ECU Physicians recognized for use of digital records | WNCT

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Jun 302015

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The Brody School of Medicine has gone digital and is now being recognized for it.

ECU Physicians was recently awarded nearly $2.2 million by the federal government for demonstrating meaningful use of their electronic medical record system.

The award will be used to offset the cost of EMR implementation throughout ECU Physicians.

Effective use of electronic medical records improves the quality and safety of patient care.


NCCU faces another complaint | The Herald Sun

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Jun 302015


Ray Gronberg
Jun. 29, 2015 @ 06:27 PM


A N.C. Central University professor has hit the school with another federal equal-opportunity complaint, alleging mistreatment on the basis of gender in his quest to regain the chairmanship of the Department of Language and Literature.

James Pearce, the department’s chairman from 2008 to 2010, is disputing the April appointment to the post of one of his colleagues in the department, professor Wendy Rountree.

Pearce contends that Rountree’s credentials are lacking, given that in his view she lacks managerial and leadership experience.

“There is no demonstrated record there,” he said during a news conference Monday at the Chapel Hill law office of Nicholas Sanservino and Laura Noble.

The two lawyers aren’t representing Pearce, but they are working for several current and former NCCU employees who’ve recently filed discrimination complaints or lawsuits against the university.

Sanservino led off the news conference with a blast at UNC system leaders, faulting them for taking a hands-off approach to governing N.C. Central.

“The UNC system is great system, a prestigious system, but I think it’s fair to say in recent years there’s been a tarnish on that,” he said. “The Board of Governors’ response to what’s been going on at N.C. Central is a microcosm of why that tarnish exists.”

The law firm supplied reporters with a copy of Pearce’s complaint to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, plus supporting documents that give some of the background for it.

They included letters to senior administrators from two Language and Literature professors, Michele Ware and Mary Mathew, respectively the outgoing department chairwoman and the former interim dean of what’s now NCCU’s College of Arts and Sciences.

NCCU officials on Monday said they’ll review the complaint, once they receive it, “to ensure the integrity of the matter is not compromised.”

Ware, Mathew and Pearce were on the losing side of a battle in 2010 and 2011 over who should be the dean of what was then the College of Liberal Arts. Ware and Pearce favored making Mathew the permanent dean. But former Chancellor Charles Nelms and his provost picked history professor Carlton Wilson instead.

Four years on, Pearce still doesn’t think Wilson is qualified for that job.

“The job search asked for someone who could be appointed at the rank of full professor, which he couldn’t,” he said Monday, adding that the choice of Rountree shows “how systemic problems replicate themselves.”

And in a letter explaining his complaint, Pearce maintains that Rountree is “clearly less qualified than” he is for a department chair’s post, for starters because she’s “a graduate of a third-tier school.”

Accompanying CVs show that Rountree has bachelor’s degrees from UNC Chapel Hill and East Carolina University, respectively in biology and English. She got her master’s in English from ECU and doctorate from the University of Cincinnati.

Pearce is a three-time graduate of Stanford University.

He’s held faculty posts at seven universities since 1983, NCCU included. The first three were assistant or visiting professorships, which by definition don’t provide tenure. He’s been an associate professor at San Jose State University, Meredith College and at Central.

Rountree began her academic career in 2001 as an assistant professor at Maryland’s Salisbury University. She joined Central’s faculty in 2004, gaining tenure with associate’s rank in 2009 and becoming a full professor in 2013.

Supporting Pearce’s candidacy, Ware in February told Provost Johnson Akinleye that while Rountree is “an accomplished scholar and an excellent teacher,” she’s “relatively disconnected from and lacks an understanding of the day-to-day workings of the department.”

She also alleged that Rountree “does not volunteer her time or energy” for departmental tasks.

That didn’t appear to jibe, at all, with Rountree’s CV.

It lists numerous committee assignments, among them a stint on the Faculty Senate, the lead slot on the panel that helped pick a chairman for the Department of Mass Communication, and seats on department panels that watch over its graduate program, student honors and awards, and faculty promotion and tenure.

Ware told Akinleye she feared Pearce despite being the “best person for the job” would “be denied a fair appraisal of his application,” as he doesn’t “have the confidence” of arts and sciences dean Wilson.

“I find this situation somewhat funny, because Dr. Wilson and Dr. Pearce are very much alike – both are hardworking, tenacious, loyal and completely dedicated to our students and to NCCU,” Ware said in her letter.

Mathew, the former interim dean, headed the search committees that successively settled on Pearce and Ware for the department chair’s slot. Rountree and Ware both served on the first, which in 2008 endorsed Pearce on a 4-2 vote.

Pearce was pushed out in 2010, ostensibly over his lack of tenure. But on Monday, he said the Nelms administration sidelined him because he “reprimanded people, hired people and fired people without any regard to the color of their skin.” He also noted he secured tenure after filing an EEOC complaint.

