Monthly Archives: April 2013

Southern Gerontological Society honors ECU sociology professor



The Southern Gerontological Society honored East Carolina University professor of sociology Dr. James “Jim” Mitchell with induction into the Gerontologists Rooted in the South (GRITS) Hall of Fame for 2013. The announcement took place at the Society’s 34th annual meeting in Charlotte on April 7.

The GRITS Hall of Fame seeks to recognize individuals who have made important contributions to the Southern Gerontological Society and to the field of gerontology through research, teaching, administration, advocacy or applied practice. It also seeks to honor those members who serve as role models for future generations interested in the advancement of knowledge and practice in the field of aging.

“Initially, I viewed this induction somewhat light-heartedly,” Mitchell said. “I became a bit more serious about it when I looked at the rather small list of six former inductees. All former honorees, including two mentors and friends who have died, have made significant contributions to the field of gerontology. I was pretty humbled by this designation, which speaks to the independence and the support that I have received from ECU over the years.”

A native of Minnesota, Mitchell joined ECU’s Department of Sociology in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences in 1980. He was director of the Brody School of Medicine’s Center on Aging for 25 years and associate director of the UNC Institute on Aging for 12 years. Currently, Mitchell serves as the director of the ECU Center for Diversity and Inequality Research, housed in the Department of Sociology.

Prior to coming to ECU, Mitchell completed a pre-doctoral fellowship with the Midwest Council for Social Research on Aging. He received his doctoral degree from Oklahoma State University, his graduate degree from the University of Wyoming and his undergraduate degree from Bemidji State University in Minnesota.

Mitchell’s research and writing is based in eastern North Carolina, describing and explaining disparity by race, gender and residence in health outcomes and access to assistive services among community-dwelling older people. Additional research and writings in applied gerontology focus on preventative health behavior among community-dwelling older adults.

Mitchell is an active member of the Southern Gerontological Society and has served on various committees and leadership positions. He was awarded the SGS’s Academic Gerontologist Award in 2000, served as editor of the Journal of Applied Gerontology from 2003–07 and as President of SGS from 2009–10.

For additional information, contact Mitchell at 252-328-6768 or

ECU grad student awarded for poster presentation


Erin Schofield

Erin Schofield, a second year graduate student in occupational therapy, was selected as the recipient of the 2013 ECU Research and Creative Achievement Week Graduate Education Poster Presentation award. Her entry was titled “Examining the use of the Shore Handwriting Screening to assess the handwriting skills of pre-kindergarteners.”

Schofield was also accepted to present her research in poster form at the national American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) conference that will be held at the end of this month in San Diego. She will be attending with her project mentor, Dr. Denise Donica.

Holocaust survivor to speak on campus April 16

Holocaust survivor Morris Glass will share his story at 4 p.m. on April 16 in Hendrix Theatre, Mendenhall Student Center on the East Carolina University campus.



Glass was imprisoned in a series of six death camps – including Auschwitz – after the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939 when he was 11 years old. He lost 42 members of his family to the Holocaust.

This event is free and open to the public. For questions about the event, contact David Smith at 252-328-5524,

The presentation is sponsored by the N.C. Council on the Holocaust. Read more about the council at

Hospitality leadership students plan, execute event

Members of the ECU class that helped organize the Women of Distinction event were, left to righ, James Coker, Bobbie Whelan, Hannah Duffy, Greyson Fesperman, Nikki Seward, profesor Dr. Alleah Crawford, Megan Bishop, Kara Dough, Jessica Eubanks and Thomas Barber. (Photo by Nicole Wood)

Members of the ECU class that helped organize the Women of Distinction event were, left to right, James Coker, Bobbie Whelan, Hannah Duffy, Greyson Fesperman, Nikki Seward, profesor Dr. Alleah Crawford, Megan Bishop, Kara Dough, Jessica Eubanks and Thomas Barber. (Photo by Nicole Wood)

East Carolina University students in hospitality leadership collaborated with the Chancellor’s Council on the Status of Women to plan and execute the awards presentation for women of distinction April 8.

