Category Archives: Alumni

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

Alumni Scholarship applications due Jan. 31

The East Carolina Alumni Association is now accepting applications for Alumni Scholarships for the 2016-2017 school year through Friday, Jan. 31.

Applications must be submitted online through the ECU Online Scholarship Management System. No paper applications will be accepted.

Approximately 25 scholarships of $1,000 or $2,500 are available. To be eligible, ECU students must be registered as a full-time undergraduate with at least 12 credit hours and a 3.0 GPA. Students should demonstrate service and leadership in the university and community. Applications must be accompanied by a signed letter of recommendation and a creative expression, both of which can be completed and/or uploaded through the online system.

Since 2005, the Alumni Scholarship program has awarded 224 scholarships totaling more than $300,000.

For more information, visit

If you would like to contribute to the Alumni Scholarship program, visit

Alum wins 2015 American Prize in Composition

East Carolina University School of Music alum Travis Alford (BM, ’05) is the winner of The American Prize in Composition 2015, choral music professional division, for his composition O Fragile Human, Speak…

Travis Alford (BM, '05) is the winner of The American Prize in Composition 2015.

Travis Alford (BM, ’05) is the winner of The American Prize in Composition 2015.

The American Prize is a series of non-profit national competitions in the performing arts providing cash awards, professional adjudication and regional, national and international recognition for the best recorded performances by ensembles and individuals in the United States at the professional, college/university, church, community and secondary school levels. Administered by Hat City Music Theater, Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Danbury, Connecticut, The American Prize was founded in 2009 and is awarded annually.

Alford teaches at Johnston Community College in Smithfield, NC, and has held positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brandeis University and Gordon College. He holds degrees in theory and composition from Brandeis (PhD, ’14), the New England Conservatory (MM, ’08) and ECU. His primary teachers at ECU included Edward Jacobs, Mark Richardson and Britton Theurer.

Travis wrote Loose Strands on commission from ECU’s North Carolina NewMusic Initiative, a work premiered in 2013 by Scott Carter and members of the ECU Wind Ensemble; Carter and ECU students, alumni and faculty recorded Loose Strands in May, 2015.

— Harley Dartt

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.”

Alumni association announces upcoming events

Alumni and friends of East Carolina will have opportunities to connect with each other and the university at several upcoming events in Greenville and beyond hosted by the East Carolina Alumni Association.

A networking lunch will be held in Raleigh on Tuesday, Nov. 10 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 18 Seaboard. The featured alumni will be Keith Frazier ’94, an executive at the American Kennel Club, and Shannon Frazier ’94, an executive at Lenovo. Advance registration is required by the deadline of Nov. 3.

Alumni are invited to bring their friends to a tour, tasting, and lunch at Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston on Saturday, Nov. 14. Participants can enjoy a tour of the brewery and sample Mother Earth’s classic brews like Weeping Willow Wit, Endless River Kolsch, Dark Cloud Lager, and Old Neighborhood Oatmeal Porter, as well as seasonal offerings like the Fig and Raisin Ale and a special cider. An included lunch will be provided by Queen Street Deli & Bakery. Advance registration is required by the deadline of Nov. 4. Tickets will not be sold at the door.

Another networking lunch will be held in Greenville on Tuesday, Dec. 1 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Holiday Inn on Greenville Boulevard. The featured alumni will be Henry Hinton ’76, owner of Inner Banks Media, and Amanda Tilley ’03, owner of Coastal Banking Company and the Greenville Krispy Kreme. Advance registration is required by the deadline of Nov. 23.

Alumni are invited to bring their families and join PeeDee the Pirate for a country dinner and holiday hayride at Mike’s Farm in Beulaville on Saturday, Dec. 13. Dinner will begin at 6 p.m., with down-home fare like fried chicken and ham biscuits, followed by the hayride through a festival of lights at 7:30 p.m. Families will also have a chance to take pictures with PeeDee. Because space is limited to the first 50 people, registration will only be taken over the phone. Advance registration is required by the deadline of Dec. 3. Tickets will not be sold at the door.

Fall 2015 graduates and their families are invited to a Senior Celebration dinner on Thursday, Dec. 17. The alumni association will honor the accomplishments of the class of 2015 and officially welcome them as alumni of ECU. The event will begin at 6:00 p.m. in Harvey Hall in the Murphy Center. Space is limited. The deadline to register is Monday, December 7, but Senior Celebration is a popular event and may fill up before the deadline, so advance registration is strongly encouraged.

More information on all these events can be obtained by calling 800-ECU-GRAD (252-328-4723) or by visiting

Bowman assumes leadership role for alumni association

Heath Bowman was named president of the East Carolina Alumni Association and associate vice chancellor for alumni relations at East Carolina University. He began his duties Oct. 14.

Heath Bowman

Heath Bowman

Bowman is a recognized alumni relations professional with 10 years of management and higher education leadership experience. Most recently, Bowman served as director of outreach at the Arkansas Alumni Association, which has more than 26,000 dues-paying alumni members and nearly 2,500 dues-paying student members.

“This is a tremendous honor and honestly very humbling,” said Bowman. “Pirate Nation has so much to be proud of. To be trusted to lead and grow alumni relations efforts at such a respected and innovative institution is the opportunity of a lifetime and a responsibility that I will take very seriously. I am excited to build on past successes and to blaze new paths for East Carolina and its alumni association.”

ECU Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Christopher Dyba said, “Heath brings a wealth of knowledge, management skills, connections across the profession, and vision to the position, as well as commitment to make ECU and eastern North Carolina his family’s home.”

Bowman earned his bachelor’s degree in hospitality management at Texas Tech University in 2007, and his master’s degree in higher education leadership at the University of Arkansas in 2011.

