Apr 132015


By Abbie Bennett

April 11, 2015

For the first time since 2007, the University of North Carolina Board of Governors held their meeting in Greenville at the East Carolina University Heart Institute.

The board had a lengthy agenda which included several ECU-specific action items such as the university’s millennial campus designation, sale of $80 million in special obligation bonds for ECU, acquisition of property for the university and authorization of capital improvements, among others.

The board voted to approve all of ECU’s action items. The board approved special obligation bonds for ECU not to exceed $80 million to finance the new student services building on the Health Sciences Campus, refunding outstanding indebtedness for interest rate savings and paying costs incurred in connection with issuance of the 2015 Bonds.

Capital improvement projects approved for ECU included:

Brody School of Medicine Risk Management Office and Administrative Meeting/Conference to renovate existing office space within Brody and create additional offices and renovations. The project is estimated to cost nearly $500,000 and was expected to be completed by October.
Haynie Building Repair and Renovation to facilitate work on the $73,800-square-foot building in the warehouse district of ECU’s master plan along 10th Street. The project is estimated at about $2.84 million and the project schedule will be set upon completion of a condition assessment and repair details.
Clement Residence Hall Renovation to bring the 10-story building into compliance with the North Carolina High Rise Building Code. The project is estimated to cost about $20.1 million funded from housing receipts.

ECU’s purchase of about .48 acres and a 4,626-square-foot structure at 119 Cotanche St. was unanimously approved by the board. The property will cost the university $550,000 and will be used, in the short term, as office space.

Millennial campus

ECU’s more than 328-acre millennial campus also was unanimously approved by the board. The campus will be on four separate sites based on their proximity to existing campus academic, health science, athletic and human performance activities, Greenville historic and arts districts and the Tar River front.

The Warehouse District site (22.3 acres) would restore and reuse historic structures, anchor the planned Dickinson Avenue Arts & Innovation District, help revitalize the center city area and develop productive collaborative research, innovation, commercialization and economic spaces connecting ECU’s health sciences and main campuses.

The Uptown Area site (19.04 acres) borders the east side of downtown Greenville, bridging the main campus with the downtown area and the Tar River front, comprising a significant portion of Greenville’s downtown area when joined with the Warehouse District site and positioning ECU to join other campuses in contributing to revitalization of urban cores.

The Health Science Campus (214.16 acres) is immediately adjacent to Vidant Medical Center and the new Veterans Affairs Medical Center to the north.

The Stratford Arms and Blount Fields site (72.85 acres) are near ECU’s athletic and human performance complex and represent longer term opportunities through public-private partnerships similar in some respects to North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus, Raleigh’s North Hills and Durham’s West Village and American Tobacco districts.

The ECU Millennial Campus will be known as East Carolina Research and Innovation Campus (ECRIC).

Apr 132015


By Rochelle Moore Times Staff Writer

Three Hunt High School alumni from different graduating classes will graduate together from the Brody School of Medicine on May 8.

Each took a different path that eventually led to their 2011 enrollment into the four-year medical school, which accepts close to 80 students a year.

Sarah Norris graduated from Hunt in 2004, William Griffin graduated in 2003 and Michael Odom graduated in 1999. The three will receive their medical degrees on the same day at East Carolina University with two planning to focus on family medicine and one on internal medicine. All three, who have family living in Wilson County, have plans to practice in North Carolina.

“We thought it was kind of funny that three of us were from the same high school,” Odom said. “What’s really neat is we’re all going into the same field, primary care.”

Norris and Odom have become close friends and the three got to know each other during their medical training and coursework. Griffin said it’s normal to see other Hunt High graduates at the school, with at least one entering the medical program each year. It’s a little more unusual for three to graduate at the same time.

“It’s a true testament of how East Carolina is fulfilling its mission of educating teacher physicians from eastern North Carolina,” Griffin said. “Three people from the same high school east of I-95 is pretty impressive. We can also make it a testament of the education of Hunt High School.”

Norris said she would have likely never met Odom had it not been for medical school.

“This is pretty cool that three of us from Wilson went to medical school and we’re all graduating at the same time,” Norris said. “We’re just proud we’re from Wilson. We have big plans to be doctors, and we have plans to come back here (to North Carolina) to give back.

“Part of my long-term goal is to provide care to the citizens of North Carolina.”

After high school, Norris graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and then worked three years as a research coordinator for the Cystic Fibrosis Center in Chapel Hill.

She has plans to start a three-year family medicine residency at the University of Virginia Medical Center and will return to North Carolina to practice.

“I want to practice full-scope family medicine,” she said. “I’ll be able to provide a wide variety of care, but I also want to teach.”

