Monthly Archives: June 2012

ECU athlete pursues Olympic dreams


Tynita Butts (Photo by Jay Clark)


ECU student athlete Tynita Butts is aiming for a spot in the U.S. Olympics Track and Field team.  The junior All-American finished in a tie June 28 to qualify for the high jump finals, one of only six competitors to avoid a miss in the preliminary. The finals are scheduled for 8 p.m. June 30 at 8 p.m. The NBC Sports Network will provide live coverage beginning at 9 p.m.

Read more at ECU

Read an Alexandria Times story about the athlete’s Olympic goals.



ECU alumnus producing feature film

ECU alumnus Curtis Thieman (Contributed photo)

An East Carolina University alumnus is gearing up for production on his first feature film, with plans to begin shooting this fall in Wilmington.

Curtis Thieman is a 2005 ECU graduate with a B.S. in communication (media production) and a minor in English. He and his brother Craig Thieman are working together on the independent film, “Love Letter,” which they hope to release in 2013.

Thieman said the film is a dark comedy based on an award-winning short film by the same name. The storyline, he said, involves a young man writing a suicide letter, not for himself, but for his girlfriend who is tied up in the garage. The situation gets complicated when more and more people show up and find themselves involved in Garrett’s plot.

The filmmakers are seeking investors to join the production process through an online campaign. With ten days to go, the campaign is nearly halfway to its goal.

“If we don’t meet our goal, we get none of the funds and the movie will be difficult to make,” Thieman said. “Every dollar helps,” he said.

For additional information about the film and the campaign, visit or contact Thieman at

ECU graduate students receive national awards for work on coastal issues

Two East Carolina University students in coastal resources management received 2012 Walter B. Jones Memorial Awards for Coastal and Ocean Resource Management.

Michelle Covi and Jennifer Cudney-Burch were selected to receive Excellence in Coastal and Marine Studies awards, presented by the National Ocean Service, a department of the national Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. The Jones awards recognize “innovation, resourcefulness, leadership and a commitment to balancing the human use of America’s coastal and ocean resources with the needs of the resources themselves,” according to the NOAA award web site.

Jennifer Cudney-Burch is a doctoral student with ECU professor Roger Rulifson at ECU’s Institute for Coastal Science and Policy. She served as a Sea Grant Knauss Fellow in Washington, D.C. for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, where she connected fishermen and policy makers. Her research on spiny dogfish management and migration along the U.S. East Coast and Canada, led to a new paradigm in spiny dogfish management plans recognized at both national and international levels. A summer 2010 article in “Coastwatch,” a N.C. Sea Grant publication, highlighted Cudney-Burch’s use of acoustics to track fish movement.

Ph.D. candidate Michelle Covi’s graduate work involves engaging rural communities in determining and planning for impacts of sea level rise on the region. Her research is addressing the significant need for citizen education, collaborative planning and effective policy making processes. Covi said she is gratified that the “work has received national recognition. This work would not be possible without the support of the Coastal Resources Management program, RENCI at ECU and my mentors,” Covi said.

Covi also works as the director of communication and outreach for the RENCI at ECU Engagement Center.

The awards were named for Walter B. Jones, Sr., who represented North Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1966 to 1992, including many years chairing the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries. He established the award program to recognize contributions for maintaining healthy coastal and ocean resources.

Ten graduate student awards are presented nationally every other year. Of those ten, six recipients came from North Carolina universities. Represented in addition to ECU were Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and Wilmington. Other winners hailed from the University of Virginia, Oregon State University and Florida Gulf Coast University. The town of Plymouth, N.C. received an award for excellence in local government for position change in the field of coastal management.

For additional information, visit

Jennifer Cudney-Birch (Contributed photo)

Michelle Covi (Contributed photo)

Clinic hosts National HIV Testing Day June 27

East Carolina University will participate in a national event to test people for the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, on June 27.

National HIV Testing Day will be held 7:30 a.m.-noon Wednesday, June 27, at the Brody School of Medicine Infectious Diseases and Tropical/Travel Medicine Clinic at 2300 Beasley Drive at Doctor’s Park 6A in the Greenville medical district.

No appointment is needed. The first 100 people will receive a Wal-Mart gift card.  The free HIV test is done with an oral swab. No needles will be used. Results will be available on site in 20 minutes.

HIV is spread most often through sexual contact, but it is also spread by contaminated needles or syringes shared by drug abusers and from infected women to their babies at birth or through breast feeding. On average, people with the virus can live seven to 10 years without knowing they are infected unless they test for HIV annually.

Many individuals infected with HIV can live a healthy life and prevent the virus from reaching AIDS, the end stage of HIV, by detecting HIV early and getting early treatment for the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone test for HIV once a year, regardless of risk or relationship status.