The students were members of ECU professor Dr. Alleah Crawford’s meeting and special events productions and delivery class. In preparation for their work this spring, the students took Dr. George Fenich’s meeting, event and convention planning course, in which they submitted proposals for planning an event. This spring the winning proposal was selected by the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women.

The students were Nikki Seward, Kara Dough, Bobbie Whelan, Megan Bishop, Greyson Fesperman, Hannah Duffy, Jessica Eubanks, James Coker and Thomas Barber. Additional students in the College of Human Ecology volunteered to help out with the event.


ECU students Thomas Barber and Kara Dough check the centerpieces. (Photo by Nicole Wood)


Poet Nikki Giovanni caps ECU Anniversary of Desegregation commemoration

East Carolina University will conclude a yearlong commemoration of the 50th anniversary of its desegregation with a presentation by acclaimed poet Nikki Giovanni. The program is set for 7 p.m. on April 24 in Wright Auditorium.



Outspoken in her writing and lectures, Giovanni prides herself on being “a Black American, a daughter, a mother, a professor of English.” During the past 30 years, she has fought for civil rights and equality through her work as poet, writer, commentator, activist and educator.

The 50th anniversary celebration at ECU begin in the fall semester when Laura Marie Leary Elliott returned to campus, attending her first ECU football game and joining in the Homecoming Parade. Elliott was the first African American student of East Carolina College in 1963.

Additional events commemorating the anniversary included a five-part lecture series titled “A Courage to Change,” in which African American leaders and educators spoke on topics related to ECU’s five strategic directions. Those strategic directions are education for a new century, the leadership university, economic prosperity in the East, health care and medical innovation and the arts, culture and the quality of life.

Giovanni’s presentation is free and open to the public. Attendees are required to secure a ticket through the ECU Central Ticket Office in the Mendenhall Student Center.

Lassiter to receive School of Communication’s distinguished alumni award

The East Carolina University School of Communication’s Seventh Annual Spring Reception will include presentation of the school’s distinguished alumni award to communication professional Valeria Lassiter. The event is set for 6 p.m. April 20 at the Greenville Museum of Art.

Valeria Lassiter

Valeria Lassiter

The award recognizes alumni with a minimum of four years of work history, outstanding and uncommon achievement in one’s profession, in civic affairs, and/or politics.

Lassiter, who graduated from ECU in 1990, is the founder and CEO of Lassiter & Associates, a strategic partnership and fundraising management firm based in Chevy Chase, Md. She has more than 20 years of experience in the private, government and nonprofit sectors. Her clients come from education, arts and culture, unions, faith-based and public policy organizations.

“It is an honor for me to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award from the School of Communication. I am deeply appreciative of my experience at ECU,” Lassiter said.

Lassiter is an instructor for the Georgetown University executive nonprofit management certificate program, where she has trained more than 1,000 executives in corporate-nonprofit partnerships, development and fundraising. Before forming Lassiter & Associates in 2003, she was vice president of development for the Darrell Green Youth Life Foundation and project director for the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities, Bridges from School to Work program.

A champion for women’s rights and women in leadership, Lassiter served as the administrative director for the 75th anniversary celebration of women suffrage in America, and she is chair of the board of directors for the Women’s Roundtable at ECU, leading an effort to create a legacy of women leaders and raise access scholarships for students. In addition to her bachelor’s degree from ECU, Lassiter holds a master of divinity degree from Colgate Rochester Divinity School.

The annual reception is organized by CommCrew, the school’s alumni and supporters’ organization. Priced at $25 for the public and $10 for students, tickets to the reception are available by calling 252-328-4227.

The reception follows an open house to showcase the school’s new multimedia newsroom and communication center, set for 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. in the Joyner East classroom building on campus. Read more about the open house at

Both events are open to the public.



