here at ECU,” Eakins said. “We now will be able to do things not possible before to help students with entrepreneurism and be a much bigger player in our region’s transformation through business creation.”

The Discovery Forum was sponsored by the East Carolina College of Business, N.C. State University Institute for Emerging Business and BB&T.


Vidant prepares for potential flooding | WNCT

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Oct 052015


By Zora Stephenson
Published: October 2, 2015

To view news video at WNCT, click here.

GREENVILLE, NC (WNCT)- Vidant is gearing up for potential flooding in our area. The hospital is stocking up on extra food, medicine, and other materials just in case their supply lines are disturbed.

Due to the weather conditions no helicopters are taking off right now. Extra staff and ground vehicles are available to help transfer patients from across the east. Chief of Emergency Services, Dr. Ted Delbridge, says ambulances have not had any trouble transporting patients to the hospital.

Dr. Delbridge said, “we haven’t seen any change in our patient population in terms of injuries their suffering or illnesses that their having. It’s usually during storm cleanup when things become a problem.”

Vidant employees will continue to monitor the storms, and change their plans when needed.


Sampson Middle School participate in MATCH fitness program | Sampson Independent

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Oct 052015


First Posted: 6:11 am – October 4th, 2015 – 1032 Views

By Chase Jordan –

During gym class, students at Sampson Middle School sprint, one of several activities of the MATCH fitness program.

As music played inside the Sampson Middle School gymnasium, seventh-graders Jalyssa Hobbs and Lyle Brewington were challenged to run 20 meters, before they heard the sounds of recorded beeps through the speakers.

The more they ran, the faster the beeps got during the Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run (PACER). One by one, students sat on the bleachers when they got tired and cheered for the others trying to keep up with the recording.

“I think it really helps us learn how to pace ourselves,” Jalyssa said about running from one end of the gym to the next. “I think I did better than last time. I got 20 more.”

The Friday morning activity was one of several activities of MATCH (Motivating Adolescents with Technology to Choose Health), a component of the local Fitness Renaissance program. Its purpose is to teach youths about healthy lifestyle habits at an early age. Students enrolled in Clinton City and Sampson County school districts participate in Fitness Renaissance.

Like Jalyssa, Lyle is also learning through MATCH and improved his score in the PACER. He said it was a tough, but he understands that such activities come with the territory when it comes to health.

“You can do more stuff if your health is good,” Lyle said.

Seventh-graders at the school are learning about health through the cross-curricular program, which involves decision making. Jalyssa believes health is important.

“It helps you build your stamina and learn about how your body works,” she said. “I think it really helps us. It’s a great program and I’m glad to be a part of it.”

Jamie Harper, health and physical education teacher, stressed how the grade level is an important time in their lives.

“The kids are starting to make decisions for themselves and they’re starting to become young adults,” she said. “They’re starting to become less influenced by everyone around them and they’re starting to make their own decisions. We’re hoping that we can teach what’s good for them and hopefully they can take it back to their homes and friends to spread the word.”

Learning involves social studies, science, language arts and math. A part of the math education included the confidential calculation of their body mass index, which is used as an indicator to determine obesity or being underweight.

“They can use that information to see what they need to change within their lifestyle to try to make themselves healthier and to get into that target weight area that they need to be in,” Harper said.

Harper likes how the program crosses into different subject areas, not just health and PE. It’s a way to show how a lot of classes are connected. Students involved in MATCH log onto a website to track tests and physical activities to earn badges, which provides more motivation and allows them to see how they matchup with others across the state.

Principal Greg Dirks noted how challenging the pacer is and mentioned the benefits of the fitness program, which began two weeks ago at the school.

“I think it makes more students aware of their health and wellness,” Dirks said about MATCH. “It’s more than just PE and health. They have to take into consideration eating well and do the right thing physically and mentally.”

Dr. Tommy Newton, chairman of the board for Fitness Renaissance Inc., said MATCH has similar goals, but it’s targeted for middle school students.

“It’s a different approach, but it’s trying to accomplish the same goal,” he said. “That’s why I thought it was a good complimentary program.”

Newton learned about the program while attending a conference in the winter. Tim Hardison, a former middle-school science teacher, developed MATCH. Now, Hardison serves as program director through East Carolina University’s Pediatric Healthy Weight Research & Treatment Center. Newton said there was an interest in expanding the program through grants, which allowed Sampson Middle school to participate.

After the Renaissance program was successful in its beginning years, it was later expanded to include a summer program. The Fitness Renaissance Summer Superstars program was developed in 2015 and was supported by United Way of Sampson County. Participants compete against their individual goals and receive awards for achievements.

“I think it’s going pretty well,” Newton said. “We have great community support, the kids love it and the teachers enjoy doing it.”

PE teacher Tracey Thornton hopes the education they’re receiving continues beyond middle school.

“Hopefully the habits they develop now will continue throughout their life,” he said.


ECU student credits weight loss to MATCH: a program in all Pitt County middle schools | WNCT

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Oct 052015


By Zora Stephenson
Published: October 2, 2015

To view the news video at WNCT, click here.

