Category Archives: Faculty News

ECU department chair honored as outstanding educator

Dr. Sharon Ballard, associate professor and chair of East Carolina University’s Department of Human Development and Family Science in the College of Health and Human Performance has been recognized nationally for her work in family life education.

Sharon Ballard


Ballard is the 2016 Margaret E. Arcus Outstanding Family Life Educator Award recipient. The award recognizes her significant contributions to the field of family life education through research, theory, publication, practice, program development and training.

“We congratulate Sharon on this prestigious award and are grateful for her leadership in this field,” said Dr. Glen Gilbert, dean of the College of Health and Human Performance.

Ballard has helped shaped family life education for decades joining the ECU faculty in 2000. She served as interim chair for the department before being named chair in 2013 and has taught courses at The University of Tennessee – Knoxville and Western Carolina University. She also taught family and consumer sciences in the public schools for six years.  Ballard has been a certified family life educator since 1998.

Ballard’s research interests include family life education programming, parent education, and sexuality education.  She has published more than 40 journal articles and book chapters, including her co-edited book Family Life Education with Diverse Populations.

In 2012, she received the Certified Family Life Education Service Award and is the past chair of the Certified Family Life Educator Advisory Committee with the National Council on Family Relations.

“As a family life educator, I am passionate about programming that strengthens and empowers families and I am thrilled to be recognized for my work,” said Sharon Ballard, associate professor and department chair. “In particular, to be the recipient for an award that bears the name of Margaret Arcus, who has long been a leader in family life education, is humbling and a great honor.”

She earned a bachelor’s degree in home economics education from the University of Maine.  She received both a master’s degree and doctorate in child and family studies from The University of Tennessee – Knoxville. Ballard is a Certified Family Life Educator, a trained provider of the Triple P Parenting Program and a licensed K-12 family and consumer sciences teacher.

Ballard will be honored for her achievements at the 2016 NCFR annual conference Nov. 2-5 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

–Kathy Muse

Gantt named Journal of Emergency Nursing Reviewer of the Year

Dr. Laura Gantt, associate dean for nursing support services in the East Carolina University College of Nursing, has been awarded the Journal of Emergency Nursing Reviewer of the Year Award. The first-ever award recognizes Gantt for more than ten years of service that has included work both as a manuscript reviewer and a member of the journal’s editorial board.

Journal of Emergency Nursing is the peer-reviewed publication of the Emergency Nurses Association, which has more than 40,000 members representing over 35 countries. Gantt’s selection was the result of a multi-stage process, the journal’s editorial board said, and was based on the quality and quantity of her manuscript reviews.



“The editorial board appreciates Laura’s willingness to participate in the review process, her timeliness in completing reviews, and the expertise consistently demonstrated in her thorough, insightful and helpful feedback to authors and editors,” the group stated when presenting the award at an Emergency Nurses Association awards gala on Sept. 17 in Los Angeles.

Gantt’s own referred articles include three papers in Journal of Emergency Nursing on emergency department administrative issues and in publications such as Clinical Simulation in Nursing Education and Journal of Nursing Education.

Also an associate professor of nursing at ECU, Gantt joined the College of Nursing in 2006 to run its simulation and skills labs. She has helped shape the College of Nursing’s simulation labs — in which students practice real-world scenarios using manikins and other lifelike technology — into a cornerstone of the ECU nursing education. In 2015, she published the book “Healthcare Simulation: A Guide for Operations Specialists.” As associate dean, she oversees the simulation labs, instructional technology, student services, and student development and counseling.

Gantt has been a member of the Emergency Nurses Association since 1995. Her extensive experience with emergency nursing has included work as flight nurse and an administrator overseeing emergency and transport services. She continues to practice nursing in the Vidant Health Minor Emergency Department.

–Elizabeth Willy 

White to step aside as Coastal Studies Institute director

Dr. Nancy White, founding executive director of the University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute, has announced that she will step aside from that role, effective June 30, 2017.

White said that it was her goal to bring CSI to a position of sustainability. With the help of a dedicated board of directors, collaborative partnerships and community support, she said she feels that goal has been accomplished, and that the time is right to bring in a leader with new ideas and energy. 

White will continue to work with CSI as an East Carolina University principal research scholar, reporting to provost Dr. Ron Mitchelson.

Nancy White (photo by Cliff Hollis)

Nancy White (photo by Cliff Hollis)

“I have always emphasized finding and hiring really good people and then doing my best to empower their ability to work,” White said. “People are the core strength of any organization, and we have some of the best people I have ever worked with here. … The people who came to start CSI are pioneers and have given all they have to make CSI what it is and where it is today. I am proud of having had the privilege of working with them.” 

