ECU laboratory named in honor of alumnus

East Carolina University’s College of Health and Human Performance dedicated the Psychophysiology and Biofeedback Laboratory in the Carol G. Belk Building in honor of alumnus Max Ray Joyner Sr. on July 20.

The laboratory was named in honor of Joyner’s generous support of HHP’s Center for Applied Psychophysiology (CAP).

“Few people realize what ECU is doing with wounded warriors,” Joyner said. “If (my contribution) can help one man get back to normal, it will be the best investment I’ve ever made.”

Joyner addresses attendees (Photos by Chuck Baldwin)

The center uses an innovative combination of gaming technology and biofeedback techniques to help U.S. military personnel recover from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

Glen Gilbert, dean of HHP, welcomed faculty, Joyner’s family and acquaintances, including members of his “coffee club,” who wore yellow jackets. Chancellor Cecil Staton began the recognition with remarks.

“I am proud of this college and the important role that it plays at East Carolina University,” Staton said.  “I thank Max and his family for all the many ways they interact with ECU. Max your generosity and contributions over a long period of time are very significant.”

Before graduating in 1955 with a degree in business administration, Joyner served in the U.S. Army for two years during the Korean conflict. He is known for his longtime leadership and legendary service to ECU and the community. He served on numerous boards and foundations including the Board of Trustees and the East Carolina Alumni Association.

HHP dean Glen Gilbert, Max R. Joyner, Sr. and Chancellor Cecil Staton

HHP dean Glen Gilbert, Max R. Joyner, Sr. and Chancellor Cecil Staton

Carmen Russoniello, director of CAP, and Chris Dyba, vice chancellor for University Advancement, also took to the podium thanking Joyner for his support.

–Kathy Muse

Meet fellow alumni in Charlotte, Wake County or Washington, D.C.

Ahoy there, Pirates! Do you want to meet fellow East Carolina University alumni in your area this summer? The East Carolina Alumni Association has several events this month around the Pirate Nation!

The Charlotte Chapter is holding an interest meeting this Thursday, July 14 at 6:30 p.m. at Old Mecklenburg Brewery located at 4150 Yancey Rd. No registration is required. If you’ve been looking for ways to get more involved and stay connected to ECU, this is a great way to start! If you can’t make it and still want to be involved, e-mail charlotte.nc@alumni.ecu.edu or follow the Charlotte Chapter on Facebook.

The Wake County Chapter is holding a casual meetup next Thursday, July 21 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Blackfinn Ameripub in Morrisville. These meetups are held twice a month alternating between Morrisville and Raleigh. There’s no need to sign up ahead of time but e-mail raleigh.nc@alumni.ecu.edu  or follow the Wake County Chapter on Facebook for more information.

Finally, join us for a professional happy hour in Washington, D.C. on July 28 from 6-7:30 p.m. at Flight Wine Bar located at 777 6th St NW. Be sure to follow the DC Metro Chapter on Facebook!

All of the alumni association’s upcoming events can be found here.

–Jackie Drake

Women’s Roundtable event set for Oct. 13 at ECU

The fifth event in the Incredible Women Series will focus on leadership, service and philanthropy while also recognizing the careers and community service of several East Carolina University alumnae. 

Eleven women will be honored during the Oct. 13 event that will begin at 11 a.m. at the Greenville Convention Center in Greenville. Their backgrounds are varied – from the the two college friends who started a worldwide public relations firm to a museum director whose goal is to inspire students through art. 

“It’s very humbling for me to look at this group of women. They’re giants in their fields,” said Gail Herring, chair of the Women’s Roundtable.

Gail Herring

Gail Herring

During the event, the following women will be inducted into the “Incredible ECU Women” group, joining the 117 previous inductees:

  • Angela Allen ’81, Raleigh, retired IBM Executive;
  • Alta Andrews ’74, Ayden, director of Community Partnership and Practice in the ECU College of Nursing;
  • Charlene Bregier ’82, Charlotte, director of the Hinson Art Museum and Visual Arts coordinator at Wingate University;
  • Mary Chatman ’90, ’96, ’12, Savannah, Georgia, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer at Memorial University Medical Center;
  • Karen Evans ’80, Washington, D.C., lawyer partner with The Cochran Firm;
  • Sarah Evans ’01, Darien, Connecticut, partner at J Public Relations and 7th and Wit;
  • Paulina Hill ’04, Charlestown, Massachusetts, principal at Polaris Partners;
  • Annette Peery ’96, Greenville, associate dean of the undergraduate program in the ECU College of Nursing;
  • Jamie Sigler, ’01, San Diego, California, partner at J Public Relations and 7th and Wit;
  • Cathy Thomas ’79, ’86, Raleigh, branch manager with Community and Clinical Connections for Prevention and Health for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Linda Thomas ’81, Charlotte, retired director of Human Resources Business Partners at Duke Energy.