Rountree was among the candidates to replace him in 2010. The search panel, again headed by Mathew, initially deadlocked 3-3 between Rountree and Ware. But two members, an associate and assistant professor, said they were “all right” with either candidate.

The new chairwoman is taking office on Wednesday. Pearce said he’d like NCCU officials to “vacate the search or suspend it,” pending a full investigation of his claims.

He also acknowledged the EEOC filing is preparation for a lawsuit.


Supreme Court to Weigh Race in College Admissions | The New York Times

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Jun 302015


JUNE 29, 2015

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to take a second look at the use of race in admissions decisions by the University of Texas at Austin, reviving a potent challenge to affirmative action in higher education.

The move, which supporters of race-conscious admissions programs called baffling and ominous, signaled that the court may limit or even end such affirmative action. The advocates speculated that the court’s most conservative members had cast the four votes needed to grant review of the case in the hope that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy would supply the fifth vote to strike down the Texas admissions plan.

Justice Kennedy has never voted to uphold an affirmative action program.

The consequences would be striking if the court sided with the plaintiff in the case, a white woman named Abigail Fisher, and did away with racial preferences in higher education. It would, all sides agree, reduce the number of black and Latino students at nearly every selective college and graduate school, with more Asian-American and white students gaining entrance instead.

“Over the last few days, liberals have been celebrating a string of important victories involving health care and same-sex marriage,” said Justin Driver, a law professor at the University of Chicago. “But liberals have also been bracing themselves for the other shoe to drop. This decision to grant review means, at a minimum, that the other shoe will remain suspended in midair for the next several months.”

A decision barring the use of race in admissions would undo a 2003 ruling that the majority said it expected to last for 25 years. In that 5-to-4 decision, in Grutter v. Bollinger, the Supreme Court said that public colleges and universities could not use a point system to increase minority enrollment but could take race into account in vaguer ways to ensure academic diversity.

The case that the court agreed on Monday to hear, Fisher v. University of Texas, No. 14-981, arose from a lawsuit filed by Ms. Fisher, who said the university had denied her admission based on her race. She has since graduated from Louisiana State University.

In a statement, Ms. Fisher said, “I hope the justices will rule that U.T. is not allowed to treat undergraduate applicants differently because of their race or ethnicity.”

Gregory L. Fenves, the president of the University of Texas at Austin, said his school’s admissions program was lawful.

“Under the Supreme Court’s existing precedent, the university’s commitment to using race as one factor in an individualized, holistic admissions policy allows us to assemble a student body that brings with it the educational benefits of diversity for all students,” he said in a statement. “Our admissions policy is narrowly tailored, constitutional and has been upheld by the courts multiple times.”

When the court last considered Ms. Fisher’s case in 2013, supporters of affirmative action were nervous. But the court deferred conclusive action in what appeared to be a compromise decision.

In 2013, Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, said the federal appeals court in New Orleans had been insufficiently skeptical of the Texas program, which has unusual features. The appeals court then endorsed the program for a second time.

In returning to the case, at least some justices seemed ready to issue a major decision on the role race may play in government decision making.

Most applicants from Texas are admitted under a part of the program that guarantees admission to top students in every high school in the state. (This is often called the Top 10 program, though the percentage cutoff can vary by year.)

The Top 10 program has produced significant racial and ethnic diversity. In 2011, for instance, 26 percent of freshmen who enrolled under the program were Hispanic, and 6 percent were black. Texas is about 38 percent Hispanic and 12 percent black.

The remaining Texas students and those from elsewhere are considered under standards that take account of academic achievement and other factors, including race and ethnicity. Many colleges and universities base all of their admissions decisions on such “holistic” grounds.

In 2003, the Supreme Court endorsed such holistic admissions programs in Grutter v. Bollinger, saying it was permissible to consider race as one factor among many to achieve educational diversity. Writing for the majority in that case, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said she expected that “25 years from now,” the “use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary.”

The question in the Texas case was whether the flagship state university was entitled to supplement its race-neutral Top 10 program with a race-conscious holistic one.

The Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Fisher v. University of Texas reaffirmed that educational diversity is an interest sufficient to overcome the general ban on racial classifications by the government. But it added that public institutions must have good reasons for the methods they use to achieve that goal.

Colleges and universities, Justice Kennedy wrote, must demonstrate that “available, workable race-neutral alternatives do not suffice” before using race in admissions decisions.

Courts reviewing government programs that make distinctions based on race subject them to a form of judicial review known as “strict scrutiny,” which requires the government to identify a compelling goal and a close fit between means and ends.

Last year, in its second encounter with the case, a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, ruled that the Texas admissions plan satisfied strict scrutiny.

“We are persuaded that to deny U.T. Austin its limited use of race in its search for holistic diversity would hobble the richness of the educational experience,” Judge Patrick E. Higginbotham wrote for the majority.

The Top 10 program is inadequate, he said, because it is a blunt instrument and a product of widespread segregation in Texas high schools.