ECU is the administrative campus for CSI, which was founded in 2003 and includes member institutions Elizabeth City State University, N.C. State University, UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC-Wilmington, as well as ECU. The CSI campus is located on Roanoke Island in Wanchese.

“Nancy White was the founding executive director of the UNC Coastal Studies Institute in 2003, and she has been a champion for coastal science and issues since that time,” Mitchelson said. “She has brought tremendous passion and expertise to that role, and her devotion to the region has yielded significant place-based research and educational opportunities.”

Mike Kelly, member and former chair of the CSI Board of Directors, said White played an invaluable role in transforming the vision for CSI into a reality and juggling a wide range of responsibilities along the way.

“We’re somewhat regretful that she’s leaving, but we’re glad that she’ll be here to pass on her knowledge so that the next person can build on the foundation she has laid down,” he said. 

A search committee will be appointed to interview and assess applicants for White’s successor as executive director, who will assume those duties on July 1, 2017.

CSI Foundation chair Bill Massey said White has been an outstanding advocate for CSI and its role in the community, focusing on science while balancing environmental and economic interests. 

“Her role has been not to divide and put stakes in the ground, but to help create a greater understanding of how the science we undertake can help to inform public policy,” he said. 

“ECU has embraced the multi-campus construct and has empowered it in ways that hadn’t been possible until it took on the leadership role,” said White. “Going forward, because of ECU’s leadership, CSI’s coastal programs and research will have impact potential of national merit. I can’t wait to see how it grows.”

–Jules Norwood

ECU physician honored by N.C. Pediatric Society 

An East Carolina University physician has been honored with the highest award in the state for an academic pediatrician.

The North Carolina Pediatric Society (NCPeds) recently presented the Denny, Katz, Simon, Tingelstad Academic Service Award to Dr. Charles Willson, a clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, for his outstanding efforts to improve the health and wellness of children in North Carolina.

Dr. Charles Willson, professor of pediatrics

Dr. Charles Willson, professor of pediatrics

Willson, who serves as vice chair for Brody’s pediatrics department, is a past president of the North Carolina Pediatric Society and the North Carolina Medical Society. He is also a fellow in the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Willson earned his medical degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine and completed a pediatric residency at North Carolina Memorial Hospital (now UNC Hospitals) in Chapel Hill. He worked in private practice 19 years before joining the Brody faculty 17 years ago.

“It’s wonderful to have Brody be recognized in this way,” Willson said. “Because I knew all four of these gentlemen [Drs. Denny, Katz, Simon and Tingelstad], it means so much to win an award in their names.” Denny, Katz, Simon and Tingelstad are all former chairmen of medical school pediatric departments across North Carolina.

“This well-deserved award for pediatric excellence recognizes the great leadership, spirit and commitment that Dr. Willson brings to his work daily,” said Dr. Nicholas Benson, vice dean for Brody and medical director for Brody’s faculty practice, ECU Physicians.

Founded in 1931, NCPeds is the state affiliate chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics with nearly 2,000 pediatrician and pediatric health professional members. Its mission is to empower pediatricians and its partners to foster the physical, social, and emotional wellbeing of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

–Amy Ellis

Theatre and Dance professor receives international award

Professors Patricia “Patch” Clark, School of Theatre and Dance, and Eleanor Kane from the University of Shimane, Japan were presented with an award at the International Global Partners in Education 9th Conference held in Ekaterinburg, Russia for their collaborative work, “Global Storybook Theater,” May 11th, 2016. They also made a presentation at the conference, “Telecollaboration versus Face-to- Face Interaction – A CLIL 4Cs Perspective on Collaboration in Drama EFL.


Professor Patch Clark

ECU Students have been working with the University of Shimane, Japan for the past three years through video linking and eventually were able to travel for face-to-face performances. Both ECU students and USJ students were able to perform a joint-performance and reflect on which interaction they preferred. USJ also invited traditional performing artists to put on a grand show for the ECU students.

Starting in November 2012, ECU and USJ have been sharing various stories and performances across the world. By October 2015 both ECU and USJ put on a joint-performance in a 3-day face-to-face workshop in Japan.

ECU is overjoyed for our own Patch Clark for her award and recognition in the collaborative work, “Global Storybook Theater”. ECU Storybook Theatre combines talents of students from across all theatre art disciplines and teaches younger audience members the enjoyment of the performing arts along with the excitement of books and reading. Some productions include Charlotte’s Web, The Snow Queen, and Reaching for the Stars.

For more information about Storybook Theater or to say a warm Congratulations to Patch Clark, you can contact her at

–Michael Crane

ECU pianist to perform at Smithsonian dedication

East Carolina University faculty pianist John O’Brien will be performing with University of North Carolina soprano Louise Toppin at President Obama’s Freedom Sounds dedication of the Smithsonian’s new African American History Museum on September 24 in Washington.