Norris is a member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, which honors medical students, residents, fellows, role-model physician teachers and others who demonstrate excellence in humanistic clinical care, leadership, compassion and dedication to service.

Griffin graduated from N.C. State University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering.

He graduated summa cum laude from his undergraduate studies and focused his master’s research on fluid dynamics. He worked a few years for a small medical device company, Andersen Products, and spent the weekends working for Six Forks EMS. He also volunteered at a free clinic. Eventually, he decided to pursue a medical degree where he can blend together engineering and medicine.

“I did my research and I got interested in understanding more about it,” Griffin said.

Griffin will complete his three-year residency in internal medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina hospitals. After the residency, he plans to seek a cardiology fellowship. He is interested in working in academic cardiology.

He plans to conduct research in heart failure.

Odom first graduated with a bachelor’s degree in archeology from East Carolina University and worked for Coastal Carolina Research for a year. His work led him along the East Coast as an archeological surveyor of land prior to road construction projects.

In 2005, he went back to ECU and later graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He took several years and worked for Greenville Pathology, assisting with the testing of surgical specimens. The work allowed him to meet doctors in the community, some of whom he shadowed at work. The experience led him to decide on family medicine.

“I ended up really liking family medicine because it’s such a broad field,” he said.

Odom plans to complete a three-year family medicine residency at the AnMed Health Medical Center in Anderson, South Carolina. He plans to return to the area to practice as a family doctor.

“I’d like to come back to practice, hopefully, somewhere close to home,” he said.

The Hunt alumni all applied and were accepted into the Brody School of Medicine in the fall of 2011.

The Brody School of Medicine is nationally recognized for the number of graduates practicing primary care, about 42 percent. The school is also recognized by the American Academy of Family Physicians as one of the top 10 institutions in the nation for preparing family doctors. One in six family doctors in North Carolina graduated from the school and one of five doctors in the state is a Brody School graduate.

Apr 132015


Updated: Fri 8:41 PM, Apr 10, 2015
By: Dave Jordan/Lynnette Taylor

Meeting in Greenville, the UNC Board of Governors voted to give East Carolina University the designation they need to bridge education and innovation with new business opportunities.

ECU has been granted millennial campus status.

ECU’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Economic Development, Ted Morris, says the millennial campus designation means ecu can collaborate with private companies to commercialize research discoveries and offer advanced training to benefit the region’s high-tech industries.

It also provides ECU with the ability to rehabilitate areas of Greenville with the use of tax credits…something a tax supported university wouldn’t be able to, by law.

Apr 132015


April 12, 2015

Lyme disease

A researcher in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the pathogen responsible for Lyme disease.

Associate professor Dr. MD Motaleb was awarded $423,000 over two years to investigate the disease mechanisms around the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes the multi-systemic disorder known as Lyme disease — transmitted to humans via bites from infected deer ticks.

“The significance of Lyme disease is that a lot of the time it goes undiagnosed because of its flu-like symptoms,” Motaleb said. “And although it is rarely fatal, it has highly debilitating effects in humans. Once it progresses to late disease, it can send people into total unproductivity.”

Lyme disease is the most prevalent arthropod-borne infectious disease in the United States, with approximately 300,000 cases diagnosed each year, although the disease largely is underreported, Motaleb said.

Three to 30 days following a bite from an infected tick, many people develop a fever and flu-like symptoms, including chills, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. During the first month, between 60 and 70 percent of patients will develop a skin rash. At this early stage in the disease, antibiotics can be an effective treatment.

“But at one month, up to 40 percent of patients still don’t have a rash,” Motaleb said. “Those are in a bad position. If left untreated, a patient can develop painful swelling in large joints, a stiff neck, partial facial paralysis, heart palpitations, shooting pains, numbness and problems with short-term memory.

“After months or years with no treatment, many patients may be nonfunctional,” he said. “Even if they begin treatment at this stage, disease symptoms may persist years after the antibiotic treatment.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 33 percent of untreated patients in the United States develop Lyme arthritis. More than 10 percent of these patients become treatment-resistant for unknown reasons, and as many as 10 percent experience mild to severe interference with heart function.

There is no vaccine to prevent Lyme disease, but Motaleb hopes his team’s research eventually will lead to the development of a novel pharmacological agent that can prevent — and better treat — the disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi.

“This organism has a wave-like shape and a unique ability to twist, which gives it a distinctive swimming motion,” Motaleb said.

Researchers have known for some time that this locomotion is critical to the development and spread of Lyme disease, but Motaleb’s team seeks to discover how to disrupt the mechanism in order to block bacterial dissemination and thus prevent the spread of the disease.