In dissent, Judge Emilio M. Garza said the university’s justifications for using race were “subjective, circular or tautological.”

As in the earlier appeal, Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself from the case because she worked on it as United States solicitor general.


Foreign Grad-School Applications Rise, Driven by Indian Candidates | The Wall Street Journal

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Jun 302015


By Melissa Korn
June 30, 2015

International applications to U.S. graduate schools rose 2% this year, driven by double-digit growth from Indian candidates and interest in science and engineering programs but tempered by declining demand from Chinese prospects.

This marks the 10th straight year of gains in applications from foreign candidates, according to a preliminary tally by the Council of Graduate Schools, based on reports from 377 schools that educate the bulk of international graduate students.

U.S. graduate schools overall received 676,484 applications, including more than 192,000 from Indian students—a 12% increase for that country, according to the early count. India provides the second-largest pool of international applicants to U.S. graduate schools, behind China, and two-thirds of all international applications come from those two countries.

“Students from India have a reputation for being very savvy shoppers when it comes to higher education,” said Jeff Allum, director of research and policy analysis at the Council of Graduate Schools. “Right now, the U.S. is a very strong market and a very good value for them.”

The U.S. is also a much larger market. While India has increased capacity in its universities for undergraduate students, particularly in engineering programs, it has been slower to add seats for graduate study.

Florida International University in Miami is benefiting from that hunger for advanced instruction. Graduate programs at the school reported a 19% increase in applications from Indian candidates this year, on top of a double-digit gain the prior year. Applications from India have doubled to nearly 1,000 in the last half-dozen years, with most interest in so-called STEM fields, for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The school has been hosting virtual information sessions and interview workshops aimed at Indian applicants. Lakshmi Reddi, dean of FIU’s graduate school, said word-of-mouth recommendations are helping raise awareness of the programs.

That could be important as interest from Chinese candidates wanes. Schools reported receiving 264,406 applications from China this cycle, a 2% drop from the prior year and the third year of declines. Before that, the Council of Graduate Schools had reported seven straight years of double-digit gains in Chinese applications.

Local alternatives are luring some would-be prospects from China as that country invests in its own schools.

Declining interest from Chinese students could devastate universities that had banked on a steady flow of foreign students to offset flat demand from domestic students. Many schools that created physical offices in China to support aggressive recruiting haven’t yet begun such elaborate outreach schemes in other countries.

“It’s a concern for U.S. institutions,” Mr. Allum said of the multiyear dip. “China’s a source for one-third of all international graduate students coming here, and clearly the competition for China’s top talent is heating up.”

Schools that don’t yet have name recognition in China may be hit hardest as college graduates find comparable alternatives for graduate studies closer to home, said Philip Altbach, a research professor and founding director of Boston College’s Center for International Higher Education.

“The premium on a foreign degree that’s not a gold-plated, name-brand school, is less than it once was,” Mr. Altbach said. Chinese employers are asking not just whether candidates studied abroad, but rather where they studied abroad.

The graduate-school group will release a final count of international applications and international-student enrollment figures later in the year. Historically, the preliminary survey results closely track trends in the final counts.


6 seniors recognized as EC Scholars | The News & Observer

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Jun 292015


June 28, 2015

Six Triangle seniors are among 20 selected for the EC Scholars program at East Carolina University.

EC Scholars is the university’s most prestigious undergraduate academic scholarship program. The four-year merit scholarship recognizes outstanding academic performance, commitment to community engagement and strong leadership skills.

Recipients are admitted to ECU’s Honors College and receive a scholarship for four years, along with a stipend for study abroad, for a total value of $61,000.

The students have completed a rigorous three-tier selection process that includes meeting the Honors College admissions criteria, having an additional faculty review and completing an on-campus interview.

The incoming EC Scholar recipients have an average combined math/verbal SAT score of 1362 and an average unweighted GPA of 3.94.

▪ Jocelyn Bayles of Holly Springs is a graduate of Middle Creek High in Apex and the daughter of Pamela and David Bayles.

▪ Madie Fleishman of Raleigh is a graduate of Millbrook High School and the daughter of Ed Fleishman and the late Kristin Cox Fleishman.

▪ Renae Harper of Wake Forest is a graduate of Wake Forest-Rolesville High School and the daughter of Amy and Rob Harper.

▪ Nicholas Kowalski of Greenville is a graduate of the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics and the son of Elizabeth Figueroa and Henry Kowalski.

▪ Daniel Nance of Raleigh is a graduate of Leesville Road High and the son of Susan and Joel Nance.

▪ Alexandria “Alex” Stephens is a senior at Leesville Road High and the daughter of Angel and Tim Stephens.


Marriage ruling welcomed by many | The Daily Reflector

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Jun 292015


By Ginger Livingston
Saturday, June 27, 2015

Greenville’s gay and lesbian community ecstatically greeted the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Friday declaring the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of same-sex marriage.