The proceeds of the event will benefit ECU students through the Women’s Roundtable Access Scholarship Endowment Fund and the Women’s Roundtable Honors College Endowment Fund.

“We promise that you will be inspired, you will be motivated; you’ll hear from students who have benefitted from these scholarships and what it has meant in their lives and how it has changed their lives, because many of these students are first generation college students in their families,” Herring said.

Updates on university initiatives and an opportunity to connect with community and university leaders and volunteers will also be available during the event.

The Women’s Roundtable at ECU was founded in 2003. Its mission is to support ECU and create a culture of giving by raising money for its scholarships and to build a sense of community through leadership, service, networking, mentoring and philanthropy.

Tickets are on sale now for the event. Individual tickets cost $100 and sponsorship opportunities are still available. Visit www.ecu.edu/womensroundtable/incrediblewomen for ticket and other information. 

“Ultimately we’re raising money for scholarships and providing an opportunity for someone to earn a college education who otherwise would not have that chance,” Herring added.

To make a charitable gift to The Women’s Roundtable, Access Scholars or Honors College, or East Carolina University visit www.ecu.edu/give.

–Rich Klindworth

ECU alumnus nominated for Tony Award

An East Carolina University alumnus will be honored at the 2016 Tony Awards this Sunday for his work on the Broadway smash hit “Hamilton.”

Hamilton Playbill

Howell Binkley is nominated for best lighting design for a musical. The show, which received a record-breaking 16 Tony nominations, has become one of Broadway’s biggest critical and commercial successes in its ten-month run.

“It’s an honor to be involved with such a hit show,” said Binkley, who has been a Broadway lighting designer since 1992. This is his seventh nomination; his last win was for “Jersey Boys” in 2006. “It’s still as exciting as the first one.”

Binkley has worked with “Hamilton” creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda and his team before, on a production called “In the Heights,” Miranda’s Broadway debut.

Howell Binkley (contributed photo)

Howell Binkley (contributed photo)

“We have a history of working together,” Binkley said. “It’s a very collaborative process.”

“Hamilton” uses rap and hip-hop music to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton and the founding fathers. This is just one of the many things that make the show unique, from the diversity of the cast to the non-stop pace. There are 50 songs that move immediately from one to the next, Binkley said, and his lighting helps keep the show moving. Instead of traditionally fading to black at the end of each scene, there’s only one blackout at the end of the first act for intermission.

“The show is continuous,” Binkley said. “We work to keep it seamless and keep it vibrant.”

Binkley has been with the show since its beginning, participating in weeks of technical rehearsals before the show premiered off-Broadway at The Public Theater in February 2015. Putting sets, costumes, music and lighting together is “a layered process” that takes about three weeks, Binkley said. “It’s like any other business or product; you have to perfect it before the audience sees it.”

Now, Binkley checks in on the show about once a month to make any needed adjustments, as the house staff at the Richard Rodgers Theater execute his lighting design in sold-out shows.

Howell Binkley

Lighting designer and ECU alumnus Howell Binkley joins the cast and crew on stage for curtain call after a production of “Hamilton.” (contributed photo)

Growing up in Winston-Salem, Binkley participated in both high school and community theater. He wanted to pursue a degree in architecture, for which ECU accepted him. But once he got involved in the theater program, he never looked back. He studied theater at ECU until 1977, but left before graduating to work in New York. He started out doing lighting for rock ‘n roll concerts, until he met renowned director Harold Prince of “Phantom of the Opera.” His first Broadway show was “Kiss of the Spider Woman” in 1992.

“ECU totally prepared me for my career,” Binkley said. “It gave me a great foundation that took me to where I am now. I’m very proud I went to ECU, and more proud every year as I watch the school grow.”

For the last three years, Binkley has brought a senior theater student from ECU for a summer internship with him in New York.

“I’m happy to open new doors for them and see where they all go,” he said. “School was a new community for me. I introduce them to a new community just like ECU did for me. ECU absolutely contributed to my success. I love giving back.”

Howell Binkley

Howell Binkley in stage lighting. (contributed photo)

–Jackie Drake

ECU School of Art and Design presents the Coastal Carolina Clay Guild Exhibition

by Dana Wilde-Ramsing

Five alumni from East Carolina University will have pieces on display in the Coastal Carolina Clay Guild Exhibition to be held June 3-30 in the Wellington B. Gray Gallery. There is an opening reception with many of the artists on Friday, June 3, from 5 until 7:30 p.m.