GREENVILLE, NC (WNCT)- The rate of obesity in Eastern North Carolina is double the national average. One program, started by a current ECU employee and former teacher, aims to decrease that number one student at a time.

ECU nursing student, Brianna Horne, says the skills she learned from the program during middle school, are still with her today.

Horne weighed over 200 pounds at one point, and now she weighs 150.

“The MATCH program, really inspired me and helped me to want to live a more healthy lifestyle,” Horne said.

MATCH or motivating adolescents with technology to choose health, encourages middle school students to take responsibility for their own health.

MATCH Assistant Director, Jami Frazier, said, “the goal is to give kids the tools that they need to be successful and to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

The program is incorporated into the curriculum of seventh graders. Students track their physical activity, record their progression, and analyze their health behaviors.

First year MATCH teacher, Jodi Boal, says the lesson plans are integrated into P.E., science, and English classes.

“One of the experiements is a science experiment for sugar and it shows them how much sugar their eating and drinking,” Boal said. “And not realizing when their eating four and five sodas a day, how many calories that’s equals and where that sugar goes.”

Horne was one of the first students to use the program in 2007, and she says it really works.

“If it weren’t for the match program I would not be where I want to be today,” Horne said.

Research shows, MATCH is the only obesity intervention program in the country proven to have long-term results.

ECU physicians and MATCH coordinators are constantly working together to expand the program. It is currently in all middle schools in Pitt County and 34 schools across the southeast.


Yoga class has students laughing | The Daily Reflector

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Oct 052015


By Kim Grizzard
Sunday, October 4, 2015

Marie Robertson was the only one to show up for her workout with a rolled-up yoga mat tucked under her arm. But the truth is that nearly everyone could have used one because, within minutes, participants were practically rolling on the floor — with laughter.

Folks down the hall at the Alice Keene Center were bound to have wondered what could possibly be so funny. But it was nothing really, which is exactly the point of laughter yoga.

Laughter yoga, created two decades ago by a physician in India, is developed around the idea that people can (and should) laugh for no reason at all. Dr. Mandan Kataria had the theory that if laughter really is the best medicine, then people should be able to administer doses as needed by simply making themselves laugh.

Kataria’s wife, Madhuri, a yoga practitioner, is credited with contributing breathing practices from yoga, though no yoga poses are included.

“The reason we call it laughter yoga is because it combines laughter exercises with yoga breathing,” said Tamyra Jovel, a certified laughter yoga leader. “It is a unique concept where anyone can laugh for no reason at all without relying on humor, jokes or comedy.”

When Kataria rolled out his first Laughter Club in 1995 in a park in Mumbai, the meeting was packed with punch lines, jokes and funny stories.

Within the first several meetings, the group grew from five participants to 50, but there was one problem: funny material was in short supply.

Kataria encouraged participants to keep laughing anyway. The results were no joke. Today there are Laughter Clubs in more than 70 countries, and the laughter yoga movement has caught on in companies, schools, community centers and even prisons.

Jovel, program and services director for Alzheimer’s North Carolina’s Greenville office, led an introductory session for senior adults last month as part of East Carolina University’s Lifelong Learning Program. As she introduced herself to the class of 15 women who had signed up to participate, Jovel immediately broke into raucous laughter. A few participants exchanged glances, wondering if they’d missed some kind of inside joke.

“The body cannot tell the difference between fake and real laughter,” Jovel, a social worker, explained. “When you fake laugh, you release endorphins in your brain, and when you laugh for real, you release endorphins (naturally occurring hormones known to block the sensation of pain) in your brain.”

It didn’t take long before fake laughter in the room began to be replaced by actual giggling. And as Jovel and co-leader Mary Lou Infinito led participants through this exercise in silliness, giggles grew into guffaws.

It probably didn’t hurt that Jovel and Infinito were actually pretty funny. The duo couldn’t resist cracking jokes, even when issuing warnings about certain medical conditions considered incompatible with laughter yoga.

“Anybody here in the third trimester of pregnancy?” Jovel asked participants, all of whom were 50 or older.

“Any major psychiatric disorders?” she continued. Infinito sheepishly raised her hand.

Still, comedy is not a mainstay of the laughter yoga method. Neither are calisthenics. Laughter yoga is about chuckling, chortling, cackling and otherwise cracking up on cue.

“Children don’t need reasons to laugh, and you have to do what kids do,” said Jovel, adding that to be effective, laughter yoga requires participants to make eye contact with one another and engage in child-like playfulness. “That’s, I think, part of the appeal. We lose so much of it (playfulness) as we age, and you can get some of it back.

“You have to do it with child-like abandon,” she said. “You can’t do that while worrying about what you look like or how screwed up your face is.”

Funny faces were part of the fun of the amusing antics such as “milkshake laughter” (shaking and pretending to drink an imaginary milkshake), “credit card bill laughter” (pretending to show each other a ridiculous credit card bill) and “shock laughter” (jumping after receiving an imaginary jolt of static electricity). All while laughing, of course. In between, Jovel and Infinito led participants through chants such as “ho-ho, ha-ha-ha” and “very good, very good, yay!”