Since Motaleb joined ECU in 2008, he has been awarded more than $3.1 million by the NIH to study Lyme disease.

Other participants on his grant are doctoral students Kihwan Moon and Matthew Addington-Hall and research specialist Akarsh Manne.

College of Education recognized nationally

ECU is receiving praise at the national level for its innovation in preparing teachers for the classroom.

ECU is one of only nine institutions across the country and the first in North Carolina to complete reaccreditation through the Transformation Initiative pathway by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Following a visit in February, the council gave the ECU College of Education’s Educator Preparation Programs its highest rating for the Pirate CODE initiative.

The Pirate CODE, or Continuum of Developing Expertise, was designed to improve teacher preparation in five colleges at ECU. Led by the College of Education, the others are the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Health and Human Performance, the College of Fine Arts and Communication and the College of Human Ecology.

Some of the innovations highlighted include a co-teaching model, where ECU student interns and new teachers are paired with veteran teachers, and video grand rounds, where ECU students build observation skills before they go into classrooms.

“Each one of these innovations have been refined based on data from students, faculty and staff,” said Dr. Diana Lys, director of assessment and accreditation in the College of Education.

Because of the programs in place, ECU teacher candidates enter the classroom with a high level of readiness to teach, Lys said.

“Our graduates are better prepared to make a significant impact on student learning from day one,” she said.

The Pirate CODE model prepares students for clinical practice through experiences like student teaching and a national performance assessment, the edTPA.

The UNC Board of Governors requires educator preparation programs in the state system to maintain national accreditation. The Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation sets a high bar, Lys said.

“I would say it’s an important designation for ECU and the UNC system,” said Alisa Chapman, vice president for academic and university programs in the UNC system. “ECU is an exemplar for teacher education.”

The council review team rated the college’s Pirate CODE initiative as “well defined,” the highest possible rating. Dr. Debbie Hill, a state consultant on the review team, said the ECU Pirate CODE “demonstrated excellence and preliminary proof of the effectiveness of strategies.”

Upcoming events

Thursday: Laupus Library will launch a new series April 16 called “Speaking Volumes: A Book Discussion Series Focusing on the Health Sciences,” serving as an opportunity to review work by ECU scholars and researchers. The event will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Evelyn Fike Laupus Gallery on the fourth floor of Laupus Library. Free and open to the public. Contact Kelly Rogers Dilda at rogerske@ecu.edu for more information.
Thursday: ECU’s Medieval & Renaissance Festival will take place from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and on Friday from 9:45 a.m. until 12 p.m. in the brickyard, Mendenhall 244 and Mendenhall Great Rooms. The event will feature live music, performances and medieval fare. Free and open to the public.

Apr 132015


By Abbie Bennett
April 12, 2015

Playful barbs were traded at the University of North Carolina Board of Governors meeting Friday hosted by East Carolina University. Comments ranged from good-natured sports jabs to singing the praises of eastern North Carolina barbecue.

But the mood was not lighthearted or joking for everyone in attendance.

While members of the board and other meeting attendees served themselves from a breakfast buffet before the meeting, demonstrators gave brief speeches and held signs demanding that the board prioritize student instruction and instructor pay rather than increased pay for system executives.

Faculty and students from ECU and across the University of North Carolina system came together Friday, presenting a petition full of signatures to “demand that the Board of Governors prioritize instruction by ensuring that all faculty receive proportionate and fair compensation and re-focus university and college resources on student learning.”

The group cited rising costs of post-secondary education with less than a third of that funding being used for instruction in 2013.

Amanda Klein, associate professor of film studies at ECU, said she found attendees, , including Provost Ron Mitchelson and Chancellor Steve Ballard, to be polite and attentive as demonstrators spoke at the meeting.

“Some people were actually quite encouraging, going so far as to thank us for being there and speaking on behalf of faculty and students,” Klein said. “I believe we were heard. Whether or not the Board of Governors and ECU’s administrators decide to act on proposals is another matter.”

The group said that two-thirds of instructional faculty at colleges and universities are now non-tenure track, and many “are struggling to make ends meet” with “14 percent of all faculty living near or below the poverty level … 22 percent of part time faculty members earn less than the federal poverty level.”

ECU serves the people of North Carolina, especially eastern North Carolina, according to a release from the group, but that it increasingly is becoming difficult for ECU to provide a university education to its students. The group wants the board to prioritize instruction by retaining skilled faculty, “not sending them away” and cited eight longterm instructors in ECU’s English department who recently lost their fall contracts due to budget cuts, leaving 80 classes without instructors.