The court’s ruling means couples no longer have to consider whether their marriage will be considered valid as they move around the country, said one long-time Greenville resident.

“We were in a situation where (marriage equality) was a state by state decision,” Aaron Lucier said.

Lucier and his partner of 17 years married in Maryland last June when North Carolina’s ban on gay marriage was intact. The couple lived with the reality that their home state did not recognize their marriage until several federal court rulings invalidated the state’s marriage ban in October.

“That’s not what being a citizen of the United States it about. Your rights should be accessible in all 50 states,” Lucier said. “I shouldn’t have to decide which state I have to live in so I can remain married.”

Lucier said before October he had people become “huffy and bent out of shape” when he referred to his partner as his husband.

“They would point out we were not married,” he said. Today is Lucier’s first anniversary as a married man.

Marriage makes for stronger communities, Lucier said. Marriage creates a stable environment for raising children, he said. Marriage ensures inheritance rights and that couples have protections if one person becomes medically incapacitated. Marriage helps couples with government paperwork.

“We would have had to file our federal taxes as married but our state taxes as single,” Lucier said. “It’s a minor indignity that no one should have to put up with.”

The Supreme Court’s decision left some church leaders trying to find a balance in how to minister to the gay community while upholding the Bible’s scriptures.

Bishop Rosie S. O’neal, senior pastor at Koinonia Christian Center Church, said she had cried many tears for individuals “who have killed themselves or lived with self-hate.” She said she prays that type of desperation would cease and that she understands why the LGBT community may reject church because its members are outspoken about gay issues but do not speak out against adultery, incest, abuse and other problems in the nation.

“The dilemma that pastors have, I believe, is that we have been called to preach and teach the Bible and not our opinions,” she said. “Though we celebrate love and the common dignity of every person, the Bible does not give an open door for this lifestyle and, we, as pastors, are obligated to share that biblical truth.”

Members of East Carolina University’s lesbian and gay community took to Twitter, Instagram and other social media to celebrate the decision, said Mark Rasdorf, assistant director for the LGBT Resource Office.

“In the eyes of our students this is a human rights issue,” Rasdorf said. “Today marked a milestone in the history of our country. For anyone struggling with a sense of acceptance in the place they call home, to have highest court in the land confirm all the protections that are conferred by marriage is a moment of affirmation and celebration.”

When today’s undergraduates discuss their future, marriage is one of the things they think about, Rasdorf said.

“A generation ago (gay students) never talked about marriage,” he said. They could not conceive the possibility, Rasdorf said.

Among the comments shared by students, one wrote, “I’m so excited I don’t have to post that updated United States marriage map anymore.”

Another wrote, “Finally some good news. After weeks of violence, prejudice and dissension it feels good to get online and see so much positivity. I never thought I’d see so much love and support in favor of marriage equality and it gives me a lot of hope. It shows that minds can be changed and hearts can be opened. I hope I live to see more positive progress. Love won and it will continue to win.”


People in the East react to Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage | WNCT

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Jun 292015


By Ali Weatherton and Brandon Goldner
Published: June 26, 2015, 6:51 pm Updated: June 26, 2015, 11:03 pm

To view news video at WNCT, click here.

Mixed reaction from people in the East after the Supreme Court ruled the Constitution guarantees a right to same sex marriage.

The state has issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples since October after federal judges overturned the constitutional amendment that limited marriage to a man and woman.

Friday’s decision still brought strong feelings from opposing sides

“It’s a turning point in history,” Mark Rasdorf of the LGBT at ECU said. “So many people have fought hard for decades to achieve, and I think for older members in the LGBT community, I wouldn’t be surprised for many to say that they wouldn’t it would happen in their lifetime, and it has.”

While Rasdorf was excited for the future, Ginny Cooper with the Pitt County Republican Party called the ruling a terrible decision.

“They have stuck a finger in god’s eye and left him with no resolve,” Cooper said. “In our opinion, this is not the definition of good, so I think we are on a slippery slope.”

However, the gay marriage debate continues in the state as the controversial “Senate Bill 2″ is still law.

It allows magistrates to opt out of marrying same-sex couples if they object to it for religious reasons.

After passing both the house and senate, Governor Pat McCrory vetoed the bill, but the General Assembly defied him and overrode his veto.

North Carolina American Civil Liberties Union legal director Chris Brook said he expects some magistrates to refuse marrying same sex couples.

He’s encouraging any turned-away couples to come forward to possibly mount a legal challenge against the new law.

“Today’s decision just underlines that the fundamental right of gays and lesbians in North Carolina to marry should not be infringed upon,” Brook said. “We’re going to very carefully monitor the implementation.”

Governor Pat McCrory said despite his personal opinion about marriage and the states being allowed to decide, he “…took an oath to uphold the constitution which compels me as governor to ensure that North Carolina upholds the rule of the law.”

His lieutenant governor Dan Forest called today’s decision “a power grab” saying “…under these decisions, the rights and responsibilities of the states and the people are gone.”


