Author Archives: ECU News Services

Goal Exceeded: Day of giving more than triples goal

By Jackie Drake
ECU News Services

On a single day of giving, East Carolina University received more than triple its goal of $75,000.

Supporters gave $259,295 under the banner of #PirateNationGives, ECU’s campaign for Giving Tuesday on Dec. 1. Three hundred forty gifts ranging from $10 to $25,000 came in from 24 states and Washington, D.C.

“The response was overwhelming; we are so thankful for the generosity of the East Carolina community,” Chris Dyba, vice chancellor for university advancement, said. “Every day is a great day to give to ECU, but we are so grateful to everyone who came together to participate in this day no matter where they are located. Our supporters truly showed that Pirate Nation gives.”

ECU was one of many educational and non-profit entities participating in Giving Tuesday, a national day to focus on charitable giving after holiday spending begins on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This is the second year that ECU participated in Giving Tuesday. Last year, the university received 132 gifts totaling $67,248.

This year’s total includes gifts given in person through major gift officers, over the phone and online at Donors could make a gift of any size to any area of the university they chose.

Charitable gifts impact every facet of the university: student scholarships, research, life-saving medicine, the arts, athletics, libraries and more.

This year some donors had the chance to double their impact thanks to 1966 alumnus Dr. Jerry McGee, who gave $25,000 as part of a challenge to first-time donors and those who increased their last gift by $100 or more.

“East Carolina draws so much support from people who give a couple hundred or few thousand dollars; we only have a few multimillion dollar donors,” he said. “These days we’ve gotten to where we think giving $50 or $100 doesn’t matter, but it does matter. I wanted to make sure people understood the importance of their individual gift.”

As a longtime higher education professional, McGee knows the value of giving back to your alma mater in whatever amount you can. McGee worked as a development officer and administrator and various institutions, including others who have participated in Giving Tuesday.

“A lot of my professional success goes back to what I learned at East Carolina,” he said. “When I got a call asking me to help East Carolina, the answer was yes. At least once a year, we need to sit down and take time for the causes we care about. I’m very proud of East Carolina, and I’m pleased so many people chose this day to support the university.”

ECU students implement day of learning for preschoolers

Left to right, Mira Martoccia, Olivia Flowers and Jameson Williamson investigate creating slime with the help of ECU student Laura Williams. (Photos by Montana Burkett Photography)

Left to right, Mira Martoccia, Olivia Flowers and Jameson Williamson investigate creating slime with the help of ECU student Laura Williams. (Photos by Montana Burkett Photography)

Children in the preschool classroom of East Carolina University’s Nancy Darden Child Development Center learned to make slime without a recipe.

Twenty children were engaged in hands-on learning activities, which looked like ordinary play during the first science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) day implemented by ECU students on November 18.

“Learning to make slime without a recipe provided children with the opportunity to explore the difference in texture when more glue or water was added,” said Ashley Norris, instructor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science. “The activity was more open ended and placed the child as an active learner.”

Early childhood is an optimal time to learn STEAM concepts because children are natural scientists, according to Norris. These activities support the development of 21st century skills for young children including creative thinking, collaborating with peers and communicating about their discoveries through critical thinking and questioning.

Ardyn Butner and ECU student Diana Rivera test a bridge they designed and built by adding weights.

Ardyn Butner and ECU student Diana Rivera
test a bridge they designed and built by adding weights.

ECU students planned, advertised and implemented the event that included parents. Students worked in groups of four and organized a demonstration day. They received feedback from peers and asked questions about implementation.

Students were tasked with using appropriate scientific vocabulary in their activities such as observe, compare, predict, motion and magnetism.

“Students will leave this class with a tangible skill set of planning and implementing a family activity,” Norris said.

Birth-kindergarten teacher education major Julia Gargis facilitated the painting with magnets activity. “Our goal was to teach the children that magnets use force to push and pull objects,” Gargis said.

Christie Martin attended the event with her 4-year-old daughter, Mira Martoccia. “I loved watching my daughter make slime,” Martin said.

Martin agrees that these experiences are important for children. “They help children to think outside of the box and experiment with activities they do not do on a regular basis.”

The event ended with a Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) seminar for parents and was conducted by Sharon Ballard, chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Science in the College of Health and Human Performance. Triple P is a nationally recognized model aimed at promoting positive relationships between parents and children.

– Kathy Muse

Exhibition features ECU faculty, graduate student


Three East Carolina University School of Art and Design professors and a school of art graduate student are featured in a two-exhibition opening at Salem College’s Mary Davis Holt Gallery at the Eberson Fine Arts Center in Winston-Salem, NC, through February 7.