The exhibition features ceramic art work in a variety of styles and aesthetics by 35 artists from the greater Wilmington area including the following ECU alumni: Richard Heiser, Jacob Herrmann, Vicky Smith, Kathy Whitley and Dina Wilde-Ramsing.

The Coastal Carolina Clay Guild was established in 2007 and now has more than 100 members from the coastal areas of North and South Carolina.

by Brian Evans (Contributed photos)

The Wellington B. Gray Gallery is located off of 5th and Jarvis Streets on campus in the Jenkins Fine Arts Center. Summer gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the exhibition.

For more information, contact Tom Braswell, interim gallery director, at 252-328-1312 or visit www.ecu.edu/graygallery.

Graduates toasted at Senior Celebration

Glasses were raised to East Carolina graduates of two generations at Senior Celebration on Thursday afternoon.


Sponsored jointly by the East Carolina Alumni Association and the Pirate Club, the event allowed members of the class of 2016 to celebrate earning their degrees and joining the ranks of Pirate alumni.

Graduates also had a chance to converse with 1966 alumni, who were back on campus for the association’s annual Golden Alumni Reunion for the 50-year reunion class.

While rain poured from the roof of the Club Level into Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, champagne was poured into keepsake flutes for a toast to graduates past and present.

“The future of ECU is certainly bright thanks to you, our newest Pirate alumni,” said Associate Vice Chancellor for Alumni Relations Heath Bowman, who led the toast.

“Like many families, we may not all live in the same place, but staying in touch keeps our bonds strong,” said Erinn Latta, a 2009 alumna who coordinates young graduate programming for the Pirate Club.

Also recognized were five graduates who received the 2016 Robert H. Wright Alumni Leadership Award from the alumni association: Ryan Clancy, Erika Dietrick, Joel Glotfelty, Sarah Lisson and Kate McPherson.

–Jackie Drake; video by Rich Klindworth

Graduates decorate caps to celebrate degrees

Graduating from college is an accomplishment and expressing that elation has become a tradition at East Carolina University. Approximately half of ECU graduates decorate their mortarboards celebrating their accomplishments, using Pirate symbols, Bible verses and glitter.

The annual grad cap contest sponsored by the East Carolina Alumni Association once again showcased some very creative designs.

Any graduating student was eligible to enter their creation in the contest. Graduates were encouraged to be as creative as they wanted without blocking someone else’s view at commencement. Students wrote their favorite sayings, added their favorite gems, or even reshaped their caps to represent their future.

This year, 78 students submitted photos of their caps by email, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

The winner, Carolyn Walence, won with her Peter Pan inspired cap with the quote, “Everything ends and so our story begins.”

She will receive a free diploma frame from Dowdy Student Stores courtesy of the East Carolina Alumni Association.

–Rich Klindworth

College of Nursing honors 2016 Hall of Fame inductees

The East Carolina University College of Nursing inducted 11 members to its Hall of Fame during a ceremony held at the Hilton Hotel Greenville on Friday, April 15. The event, which also recognized the college’s 2016 Distinguished Alumnus, honored outstanding contributors to nursing in the areas of education, administration, research and practice.

2016 Hall of Fame inductees, from left, Sandra Smith, Sue Edwards, Wendy Leutgens, Jane Pearson, Donna Lake, Janice Neil, Annette Peery, Mary Chatman and Gina Woody, with Dean Sylvia Brown.

2016 Hall of Fame inductees, from left, Sandra Smith, Sue Edwards, Wendy Leutgens, Jane Pearson, Donna Lake, Janice Neil, Annette Peery, Mary Chatman and Gina Woody, with Dean Sylvia Brown. (Contributed photos)

This year’s class includes inductees from a range of impressive backgrounds, including two nurses who serve as leaders of major health systems; two who led accomplished, decades-long careers in the U.S. Military before pursuing inspired careers in health care and education; and several esteemed College of Nursing faculty members.

Not only does the Hall of Fame honor prominent nursing professionals, it has raised approximately $95,000 for a merit-based student scholarship fund since its inception in 2011. The 2015-2016 Hall of Fame Scholarship recipient, Tyler Knowles of Conover, North Carolina and a master’s student in the nurse anesthetist program, was recognized at the event. The college will award its sixth Hall of Fame Scholarship this fall.

“We created the Hall of Fame when we realized there were so many respected leaders who were graduates or supporters of our college and who have been leaders in our profession,” said Dr. Sylvia Brown, dean of the College of Nursing. “It’s an opportunity to honor their contributions and also a way to give back to future generations of nurses through the scholarship program.”