Jovel, who has twice led laughter yoga sessions at Brian Center Health and Rehab in Windsor, remembers participants greeting her on her second visit with this cheer that she taught them the first time around: “I am amazing. You are amazing. We are amazing. Yes we are!”

“You can’t not have fun,” Jovel said, laughing. “You can’t watch people do it and not laugh.”

For the first few minutes of the Lifelong Learning Program session, Robertson, who drove from Williamston to take the class, wasn’t so sure.

“I kept thinking, ‘This is ridiculous,’” she said in an interview after the class. “Then when I got to thinking about it, that’s when I started laughing. That’s when I felt my stomach jiggling … I was thinking, ‘My friends are never going believe this.’”

Participant Debbie Woodson couldn’t believe how much she ended up sweating, just from walking around the room laughing with people.

“It’s a workout,” Jovel said. “The longer you do it, the more of a workout you get. Your whole body is engaged. … If you make yourself laugh like this, your stomach’s going to get flatter.”

Researchers in India found that participants showed a decrease in blood pressure and cortisol (often referred to as the “stress hormone”) and an increase in positive emotions following laughter yoga. A 2007 U.S. study showed that laughter yoga for 15 minutes a day was associated with improved optimism, motivation and positive emotions.

Participant Gladie Hamilton, who had taken one tai chi and one aerobics class before coming to the Lifelong Learning Program’s laughter yoga session, said she found the class to be therapeutic and energizing.

Pat Larsen was surprised at how contagious the laughter was. She found it easy to yuck it up in a room full of people, including many she had never met.

“I didn’t really realize we were going to laugh the whole time,” she said. “I’m going to see if they’ll come and do a program for my garden club.”

Jovel said laughter yoga is a program that can be adapted to almost any setting because it requires no equipment.

“You need your brain and your body and a good, hearty laugh,” she said. “You don’t even have to use those little exercises. All you have to do is make yourself laugh. … Engage in a full, from-the-diaphragm laugh (for) just 15 minutes.”

For some participants, 15 minutes hardly scratched the surface. Cookie Thompson, who serves as a caregiver for a family member, said in the beginning of class that she really needed a good laugh. By the end, she found that what started with fake laughter ended with a real connection to the people around her.

“When can we start a flash mob somewhere?” she said.

The room erupted with laughter. And this time, no one had to cue it.


ECU notes: Engineering program grows | The Daily Reflector

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Oct 052015


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Engineering program grows

Students who major in engineering with a concentration in bioprocess engineering at East Carolina University could eventually earn an $80,000 salary in a fast-growing industry that improves people’s lives; they just have to know that bioprocess engineering is an option.

“Bioprocess engineering is that one concentration within engineering that people often don’t know about. It’s not a household name like mechanical or electrical engineering,” ECU engineering professor and concentration coordinator Dr. Loren Limberis said.

Bioprocess engineering is the creation of biological products such as vaccines using live organisms and enzymes rather than inorganic chemicals and reagents, as in chemical engineering.

Insulin, a hormone manufactured to treat diabetes in those whose bodies cannot create or regulate it, is a good example of a biological product created by bioprocess engineering. Bioprocess engineers design and develop the equipment and processes used to create these products, including more effective medicines, hardier crops and cleaner fuels.

“We don’t have enough bioprocess engineers,” said Andy Ferrell, an ECU industrial technology graduate who returned to campus on Sept. 14 to speak to engineering students. Ferrell is the founder and president of Pharmaceutical Calibrations and Instrumentation, or PCI, a company that provides compliance services for the highly regulated pharmaceutical industry. With more than 200 clients, the company is based in Raleigh with seven satellite offices across the country.

“We’ve grown tremendously in the last 10 years, which mirrors our industry,” Ferrell said. “While overall enrollment at ECU has grown, this concentration has remained the same.”

Bioprocess engineering is one of six areas of concentration within the engineering major in the College of Engineering and Technology. Generally three to six students graduate each year with an engineering degree along with a concentration in bioprocess engineering.

The low enrollment numbers are likely due to lack of name recognition and an extra chemistry class in addition to the chemistry classes required in general engineering. Expanding the program has been a long-term goal, according to Limberis.

To this end, faculty and staff are working with the engineering advisory board to adjust recruitment strategies and curriculum content. They are increasing visits to introductory science courses to reach out to freshmen and sophomores. They also are planning on revamping the concentration’s website and making a video about bioprocess engineering. Finally, they are bringing in alumni like Ferrell to share firsthand the career opportunities in this field.

“At East Carolina, you learn a lot of skill sets that will help you across the board,” Ferrell said, adding he would love to hire more bioprocess engineering graduates from ECU.

“We need some more purple and gold in my office.”

The students who have completed a degree concentrating in bioprocess engineering at ECU have all found full-time jobs, most before graduation and some with multiple offers.

“There is a critical need for bioprocess engineers in North Carolina,” Limberis said.