ECU unveils FireFish sculpture | The Daily Reflector

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Jun 292015


By Holly West
June 27, 2015

Community members were treated to the sight of a 7-foot-tall, glowing-hot fish and a shower of ashes Friday night at the unveiling of the ECU Ceramics Guild’s FireFish sculpture.

The sculpture is made out of 1.5 tons of clay. It was unveiled at peak firing temperature, about 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, on the old Wendy’s lot at the corner of East 10th and Charles Boulevard.

About 9 p.m., seven crew members pulled apart the kiln, which had been heating the sculpture for about 12 hours. They then threw a mixture of sawdust and oxides on the sculpture, which added glaze and caused it to burst into flames.

“It was amazing, the big puffs of sparks, it was just really awesome,” said Greenville resident Benjamin Kean, who came to view the unveiling with his mom, Linda, and sister, Makayla.

Makayla Kean said she thought the sculpture looked very realistic.

“I want to make something like that,” she said. “I like it because it doesn’t use stuff that’s bad for the Earth.”

Devin McKim, a graduate student assistant on the project, said the process of drying the clay was a long one.

‘We let it air dry for a day, then we started on gas, so we’ve had the gas going for a day and a half, and now we’re doing wood,” he said. “It takes several days to fire it, and then once it opens it will cool down pretty quick.”

The group was aided by a crew from STARworks Center for Creative Enterprises, which also constructed the outdoor kiln used for the project. STARworks is an organization based in Star that is trying to grow a visual arts community and revive the local economy, which was devastated by the loss of hosiery and apparel manufacturing in central North Carolina.

McKim said the work of STARworks inspired the ECU project.

STARworks started constructing large, outdoor kilns for FireFest, an annual festival that celebrates the role of fire in creating art. McKim and some other ECU Ceramics Guild students enjoyed seeing the fire sculptures there and decided to make one themselves.

The sculpture project cost approximately $6,000, McKim said. Most of that was raised by the Ceramics Guild through a commissioned order from a national legislative assistant association.

“They ordered 300 plates in the shape of an oak leaf at $15 a piece, so we’re getting $4,500 for it,” undergraduate assistant Chris Cardone, who led the fundraising effort, said. “And that funded the bulk of this event here.”

McKim said everyone pitched in to work on the commission.

“We got together, we made some plaster molds and we pressed the plates,” he said. “We did several days of just pressing plates.”

The unveiling of the sculpture was also a team effort. Seo Eo, an associate professor of art in ECU’s School of Art and Design and one of the faculty members involved in the FireFish project, thanked the more than 50 people that came out for the event.

“The whole community came together, and this was a wonderful project,” he said.

A crew from the Greenville Fire Department was on hand in case the flames got out of hand. They also took several safety precautions.

“They made them put the fences up so people wouldn’t stand so close,” Deputy Chief Brock Davenport said. “They put fire extinguishers inside in case they had a flair-up or something like that. Of course, the ground was prepared too since they just tore the building down. And they asked to have a fire truck brought out here.”

After it cools down, the sculpture will be moved to the Leo W. Jenkins Fine Arts Center until a permanent location is found. Eo said he hopes to get it placed in the sculpture garden in front of the Jenkins Center.

Greenville resident Paul Tschetter said he is excited to see what the finished product looks like.

“It’s cool,” he said. “One of ECUs great things is its arts.”


ECU Notes: Literary Review perspective | The Daily Reflector

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Jun 292015


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Literary Review perspective

The theme of this year’s issue of the award-winning North Carolina Literary Review is “North Carolina Literature in a Global Context.”

The print issue features cover art by Chapel Hill resident Eduardo Lapetina, a native of Argentina.

The writers and artists in this year’s issue all share a common bond: they have lived in North Carolina, but they also have called other states and countries home.

NCLR Editor Margaret Bauer writes in the issue’s introduction, “Almost two dozen years of North Carolina Literary Review content reveal what an inspiration the Old North State is to writers, whether they are born here, move here, or just pass through for a visit. Our 24th issue explores how North Carolina writers have been inspired by living and traveling beyond the state’s borders.”

The 2015 global print issue traverses the world. It includes interviews with N.C. State University professor Elaine Neil Orr, who grew up in Nigeria, and Monique Truong, born in South Vietnam, who grew up in Boiling Springs, and literary criticism by Turkish scholar Tanfer Emin Tunc and British scholar R.J. Ellis.

Laura Herbst’s Doris Betts Prize story “The Cliffs of Mobenga” is written from the perspective of a teenager from North Carolina, serving as a translator for her uncle’s missionary trip to West Africa.

Essayist and fiction writer Philip Gerard, originally from Delaware, now on the faculty of UNC Wilmington, discusses the complexities of historical novel writing, focusing on his own investigations of the Wilmington Race Riot.