Cynthia Bickley-Green, ECU professor of art education, is exhibiting a one-person, mini-retrospective of her work from the past four years titled “Quasi-Subliminal Musings,” using observations of entopic visual phenomena as foundations for abstract paintings.

ECU’s Scott Eagle, assistant director of the School of Art and Design and director of graduate studies, Robert Quinn, associate professor art education and director of distance education, Sam Peck, MAEd candidate in art education, and Bickley-Green are part of an 11-artist collaborative exhibit “Dancing on the Boundary between Liminal/Subliminal Images: From Marking Making to Picture Composing with Geometric Forms.” This exhibit explores abstract art-making processes and investigates the threshold between subliminal and liminal imagery.

State flag gift honors nursing legacy, family ties

ECU Nursing student Sydney Howard and her grandmother, NC Rep. Julia Howard. (Contributed photo)

ECU Nursing student Sydney Howard and
her grandmother, NC Rep. Julia Howard. (Contributed photo)

One of Sydney Howard’s favorite childhood memories is helping her grandmother, Rep.Julia Howard, campaign for political office.

“We would give out mints to people and say, ‘Vote for Nanny,” laughed Sydney, an East Carolina University Honors College student studying in the College of Nursing.

Now her grandmother, who is serving her 12th term in the North Carolina House of Representatives, is reciprocating that support. She requested a North Carolina flag to be flown over the state capitol building to recognize the College of Nursing – an honor typically reserved for veterans and important personages.

Rep. Howard presented the framed flag with a letter from North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory at a Nov. 19 banquet held by ECU’s Beta Nu chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

“Everything you’re doing, you’re doing right,” Rep. Howard said of ECU. “When these young folks come out, their future is set.”

Beta Nu members donated more than $500 to the group’s annual scholarship fundraiser the night of the banquet so that the flag could be gifted to the college as a permanent keepsake. The college will permanently display the flag in the Health Sciences Building.

Rep. Howard said it made her proud to know the flag will still be at the school 20 years from now, a sentiment that College of Nursing Dean Dr. Sylvia Brown shares.

“Our mission at the college is to educate the next generation of nurse leaders to serve our state,”Brown said. “To have those efforts recognized with the help of Julia Howard at the state level is an amazing honor.”

For Sydney Howard, a member of Beta Nu who will graduate in May 2016 with her bachelor of science in nursing, the flag gift represents the convergence of two things she loves dearly. One reason the Lewisburg, Penn., native chose ECU nursing was because she knew it would put her close to her grandmother.

ECU professor inducted in national academy

A professor in East Carolina University’s Department of Kinesiology has been named a Fellow of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP).



Dr. Thomas Raedeke, who also serves as the graduate program director, was recognized with the honor at the annual conference in October.

Dr. Glen Gilbert, dean of the College of Health and Human Performance, said of Raedeke, “We are proud of this international recognition. As a sport psychologist, most of his research is on motivation. He enjoys modeling concepts from sport psychology on motivation and leadership in the classroom setting,”

The recognition honors Raedeke’s significant contributions to academic and professional practice knowledge in sport and exercise psychology.

Raedeke joined ECU in 1998 and became a certified consultant in 2002. He teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses. His research interests include the social psychology of sport and exercise and enhancing motivation and mental health with an emphasis on physical activity.

Raedeke has been recognized with other awards. In 2006, he received the UNC Board of Governors Distinguished Professor for Teaching Award and the ECU Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2005. He also received the East Carolina Scholars-Teacher Award in 2004.

Raedeke received a doctoral degree in exercise and movement science from the University of Oregon, a master’s degree in physical education from the University of Idaho and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Concordia College.

The AASP promotes ethical practice, science, and advocacy in the field of sport and exercise psychology. Since 1986, the AASP has been an international, multidisciplinary professional organization that offers certification to qualified professionals in the field of sport and exercise psychology. With more than 2,200 members in 54 countries, AASP is a worldwide leader.


ECU student seeks help for underprivileged children

ECU student Leon Johnson, center, is shown in December 2014 distributing gifts to underprivileged children in the community. (Contributed photo)

ECU student Leon Johnson, center, is shown in December 2014 distributing gifts to underprivileged children in the community. (Contributed photo)

East Carolina University student Leon Johnson is helping to make children’s wish lists come true for Christmas.

Johnson created “Giving Grace: Make A Christmas,” which pairs ECU students with underprivileged children in Greenville to make sure the child gets at least one present on their Christmas wish list.

In its first year in 2014, Johnson’s group was able to help about 70 children. This year, he hopes to help at least 100 or more.