He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Ashley, since 2008. She is a speech-language pathologist specializing in treatment of geriatric patients recovering from post-op and post-stroke impairments.

“The excitement here is contagious,” Bowman said.

“The moment my wife, Ashley, and I set foot in Greenville, we knew that this was the place we were meant to be. It immediately felt like home. I feel lucky to be in a place where I can use my skillset and past experiences to benefit a place as special as ECU. Ashley and I are so excited to be Pirates! Arrrgh!”

Clark takes new assignment at Defense Health Agency

Brigadier General Jeffrey B. Clark salutes the flag for the last time as a one-star general, today he becomes the Army’s newest Major General. He was joined by Rear Admiral Raquel C. Bono (Left) and General Daniel B. Allyn (Center). (Photo by Bernard S. Little/WRNMMC PAO)

Brigadier General Jeffrey B. Clark salutes the flag for the last time as a one-star general, today he becomes the Army’s newest Major General. He was joined by Rear Admiral Raquel C. Bono (Left) and General Daniel B. Allyn (Center). (Photo by Bernard S. Little/WRNMMC PAO)


Maj. Gen. Jeffrey B. Clark, a 1984 graduate of the Brody School of Medicine, was given a new assignment as director of healthcare operations for the Defense Health Agency in Falls Church, Virginia.

For the past two years Clark served as director of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Top leaders in the U.S. military health system attended his reassignment ceremony at Walter Reed on Sept. 12.

clark2The Defense Health Agency was formed in 2013 to assume overall medical care for active duty Army, Navy and Air Force members. It provides health services to active duty soldiers and their dependents much like the VA cares for veterans. The agency has a budget of about $54 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

“This promotion means many things, but, for me personally, it means I am blessed to be able to continue to do that which I love, to continue to wear this uniform and to serve America’s heroes,” Clark said.

Clark became a two-star general in June when he was promoted from brigadier general to major general.

Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, vice chief of staff of the Army, said Clark is the kind of doctor that soldiers prefer. “There’s a close bond that develops between combat soldiers and ‘their doc,’ and Doc Clark has always been the kind of doc soldiers want to be round, that soldiers know that they can trust and that when soldiers deploy, they know that their families and loved ones will be cared for in their absence,” Allyn said.

Before his assignment at Walter Reed, Clark held the Army’s top medical post in Europe as commander of U.S. Army Europe Regional Medical Command and command surgeon of U.S. Army Europe. Clark was the 82nd Airborne Division’s top surgeon after the first Gulf War and headed Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany from 2011 to 2012. He started his military career as a family physician at what was then the 1st Corps Support Command Clinic at Fort Bragg and served as a faculty and clinic director for Womack Army Medical Center.

After graduating from medical school at ECU, Clark entered the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, as well as the Army War College. He also earned a master of public health degree from the University of Washington and a master of strategic studies from the Army War College.

A native of LaGrange, Clark is married to Sue Barnes Clark, who received a nursing degree from ECU in 1980. They have three children – Anna, Warren and John.

— Steve Tuttle


ECU Pirates urged to step outside in nationwide challenge

East Carolina University is asking all Pirates to step outside and get active through the 2015 Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge competition under way through Oct. 17. The university is competing against 58 other institutions representing 30 states.

Grants up to $1,500 will be applied toward outdoor activities on campus, and individual participant prizes are available. Grants are tied to the number of active participants who log their activities and identify ECU as their institution. For 500 participants, ECU will receive $500. If 1,000 Pirates join in, the grant increases to $1,000. For 1,500 active participants, the grant goes up to $1,500.

Participants may sign up and log in at (select East Carolina University).

Points may be earned for a wide variety of outdoor activities including walking, Frisbee golf, fishing and biking, enjoying a hammock, fishing, gardening, hunting, hiking, backpacking, running or jogging, water activities, outdoor yoga, horseshoes, bird watching and stargazing.

Organized team sports like basketball, soccer and football don’t count in the challenge. Activities must be for a minimum of 30 minutes and take place between Sept. 6 and Oct. 17.

For additional information, contact Mark Parker, assistant director for Intramural Sports and Youth & Family at (252) 328-1575 or

Higgs to lead new transportation plan for Atlanta

Clyde Higgs ‘99 of Charlotte, executive vice president of operations and business development for the N.C. Research Campus (NCRR) in Kannapolis, is resigning to be chief operating officer of a group implementing a new transportation plan for Atlanta.

Clyde Higgs

Clyde Higgs

Higgs has led economic development recruitment at NCRR for the past nine years.

In his new job Higgs will be vice president and chief operating officer of Atlanta Beltline, the entity overseeing redevelopment of 22 miles of abandoned railroad tracks running through the center of Atlanta. The old rail line will be transformed into 33 miles of trails, 1,300 acres of parks and 5,600 housing units. Its estimated completion date is 2030.

NCRR is a public-private venture aimed at redeveloping industrial property in Kannapolis, which once was the world’s largest producer of textiles. The state gives NCRR about $30 million a year to support its research programs. The funding is directed through the UNC system. Several UNC system campuses have a presence there.

Higgs is credited with recruiting 20 partners in NCRR, including major universities and international food companies such as General Mills. The center now employs about 1,000 people.

Before joining NCRR, Higgs was the executive director of the technology incubator program at the University of North Texas-Health Science Center. Before working in Texas, he was director of the Office of Technology Transfer & Commercialization at N.C. A&T State University.

Early in his career, Higgs was executive assistant to the president of the N.C. Community College System

Higgs is a graduate of the University of South Alabama who earned a graduate degree in public administration from East Carolina University in 1999.

Higgs recently was elected vice chair of the N.C. State Board of Community Colleges. He chairs the search committee seeking a new president of the state community college system.

— Steve Tuttle

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