The issue also contains poetry by Connecticut native Peter Makuck, New York native Marylin Hervieux, South Carolina native Janet Joyner, as well as Elizabeth Jackson’s poem, “East End, West End,” winner of the 2014 James Applewhite Poetry Prize competition and an essay by James Applewhite that compares the work of North Carolina’s Randall Jarrell with poetry by William Wordsworth.

NCLR has won numerous awards since it was first published in 1992, most recently, the 2014 Phoenix Award for Significant Editorial Achievement from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals.

NCLR is published by East Carolina University and the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

For subscription information, go to

Project wins grant

Students and teachers from J.H. Rose High School in Greenville were on ECU’s campus June 15-19 working with staff from the Tar River Writing Project developing plans to implement an idea that earned them a national grant.

The Tar River Writing Project, housed at ECU in the University Writing Program, and Rose High School were one of one of 14 groups in the nation awarded a $20,000 LRNG Innovation Challenge Grant.

During the week, 11 teachers worked with 15 Rose students designing six maker spaces that will operate during Rose’s 80-minute SMART Block period. Maker spaces, sometimes called hackspaces and fablabs, are an online community for people to create, invent, learn and share projects.

The maker spaces at Rose will focus on fashion design, robotics/programming, upcycling/repurposing objects, beat making, digital storytelling/media making, and a 3-D/prototype fabrication lab.

Students will be able to visit and explore in these maker spaces during the school’s SMART Block, which allows students to attend academic sessions with teachers or participate in extracurricular activities.

Once students find something that they are interested in, they can pick up and follow interest-driven educational pathways, said Stephanie West-Puckett, Tar River Writing Project associate director and a member of the ECU Department of English faculty.

“This grant gives us an opportunity to design innovative educational spaces together that bridge curricular and extracurricular learning,” she said.

During the weeklong event, the educators from ECU and Rose High designed a curriculum with low barriers for easy access and high ceilings for developing mastery.

Each maker space also will have a service project so that students and faculty can use the concepts and tools to benefit others in need, West-Puckett said.

“Pop-up maker stations are at the core of what SMART Block should offer students,” Monica Jacobson, principal at J.H. Rose, said.

“With the stations, Rose students will be afforded time and access to resources that connect and extend their knowledge. Students will be provided with opportunities to build relationships with their peers, teachers, and community partners that share similar interests while they explore beyond the classroom,” Jacobson said.

Educators presented the ideas on the last day of the event to school administrators, community members and parents for their feedback.

Will Banks, director of the University Writing Program and of the Tar River Writing Project, said, “It’s rare that teachers, students, and community members get to work together to find shared interests and passions — and to remember that passion, not test scores, motivates learning.”

The LRNG Innovation Challenge is a new initiative that invests in forward-looking schools and teachers to design innovative projects that take advantage of new technology to support students’ creativity. It is sponsored in partnership with the MacArthur Foundation and John Legend’s Show Me Campaign.

West-Puckett said musician John Legend wants high school students — with projects like the ones funded by the grants — to be able to pursue their interests, especially in the arts, which may not fit into a traditional curriculum approach.

Rob Puckett, a Rose printing and graphics instructor, is working to develop a 3-D printing & prototyping maker space.

“While 3-D printing trinkets and toys is neat, we want to demonstrate how these tools can make a real difference in people’s lives,” he said. “Each semester, we’ll work together on printing a custom-made prosthetic hand with free, open-source plans.”

Fellow Rose teacher Lynn Cox, who is collaborating on a maker space for robotics and computer programming, said, “It was great to have the students here with us and see how eager they are for these kinds of opportunities in school.”


Art projects at ECU, PCC put creativity on display | WITN

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Jun 292015


Updated: Fri 10:21 PM, Jun 26, 2015

To view news video at WITN, click here.

Two separate projects, on two different college campus are highlighting the importance of creative art and design.

Pitt Community College in Winterville offered a week long camp for high school students to learn architectural design.

On Friday, the last day of the camp, they created their own inflatable sculptures just using plastic bags, tape and paint.

At East Carolina University students are creating one of the largest ceramic sculpture’s ever placed on campus. It’s a seven foot fish, dubbed “Fire Fish”. This replica was designed by an ECU grad student and through Starworks Center of Creative Enterprise, it’s coming to life.

“We do it to beautify our environment and educate our students, this is really good practice for these students to building a sculpture of this scale,” said Adam Landman, Starworks project manager.

The kiln that the fish is made in runs around 2,100 degrees. It takes about 12 hours for the scupture to bake before it’s finished.


ECU alum gives pirate shout-out while on “Wheel of Fortune” | WITN

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Jun 292015


Updated: Fri 11:25 PM, Jun 26, 2015

To view news video at WITN, click here.

An ECU pirate alum got to play for some cash and prizes on Wheel of Fortune on Friday.

Courtney Stearn lives in Summerville, South Carolina and is a physical therapist. Stearn said that she is a national 3 baton champion and was feature twirler at ECU.

Stearn played an awesome game, even securing herself a trip to St. Croix.

