Category Archives: ECU People

Three academic leaders join Academic Affairs

Three new academic leaders have joined East Carolina University’s Division of Academic Affairs.



William Downs, dean of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences; Dave Meredith, director of admissions; and Rondall Rice, director of university studies, all started July 1.

Downs was formerly the area dean for Social and Behavioral Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at Georgia State University. He also served as chair of the department of political science and director of graduate studies in political science. He was the founder and co-director of the interdisciplinary Center for Human Rights and Democracy and faculty coordinator for semester-long study abroad programs in Strasbourg, France and Nottingham, England.

A Raleigh native, Downs earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in political science from Emory University.

“I am delighted to be joining the ECU faculty and to have the privilege of leading the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences as its dean,” said Downs. “While fully aware of the challenges that face us all in higher education today, I am energized by our strong foundation and very much look forward to helping guide a process of renewal that secures meaningful gains in research, student learning and public service.”



Meredith comes to ECU from the University of New Orleans, where he served as the executive director of enrollment services. Previous positions include service as senior assistant director of admissions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, director of Enrollment Management with the Honors Scholars Program at the University of Cincinnati and director of the Warren and Lebanon Branches of Wilmington College.

Meredith holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati. His research there focused on first-generation college students and their experiences navigating the higher education system.

“I’m excited to build on the success of the admissions office and help make East Carolina University the university for top students from across North Carolina and the United States,” he said.



Rice is the first director of university studies at ECU. He joins the university following a 25-year career as a U.S. Air Force officer. Rice spent the last three years at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany in the Air Operations Center for the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and U.S. Air Forces in Africa.

He served as associate professor of history and held administrative duties in the U.S. Air Force Academy.  He was association dean of the National Defense Intelligence College (now the National Intelligence University) in Washington, D.C., where he also held the position of acting dean for the School of Intelligence Studies. He represented NDIC on the Intelligence Community Analysis Training and Education Committee, which coordinated analysis training and education for 17 cabinet-level agencies.

A Greenville resident and eastern North Carolina native, Rice earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“I am extremely excited to return and work for and with the great people of this university and area,” Rice said. “Adding to the excitement is being on the ground-floor of a new university initiative designed to help people craft unique interdisciplinary programs to launch their future.”

Ice cream social honors provost


Derek Maher, associate professor in philosophy and religious studies, shares a laugh with Marilyn Sheerer during her ice cream social celebrating her service to the university since 1996 as professor, department chair, dean and provost.

The June 26 event allowed faculty and staff from across campus to hug Sheerer and wish her well in the next phase of her academic career. She steps down as provost Aug. 15.

One of those well-wishers was Rita Reaves, interim director of Office of Academic Program Planning and Development. “What she has done has helped us remember what’s important – the students who are here and the relationships we can establish to support them.”

(Photos by Cliff Hollis)


ECU Red Cross Club presented $10,000 check to local chapter in response to tornado relief

ECU student Taylor Waters, president of ECU’s Red Cross Club, left, presented the donation to Summer Woodard, chief development officer for the Pitt County Chapter of the American Red Cross. (Contributed photo)

ECU student Taylor Waters, president of ECU’s Red Cross Club, left, presented the donation to Summer Woodard, chief development officer for the Pitt County Chapter of the American Red Cross. (Contributed photo)

ECU’s Red Cross Club presented a check for $10,000 to the local Pitt County Red Cross Chapter on Thursday, May 1 in response to the recent tornado for disaster relief. The club president, ECU student Taylor Waters,  presented the check.

“The money donated will help those effected by last week’s tornados,” said Waters. “The American Red Cross makes a difference in people’s lives every single day and disasters like this remind us how imperative they are to our community.”

In response to the tornado and storm damages in eastern North Carolina, the Red Cross and its volunteers have been working day and night to help assess and report the damages, feed and clothe the victims and make sure all immediate needs are taken care of. Donations are essential to keeping trucks on location, supplies on hand, and providing assistance to families in need.

The check to the American Red Cross will help fund disaster relief efforts in Eastern North Carolina. This donation will serve as great help to the region as all the money raised here stays here.

The American Red Cross is able to provide assistance to families affected by disasters in our community through the generous support of public donations. Please consider supporting your local Red Cross disaster relief efforts by donating at, text REDCROSS to 90999, or calling 252-355-3800.

Family donates portrait of Dail House patriarch

Unveiling a portrait of the man who built the Dail house, home of ECU chancellors since 1965, left to right, Alex B. Dail, Nancy Dail Hall, Anne Dail Ashe and Chancellor Steve Ballard. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Unveiling a portrait of the man who built the Dail house, home of ECU chancellors since 1965, are left to right, Alex B. Dail, Nancy Dail Hall, Anne Dail Ashe and Chancellor Steve Ballard. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

By Steve Tuttle
ECU News Services

Three grandchildren of the man who built Dail House, the official residence of East Carolina chancellors for the past 65 years, have donated a portrait of him that now hangs in the Fifth Street home.

Chancellor Steve Ballard and Nancy Ballard greeted Alex B. Dail, Anne Dail Ashe and Nancy Dail Hall for the Feb. 28 unveiling.

The portrait of the late William Haywood Dail Jr. was created in 1923 when he was 45. For many years Dail owned Greenville’s only brick making company. Four of East Carolina’s original buildings were mostly constructed with Dail bricks, as was Dail House.