North Carolina has more than 600 biotechnology companies, the third highest in the United States. The life science industry in North Carolina grew 31 percent from 2001 to 2012 compared to just one percent for the total private sector in the state, according to a 2014 report by Battelle Technology Partnership Practice. This growth is four times the national average and occurred during two recessions, Limberis pointed out.

Recent ECU bioprocess engineering graduates have received starting offers in the range of $55,000 to $63,000. The biotechnology industry average was more than $80,000 as of 2012. For comparison, the average state private sector wage was $43,028. The global biotechnology segment was expected to post revenues of $288.7 billion in 2014, culminating a five-year average annual increase of 10.8 percent.

Limberis said, “The bioprocess engineering concentration is ECU’s commitment to help sustain the growth and fulfill the needs of the industry, and provide opportunities for our students to engage in exciting, meaningful and professional careers.”

Beaufort, Martin, Pitt students receive education scholarships

Outstanding students from Beaufort, Martin and Pitt counties are among 78 students at ECU receiving a scholarship from the College of Education this year.

Takeiya Hudson of Robersonville received the Alva Sawyer & Lee G. Williams Memorial Scholarship valued at $1,000. Heather Modlin of Jamesville was awarded the Faye Marie Creegan Scholarship Endowment Fund valued at $1,500.

Students from Greenville and their award are: Shannon Cecil, Dianne and Chip Linville Doctoral Fellowship Endowment Fund, $1,000; Olivia Oakley, Jane B. Reel Education Scholarship, $1,000; Tiffanie Simerson, Russell-Smith Fellowship in Adult Education, $1,000; Lauren Stone, J. Worth Carter Scholarship, $900; Tiffany Taylor, Miriam Perry Saunders Education Scholarship Fund, $5,000; Samaria Trimble, Alston W. Burke Scholarship, $6,500; and Aleida Velasquez, Dr. Suzanne Wester, M.D. Scholarship, $4,599.

Students from Winterville and their award are: Brett Congleton, Dr. Sunday Ajose Memorial Scholarship, $2,000; Gregory Monroe, Ralph Brimley Enrichment Fund, $3,000; Jessica Pinner, Alston W. Burke Scholarship, $6,500; Rebecca Poole, Alston W. Burke Scholarship, $6,500; and Haley Sparrow, James H. and Virginia J. Tucker Scholarship, $1,000.

Three students from Washington, N.C., received awards. Jordan Lewis Outlaw received the Pat and Lynn Lane Education Scholarship, a four-year scholarship valued at $14,000 awarded to first year students who plan to pursue a career in education. Connor Mckinley Wilkins received a James H. and Connie M. Maynard Scholarship, a four-year scholarship valued at $20,000 awarded to first year students pursuing a career in education. Lanie Smith received the Callaree Jarvis Horton Elementary Education Scholarship valued at $1,000.

Recipients were honored on Aug. 28 at the ECU College of Education Scholarship Recipient and Donor Recognition Ceremony in Greenville where 95 scholarships and awards totaling $476,000 were presented.

The awards, ranging from $250 to $20,000, are funded through private donations that honor and memorialize educators and the profession.

ECU’s College of Education is the largest producer of new teachers in the state and the oldest professional school on campus. The college’s mission is the preparation of professional educators and allied practitioners in business information systems, counseling, electronic media and librarianship. This fall, more than 200 students are enrolled in education programs at ECU.


Under the Dome: UNC faculty urge McCrory to veto Board of Governors bill | The News & Observer

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Oct 052015


By Jane Stancill

UNC System faculty have written to Gov. Pat McCrory, urging him to veto a bill that imposes parameters for the UNC presidential search and term limits for UNC Board of Governors members.

The letter, dated Oct. 2, is from the Faculty Assembly, the representative body of 16,000 faculty across the UNC system. It is signed by Steve Leonard, chair of the Faculty Assembly and political science professor at UNC-Chapel Hill.

“This legislation purports to correct but in reality reinforces the politicization of Board of Governors appointments, and promotes an ill-advised interference in the legitimate and proper prerogative authority of the UNC Board of Governors to guide and direct the activities of one of the country’s most prestigious public university systems,” the letter said.

The letter says the bill originated with a conflict between some legislators and UNC board members surrounding the search for a successor to UNC President Tom Ross. It cites a News & Observer story from Sept. 26, which revealed draft legislation, one version of which would have required the legislature to confirm the final choice for president.

Such a proposal, the faculty letter said, “would be vigorously opposed by the University community, as well as many in the legislature who do not support such stark and blatant legislative meddling in the governance of the University.”

And so professors find themselves in the unusual position of defending a board that they have criticized publicly for months.

“Faculty members are deeply critical of many of the Board’s actions and the failings of its leadership, most particularly in the lack of transparency, and failure to seek input from UNC stakeholders including the faculty, staff, students, alumni and other concerned citizens,” the faculty letter said. “However, there is no possible circumstance in which the faculty would support laws that strengthen the legislature’s arbitrary power to dictate the composition of the Board, even to remove members with whom faculty might disagree.”