She almost got to take on the final puzzle for all the marbles but came up short just under a grand to another contestant on the show.


Class assignment turns into first book | The News & Observer

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Jun 292015


June 26, 2015
By Cindy Schaefer

Michael K. Brantley says he didn’t set out to write a book. Mulling a career change, he began graduate classes at East Carolina University and a professor’s assignment for a 350-word paper drew him into the world of creative nonfiction.

That paper was expanded further during a class at Queens University, where another professor noted “This sounds like the beginning of a memoir.”

Set in Raleigh and Bynum near the end of the 21st century, Sean Jackson’s debut novel, “Haw,” navigates a world where governments have collapsed and poisoned air and water are a threat. Jackson, a Raleigh native, lives in Cary.

In “Memory Cards: Portraits from a Rural Journey” (Black Rose Writing), Brantley revisits his growing-up years in Eastern North Carolina. From tobacco fields to Coca-Cola to firebrand preachers and fishing, it is a place where as late as the 1980s mules were still used for transportation and outhouses were not uncommon.

It took about two years to write “Memory Cards,” he said. “I wrote a new piece every month … and then the real work started – revision. I thought this would never end, as some pieces created offshoots, some had to be pruned back to the point of damaging the roots. My hard drive has a dozen or more versions of some of the chapters.

“With all that said, it was the most rewarding creative thing I’ve done, and I’m already thinking about what’s next.”

Brantley, 46, says he lives “in the country, but the address is Spring Hope.”


“Haw” (Harvard Square Editions) is the story of a father’s struggle to save his son from a corrupt society in a bleak, futuristic America. Set in Raleigh and Bynum near the end of the 21st century, Sean Jackson’s debut novel navigates a world where governments have collapsed and poisoned air and water are a threat. Jackson, a Raleigh native, lives in Cary.

New titles

Benjamin Hedin analyzes the legacy of the Civil Rights movement, profiling legendary figures and visiting with contemporary leaders, in his new book “In Search of the Movement: The Struggle for Civil Rights Then and Now” (City Lights Publishers). Hedin, who lives in Durham, will be at Durham’s Regulator Bookshop at 7 p.m. July 8 and at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh at 7 p.m. July 30.

“Rejection Proof” (Harmony) by Jia Jiang chronicles the 100 days that Jiang spent willfully seeking out rejection. During his journey he requested a haircut from PetSmart (answer: no), asked for a free burger refill (answer: no) and requested Krispy Kreme doughnuts in the shape of the Olympic rings (answer: yes, with a viral video to prove it). Along the way, he learned strategies to avert rejection and techniques for handling it. Jiang, a native of Beijing, China, received his MBA from Duke University.

“Screw the Valley: Raleigh-Durham Edition” (BenBella Books) is a companion to Timothy Sprinkle’s “Screw the Valley.” In it, Sprinkle highlights the Triangle as one of seven areas that offer superior landscapes for tech startups.
Prize winner

North Carolina’s Sam Newsome has been awarded the Garcia Memorial Prize for his debut novel, “Jackie” (Lulu Publishing). Presented in conjunction with the national Reader Views Book Awards, the Garcia Memorial Prize is awarded to the best fiction book of the year.
Contact us

Triangle-area authors: We want to hear about your new book. Send information to As space permits, we will mention self-published books by local authors that are for sale on commercial sites.
Book signing

Tyler Zeller played basketball at UNC-Chapel Hill. His brother Luke went to Notre Dame and brother Cody played at Indiana University. By all accounts they were good kids and good students, so their parents, Steve and Lorri Zeller, have written a book about their parenting style, “Raising Boys the Zeller Way.” The boys added comments in the various chapters. The Zellers will be signing books Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Flyleaf Bookstore in Chapel Hill.


Project drops soldiers, vets into college life | The News & Observer

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Jun 292015


June 27, 2015
By Tammy Grubb


The students seemed at ease in their desks, laptops open, eyes forward as UNC lecturer Hilary Edwards Lithgow explained how to document the sources for their research papers.

Some had questions. Others started applying lessons learned to their papers, glancing up when something Lithgow said caught their attention.

It was a typical college day; the students were not.

Fourteen enlisted military veterans and service members got a steady diet last week of classical and modern literature, critical thinking and academic writing. All are enrolled or planning to enroll in a four-year undergraduate program.

This was UNC’s first year hosting the Warrior-Scholar Project, which helps veterans “de-green” and prepare for the rigors of college.

Army Staff Sgt. Brian Rich has lived in Raleigh for the past eight months, the final stop of a 12-year career that took him to the Philippines, Japan and three tours in Afghanistan. He paused, casting a long look, when asked about his service. It was 99 percent positive, he said.

“Everyone’s going to have their bad days,” he said. “I definitely don’t regret my choices, in terms of what I did or where I went.”

The 31-year-old Maryland native hopes to attend Carolina, maybe to study marketing and the effects of social media. He wasn’t sure initially about the Warrior-Scholar Program’s benefits, Rich said, but the professors’ feedback gave him a boost of confidence.