The university acquired the 5,100-square-foot Italianate home in 1949. John Messick was the first chancellor to live there.

The grandchildren, who all live in Virginia, return to Greenville every December to lay wreaths at the family plot in Cherry Hill Cemetery. Before their most recent visit, Nancy Ballard invited them to the residence for a tour.

In a letter accompanying their gift of the portrait, the Dail grandchildren said, “We cannot think of a better place for this portrait to hang.”

Haywood Dail Jr. was an avid supporter of a local bond referendum to attract the fledgling East Carolina Teacher Training School to Greenville. By his own admission given during the college’s 50th anniversary, he chewed up and swallowed some “no” paper ballots during the vote counting.

He died in 1959 at the age of 81.

Nancy Ballard, wife of ECU chancellor Steve Ballards, straightens the newly hanged portrait of William Haywood Dail Jr.

Nancy Ballard, wife of ECU chancellor Steve Ballard, straightens the newly hung portrait of William Haywood Dail Jr. during a ceremony Feb. 28.

ECU community mourns loss of instructor

By Kathryn Kennedy and Jeannine Manning Hutson
ECU News Services

Co-workers and students of East Carolina University teaching instructor Debbie O’Neal are grieving this week following her death March 31.

She and her husband – both rated pilots – were killed when their fixed-wing Lancair LC-42 aircraft crashed in a Winston-Salem residential neighborhood after experiencing engine trouble, a National Traffic Safety Board official told media on Monday.

Funeral services are scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 3 at Rock Springs Center, 4025 N.C. Highway 43 N, Greenville.

An additional memorial service was held Tuesday, April 2 at the Washington Eye Center, where her husband, Dennis, worked.

O’Neal came to ECU in 2004, and this semester she was teaching three sections of English composition in the classroom and two distance-education sections of English grammar.

Department of English Chair Jeffrey Johnson spent Tuesday meeting with students in O’Neal’s classes, accompanied by staff from the ECU counseling center. He said the students were “taking it hard,” and many asked if they could reach out to her family.

“Her students know how invested she was in them,” Johnson said. “She was really outgoing, full of energy and ideas, generous with her time. All these qualities of hers…make (the loss) even harder.”

O’Neal was very involved in the ECU Language Academy, which provides intensive English-language instruction to international students and professionals. She also worked with the College of Education by developing ways to integrate English as a second language (ESL) teacher education into existing curriculum.

Marjorie Ringler, associate professor in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership, said she and O’Neal worked closely for years. “We were inseparable at work and as friends as well,” Ringler said Tuesday.

O’Neal was a linguist and Ringler works on partnerships with principals and school districts; together they were a great team, Ringler said. The pair recently attended an international conference in Dallas, presenting their success in teaching English as a second language in a rural eastern North Carolina school.

O’Neal engaged her classroom students as well, Ringler said, and held them to high standards.

“In the Department of English, she saw her students as her kids,” Ringler continued. “She was a mother to them because (she taught) the freshman composition class.”

She added that O’Neal kept in touch with many students and would get Facebook and email messages about how she had changed their lives. “She made sure everybody knew that she cared,” Ringler said.

“She lived life to the fullest. She was a pilot, made her own jewelry, and was always in touch with her three kids. She skied as well. What did she not do? And she tackled everything head on.”

OAAS seeks nominations for excellence awards

The Organization of African American Staff seeks nominations for the ECU African-American Awards of Excellence.

The OAAS seeks to achieve a visible commitment of the inclusion and valuing of African -American staff, faculty and students at East Carolina University through the promotion of cultural and professional development, wellness, networking, mentorship, leadership, community outreach, scholarship and economic prosperity.

The inaugural ECU African-American Awards of Excellence recognizes outstanding contributions by ECU African-Americans. Nominees for the awards may include current and past ECU African American faculty, staff, students and administrators.

Nominations may also be made for outstanding ECU alumni who serve as community leaders.

Send the nomination letter to Dr. Lathan E. Turner and the OAAS Awards Committee, by Monday, Feb. 4that 5 p.m.  Email nomination letters to  or mail to East Carolina University, C/O OAAS Award Selection Committee, Ledonia Wright Cultural Center, Mail Stop 426, Greenville, NC 27858.

Red Carpet Affair to feature banquet, awards

OAAS 2013 Red Carpet Flyer_2013


The ECU Organization of African American staff presents A Red Carpet Affair dinner banquet and awards celebration. WITN-TV news anchor Lynnette Taylor will keynote the event, which will include a two-hour program honoring achievements of African-Americans in the ECU community.

At the conclusion of the event, participants may enjoy the Motown Concert at Wright Auditorium on the ECU Campus.

Tickets for both events are $35 general admission, $23 for students.

For the Red Carpet Affair only, tickets are $25 general admission, $15 for students.

To purchase tickets contact 1-800-ECU ARTS, 252-328-4788 or

For William Friday: Donate to higher education institution

According to a statement from the UNC General Administration, the family of President Emeritus William Friday has asked that those wishing to make memorial gifts in his honor consider a donation to the college or university of their choice.

While they expressed a particular interest in student scholarships, his daughters did not want to create a new university-wide memorial fund to receive such donations or determine how gifts would be used or distributed.

For additional information about memorial gifts, visit, which also provides contact information for giving opportunities at 17 UNC campuses.

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