Distinguished Alum Wendy Leutgens is pictured with Dean Dr. Sylvia Brown. Wendy is president of Loyola University Health System in Maywood, IL. (Contributed photo)

Distinguished Alum Wendy Leutgens is pictured with Dean Dr. Sylvia Brown. Wendy is president of Loyola University Health System in Maywood, IL. 

The 2016 inductees join a list of 79 Hall of Fame members representing nine states. Each new member receives a flame-shaped award that resembles the lamp illustrated on the college’s nursing pin. The lamp and its associated flame symbolize a commitment to service and a vibrant life. This year’s Hall of Fame class:

  • Mary Chatman, Savannah, Ga.
  • Sue Edwards, Ayden, N.C.
  • Ann King, Clayton, N.C.
  • Donna Lake, Goldsboro, N.C.
  • Wendy Leutgens, Oak Park, Ill.
  • Janice Neil, Winterville, N.C.
  • Jane Pearson, Forest, Va.
  • Annette Peery, Greenville, N.C.
  • Loretta Ritter, Milford, Pa.
  • Sandra Smith, Williamsburg, Va.
  • Gina Woody, Winterville, N.C.

On a night set aside for celebrating influential nurse leaders, the college also recognized the recipient of its 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Award. This year’s awardee is Wendy Leutgens (MSN 87), who serves as the president of Loyola University Health System, an 801-bed academic medical center and health system in Maywood, Illinois.

Learn more about the College of Nursing’s Hall of Fame and Distinguished Alumnus Award by visiting www.nursing.ecu.edu/hof.cfm.

–Elizabeth Willy

Alums support business students through scholarships, travel experiences

An old baseball coach once taught his players a formula: P + O = S; Preparation plus Opportunity equals Success. David and Pamela Leonard aren’t baseball coaches, but they are using that same formula to help East Carolina University business students become successful.

“I attribute a lot of my success to having a degree from East Carolina,” said David Leonard.

For some college students, spring break means a trip to a sunny beach. Instead of doing just that, 12 ECU risk management and insurance students, two Pitt Community College students, and two ECU professors traveled March 6-9 to Atlanta, Georgia for spring break to meet with the Leonards and tour several insurance companies.

Posing before loading the bus for their trip to Atlanta, Georgia over ECU’s spring break are ECU risk management and insurance students, Pitt Community College students and ECU faculty members. (Contributed photo)

Posing before loading the bus for their trip to Atlanta, Georgia over ECU’s spring break are ECU risk management and insurance students, Pitt Community College students and ECU faculty members. (Contributed photos)

“We actually sat in front of underwriters and claims adjusters and we talked to the CEO of a company instead of learning the textbook definitions,” said ECU senior Kylia Hodge.

Leonard graduated from ECU’s College of Business in 1979. Today, he is chairman and CEO of RSUI Group, Inc., which “is a leading underwriter of wholesale specialty insurance,” according to its website. Together with his wife of 35 years, Pamela, David Leonard has been a longtime supporter of scholarships at ECU.

“While I was at school there, there were some people who helped me out with tuition and expenses and I felt like I wanted to give back in that manner,” said David Leonard.

Beyond scholarships, the Leonards have also given to the College of Business Leadership Program to support student travel like this year’s spring break trip to Atlanta. The entire trip from the chartered bus to the hotel rooms, and meals for the students was made possible by the Leonards’ generosity.

“I liked the way it involves students and gets them involved in leadership activities, and I thought a lot of the skills they are learning and the way it’s being presented goes right back to things that make them more successful in life and in business, so I liked funding that,” said David Leonard.

ECU College of Business students were able to tour the Institute for Business and Home Safety’s Research Laboratory in South Carolina during their recent trip to Atlanta to learn more about the insurance industry.

ECU College of Business students were able to tour the Institute for Business and Home Safety’s Research Laboratory in South Carolina during their recent trip to Atlanta to learn more about the insurance industry.

While in Atlanta, the students had dinner with the Leonards, had a tour of RSUI Group from their CEO tour guide, toured Zurich North America, and on the way home, toured the Institute for Business and Home Safety’s Research Laboratory in South Carolina.

“When you get to personally have multiple one-on-one conversations with the CEO of an amazing company, it really does shine a different light to the students. It gives us the sense of you know that he’s really invested and he really does care about whether we succeed or not,” said ECU senior Lindsey Albaugh.

“I saw the Pirate pride that he has, not just ‘Go Pirates,’ the personality, the work ethic… to actually see an ECU alumnus be successful and be able to give back to the school that he got his training from is kind of inspirational and gives you hope,” Hodge added.

–Rich Klindworth