Category Archives: Events

Pirates prepare for 22nd annual Polar Bear Plunge

The 22nd annual Polar Bear Plunge is set for 5:30 p.m. Jan. 18 at the East Carolina University Student Recreation Center.

All ECU students, faculty and staff are invited to jump into the icy waters of the center’s outdoor pool. Polar Bear Plunge Jan. 18The first 1,000 jumpers will receive a free event T-shirt and a certificate. Jumpers can also sign the large Polar Bear Plunge banner and be entered into drawings for prizes, including a 3-foot-tall stuffed polar bear donated by Coca-Cola.

As part of the grand opening of the Student Recreation Center in 1997, 35 participants took the inaugural plunge. The event has grown each year, with more than 700 plungers in 2010, 958 in 2011 and a record-breaking 1,094 in 2013. The goal is to set a new record of more than 1,100 in 2018.

Registration begins at 5 p.m. and all jumpers must present their ECU One Card, bring a swimsuit and fill out a waiver before jumping in the pool. The waiver is accessible and can be downloaded at the Campus Recreation and Wellness event website Participants should also bring their own towels.

After the event, participants can enjoy refreshments and entertainment and attend the ECU Student Involvement Fair, which showcases ECU’s 400-plus student organizations. Polar Bear Plunge sponsors include Campus Recreation and Wellness, Student Involvement and Leadership, Campus Living, Dining Services, Residence Hall Association, 33 East Apartments, the Bellamy, the Landing, University Commons and Dickinson Lofts.

What: Polar Bear Plunge

When: 5:30 p.m., Jan. 18; registration at 5 p.m.

Where: ECU Student Recreation Center

Who: ECU students, faculty and staff are invited to participate


–For more information, contact Jon Wall, Polar Bear Plunge event coordinator, at 252-328-1565 or

Coastal Studies Institute to host open house

The Coastal Studies Institute (CSI) will host an open house from 1-4 p.m. on Jan. 20 at its campus in Wanchese. The public is welcomed and encouraged to attend this free event.

Attendees will be able to tour the campus and facilities, learn about current research and education programs, take part in family-friendly activities, and interact with CSI faculty and staff. The LEED gold certified CSI Campus is located at 850 N.C. 345 Highway, approximately one mile from the U.S. 64 and N.C. 345 intersection.

A northeast view of the research and education building located on the CSI campus.

A northeast view of the research and education building located on the CSI campus. (contributed photo)

CSI is an interdisciplinary research and education institute focusing on place-based research in five main program areas. Research programs include coastal engineering and renewable ocean energy, coastal processes, estuarine ecology and human health, maritime heritage, and public policy and coastal sustainability.

CSI is a multi-institutional campus administered by East Carolina University in partnership with UNC Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, UNC Wilmington and Elizabeth City State University. The institute’s mission is to undertake research, offer educational opportunities, provide community outreach programs and enhance communication among those concerned with the unique history, culture and environment of the maritime counties of North Carolina.


-by Jules Norwood, ECU News Services

ECU students, alumni to take part in new class ring ceremony

For the first time in East Carolina University’s 100-year history, students will receive an official ECU class ring at a ceremony on Dec. 3.

The class ring ceremony is a new tradition in which students mark an important milestone toward becoming ECU alumni. While students have always been able to purchase a class ring, there has been neither a signature collection with a unified look nor a ceremony before. Alumni from 1970-2016 have also ordered class rings this year.

The three official ring styles – signet, traditional and dinner – all have a crest on the top with the university shield, a sword and ECU’s motto, “Servire.” A group of ECU alumni, students, faculty and staff worked with Dowdy Student Stores and jewelry manufacturer Jostens to design the rings.

“The ring ceremony is a very special event and one we hope grows into a venerable tradition here,” said Heath Bowman, ECU Alumni Association president. “The class ring is a tangible connection to the university and a celebration of a student’s time at ECU. It is a lasting symbol of Pirate pride that will forever unite its wearer with fellow Pirates.”

The Ring Ceremony

The ceremony will be 2 p.m. Dec. 3 at the East Carolina Heart Institute at 115 Heart Dr., Greenville. It is open to those who have purchased a ring and RSVP’d to the event invitation. Rings will be presented by Heath Bowman, ECU Alumni Association president, and La’Quon Rogers, Student Government Association president. The ceremony will close with a singing of the university alma mater.

For more information or to buy an official ECU ring, visit Dowdy Student Stores or go to


-by Erin Shaw, University Communications

Harriot College Collecting Items for Pitt County Angel Closet

Harriot College’s Staff Council is holding a donation drive for the Pitt County Angel Closet. Each department and the dean’s office has a box where contributions may be dropped off before Dec. 8. (contributed photo)

Harriot College’s Staff Council is holding a donation drive for the Pitt County Angel Closet. Each department and the dean’s office has a box where contributions may be dropped off before Dec. 8 (contributed photo)

In this season of thanks and giving, East Carolina University’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences is dedicated to helping the community’s youngest citizens. The THCAS Staff Council is hosting a donation drive, Nov. 13 – Dec. 8, with proceeds going to the Pitt County Angel Closet.

