Category Archives: Business

University grieves loss of Business professor

East Carolina University accounting assistant professor Dr. Rebecca Fay died unexpectedly Monday, Jan. 2 after being involved in a car accident in Roanoke, Virginia.

Fay’s husband, Patrick Fay, and their two young children sustained minor injuries in the accident according to a post on his Facebook page. Patrick Fay is the marketing and communications manager for ECU’s enrollment services.

Dr. Stan Eakins, dean of East Carolina University’s College of Business, described Fay as “one of the stars of the college.”

“She had a tremendous academic future ahead of her,” said Eakins. “She was extremely liked by faculty and students, and a future leader of this college.”



Fay’s brief but prolific career at ECU does include the hallmarks of a rising star. She came to ECU in 2011, the same year she received her doctorate in business from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She was a licensed certified public accountant (CPA), and before joining ECU, she worked as an audit manager for Cherry Bekaert, an accounting firm headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Liberty University.

Fay’s primary research interests focused on enhancing the quality of audits and accounting education. She received the College of Business’ Scholar-Teacher Award in 2015 for the outstanding integration of research in the classroom. Her work has been featured on the cover of the Journal of Accountancy and has been published in Issues in Accounting Education, the CPA Journal, Managerial Auditing Journal, Current Issues in Auditing, and Research in Accounting Regulation.

In 2016, Fay received the Innovation in Auditing and Assurance Education Award from the American Accounting Association.

Fay was also engaged with the students. She recently served as the president of Beta Gamma Sigma, an honor society for business students, from 2013-2015 and was also the faculty advisor for Beta Alpha Psi in 2015.

“Dr. Fay was very talented and dedicated to her work,” said Dr. John Reisch, professor and chair for the College of Business’ Department of Accounting. “She was willing to work with students outside of the classroom to help promote their intellectual curiosity. Her presence will be sorely missed.”

In addition to her research on auditing, Fay was the lead author of “Incorporating International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) into Intermediate Accounting,” a textbook supplement developed by a team of authors from Virginia Tech that has been implemented in classrooms across the country. She has provided IFRS training seminars to accountants and professors, and has contributed IFRS questions to the CPA exam.

The family will receive friends 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 in the Pate Chapel of Thomas Road Baptist Church, 1 Mountain View Road, Lynchburg, VA 24502. A funeral service will be held immediately following in the Pate Chapel. Interment will follow in Virginia Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may take the form of contributions to Ronald McDonald House, 529 Moye Blvd., Greenville, NC 27834.

Heritage Funeral Service and Crematory, (434) 239-2405, is assisting the family.


–by Michael Rudd

Dickins appointed to American Accounting Association Committee

Associate Professor Denise Dickins has been appointed to the Auditing Standards Committee of the Auditing Section of the American Accounting Association (AAA). The AAA is the largest community of accountants in academia, with the mission to promote worldwide excellence in accounting education, research and practice.

Dr. Denise Dickins (Photo by ECU Marketing & Publications)

Dr. Denise Dickins (Photo by ECU Marketing & Publications)

Dickins has taught at ECU’s College of Business since 2006, where she primarily leads courses in auditing and corporate governance. A seasoned executive, she served in various roles with Arthur Andersen from 1983 to 2002, concluding as partner-in-charge of the South Florida Audit Division. She earned her Ph.D. from Florida Atlantic University in 2006.

Her research interests include the impacts of mandatory auditor rotation and auditor offshoring, and she has published more than 75 articles in academic, pedagogical and practitioner journals. Dickins also serves on the Editorial Advisory and Review Board for Issues in Accounting Education, one of the three primary publications of the American Accounting Association.

She continues to generously fund an annual scholarship for business students in honor of her family’s legacy at East Carolina, which began with her husband’s grandmother in 1925.

–Jennifer Brezina

Fenich Receives International Hospitality Award

The International Council on Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education (ICHRIE) recently honored Dr. George G. Fenich with the Stevenson W. Fletcher Achievement Award, recognizing his many contributions to the field. Fenich serves as a professor in ECU’s School of Hospitality Leadership, which is now housed in the College of Business.

Dr. George Fenich (center) receives the Stevenson W. Fletcher Achievement Award with Dr. SoJung Lee (left) and Dr. Robert Bosselman (right) from Iowa State University.