ECU’s infectious diseases outpatient clinic offers free walk-in HIV testing daily. The clinic cares for patients with a variety of infections including HIV/AIDS, endocarditis, tuberculosis, osteomyelitis and joint infections.

For more information, call 252-744-0267 or 252-744-5784.

N.C. treasurer to speak at ECU June 22

Janet Cowell, state treasurer of North Carolina, will speak at East Carolina University’s Financial Literacy Summit June 22 from noon to 1:15 p.m. in Mendenhall Student Center.

Cowell, the first woman elected to the post in North Carolina, will discuss initiatives led by her office to provide teachers with resources to teach financial literacy concepts and secure their own financial health. As the state’s fiscal advisor, Cowell oversees more than $75 billion in pension fund investments, affecting more than 850,000 public employees including teachers, firefighters, and other government workers.

“Promoting financial literacy is a kindergarten through retirement initiative,” Cowell said. “My office is working to make sure teachers are equipped to pass these skills along to their students. Ultimately, we want to give all North Carolinians – from students to teachers to retirees – the resources they need to make sound financial decisions.”

Hosted by ECU, the summit is being offered through the state affiliate of the national Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, a nonprofit group of organizations that work to improve the personal financial literacy of young adults, along with the North Carolina Center for Economic Education, a nonprofit organization that targets teachers and students.

Approximately 200 public school teachers are expected to attend.

ECU senior named to Phi Kappa Phi’s 2012-14 Council of Students

East Carolina University senior Danielle Martin, of Greenville, was selected to serve on the 2012-14 Council of Students for the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

Martin is majoring in multisciplinary studies with a concentration in neuroscience. She was initiated into Phi Kappa Phi in 2011 and serves as student vice president for the university’s Phi Kappa Phi chapter. As a member of the 2012-14 council, Martin will represent the interests of students in the Society’s southeast region.

Danielle Martin

Martin said she was pleased with her selection to the role. “It is a great honor to represent a group as rich and diverse as Phi Kappa Phi’s student body. I ran for the Council of Students so that I could attempt to embody the voice of this body to our National Board of Directors,” she said.

Established in 2010, the council serves as an advisory panel for the honor society. Two students from each of the society’s five regions comprise the council, and two members of the council will be chosen by peer election to serve as voting members on Phi Kappa Phi’s national board of directors. Those two students will be elected at the organization’s Aug. 10-11 convention in St. Louis, Mo.

Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. The Society has chapters on more than 300 select colleges and universities in North America and the Philippines. The organization inducts annually approximately 32,000 students, faculty, professional staff and alumni.

Membership is by invitation only to the top 10 percent of seniors and graduate students and 7.5 percent of juniors. Faculty, professional staff and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction also qualify.

For more information on Phi Kappa Phi, please call 800/804-9880 or visit



Three plays set for ECU summer theatre series

The ECU School of Theatre and Dance has a busy performance schedule planned for this summer. Students will perform three plays in four different locations beginning in late June as part of the ECU/Loessin Playhouse.

The series begins at ECU with performances at the Burnette Studio Theatre in the Messick Theatre Arts Center of “Collision Course: a 60s Retro,” “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder and “Seven in One Blow” by Randy Sharp and Axis Company.

After performing June 20-23 at ECU, the students will hit the road to take their productions to Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo, the Cullman Performance Center at Tryon Palace in New Bern and the Paramount Theatre in Goldsboro, according to Jeff Woodruff, managing director of the ECU/Loessin Playhouse.

Moving the productions to different theaters gives the students valuable experience, Woodruff said.

“Performing the same material in different venues is much like boating in different waters,” he said. “You know your own boat, what equipment is on board, and how she handles. You also know your own waters, where the hazards are, and how deep the water is.

“Boating in unfamiliar waters sharpens the senses, keeps one from becoming complacent, compels you to use familiar equipment in new ways, and makes for an all-around better boater/actor.”

“Collision Course” is described as a stunning collection of short plans written by several 1960s-era playwrights before they became major forces in American theater. Included in the production will be works by Lanford Wilson, Terrance McNally and Sam Shepard along with music from the era. The play will be performed at 8 p.m. June 20 and 22. The production includes a parental advisory.

The iconic play, “Our Town,” tells the story of young lovers whose life in a small New England town becomes a microcosm of everyday life. The wisdom of the play and the deceptively simple story makes this an enduring American treasure. It will be performed at 8 p.m. June 21 and 23.

“Seven in One Blow” is a children’s play based on a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. A child embarks on a journey where he learns you don’t always have to show how strong you are, that teasing hurts, and a parent’s love has no limits. It will be presented at 2 p.m. June 22 and 23.

Tickets are $15 for the public and $10 for youth. To purchase tickets, call 328-6829 or visit

Performance times and ticket information for the other productions are available on the Summer Theatre website:

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