The bill also requires that the full board vote on a slate of three candidates brought forth by the board’s presidential search committee. An earlier amendment to the bill, later dropped, would have required public disclosure of finalists 10 days prior to a selection and a public discussion of finalists by the board.

The faculty themselves had pushed for transparency in the search but bristled at legislative interference.

“The point is that any goal ill-obtained, whether laudable or not, is merely a precedent for further abuse of power,” the letter said.


Under the Dome: UNC happy about new spending authority in state budget | The News & Observer

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Oct 052015


By Jane Stancill

University leaders like the overall budget and bond plans recently passed by the legislature, but they’re especially happy about a policy change that gives them more spending flexibility.

The recently approved state budget grants the UNC system campuses expanded authority to carry forward up to 5 percent of their budgets – an increase from the previous maximum of 2.5 percent. The additional authority can be used to devote unspent money at the end of the year toward repair and renovation needs.

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt told the university’s Board of Trustees Thursday that the greater flexibility is a big step toward helping campuses with building upkeep. Most of the nearly $980 million for the UNC system in the bonds would go toward new construction.

“We have some pretty big backlogs,” Folt said. “I think we have over $600 million in deferred maintenance costs on buildings. This is a beautiful historic campus, but buildings age and they cost money to renovate. So we are always looking for ways to do that. So if we can find savings and put them into [repairs and renovations] that are really going to be important, that’s exactly what we want to do.”


Philadelphia colleges on alert after 4chan post threatens violence Monday | The Washington Post

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Oct 052015


By Justin Wm. Moyer
October 5 at 1:52 AM

Less than a week after a mass shooter at a community college in Umpqua, Ore., killed nine people, Philadelphia-area schools are on alert because of “threatened violence” Monday.

The warning came in an e-mail from the FBI to some schools, including Temple University and Drexel University.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the FBI Philadelphia Field Office notified local colleges and universities of a social media posting which threatened violence at a Philadelphia-area college or university for Monday, October 5,” the e-mail read. “No specific college or university was identified in the posting. We encourage students, faculty, and employees at area colleges and universities to follow the guidance of their campus security officials. The FBI will continue to work with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to investigate threats of violence, and, as always, we ask the public to report suspicious activity to law enforcement.”

Some reports linked the threat to this post on the anonymous message board 4chan — a site that’s come under fire for content many deem offensive.

“The first of our kind has struck fear into the hearts of America,” the post read, referencing the “Beta Rebellion.” “His cries have been heard, even by the President.”

It continued: “On October 5, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. CT, a fellow robot will take up arms against a university near Philadelphia. His cries will be heard, his victims will cower in fear, and the strength of the Union will decay a little more.”

A law enforcement source who asked not to be identified because the source is involved in the investigation confirmed the threat was linked to the “Beta Rebellion” 4chan post.

In the Philadelphia area, home to dozens of institutions of higher education, many planned to stay open — but were taking precautions.

“I am sure many of you have safety concerns, and I wanted to let you know that we hear you,” Charles J. Leone, the executive director of campus safety services at Temple University, wrote in a statement. “I also want to emphasize that we have received no information that there is a specific threat here at Temple. At the same time, we have already taken actions to increase the security presence throughout the university tonight and tomorrow.”

Drexel’s statement referenced the shooting in Umpqua.

“Since the shooting last week at a community college in Oregon, the FBI has seen similar social media postings throughout the country,” the university wrote in a statement. “Although the FBI has assured us there is no specific threat to a particular college or university, we are taking this very seriously and are taking extra precautions to protect the Drexel community.”

“Just because all of the recent things have been going on, it’s just scary to think it’s possibly going to happen on our campus,” Mackenzie Leedy, a student at Drexel, told WPVI. “So I’m scared to actually leave my dorm tomorrow.”

At the University of Pennsylvania, which also advised of the threat, students called for classes to be canceled.

“I can’t understand why we still have class tomorrow,” one student tweeted. “Cancelling class is such a small consequence when you consider the huge risk.”


Campuses Debate Rising Demands for ‘Comfort Animals’ | The New York Times

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Oct 052015


OCT. 4, 2015

ST. MARY’S CITY, Md. — Rachel Brill and Mary McCarthy are seniors and longtime roommates at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. This year, they share their four-bedroom campus apartment with two other female students. Also, Theo and Carl.

Theo, easygoing and unflappable, is a tawny, 103-pound, longhaired German shepherd. Carl, an energetic charm magnet, is a jet-black, 1.5-pound Netherland Dwarf rabbit.

House rules: Carl must reside in a pen under Ms. McCarthy’s raised bed; Theo snoozes in a crate in Ms. Brill’s bedroom. Carl cannot be let loose in the living room, where Theo likes to hang out. “We’re still very careful because we don’t want there to be an issue with Theo and Carl,” Ms. McCarthy said. “We’re both very anxious people.”

And that is exactly why Theo and Carl have permission to live in campus housing.