Each of the 16 departments in the college was given a box to decorate and place near their office, where individuals can donate new bibs, baby bottles, pacifiers, diapers, wipes, pull-ups, underwear, socks and winter clothes for children of all ages.

“We thought a donation drive would be a great way to get people involved with a local organization,” said Amelia Thompson, chair of the council’s planning subcommittee. “The Angel Closet was in need of several items, and we thought that we could really make a difference for them this year.”

The goal of the council is to collect 500 items for the organization.

Dr. William M. Downs, dean of Harriot College, is particularly drawn to helping children.

On Nov. 28, at the half-way point for donations, Downs and members of the staff council will walk around to the departments and collect the items donated up to that point. Then, they will deliver those items to the Pitt County Angel Closet, with the final collection and drop-off occuring on Dec. 8.


-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications

Trash cinema class to screen ‘worst movie ever made’

It’s not very often that a movie’s appeal is in how dreadful it is. But that’s exactly how an East Carolina University film class is advertising its upcoming screening of “The Room.”

Often called “the worst movie ever made” or “the Citizen Kane of bad movies,” “The Room” is about a successful banker named Johnny, his deceptive fiancé Lisa and his best friend Mark. There’s also terrible dialogue, ridiculous subplots and unexplained framed photos of spoons.

The class will host a free screening of “The Room” at 7 p.m. Thursday in Hendrix Theatre as part of their coursework.

“The director sort of had no idea what he was doing,” said Dr. Amanda Klein, an associate professor who teaches FILM 4980, also known as Topics in Film Aesthetics: Trash Cinema and Taste.

“He made it in a way that made no sense, like someone learning a new language and misusing the words and terms,” she said.

Director, producer and star Tommy Wiseau gained a cult following because of the movie’s captivatingly odd elements. Most see “The Room” as his misguided, so-bad-it’s-good passion project. It also inspired an upcoming movie about its making directed by James Franco.

“It’s not about analyzing the film as a good film,” FILM 4980 student Susie Hedley said. “It’s about analyzing why it’s not, and appreciating the world that these bad qualities bring you into. And ‘The Room’ brings you into one hell of a world.”

Hedley said she was drawn to the Trash Cinema class in part because it gives credit to films that often aren’t deemed worthy of serious examination.

“Examining trash movies through an academic lens is like reading ‘Twilight’ in a literature course or studying Dothraki as a foreign language. It seems wrong somehow, because we’re taught to see these topics as lowbrow or lacking substance.”

But, as Klein pointed out, “It’s much easier to see film construction when you look at one that isn’t made too well.”

It can also be a lot of fun to watch. Similar to a “Rocky Horror Picture Show” screening, yelling and throwing things during “The Room” is not only acceptable, but encouraged. Viewers at the Thursday night screening will receive a goodie bag of projectiles including mini footballs, rose petals and spoons (the reasoning will make sense during the movie for the uninitiated).

“As for the audience, I can’t be sure whether or not they’ll love the experience, but I know it will get a strong reaction out of them,” Hedley said. “The first time I saw the film … mostly I was in shock the whole time.”


-by Erin Shaw, University Communications

Trick or Treat event brings children, families to Laupus Library

The William E. Laupus Health Sciences Library at East Carolina University held its third annual Health Sciences Trick or Treat event on Oct. 27 throughout the library.

Anne Anderson, curator for the Country Doctor Museum explains how surgical instruments were used long ago. (contributed photos)

Anne Anderson, curator for the Country Doctor Museum explains how surgical instruments were used long ago. (contributed photos)

Attended by over 400 ECU faculty, staff, students and their children, who enjoyed participating a variety of games, crafts and trick-or-treating.

Occupational Therapy Student, Lauren Selingo, enjoys the many creative costumes worn by attendees.

Occupational Therapy Student, Lauren Selingo, enjoys the many creative costumes worn by attendees.

“My four-year-old grandson had such a great time,” said Terrie Hamilton, instructor in the School of Hospitality Leadership. “The Laupus staff did a great job decorating their offices, dressing in costume and spending time with each of the trick-or-treating children. We even appreciated the dental students and their tooth brushes – it gave us a chance to incorporate health care into the experience.”

“This also provided an excellent opportunity for those of us on the main campus to visit the health sciences campus and explore some of what is offered there,” she added. “What a wonderful way to show my grandson that libraries are fun and exciting places.”

A costume contest was also held with the winners announced on Laupus Library’s Facebook page.

The Country Doctor Museum photo booth also offered families a chance to explore spooky archives and pose with some of the items from its collections.

Families pose for photos at the Halloween event.

Families pose for photos at the Halloween event.

To view photos from the event, costume contest and photo booth, visit the Laupus Health Sciences Library at ECU Facebook page at


-by Kelly R. Dilda, University Communications


First-Generation College Celebration

First-generation students are defined broadly (neither parent has completed a four-year degree) or narrowly (neither parent has any postsecondary education).  With nearly one-third of freshman cohorts across the country designated first-generation, colleges and universities are building programs and resources specific to them and their needs.  ECU is no different.