Conceived and presented in festival fashion, Freedom Sounds programming will include musical performances, spoken word, oral history activities and evening concerts. The three-day music festival presents artists who represent the numerous cultural threads encompassing African diasporic histories and traditions.

O’Brien and Toppin were invited to present a program entitled “Songs of protest: then and now” to celebrate the musical contributions of African American composers.

Visit for more information.

–Harley Dartt

Annual announcement of Phased Retirement Program

Chancellor Staton announces the annual availability of the Phased Retirement Program for eligible tenured faculty members at East Carolina University. Individual letters to eligible faculty members are sent to home academic units. If your faculty appointment does not meet the program’s eligibility criteria for age and years of service, you will not receive a letter of invitation to participate in the program. If you do not receive a letter but believe that you should be eligible based on program criteria, please contact your respective vice chancellor’s office for assistance.  

Additional details about the Phased Retirement Program are available at:

Questions about the Phased Retirement Program should be directed to Linda Ingalls at 252-943-8584 or (Office of the Provost) or Lisa Hudson at 744-1910 or (Division of Health Sciences). 

Whisnant chosen as 2016 Whichard Distinguished Professor in Humanities

East Carolina University soon will welcome Anne Whisnant to the faculty as the 2016 David Julian and Virginia Suther Whichard Distinguished Professor in the Humanities.

Anne Whisnant

Anne Whisnant (Photo by Evan Whisnant)

“I am honored to have been chosen to join the faculty at East Carolina as the Whichard Distinguished Professor,” said Whisnant, who most recently served as director of research, communications, and programs in the Office of Faculty Governance at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “I look forward to getting to know ECU and Greenville and look forward to engaging with ECU students, faculty and staff in their efforts to better understand and interpret East Carolina’s history.”

Housed within the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, the professorship is made possible through a generous donation by the Whichard family in honor of David Julian and Virginia Suther Whichard of Greenville. This year, the Whichard Professorship is hosted by the Department of History.

“The History Department is excited and honored to host Anne Whisnant as the Whichard Distinguished Professor in the Humanities for the 2016-2017 academic year. Her scholarship and experience as a public historian will strengthen the department, college and university,” said Chair of the Department of History Dr. Christopher Oakley.

As Whichard Distinguished Professor, one of Whisnant’s roles is to teach a course each semester. While at ECU, she will teach North Carolina history and a course in digital public history.

“ECU has been a leader in taking proactive steps to address the complicated legacy of its past as it looks forward to its future,” said Whisnant. “In my teaching of North Carolina history and digital public history at ECU, I hope to be able to make a contribution to this important conversation and find ways to connect it to state and national efforts to employ public history approaches in fruitful ways.”

“We look forward to professor Whisnant helping us continue our ongoing discussions of race, historical memory and public commemoration,” said Oakley.

Whisnant received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Birmingham-Southern College in 1989, and her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1991 and ’97 respectively. She completed post-doctoral coursework at North Carolina State University in 2002.

Over the course of her career, Whisnant has melded her academic administration and teaching with an active public history practice. Her research interests focus on public history, digital history and the history of the U.S. National Parks.

–Lacey Gray

ECU College of Education dean named to state board

Dr. Grant Hayes, dean of East Carolina University’s College of Education, has been elected to the board of directors of the Public School Forum of North Carolina. His two-year term began July 1. 

The organization’s mission is to “shape a world-class public school education that supports all children in reaching their full potential and drives a vibrant North Carolina economy,” according to the Forum’s website at

Dr. Grant Hayes (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Dr. Grant Hayes (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Established 30 years ago, the Forum has launched several programs including the Beginning Teacher Network, Education Policy Fellowship Program, Teaching Fellows Program and the NC Center for Afterschool Programs.

“The Forum is composed of an impressive and well-rounded group of individuals who are working hard to advance and improve North Carolina’s public schools through research, policy and advocacy,” said Hayes. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this work.” 

Each year, the organization chooses 10 education issues to address; the 2016 list is below:

  • Direct adequate resources to public schools, teachers and leaders
  • Transform the profession to make North Carolina a teaching destination again
  • Emphasize quality, not quantity, in charter school growth
  • Elevate race as a focal point of public education
  • Fix the broken A-F grading system
  • Support the state’s struggling schools
  • Maintain high standards for North Carolina
  • Make evidence-based decisions on expansion of private school vouchers
  • Expand access to high quality early childhood education
  • Build bridges for students through expanded learning. 

To follow or join conversations, the Forum can be found on Twitter at #EdTalksNC, on Facebook and at

–Jessica Nottingham

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