Dr. George Fenich (center) receives the Stevenson W. Fletcher Achievement Award with Dr. SoJung Lee (left) and Dr. Robert Bosselman (right) from Iowa State University. (Photo courtesy ICHRIE staff)

The award, which was bestowed during ICHRIE’s annual summer conference in Dallas, Tex., recognizes an individual educator or trainer for outstanding achievement in contributing innovative ideas, methods or programs that have advanced teaching, learning or practice in the field of hospitality and tourism education. The award recipient must demonstrate exceptional professional ability and/or commitment through service to ICHRIE and/or to the hospitality industry and education.

Fenich has helped to shape the hospitality industry for nearly three decades, and he has dedicated his academic career to the advancement of research, scholarship and teaching. Before moving into academe, he worked in the industry.

Today, Fenich serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Convention and Event Tourism, a top ranked academic journal.  He also sits of the Editorial Boards of six other journals. He has published three industry textbooks, more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and has made more than 150 presentations in the U.S. and abroad to benefit the industry. He has also delivered education programs around the world, from China and Japan to Turkey, France, Mauritius and South Africa.

In 2015, Fenich was inducted into the first Hall of Fame class for the Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI).  He also received the Educator Honoree Award at the 2015 Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Education Foundation Dinner Celebrating Professional Achievement.

–Jennifer Brezina

Joyner Library surpasses 1 million visitors during academic year

The Joyner Library at East Carolina University set a new record for attendance with more than one million visits in the past academic year. It is the first time the annual gate count has ever hit the million-visitor mark.

Joyner Library's one millionth visitor

Joyner Library’s one millionth visitor during the 2015-2016 academic year, Josiah Thornton. (Photos by Jay Clark)

“It is particularly remarkable that this threshold was exceeded this year,” said Dr. Jan Lewis, director of Joyner Library. “Despite the construction, the road closings, the changes in bus routes, and the lack of parking.”

Throughout the year Lewis had concerns that construction of the new student center would disrupt normal operations and discourage students from using the library. She credits the hard work of library staff for the increase in attendance.

“It is because of their excellent customer service, student and faculty-centered approach, resources, and work spaces that people are here,” said Lewis. “Thanks to everyone and to our colleagues in housekeeping and facilities for all they do to make Joyner a valued and inviting location.”

Jan Lewis and Josiah Thornton

Jan Lewis, director of Joyner Library, welcomes the library’s one millionth visitor, business student Josiah Thornton.

Josiah Thornton, an undergraduate student in ECU’s College of Business, was the library’s one-millionth visitor.

“The library is a lost treasure at many universities and campuses,” said Thornton. “The library can enrich a student’s total learning experience while offering everything students need in a one-stop shop.

“If we are to compete in a global capacity, we must meet the needs of every student. The library is one part of the university that truly tries to do that.”

Jan Lewis speaks

Jan Lewis, director of Joyner Library, speaks during a celebration of the library’s one millionth visitor.

Mark Sanders, assistant director for public services says that Joyner Library attendance numbers have doubled in the last 17 years.

“Today, the Library welcomes more than twice as many people as attend all of ECU’s home sporting events, combined,” said Sanders. “This doesn’t diminish the importance of athletics, but demonstrates the university community’s commitment to student success and academic production.”

For more information, visit

–Jay Clark

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

Students bring academics to BuzzFeed

While scrolling through your online newsfeed, you may have noticed offbeat quizzes and posts from BuzzFeed, a global network for news and entertainment that generates six billion views each month.

Dr. Tracy Tuten decided to bring academics to BuzzFeed this semester, tasking her social media marketing students to apply what they’ve learned in class through a real-world project. Through this special assignment, student teams created original content of entertaining or informative value, socially published it on BuzzFeed, and then seeded and promoted that content using social media tactics.

The projects allowed students the freedom of choosing a topic and then targeting a specific demographic. After posting, the students in Tuten’s class analyzed data received from BuzzFeed to see how their articles fared.

One of Tuten’s student teams developed a post called “How Well Do You Know Your Fast Food Fries?” that challenged viewers to match up French fry pictures to their respective restaurants. BuzzFeed soon promoted the quiz as a “featured post,” and within 24 hours it was trending with more than 500,000 views.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 5.27.24 PM
Allison Creel, a senior business student from Leesburg, Va., worked with team members Kathleen O’Connor and Katie Richardson to develop the French fry quiz. She says the idea came to her after running across a quiz titled “Can You Identify a Chip By Just Looking at It?” Her team brainstormed further and agreed that a French fry quiz would likely attract a large audience.

Creel said, “Our project has proven to be much more successful than any of us had ever anticipated. We thought we would be struggling just to get the required 1,000 view-count. One of the biggest things we’ve learned is the true power of social media and the importance of identifying influencers.”