Similarly, students cannot take upper-level courses because they are being cut, according to the group and, as a result, students are not benefiting from the expertise in which the university has invested.

“We want to be able to teach the classes our students need to graduate on time,” Klein said. “We want our highly skilled fixed-term colleagues to know that service and commitment to their department means something, and that they won’t lose their jobs due to vague excuses like ‘budget cuts.’ We don’t want to keep being asked to do more with less. We just want to do our jobs.”

Salary increases

In sharp contrast to the petition lobbying for better compensation for faculty, the board unanimously approved salary range increases for leaders of the system’s universities. The board did not discuss the subject before taking its vote.

While no raises were approved, salary ranges for chancellors, presidents and other university executives were approved. Compensation packages — not just salary ranges — significantly were increased and policy changes now allow contracts with possible incentive bonuses and other features.

The range increases will serve as guidelines for pay moving forward.

Under the 2014-15 ranges, Ballard’s salary range — along with chancellors at North Carolina A&T, UNC-Charlotte and UNC-Greensboro, is a minimum of $299,379 and a maximum of $467,779. The president salary range is from $455,436 to $711,619.

Under the revised salary ranges, an ECU chancellor could earn a minimum of $290,179 and a maximum of $725,446. The president’s salary range is a minimum of $435,268 and a maximum of more than $1.08 million.

The report showed that system salaries mainly are based on higher education salaries, but not candidates who may be coming from the private sector.

Also included in the report from the Committee on Personnel and Tenure was information presented by the deans of both of the state’s public medical schools.

Dr. Bill Roper of UNC-Chapel Hill’s medical school and Dr. Paul R.G. Cunningham of the ECU Brody School of Medicine showed stagnation of North Carolina physician salaries, which are at the 34th percentile of other academic physicians and far below private practice physicians.

The reports cited that Brody and UNC regularly lose physicians to other institutions outside North Carolina.

Apr 132015


From staff reports


A textiles professor at N.C. State University is one of two winners of the O. Max Gardner Award, the highest faculty honor given by the UNC system’s Board of Governors.

Behnam Pourdeyhimi, a professor and associate dean in NCSU’s College of Textiles, has pioneered the field of nonwoven fabrics. His technological advances led to water filtration systems, protective clothing for the military, safer vehicles and new drug delivery methods.

He founded what would become the Nonwovens Institute on Centennial Campus, which joins academics and industry professionals to develop new products. It has 68 member companies and a $10 million annual budget.

Pourdeyhimi said the production of nonwovens contribute $5 billion to the state’s economy. He cited Swiffer, a $2.2 billion business that makes duster mops in Benson.

The other recipient of the O. Max Gardner Award is Pinku Mukherjee, a professor of cancer research at UNC Charlotte. She has spent 25 years studying breast and pancreatic cancers and has created new therapies and better early detection methods. In 2011, she founded a spinoff company called OncoTab, built around identifying novel markers for cancer to improve detection.

The award is the university system’s top honor for faculty. It carries a $20,000 cash prize.

Apr 132015


By Jane Stancill
04/10/2015 7:05 PM


A business dean at West Virginia University will be the next chancellor of UNC Wilmington.

Jose “Zito” Sartarelli, WVU’s chief global officer and dean of its College of Business and Economics for the past five years, will take the helm at UNCW on July 1 at an annual salary of $350,000. He was elected to the UNCW position Friday by the UNC Board of Governors, at its meeting at East Carolina University.

Sartarelli succeeds Interim Chancellor William Sederburg, who has led UNCW since former Chancellor Gary Miller left last year to become president of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Sartarelli, 65, is a native of Brazil who spent three decades in marketing and management for three large pharmaceutical companies – Eli Lilly, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson.

During his short time in higher education administration, he increased WVU’s global presence by recruiting more international students and forging partnerships with universities in Germany, China, Israel, Brazil and other countries. As business dean, he helped establish six new joint degrees with other university departments and launched a fully online master of business administration degree program.

At UNCW he will oversee a coastal campus with 14,000 students, an array of undergraduate and master’s programs, plus doctoral degrees in marine biology and educational leadership.

On Friday, Sartarelli talked about the importance of bringing in the best students and faculty, and providing them the right elements for excellence in learning and scholarship.

“How do you create an environment in the university, which is proactive, which provides the students experiential learning?” he said. “How do you make sure that you enable students to succeed and grow? Because education is not just educating to get a job necessarily. It’s educating to get a job plus become a citizen. How do you make sure you educate students to become citizens of this great country?”

At WVU, Sartarelli said he was aggressive in bringing in companies to recruit students for jobs and internships. And he said fund raising would be a major goal at UNCW.