According to the 2014 Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE) survey, between one-third and one-half of all first-time, full-time students entering ECU in Fall 2014 would be considered first generation students. For example, 55% of respondents to BCSSE indicated that no parent/guardian had a bachelor’s degree or higher and 33% indicated no parent had any schooling beyond high school. (Note: The 2017 BCSSE was administered during this past summer orientation).  

ECU is poised to continue intentional program for first-generation students and their families in order to address the challenges and needs of these students.  We begin by joining institutions around the country in celebrating first-generation college students, faculty, and staff on our campus.

Sponsored by NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AACU), and ECU’s Division of Student Affairs, the inaugural First-Generation College Celebration is being celebrated nationally on November 8, 2017.  As a first-generation administrator, faculty, staff, and/or student, we invite you to join us in celebration.

Please respond at this link:


For more information, contact Dr. Mary Beth Corbin at or 252-328-4173.




ECU’s School of Art and Design to host textile exhibit Nov. 1-17

A textile exhibit, “Fold Unfold,” will be on display in the Wellington B. Gray Gallery on the campus of East Carolina University from Nov. 1 through Nov. 17.

An opening reception will be held 5-8 p.m. on Nov. 3 to coincide with Uptown Greenville’s First Friday ArtWalk, which showcases new exhibits and discounts at participating restaurants and shops.

Curators Susan Falls and Jessica Smith will discuss their collaborative research and the development of the project in a gallery talk, “Fold Unfold: When Coverlets meet Op Art,” on Friday, Nov. 17 at 4 p.m. in Speight Auditorium in Jenkins Fine Arts Center.

All events are free and open to the public.

Falls, professor of anthropology, and Smith, professor of fibers, both at the Savannah College of Art and Design, invited more than 100 artists from the U.S. and Canada to weave objects that could be folded and unfolded, and were the size of typical 19th century coverlets. The weavers were asked to consider the patterning of 19th and early 20th century American coverlets but to use a modernist color scheme of black, white and gray.

A slide show and catalog of each coverlet will accompany the exhibition.

Robin Haller, professor of textile design at ECU, has a piece in the exhibit along with other North Carolina weavers Dani Burke, Barb Butler, Cassie Dickson, Melanie Wilder, Deanna Lynch, Laura Magdycz, Gabrielle Duggan and Nicole Asselin.

Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Jenkins Fine Arts Center. The gallery is closed for all university holidays. The center is handicapped accessible. Individuals with disabilities who require accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act should contact the Department of Disability Support Services at least two weeks before the event at 252-737-1016. For more information, visit

Contact: Tom Braswell, interim Wellington B. Gray Gallery director, 252-328-1312 or


-by Crystal Baity, ECU News Services

Invasive species exhibit opens at N.C. Estuarium

East Carolina University biologist April Blakeslee and students in her lab have created a new exhibit on invasive species at the North Carolina Estuarium in Washington. The exhibit will be unveiled Thursday, Oct. 26 at 4:30 p.m.

ECU biologist April Blakeslee and art and design student Kayla Clark have created a display about invasive species at the N.C. Estuarium in Washington. The exhibit opens Thursday, Oct. 26. (contributed photos)

ECU biologist April Blakeslee and art and design student Kayla Clark have created a display about invasive species at the N.C. Estuarium in Washington. The exhibit opens Thursday, Oct. 26. (contributed photos)

Funded by N.C. Sea Grant with additional contributions from the N.C. Estuarium and ECU’s Department of Biology, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, and Division of Research, Economic Development and Engagement, the exhibit highlights Blakeslee’s research on zombie crabs — mud crabs infected with a parasite that takes over their reproductive systems — as well as notable invaders such as lionfish and hydrilla.

“We hope that visitors will come away with a better understanding about invasive species and will be fascinated by this host-parasite system and also the important role that parasites can have in ecosystems” said Blakeslee. “They will also learn more about how each person can make a difference in preventing the spread of invaders by not releasing unwanted pets; cleaning boats of attached algae, plants and animals; cleaning boots — essentially, the message that every person can make a difference in conservation-related efforts.”

ECU art and design graduate student Kayla Clark was instrumental in the design of the exhibit, Blakeslee said. “The exhibit is truly interdisciplinary, bringing art and science together for educating about an important conservation issue.”

The zombie crab parasite is a kind of barnacle, called Loxothylacus panopaei or Loxo for short, that is native to the Gulf of Mexico but is now being found along the east coast as far north as Long Island Sound. Blakeslee and her students dubbed the infected crabs zombie crabs because they continue living but are reproductively dead. The parasite also affects the crab’s behavior, causing it to protect the egg sac as if it were the crab’s own young. The protective behavior is found not only in female crabs, but also in males, which would not normally exhibit such tendencies.

By hijacking the mud crabs’ reproductive system, Blakeslee said the parasite could have a dramatic impact on the population. She and a team of researchers are monitoring mud crab populations in eastern North Carolina to assess and track the spread of the parasite.

The N.C. Estuarium is located at 223 E. Water St. in Washington. For more information visit


-by Jules Norwood, ECU News Services

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