Tuten said, “It’s exciting to see students implement many of the things they are learning about and also see the data analytic side to review their results. Students oftentimes don’t realize how effective social media can be, but this project helps them experience first-hand how developing a promotion plan can be just as important as creating the content itself.”

–Jennifer Brezina

ECU Risk Management and Insurance program earns national ranking

300 260 11-7-2012 COBCoinJC-31bThe Risk Management and Insurance program at East Carolina University ranks among the top 20 nationally, according to an annual review by Business Insurance. The rankings were published in the news organization’s 2015 Directory of Risk Management and Insurance Schools on Dec. 21.

East Carolina University’s program ranks 16th out of 35 schools in the U.S.

Dr. Stan Eakins, dean of the ECU College of Business, said, “We are incredibly honored to see our newly founded Risk Management and Insurance program earn national recognition. We knew it would happen, just not this quickly. This top ranking is a testament to ECU’s academic excellence and reinforces our leadership in business education across the country.”

Dr. Brenda Wells, director of ECU’s Risk Management and Insurance program, said, “To be ranked nationally after just a few years is a huge accomplishment. Our program has been a collaborative effort involving faculty, students, and industry, and we’re deeply grateful for everyone’s contribution. It goes to show that great things happen when you roll up your sleeves and work together as a team.”

The ECU College of Business began offering a Risk Management and Insurance concentration in 2011 and now has 85 students enrolled. It has emerged as one of the fastest growing programs in the country and has thrived with support from various organizations, including the Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina (IIANC) and North Carolina Surplus Lines Association. The IIANC’s most recent gift of $250,000 announced in November will fund ongoing research, endow a second professorship, and complete the funding of an endowed scholarship.

For more information about the ECU College of Business, visit online at

ECU administrator joins national board

An East Carolina University administrator is one of five people elected this year to the board of a national accounting organization.

In October, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Dr. Rick Niswander began serving a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, a member association representing the accounting profession with more than 412,000 members.

Dr. Rick Niswander

Dr. Rick Niswander

“It is a distinct honor to be able to continue to serve my CPA profession and at the same time represent ECU in a national organization,” Niswander said.

Niswander has worked as a CPA for almost 35 years. He came to ECU in 1993 as an accounting faculty member. He served as dean of the College of Business from 2004 until 2011, when he became vice chancellor.

The AICPA board consists of 16 members, 15 of whom rotate every three years in sets of five. The board acts as the executive committee of the AICPA and oversees the organization’s management as well its volunteer committees. Board members work in both the public and private sectors. While the board normally contains one educator, Niswander is the first from ECU and the first in recent memory from a North Carolina institution.

“This is also a distinction for ECU,” Niswander says. “This is another opportunity for me to spread the word about this great university, in addition to serving those in the accounting profession. ECU has many outstanding employees who represent ECU within their respective professions in a similar manner.”

Niswander has a long history of dedication to his profession. He is also a member of the AICPA Council, a body consisting of 250 accountants from all 50 states. He recently finished a term as chair of the Board of Examiners, the body responsible for the oversight of the CPA exam.

IIANC Donates $75,000 to ECU College of Business

Left to right, College of Business Dean Stan Eakins, ECU Department of Finance Chair Scott Below, ECU RMI Program Director Brenda Wells, and Associate Professor Brad Karl stand with IIANC CEO Aubie Knight at the check presentation. (Contributed photo)

Left to right, College of Business Dean Stan Eakins, ECU Department of Finance Chair Scott Below, ECU RMI Program Director Brenda Wells, and Associate Professor Brad Karl stand with IIANC CEO Aubie Knight at the check presentation. (Contributed photo)

The Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina (IIANC) recently donated $75,000 to support ECU’s Risk Management and Insurance program in the College of Business.

As part of the IIANC’s gift, $25,000 will fund a new student scholarship in honor of Stuart Powell, an insurance veteran who serves as IIANC’s vice president. In addition, $20,000 of the donation will support risk management and insurance research conducted by Assistant Professor Brad Karl. The gift will also support the program’s general operating fund.

A statewide trade association representing nearly 1,000 independent insurance agencies, the IIANC continues to be a strong supporter of ECU. The organization endowed ECU’s Robert F. Bird Distinguished Professorship in Insurance in 2013.

The College of Business began offering a Risk Management and Insurance program in 2011 and now has more than 85 students enrolled. It is one of the fastest growing programs in the country and is supported by endowments from both the Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina as well as the North Carolina Surplus Lines Association.

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