Sartarelli received his undergraduate degree at a university in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was a Fulbright Scholar at Michigan State University, where he earned master’s and doctoral degrees in business.

UNC President Tom Ross said Sartarelli has the perfect blend of experience.

“He has incredible international experience that’s going to help Wilmington connect globally,” Ross said. “It’s going to help students understand the world in which we’re living. … I think he brings great business acumen that will help manage the university well, which is important. But what struck me when I talked to him was a deep commitment to education and an understanding of university life.”

Apr 132015


By Jane Stancill

The committee that will search for a successor to UNC President Tom Ross is finally set, after back-and-forth negotiations and several changes in the group’s size and makeup.

The UNC Board of Governors apparently had trouble reaching unanimity when it came to which members should be on the all-important search committee.

First the board changed its policy regarding the search process, shrinking the committee to what some members said would be a more manageable size – nine members. Then, nine couldn’t accommodate the number of people wanting to be on the committee.

“It’s just so difficult when you have 32 great members and you’ve only got a certain number of slots,” said the board’s vice chairman, Lou Bissette.

On April 2, a nominating committee met in Charlotte at the law office of Board of Governors Chairman John Fennebresque. From that meeting a slate of 11 members emerged, with two chairs recommended – Joan MacNeill and Ann Goodnight.

But concerns were raised about the recommended slate’s lack of experience with searches. Then, earlier last week, the nominating committee called another meeting in Greenville and decided that the search panel needed just one chair – MacNeill, a former Western Carolina University trustee chair who joined the UNC board in 2013.

Goodnight was recommended as a vice chairwoman along with Therence Pickett, who will be the only African-American on the search panel. And a 12th member was added – former board chairwoman Hannah Gage, who will be the only Democrat on the committee.

Board policy had called for the immediate past chairman to be on the search committee, but the most recent former chair, Peter Hans, has left the board. A voice of experience was needed, said Bissette, filling in for Fennebresque, who was ill and didn’t travel to Greenville for the board’s meeting at East Carolina University.

“You like to think that ideologies don’t matter because we’re all trying to find the very best leader for the university system, but in reality you do need a viewpoint of different ideologies in that process,” Bissette said. “There’s very little about this system that Hannah does not understand.”

On Friday, the full board approved the 12-member slate: MacNeill (chairwoman); Goodnight and Pickett (vice chairs); Fennebresque; Bissette; Gage; Joan Perry; Frank Grainger; Doyle Parrish; Craig Souza; G.A. Sywassink; and Raiford Trask.

Apr 132015


By Jane Stancill


About to embark on a search for the next UNC system leader, the UNC Board of Governors is taking steps to sweeten the salaries of the president, chancellors and other top executives of the state’s public universities.

On Thursday at a meeting at East Carolina University, the board’s personnel and tenure committee approved new salary ranges that give latitude to offer significantly larger pay packages to top leaders in the university system. The committee also voted for policy changes that would allow contracts, with possibilities for incentive bonuses, deferred compensation, endowment-funded stipends and termination provisions such as severance pay or rights to join the faculty upon departure from an executive job.

The committee approved recommended salary ranges but did not hand out any raises. The full board is likely to adopt the ranges, which would then be guidelines for pay in the future.

Generally, UNC’s top leaders have not worked under contracts. In January, when the board acted to push UNC President Tom Ross to retire, he was given a contract, with a salary of $600,000 and other benefits for the rest of his term. That represented an increase in his pay, which had been $550,000.

Under the new parameters, the salary for a UNC president would match that for chancellors at the two flagship research campuses – UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State University. The levels could range from a minimum of $435,000 to a maximum of $1 million, with the more likely market range of $647,000 to $876,000.

“The goal is not to have everybody in the middle of it,” said G.A. Sywassink, a board member. “The goal is to have them where they fall in that range depending on a lot of things – depending on their experience, some of the specific difficulties and all these other kind of things.”

The range allows flexibility, Sywassink said, but does not guarantee a level of salary. “It doesn’t work that way, it never has and it’s not supposed to on this,” he said.

He added that non-salary compensation is not guaranteed either. The other possible elements of compensation are meant to be a menu of options, he said.

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt and NCSU Chancellor Randy Woodson both had base annual salaries of $520,000, according to figures from September of last year. N.C. Central University Chancellor Debra Saunders-White had a salary of $285,000. Chancellors are also provided homes, cars and club memberships as part of their compensation.

The proposed jumps in salary ranges come at a time when state employees have seen little or no raises since the recession.