Like many schools across the country, St. Mary’s, a small, public liberal arts college, is figuring out how to field increasing requests for animals by students with diagnosed mental health problems. Last fall it began allowing “comfort animals” for students like Ms. Brill, Theo’s owner, who has anxiety and depression, and Ms. McCarthy, Carl’s owner, who gets panic attacks.

Anxiety, followed closely by depression, has become a growing diagnosis among college students in the last few years. The calming effect of some domesticated animals has become so widely accepted that many schools bring in trained therapy dogs to play with stressed students during exam periods.

But as students with psychiatric diagnoses are asking to reside on campus with their own animals, schools with no-pet housing policies are scrambling to address a surfeit of new problems. How can administrators discern a troubled adolescent’s legitimate request from that of a homesick student who would really, really like a kitten? If a student with a psychological disability has the right to live with an animal, how should schools protect other students whose allergies or phobias may be triggered by that animal?

The topic is being hotly debated by college housing and disability officials in the wake of discrimination lawsuits filed by students who were denied so-called emotional support animals. Last month, on the eve of a trial in a case closely watched by administrators, the University of Nebraska at Kearney settled with the Justice Department, agreeing to pay $140,000 to two students who had been denied support animals, and spelling out protocols for future requests. Recently, a federal judge refused to dismiss a similar case against Kent State University.

“The disabilities services people are all looking at what they need to do to make this work,” said Jane Jarrow, an educational disabilities consultant who is teaching “Who Let the Dogs In?” — an online course about emotional support animals — for the fourth time this year. “We’re way past pretending it’s not going to happen.”

In the years before support animal lawsuits, universities found it relatively easy to say no to requests for animals. But now, said Michael R. Masinter, an expert on disability law at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, “schools think it’s easier to say yes than no because property damage is cheaper than litigation.”

Perhaps that explains the 95-pound pig that a freshman was allowed to bring to her second-floor room at Washington State University. Unfortunately, when led to the stairs, the pig balked. The freight elevator made him anxious, too. So he stayed in the dorm room and used a litter box.

“The other students thought the pig was kind of cool, but less cool when it began to smell,” recalled Hannah Mitchell, the dorm’s residential director at the time. “We talked about bathing it. But dorm bathrooms aren’t built for washing animals.”

Pig and student transferred to a dorm with ramps. Eventually, both moved off campus. Custodians said the dorm room’s carpeting had been chewed-up, the furniture gnawed and closet doors knocked off.

The overwhelming majority of support animal requests are for dogs and cats. But schools have had requests for lizards, tarantulas, potbellied pigs, ferrets, rats, guinea pigs and sugar gliders — nocturnal, flying, six-ounce Australian marsupials.

Clearly, many requested animals are students’ pets. But what is the difference between an emotional support animal and a pet that also provides support?

The distinction depends less on the animal and more on the student: whether the student has a diagnosed psychiatric disorder, and can document that the animal is therapeutically necessary.

“Do we have people trying to get their pet across as an assistance animal? Sure,” said Jamie Axelrod, director of disability resources at Northern Arizona University, where requests for support animals rose to about 75 last year from a handful a few years ago. “Do we have people who legitimately require one? We do.”

“You have to rely on a treatment provider’s ethical sense that they’re doing what’s right for their patient,” Mr. Axelrod added. “But it’s a new gray area.”

Research on the therapeutic value of animals is limited. Some studies have shown that they can provide a short-term benefit, particularly in reducing anxiety and depression. A long-term therapeutic benefit, however, has not been definitively established by randomized control trials.

Joanne Goldwater, associate dean of students and director of residence life at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, is not concerned about objective evidence. “Having that animal has clearly helped to reduce stress and anxiety for some students,” she said, “which helps them progress towards their degree.”

Students concur. Ms. Brill, a film major, wrapped her arms around Theo’s neck. “Theo helps me when I’m feeling isolated and depressed,” she said. On wobbly days, he gives her structure, she added, because she must get out of bed to feed, brush and walk him. “All I have to do is look at Theo, squish his face a lot in the evenings, and he’s like, ‘Hey, I love you!’ ”

Her roommate Ms. McCarthy, a psychology major, tucked Carl into her neck, stroking his silky fur as he eagerly nuzzled her ear. “When I feel a panic attack coming on, feeling his heartbeat helps me regulate my own,” she said.

And animals have inspired creative compromises. At St. Mary’s, animal owners must do their laundry in designated washing machines and dryers to avoid cross-contamination with the clothing of students with animal allergies.

At Western Washington University, a student asked to keep her six-foot snake. But the school prohibits “live feeds,” said Karen M. Walker, the associate housing director. The solution? Frozen mice, served thawed — a solution amenable, so far, to the school, student, suite mates and snake.

Whether schools must permit support animals depends, generally, on federal housing law. The Nebraska suit was filed by the Justice Department in 2011 on behalf of Brittany Hamilton, whose four-pound miniature pinscher, Butch, would put his paws on her shoulders to quell her anxiety attacks. She wanted Butch to live in her university apartment. The university said no.