Open house to showcase multimedia newsroom, communication center

ECU student AnnaMaria Gallozzi is shown in the School of Communication's new multimedia newsroom. (COntributed photo)

ECU student AnnaMaria Gallozzi is shown in the School of Communication’s new multimedia newsroom. (Contributed photo)


The East Carolina University School of Communication will show its new multimedia newsroom and communication center in an open house from 4:30 – 5:30 April 20.

Visitors will tour facilities on the second floor of Joyner East, across the plaza from Joyner Library. Room 215 houses the multimedia newsroom, and Room 205 is actually a four-room communication center with separate spaces available for research and meetings. Faculty and students from the school’s Student Ambassador program will demonstrate equipment.

“The newsroom is designed to mimic a real world newsroom giving students real world experience in creating and delivering content for a television newscast,” School of Communication Director Linda Kean said. The facilites includes new computers, three studio cameras, a TriCaster, an audio board, an anchor desk and a green screen. The newsroom’s virtual sets enable the plain green backdrop of the anchoring desk to be transformed into a city skyline and numerous other scenes.

The communication center features a two-way mirror for focus group research, an eye tracker and a biofeedback machine. In addition to providing a controlled research environment, the center will be available for workshops and one-on-one help with presentation preparation and delivery.

“We’re excited to show alumni and friends the improvements we’ve made recently in terms of technology and facilities,” said Glenn Hubbard, who teaches in the newsroom. “We are offering great experiences for our students, which is something our supporters can be proud of.”

Newscasts created in the newsroom are available under the name Pirate News Network on YouTube.

Following the open house, the School of Communication/CommCrew Seventh Annual Spring Reception will be held at 6 p.m. at the Greenville Museum of Art.

The open house is free and open to the public. The evening reception requires a ticket, which can be purchased by calling 252-328-4227.

ECU community mourns loss of instructor

By Kathryn Kennedy and Jeannine Manning Hutson
ECU News Services

Co-workers and students of East Carolina University teaching instructor Debbie O’Neal are grieving this week following her death March 31.

She and her husband – both rated pilots – were killed when their fixed-wing Lancair LC-42 aircraft crashed in a Winston-Salem residential neighborhood after experiencing engine trouble, a National Traffic Safety Board official told media on Monday.

Funeral services are scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 3 at Rock Springs Center, 4025 N.C. Highway 43 N, Greenville.

An additional memorial service was held Tuesday, April 2 at the Washington Eye Center, where her husband, Dennis, worked.

O’Neal came to ECU in 2004, and this semester she was teaching three sections of English composition in the classroom and two distance-education sections of English grammar.

Department of English Chair Jeffrey Johnson spent Tuesday meeting with students in O’Neal’s classes, accompanied by staff from the ECU counseling center. He said the students were “taking it hard,” and many asked if they could reach out to her family.

“Her students know how invested she was in them,” Johnson said. “She was really outgoing, full of energy and ideas, generous with her time. All these qualities of hers…make (the loss) even harder.”

O’Neal was very involved in the ECU Language Academy, which provides intensive English-language instruction to international students and professionals. She also worked with the College of Education by developing ways to integrate English as a second language (ESL) teacher education into existing curriculum.

Marjorie Ringler, associate professor in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership, said she and O’Neal worked closely for years. “We were inseparable at work and as friends as well,” Ringler said Tuesday.

O’Neal was a linguist and Ringler works on partnerships with principals and school districts; together they were a great team, Ringler said. The pair recently attended an international conference in Dallas, presenting their success in teaching English as a second language in a rural eastern North Carolina school.

O’Neal engaged her classroom students as well, Ringler said, and held them to high standards.

“In the Department of English, she saw her students as her kids,” Ringler continued. “She was a mother to them because (she taught) the freshman composition class.”

She added that O’Neal kept in touch with many students and would get Facebook and email messages about how she had changed their lives. “She made sure everybody knew that she cared,” Ringler said.

“She lived life to the fullest. She was a pilot, made her own jewelry, and was always in touch with her three kids. She skied as well. What did she not do? And she tackled everything head on.”

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