A special UNC board subcommittee has worked for months to examine the issue of executive pay and followed the recommendations of a consultant who studied market trends. The report said UNC’s current salaries are based largely on pay across higher education and not reflective of the dynamics of a broader market, which might include candidates from the corporate and nonprofit worlds.

Also on Thursday, the deans of the state’s two public medical schools – ECU and UNC – presented figures that showed stagnation of physicians’ salaries.

Dr. Bill Roper, UNC’s medical school dean and CEO of the UNC Health Care System, presented a slideshow that illustrated UNC’s clinical faculty salaries are at the 34th percentile of those of other academic physicians, and dramatically below doctors in private practice. He said he’s losing doctors to Ohio State and Vanderbilt universities.

“It’s happening because they pay people more than we do, and more than we can,” Roper said.

“We need your help,” he added. “As they say in football, it’s gut-check time. Do you want us to have public medical schools serving the people of North Carolina, or don’t you?”

Apr 132015


By Bruce Siceloff


One year after he took over as its interim leader, Everett B. Ward was named the 11th president of St. Augustine’s University on Friday.

“The lifeblood of St. Augustine’s runs through my every vein,” said Ward, 56, a St. Aug’s alumnus. “I have a long affiliation here, having been born on the campus. My father attended St. Aug’s. We have been part of this institution for generations.”

Ward, a former state Department of Transportation administrator and state Democratic Party director, was credited with bringing stability to the historically black university after the turbulent tenure of former president Dianne Suber, who was ousted by the trustees in April 2014.

The university was under scrutiny by auditors, its accrediting agency and the federal Department of Education. Students were leaving in large numbers, along with administrators Suber had fired.

“St. Augustine’s was really in sort of turmoil, and we needed somebody who would be a stabilizing force,” said Rodney Gaddy, chairman of the board of trustees, shortly after the board voted Friday to make Ward’s stay permanent.

“We’re just in a better place now than where we were,” Gaddy continued. “There was a lot of uncertainty about the future of St. Augustine’s, and while things haven’t been totally resolved, I have a view that the future is very bright for us.”

Ward said St. Augustine’s, founded in 1867 and now with 892 students, is working to attract the best students and to control tuition and other costs. He said the university is focused on its “four academic pillars,” programs in journalism and media, public health, criminal justice, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) courses.

Gaddy was confident that students would be pleased with the board’s decision. Ward was, too.

“I think we have created a much more engaging environment for our students – and I think they’ll say that with a round of applause,” Ward told reporters gathered around the library steps. On cue, the two dozen students listening to the announcement clapped and cheered.

“Dr. Ward is a great fit for us,” sophomore Stephen McLeon, 25, of Trenton, N.J., said in an interview. “When we see him, he is very excited to interact with the students.

“Dr. Suber, her best interest wasn’t with the students – or if it was, it was very hard to tell. I could count on one hand how many times we saw her out interacting with the students,” McLeon said. “On the other hand, Dr. Ward thrives on making sure the students are taken care of, and that we’re safe. Pretty much things you would expect a president to do.”

Apr 132015


APRIL 9, 2015

David Powers came out of a drug rehabilitation program about 15 years ago hungry to swing his life in a significantly different direction. And that he did.

He went back to college and graduated with a 3.9 grade point average. He was hired at a major accounting firm, worked in senior positions at three hedge funds, and was accepted to the law school at St. John’s University.

Mr. Powers still calls the day of his arrest, when he was pulled off a destructive path, the “best day of my life.”

Halfway through his coursework, while trying to get ahead on his application to the bar, he acknowledged to St. John’s how far he had come. Not only had he been convicted of drug possession, a fact he disclosed on his application, but he had also originally been charged with selling drugs, a fact he had not. St. John’s then rescinded his acceptance — kicked him out — saying that if it had known his complete history, it would never have admitted him in the first place.

Mr. Powers sued the school, taking the case all the way to the state’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals. Last week, the court handed down the final word in a 5-to-1 decision: Mr. Powers would not return to St. John’s.

The decision came at an uncomfortable moment, as advocates and elected officials pushed to limit the amount of information schools and employers can solicit about an applicant’s criminal background, saying it makes it more difficult to re-enter society after a criminal conviction, and even more difficult to build a full, thriving life.

In 1999, when he was 21, Mr. Powers sold LSD to an undercover police officer and was arrested on charges including possession of LSD and MDMA, also known as Ecstasy, with intent to distribute, according to court documents. But after attending an inpatient drug program, he was able to plead guilty to lesser charges of possession. His record was eventually expunged.

After rehab, Mr. Powers graduated from Monmouth University in New Jersey, and was hired at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a powerhouse accounting firm. There, he became a senior tax associate, before moving on to become head of finance for one hedge fund and director of global taxation for another.