But in 2013, a federal judge ruled that the university’s residences were bound by the Fair Housing Act, which protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination. Among the act’s “reasonable accommodations” for residents with psychological disabilities are animals that provide emotional support.

While the consent order in the Nebraska case last month is not binding on other colleges, it lays out some guidelines. The university can deny a request if the animal is too big for the quarters or aggressive, or damages property.

And if a student’s documentation looks insufficient, a school can contact the student’s medical provider — a pushback against emotional support animal letters downloaded on the Internet or churned out by cybertherapists who, for fees of up to $150, will Skype with the student and then issue the document. Universities have been circulating a watch list of such practitioners.

Some institutions are managing the issue with a matter-of-fact attitude. “We use our code of conduct for animals as well as people,” said L. Scott Lissner, the Americans With Disabilities Act coordinator at Ohio State University. “We don’t let our students walk across campus and lick people unless it’s welcome, so we don’t let the dogs do it. We don’t let students howl all night.” And, he added, “they can’t go to the bathroom wherever they want.”


ECVC honors ‘mom away from home’ | The Daily Reflector

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Oct 022015


By Kim Grizzard
Friday, October 2, 2015

Daisy Highsmith cannot exactly serve up a home-cooked meal to the thousands of students who come to eat at East Carolina University’s West End Dining Hall. But for many of them, Highsmith’s smile helps to make the place feel like home.

“They’ll come around (and say) ‘Hey, Ms. Daisy. How are you doing?’” Highsmith, who works with Aramark food services on campus, said. “One came yesterday; he ran over there. He had to get his hug.”

Now the familiar face that has greeted students for eight years has also become the face of Eastern Carolina Vocational Center. Highsmith, 52, was named ECVC’s Employee Success Story of the Year on Thursday at the 50th anniversary banquet for ECVC, a not-for-profit corporation that provides job training and employment services to people with disabilities in eastern North Carolina.

While Highsmith has been working since she can remember, she has not forgotten what it was like to be young and striving to gain independence.

She had just graduated from North Pitt High School when she turned to ECVC to help her find her first job outside of farm work.

Highsmith held positions with numerous companies through the years but turned to the Vocational Rehabilitation and Independent Living program in 2007 after she got laid off from her job.

Gloria Leak was her vocational rehabilitation counselor

“From the time that Daisy came in, it was clear that she was motivated to go to work,” Leak said in a video shown at Thursday’s banquet, held at Rock Springs Center. “She’s very goal-oriented.”

Leak turned to ECVC, a partner organization, for support. ECVC Community Support Specialist Ashka Lewis was able to help Highsmith get an interview with Aramark.

“It was amazing,” Highsmith said, “because I had been looking for a job for a long time.”

The mother of two and grandmother of five seems to have found a perfect fit at Aramark, which provides dining services at ECU. She previously has been named employee of the month at her job.

“She always has a smile on her face,” Lewis said in an interview. “She’s helpful; she’s caring. She’s always willing to do whatever it takes to make sure her job gets done.”

Janice Givens, assistant location manager of West End Dining Hall, said Highsmith sometimes knows what her customers want, even before they ask.

“Everybody loves her,” Givens said. “Students love her.”

Highsmith loves them, too. She notices when they seem to be having a bad day. She knows how stressed they feel just before tests or exams. Sometimes she will come out from behind the counter and have a brief conversation with them. She thinks their mothers would appreciate that.

“I told one of them, ‘You make sure to tell your mom (that) we are ‘Mom’ right there on campus,’” she said. “A mom away from home.”


Truish tale of queen, dwarf lover | The Daily Reflector

 News clippings compiled by ECU News Services  Comments Off on Truish tale of queen, dwarf lover | The Daily Reflector
Oct 022015


Friday, October 2, 2015

There are certain plays that just aren’t performed as much, not because they’re not good, but because it’s such a challenge to get the right cast for them.

Such is the case with “Las Meninas,” which opened Thursday at ECU. It was written by Lynn Nottage and based on a true story about Queen Marie-Thérèse (wife of King Louis XIV), her love affair with an African dwarf, and their daughter, Louise, who has been all but stricken from the history books as a result of her true lineage.

But the play has been stuck in the mind of director Gregory Funaro since he saw a workshop production of it while he was in graduate school, nearly 20 years ago. The ECU/Loessin Playhouse production of the play opened Thursday and continues through Tuesday.

“It’s such a beautifully written play and such a beautiful piece — just the historical context of it and how relevant I think it is today in terms of this idea of rewriting history and certain people just being erased from the collective consciousness,” Funaro said. “It’s a fascinating dynamic that has sort of always intrigued me.”

Still, it wasn’t until scenic designer Nate Sinnott brought up the possibility of doing it with the current group of acting students that Funaro began to give it any consideration.

“I said, ‘Well, no, I’m not sure we have the people for it,’ and then I started to realize through some of the work in acting class that actually we did have some actors that could do this and could pull this off,” Funaro said.