Johnson, a senior in public health studies, is teaming with ECU’s Student Government Association, Black Student Union, Greek organizations and others to help children from the Little Willie Center and Operation Sunshine.

The project is named Grace for Johnson’s grandmother, who died last year.

A Christmas party and gift exchange will be held Dec. 8 in Mendenhall Student Center.

For more information or to participate, contact Johnson on Instagram at leon_asking or email

ECU professor elected to lead N.C. Public Health Association

An associate professor in East Carolina University¹s Department of Public Health has been elected president of the North Carolina Public Health Association (NCPHA).



Dr. Suzanne Lea, who also serves as the vice-chair of the Brody School of Medicine Women Faculty Committee, began leading the state affiliate of the American Public Health Association in September.

The NCPHA, which was founded over 105 years ago, is a professional association of both individuals and organizations that work together in order to improve the public¹s health through political advocacy, public awareness, professional development, and the interface between research and practice.

“Traditionally, NCPHA membership has been comprised of dedicated professionals working in the state and local health departments providing preventive and public health services,” said Lea, in her first memo as president. “As the role of public health has expanded in recent decades, NCPHA has a goal to broaden our reach to proactively engage all individuals who embrace their role within public health systems in our state.”

As president, Lea intends to boost the engagement of young professionals through leadership training and to develop collaborations with other professional associations in North Carolina that promote health improvement.

Lea, whose professional experience spans over 20 years in the field of applied epidemiology and public health practice, joined the Brody faculty in 2008. Prior to that, she served as a research epidemiologist at Triangle Institute International in Research Triangle Park. She has also worked as a communicable disease epidemiologist for the Department of Health and Human Services in San Rafael, California; as the chief epidemiology officer for the Arkansas Department of Health in Little Rock, Arkansas; and as a communicable disease epidemiologist for the Department of Public Health in San Francisco, California.

She holds a master¹s in public health from Yale University and a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. She has authored numerous research articles, papers and textbook chapters focused on cancer, public health practice and health disparities.

– Amy Ellis

Three honored by School of Social Work

Lewis with Dr. Bunch.jpg

School of Social Work Chair Dr. Sheila Bunch and Lauretta Lewis

East Carolina University’s School of Social Work honored three social work practitioners at the sixth annual Alumni and Friends Celebration at the Holiday Inn in Greenville on Nov. 13.

Lauretta Lewis was recognized with the Distinguished Faculty Legacy Award. Lewis joined the ECU Department of Social Work and Corrections in 1974. She received bachelor’s degrees in social work and psychology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Lewis was the recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health scholarship to pursue studies in mental health and geriatrics. She also pursued postgraduate studies at the Gerontology Center at the University of Michigan.

Mona Townes poses with School of Social Work Chair Dr. Sheila Bunch and her Rising Star Alumni Award.

Mona Townes and Dr. Sheila Bunch

She was named to a six-year term as a Danforth Associate by the National Danforth Foundation based on her expertise and activity in scholarship. She was appointed to the Caswell Developmental Center’s Human Rights Committee Secretary of State Sarah Morrow. She served as a regional faculty liaison for the National Association of Social Work Education and board member for the North Carolina Council on Social Work Education.

Mona Townes was recognized with the Rising Star Alumni Award. Townes serves as the mobile crisis director at Integrated Family Services. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and certified by the National Council on Behavioral Health as a facilitator for Youth and Adult Mental Health First Aid.

She serves as a training instructor for the local Crisis Intervention Team and presents training on behavioral health. Townes received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from ECU.

Renee’ Pearson was recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Renee’ Pearson and Dr. Sheila Bunch

Renee’ Pearson was recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award. Pearson received bachelor’s degrees in psychology and social work and a master’s degree in social work from ECU. She is dually licensed by the state of North Carolina as a clinical social worker and clinical addiction specialist. She is the founder and owner of the Pitt County Counseling, PLLC in Greenville and has over 25 years of experience in social work.

Pearson’s clinical skills include working with issues related to perinatal health, gender, trauma, and sex offending behaviors. She provides educational instruction to social work and human service students at ECU and Edgecombe Community College. She serves as faculty advisor for the Human Services Club at ECC.

Pearson’s education and career has always focused on her passion for working with children, women, and families.

– Kathy Muse

Candlelight vigil to honor terror victims


East Carolina University French faculty members in the department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, along with the ECU French Club, are holding a candlelight vigil at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16, at the cupola on campus.

The vigil will honor the victims of Friday night’s terrorist attacks in Paris, the victims of the recent bombings in Beirut, those of the Russian airliner crash, and all people touched by terror, war and conflict across the globe.

For additional information, contact Marylaura Papalas at 252-328-5786 or

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