Mr. Power’s lawyer, Roland R. Acevedo, said his client was “the poster boy for rehabilitation.”

“You couldn’t do any better than David,” he said.

Mr. Acevedo would make a good poster boy himself. He was convicted of robbery twice, once in 1978 and again in 1982, he said. He graduated from Fordham Law School in 1996.

While working at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Mr. Powers went on to get a master’s degree in taxation, and then, in 2005, he applied to St. John’s.

On the application, St. John’s asked for details on any criminal charges, as well as findings or pleas of guilt. Mr. Powers wrote that he had been an addict and was sentenced for drug possession, court records show. In an interview, he said that he consulted a lawyer at the time who recommended, when he applied to another law school, that he should include only the final downgraded charges in the application.

Mr. Powers chipped away at that law degree as a part-time student, then began making inquiries about how difficult it would be, given his history, to gain admittance to the New York bar, a requirement to practice law in the state.

In the course of that exploration, he gave a more detailed accounting of his history to St. John’s, including that he had used drugs habitually from ages 16 to 21 and that he sometimes sold them. St. John’s rescinded his acceptance, saying it had an unwritten policy of not admitting anyone with a history of selling drugs.

“The law school application made it clear that dire consequences could result if there was a failure to provide truthful answers,” the Court of Appeals said last week in the majority opinion, written by Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam. “Given this notice and the school’s unquestionable interest in ensuring the integrity of the future attorneys under its tutelage, the penalty of rescission was not excessive.”

The dissenting judge, Eugene F. Pigott Jr., said St. John’s had not proved that it would have rejected Mr. Powers if it had known his history from the beginning. Judge Pigott added, “Given that Powers had obtained three semesters’ worth of credit and presumably paid tuition to attend, rescission of Powers’s application is, in my view, too harsh a penalty for the alleged infraction.”

Some advocacy groups and elected officials have been pushing in recent years to “ban the box” on job and school applications that inquires about criminal records, saying that because minority men in particular are more likely to be convicted of crimes, the inquiries create racial imbalances.

But Todd McCracken, president of the National Small Business Association, a trade group, testified before a congressional committee last year that criminal background checks were a valuable safety tool.

“Criminal background screening is an important tool — nearly the only tool — that employers have to protect their customers, their employees and themselves from criminal behavior,” Mr. McCracken said in his prepared testimony.

Judith M. Whiting, general counsel at the Community Service Society, which filed a brief in support of Mr. Powers, said the decision would continue to allow academic institutions to make decisions based on criminal records.

“As this case makes clear, it doesn’t matter what your rehabilitation has been since the conviction happened,” Ms. Whiting said. “You could be the most accomplished person out there, and Mr. Powers was pretty darn accomplished, but that need not matter when you apply for higher education.”

A bill in the New York Senate, and a companion bill in the Assembly, would prohibit higher education institutions from asking about criminal history during admissions. And last year, Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, reached an agreement with three institutions, including St. John’s University, that said the schools would stop questioning applicants about their arrest records.

Michael J. Keane, the lawyer who represented St. John’s, said the admissions standard at the undergraduate level was different from that of a law school, because law schools had a responsibility to let in only those who were likely to be admitted to the bar. A history of selling drugs, he said, would make entry to the bar unlikely.

“It’s not an issue of fairness, it’s not an issue of second chances,” Mr. Keane said. Instead, this was a case about “misrepresentation by omission,” he said, adding that through a trial and two appeals, St. John’s prevailed.

According to the New York State Bar Association, a felony conviction does not automatically disqualify an applicant from the bar. It is left to the discretion of the court’s appellate division, which admits lawyers to practice in the state.

Mr. Powers said he had spent about $85,000 fighting the decision by St. John’s, in addition to more than $20,000 on tuition, and with this ruling, he and his lawyer said, he appeared to run out of road. Mr. Acevedo said Mr. Powers could not transfer his three semesters of credit to a different law school without a letter of good standing from St. John’s, which it declined to provide.

Mr. Powers’s financial career has stalled as well, because now his challenges are twofold. In addition to his criminal record, he has a much more public reputation. He said he applied to over 200 jobs in the past 18 months at hedge funds and related businesses but had had to cobble together a living with a real estate license and by preparing tax returns.

“This ordeal, in a sense, became more damaging to me than the original charges,” Mr. Powers said. “Anyone can Google me and find out about this.”

Apr 102015


Venture’s focus will include health care, military, agriculture

By Jane Stancill


04/09/2015 7:45 PM

GREENVILLE – East Carolina University is poised to move ahead with a research campus built on public-private partnerships, in hopes of becoming a talent magnet for the state’s eastern region.