“Every professor that we’ve had has been 100 percent passionate about what they’re teaching, and that’s contagious,” he said. “You start to feel excited about it, too … They help you understand that college isn’t just about a piece of paper and getting a job.”

The number of service members using GI Bill benefits to pay for college has almost doubled from 564,000 in 2009 to over 1 million in 2013, the government reports. The Department of Veterans Affairs paid more than $12 billion for college costs in 2013.

The numbers are expected to grow as the military reduces its troops in battlefields overseas, officials say.

Many veterans haven’t been inside a classroom since high school. They often feel alienated in classes filled with much younger students, many still depending on their parents for support and with less life experience. Nearly half of veterans attending college have spouses and children, officials said.

Lithgow, in UNC’s Department of English and Comparative Literature, said veterans bring maturity and drive to the classroom.

“The military is not on the outside of the university, although it often feels that way,” she said.

The typical Warrior-Scholar Program offers two weeks of intensive classes, workshops, discussions and one-on-one tutoring sessions.

The veterans in UNC’s pilot program rolled through the basics in one week, working from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily and sharing their experiences at meals. They burned the midnight oil reading assignments and writing papers.

The boot camp is managed by fellow veterans, with help from seven UNC professors and a group of graduate students.

Chadelle Sappa, 25, served five years in the Army and is co-leader of the UNC program. She finished the Warrior-Scholar Program in 2014 at Yale University, where she’s pursuing a political science degree. It helped her find focus when she was having trouble being a civilian again, she said.

“You just have to look at it in a different light and get involved, so I got involved with certain groups, like theater and French” she said. “I figured if I could integrate with these people in this foreign territory, it could teach me some lessons that I could also apply to the transition.”

The nonprofit Warrior-Scholar Program, founded by Yale students in 2012, has served about 200 veterans. Eleven colleges hosted programs this year.

Staff Sgt. Olivia McCormick, 29, of Southern Pines, won’t get out of the Army until March. She has taken some college classes during her 10-year career but never made it a priority. The Warrior-Scholar Program showed her “endless possibilities,” she said.

“When you’re in the Army, or the military in general, when you go away to a school, you’re going there to learn something to bring back to a team,” she said. “When you go to college, it’s for you, so you can have a positive impact on the world.”


Principal addresses Harvard-Stanford admissions hoax that led to scandal | The Washington Post

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Jun 292015


By T. Rees Shapiro June 26

In the wake of an international scandal, the principal of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology described a student’s elaborate college admissions hoax that garnered massive media attention as unrepresentative of the elite Virginia school.

Evan Glazer, principal of the Fairfax County magnet school known as TJ, published a statement on the school’s Web site in response to reports in The Washington Post and in Korean outlets about a senior who fabricated her admissions to Harvard and Stanford.

The Korean student, known by her nickname Sara, concocted fake admissions letters from both prestigious universities and said that she’d been accepted to a unique dual enrollment program allowing her to spend two years at each school. Her father later issued a statement acknowledging that the letters and her admissions story were complete forgeries.

“The actions of ‘Sara’ are very unfortunate and are not representative of the student body at Thomas Jefferson . . . and they are also not representative of the Korean heritage community,” Glazer wrote in the statement.

TJ is ranked among the top high schools in the country, and students typically earn admission to the best universities. A report in the school’s student newspaper, TJ Today, noted that from the class of 2015, six will attend Stanford, five will go to Yale, another five will enroll at Princeton and three will head to Harvard. But in his letter, Glazer noted that about 40 percent of TJ graduates end up at in-state colleges. Compared to other high schools in the Commonwealth, TJ regularly sends the most freshman to the University of Virginia.

But competition for an Ivy League acceptance letter is fierce. Among the three TJ graduates enrolling at Harvard in the fall is Pooja Chandrashekar, a standout senior who earned a 4.57 grade-point average, scored a 2390 (out of 2400) on the SAT and was accepted to all eight Ivies.

By all accounts, Sara was prodigious math whiz. But she apparently struggled to meet the expectations set for her and her peers at a school reserved for the best and brightest. Glazer acknowledged that students set a high bar for themselves.

“Teens also struggle with the realization they have limitations when comparing themselves to their peers,” Glazer wrote. “However, stress levels and expectations can become much more manageable when adults and children openly communicate about challenges that impact their mental health. This means acknowledging a grade of a ‘B’ is OK if it’s not a strong suit — studying an extra 10 hours a week is not worth it to earn the A.”

In his letter, Glazer wrote that the school would continue to work on helping students under pressure and those who make consequential mistakes.

“I hope children can be forgiven, particularly after they demonstrate they have accepted consequences and learned a lesson,” Glazer wrote. “For the betterment of society, we owe our youth proper care and guidance so they grow into responsible adults by teaching them how to manage stress and cope with disappointment and mistakes.”