“We have only a limited amount of African-American students to choose from anyway, but that was one of the reasons I chose this play was because Chaz Coffin, who plays Nabo (the African dwarf and court jester), is in the professional acting program and his work just really started to blossom in class in such a way that I thought, ‘oh wow, this guy could really do this.’”

Coffin, however, is not a dwarf, which presented a challenge as to how to portray him to the audience.

Funaro said he has seen productions of the play in which the actor playing Nabo spent the duration on his knees, but “that gimmick is really hard to pull off.”

“That’s kind of the sticking point of the play, is how do you handle the character of an African dwarf, unless you have an African dwarf?” Funaro said. “I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want to put him on his knees. I had toyed with perhaps having him squat down — I’ve seen certain productions where they’ve done that — but it just seemed kind of hokey to me.”

In the end, Funaro decided to have Coffin portray Nabo from his daughter’s perspective.

“Even though I’m 3 inches taller, I always think of my father as taller than I am,” Funaro said. “So, I was hoping conceptually that the audience would pick up on it that we’re seeing it through the eyes of Louise or Marie-Thérèse, so we don’t see him as a dwarf.

“However, through the course of rehearsal, my producer John Shearin — the director of the program — said, ‘why don’t you try just altering his physicality just a little bit.’ So we have him standing somewhat bow-legged, so his stature is a little lower.”

Queen Marie-Thérèse is played by junior Anna Higginson, making her main-stage debut at ECU.

“This character drives this play,” Higginson said of Marie-Thérèse. “She is the leading lady in this play and if I couldn’t live up to that standard, then the play wouldn’t be as good as it needed to be.

“I think I’ll be nervous up until closing night, but I think I have more of a confidence now that I’m memorized and truly can connect to the show.”

Kiara Hines plays Louise Marie-Thérèse, while Matthew Johnson plays King Louis XIV.

Audiences will be transported to the grandiose court of Louis XIV in the 1600s via a set that is relatively simple in its construction but filled with ornate details that evoke the Baroque time period. The costumes are similarly impressive.

“It’s one of the most detailed shows in terms of set design,” Funaro said. “My big thing all along has been that there aren’t a lot of set pieces, but the set pieces that we do have have to be really, really top-notch. There aren’t a lot of props, but the props have to be something that you would see in the court of Louis XIV, or at least representational of that.”


Hall named County Teacher of the Year | Sampson Independent

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Oct 022015


First Posted: 12:14 pm – October 1st, 2015

By Chase Jordan

As a teacher, Olivia Hall enjoys motivating students at Roseboro-Salemburg Middle School, the same school she attended years ago.

“The role of a teacher is to inspire,” Hall said. “The teacher is not there just to give content but to inspire students to find their own answers and to problem solve and make their world a better place.”

Like many of her peers, Hall said she liked to draw on chalkboards and produce books filled with lessons as a child. As she became older, she wanted to give back to the community that helped raise her.

“It’s meant to be,” she said. “It’s something that I really love.”

Her love for education is the reason she recently earned the top educational honor in the county. Hall was named the 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year for Sampson County School (SCS). The announcement was made during the annual banquet for SCS, which honored education professionals throughout the district.

“I was very shocked and it took me a moment to recover,” Hall said about earning the honor to represent Sampson County.

When the sixth-grade language arts teacher is not in her classroom, she can be found co-coaching the Battle of the Books team and serving on other committees and tutoring students after school. She enjoys being a member of RSMS and helping students overcome challenges in their lives.

“Whenever they come into the classroom, I just see so much potential in them,” Hall said while mentioning the love she has for her students. “It’s just awesome to see them rise to their full potential, start to think for themselves and make connections to the real world.”

Near the end of the school, Hall conducts a reflection activity with her students. When asked to mention one thing they’ll take away from her class, they often say “never give up and to keep trying.”

“To have that influence is an amazing thing,” Hall said on inspiring students.

Some of her best inspirational professors were in college, who helped her become successful. It stuck with her and Hall tries to do the same for her students. Hall was also inspired by her parents Danny and Paula Wolf, who stressed the importance of hard work.

“I probably could have chosen a different career path which made more money, but my dad always told me to do what I love and everything else will follow.”

Her mother, Paula Wolf, saw it was in her future too. As a data manger for the school, Wolf is also her daughter’s colleague.

“I always knew she was going to be a teacher,” Wolf said. “When she was little, she used to play like she was in school all the time. Her heart is in it and she does it for all of the right reasons — the students. I’m very proud of her.”

Principal Sheila Peterson and others at the school said it was a well-deserved honor.

“I feel that it’s well deserved,” Peterson said. “She is an awesome teacher in the classroom and she truly cares for her students. She finds every resource to help every child in her classroom.”

A Sampson County native, Hall earned a bachelor’s degree in middle grades education from East Carolina University. She’s currently pursuing a master’s of education in curriculum instruction and supervision from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Hall currently lives in Autryville with her husband, Garrett. Being in a rural area, Hall said SCS faces a lot of challenges, but she’s always amazed what’s accomplished as a whole. Hall said she feels blessed to be a member of the school system.

“Everybody is always trying to do what’s best for the kids,” she said.