The university received approval Thursday from a UNC Board of Governors committee for a “millennial campus.” That designation allows the flexibility for ECU to pursue deals with private companies to build what will be called the East Carolina Research and Innovation Campus. The full board is expected to approve the measure Friday.

The idea has been on the drawing board for a decade but was stalled by the recession and by ECU’s launch of a dental school. The buildout will take years.

There are seven other so-called millennial campuses tied to universities in the UNC system. The most well known is N.C. State University’s Centennial Campus, which was incubated more than 30 years ago.

In ECU’s case, the venture would not be on one large tract of land but in four clusters adjacent to other parts of campus, including a warehouse district, downtown Greenville and the medical complex at the edge of town. It will be focused on five sectors – health care, military, advanced manufacturing, agricultural workforce and STEAM, otherwise known as science, technology, engineering and math integrated with the arts.

University leaders say they want to build a workforce that is both technically skilled and creative in economically struggling Eastern North Carolina.

“To transform this region there have to be different economic sectors and different capacities, and this will allow us to marry our strengths with what the region needs,” said ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard.

Ted Morris, associate vice chancellor of innovation and economic development, said the goal is to grow and retain talented young people who will want to stay in Eastern North Carolina.

The new “millennial” designation, codified in state law, will help ECU attract private partners for new ventures. “It gives us the opportunity to expand what we do, who we do it with and how robustly we do it across every leg of our mission,” Morris said.

Harry Smith, a UNC board member, ECU graduate and Greenville resident, said the eastern region loses too many young people to the urban areas of the Triangle, Triad and Charlotte.

“We’re in a fight in the east,” Smith said. “And what we have to continue to do is have vision and continue to do everything we can to invest and help East Carolina University compete.”

Stancill: 919-829-4559;

Twitter: @janestancill

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/education/article17995166.html#storylink=cpy

Apr 102015


Posted: Apr 10, 2015 7:18 AM EDT Updated: Apr 10, 2015 7:25 AM EDT

GREENVILLE, N.C. – North Carolina’s public university system is honoring a professor who has done the most to benefit humanity.The University of North Carolina Board of Governors names this year’s winner of the Oliver Max Gardner Award on Friday.

The prize is named for the early-1930s governor who consolidated the state’s three public universities into a consolidated system to save money and duplication during the Depression. The UNC board is meeting Friday at one of the campuses added since then, East Carolina University in Greenville.

Past award winners include ECU psychology professor Samuel Sears, one of the world’s leading experts on the psychological implications for patients living with life-saving heart devices.

The Gardner award has been given since 1949.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Apr 102015


April 9, 2015
By Hilary Snow

UNC-Wilmington should have a new chancellor tomorrow.

The UNC Board of Governors is expected to elect a permanent campus leader during a meeting Friday morning at East Carolina University in Greenville, according to a UNCW spokeswoman.

Soon after naming Dr. William Sederburg as interim chancellor in June, the university’s board of trustees began the monthslong process of selecting a permanent replacement for Gary Miller, who left UNCW for a job as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Sederburg has said that he did not want to be considered for the permanent position.

In September, the board assembled a 19-member search committee–comprised of UNCW faculty, staff and students, as well as community leaders and trustees–to help guide the selection process. That process also involved multiple forums with the community, staff and students.

After reviewing a pool of 54 applicants, the board of trustees recently sent a list of three finalists to the board of governors, which oversees the state’s university system. Of those three, the candidate expected to be selected is scheduled to be on hand at the meeting and give comments to the board of governors, UNCW officials said.

The announcement will not be made official until formal approval by the state board.

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6341 or hilary.s@hometownwilmington.com.

Apr 102015

Posted: Apr 09, 2015 7:00 PM EDT
Updated: Apr 10, 2015 9:04 AM EDT
By Ali Weatherton, Digital Journalist

GREENVILLE, N.C. – An ECU researcher in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology received a $423,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. MD Mateleb and his research team received a grant to study the mechanisms around the bacterium, Borrella Burgdorferi. The group’s main goal is to discover how to disrupt the spread of the disease. Ticks are the most prominent carrier, so the team studies them in test tubes to see how the disease develops.

“We grow them in culture and then we keep a sample and put it into a microscope slide. We can then view it on this microscope which we can use different magnifications,” explained graduate student Matthew Addington-Hall.

To make sure you’re safe from ticks, wear long sleeves and light clothing so they can be seen more easily, walk in the center of the trails to avoid ticks in brush and grass, and always check yourself and family for ticks after trips outdoors.