Category Archives: Faculty News

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

Wieland awarded 2016 Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor

ECU’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences inducted Dr. Liza Wieland as Distinguished Professor at the college’s annual convocation on August 19.

Wieland, professor of English and THCAS Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Development, is the 18th member of the faculty to be honored with the title of THCAS Distinguished Professor.

Dr. Liza Wieland (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Dr. Liza Wieland (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

“I’m thrilled to have been chosen to join the ranks of this excellent group of teachers, scholars, mentors and servants to the College,” said Wieland. “From the very beginning of my time here, the University has been unwaveringly supportive of my work with grants and release time, and now this award, all of which serve to acknowledge that the arts matter at ECU.”

The THCAS Distinguished Professorship is the highest honor within the college and is conferred upon a professor whose career exemplifies a commitment to and a love for knowledge and academic life, as demonstrated by outstanding teaching and advising, research and creative productivity, and professional service.

“Dr. Wieland’s amazing record of creative activity, inspiring teaching and dedication to ECU and its mission are indeed distinguished. She exemplifies the best of ECU,” said Dr. Marianne Montgomery, chair of Harriot College’s Department of English.

Throughout Wieland’s years of academic service to ECU, she has displayed the qualities and characteristics required of a Distinguished Professor.

In her academic role, Wieland has exhibited great range, teaching courses in Beginning and Advanced Fiction Writing; Beginning Poetry Writing; Introduction to Creative Writing; Special Topics in Creative Writing: Theories of the Novel; Appreciating Literature; Interpreting Literature; and Literature from the Writer’s Perspective: Contemporary Irish Fiction. She has served on both the English undergraduate and graduate committees, as an English undergraduate advisor, on an ad hoc committee to study undergraduate English curriculum and on the ECU Honors College Advisory Board.

Wieland has taken on addition roles and initiatives in her areas of research and creative activity. In 2008, she was appointed fiction editor for the North Carolina Literary Review and in 2010 she co-founded and co-directed the ECU Contemporary Writers Series.

Over the course of her career, Wieland has authored eight novels, collections of short fiction and books of poetry. Her fiction, poems and essays have appeared in 13 anthologies and more than 40 published magazines and journals. She has participated in more than 80 lectures, conferences, workshops and public readings on topics related to her writing.

In recognition of her many professional talents, Wieland has received a Research and Creative Activity Reassignment Award, Harriot College Research Award, twice received the Department of English Research and Creative Activity Award, and in 2013, received full funding from the ECU Office of the Provost for the BRIDGES Professional Development Program for Women in Higher Education.

Letters of nomination from colleagues within and outside the ECU community laud Wieland for contributions to her field, adding to the impressive case for inducting her into the prestigious group of Thomas Harriot Distinguished Professors.

“With enthusiasm and without reservation, I urge you to select Professor Wieland for a Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professorship,” writes a colleague in a letter of support. “Administrators, faculty members and students all testify that Liza Wieland is a riveting and inspirational teacher. Her literary achievement is internationally admired. Her fiction is a national treasure that brings a great deal of positive attention to East Carolina University. Her career has been one of sustained excellence.”

Wieland received her Ph.D., M. Phil. and M.A. degrees in English and Comparative Literatures from Columbia University in 1988, ‘85 and ‘84 respectively. She received her BA degree in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard College in 1981.

–Lacey Gray

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

Professor’s forecast model predicts election results

East Carolina University political science professor Dr. Brad Lockerbie has developed an election forecast model that has correctly predicted the outcome of each presidential election since 1996.



Lockerbie said he got interested in election outcome forecasting after attending a panel on the 1994 midterm election and seeing the forecasts fail to predict the massive swing in congressional seats picked up by the Republican party.

There are many factors that can be considered when developing a forecast model, including poll results, popularity ratings and economic conditions.

“Mine is a very simple model that says there are two major factors,” Lockerbie said. “The first is that the longer a party has been in the White House, the harder it is to retain it. The second is people’s economic expectations; if you think your outlook stinks, you’re not likely to vote for the same party.”

The forecast model has been accurate in predicting the national popular vote in each presidential election, he said. It does not take into account the Electoral College.

“The closest to being inaccurate was 2000,” Lockerbie said. “Even then the prediction was right on the popular vote,” but the Electoral College result was different.

This year, Lockerbie’s model predicts a very narrow (50.4 percent of the two-party vote) presidential win for the Democratic candidate and zero seat change in the U.S. House of Representatives, which would result in a continuation of divided government at the national level.

Lockerbie’s forecast model will be published in “PS: Political Science and Politics,” a publication of the American Political Science Association. It will also be included in Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a compilation of election forecasts published online by the University of Virginia at

–Jules Norwood

Ironsmith awarded Phi Kappa Phi Literacy Grant

Professor emeritus Marsha Ironsmith from ECU’s Department of Psychology was awarded a 2016 Literacy Grant from the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi — the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. Ironsmith is one of 16 recipients nationwide to receive the award.


Ironsmith (contributed photo)

The grant of more than $1,200 will be used to support a project that pairs East Carolina University psychology students with elementary-aged children attending an after-school program at Building Hope Community Life Center in Greenville. The center’s goals include strengthening academic achievement and character development.

As part of the project, ECU students facilitate the reading and discussion of books with characters from diverse backgrounds facing challenges familiar to the children. Discussions focus on encouraging empathy for others and are enhanced with creative writing, art, music and film projects to foster deeper comprehension.

The Phi Kappa Phi Literacy Grant program was established in 2003 to provide funding to Phi Kappa Phi chapters and active members for ongoing projects or new initiatives that reinforce part of the society’s mission “to engage the community of scholars in service to others.” Drawing from a multi-disciplinary society of students and scholars from large and small institutions, applicants are encouraged to consider literacy projects that have creative relevance to their disciplines and the needs of their communities.

Founded in 1897, Phi Kappa Phi inducts approximately 30,000 students, faculty, professional staff and alumni each year. The society has chapters at more than 300 colleges and universities in North America and the Philippines. Membership is by invitation only to the top 10 percent of seniors and graduate students and 7.5 percent of second-term juniors. Faculty, professional staff and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction also qualify. The society’s mission is “to recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others.” For more information about Phi Kappa Phi, visit

–Jules Norwood

College of Arts and Sciences announces three new faculty leaders

East Carolina University’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences has announced the appointment of three new department chairs.

Dr. Jefferson “Jeff” Shinpaugh

Dr. Jefferson “Jeff” Shinpaugh, professor of physics and director of the ECU accelerator laboratory, is the next chair of the college’s Department of Physics, effective July 1.

Jefferson Shinpaugh (contributed photo)

Jefferson Shinpaugh (contributed photo)

Shinpaugh came to ECU in 1994. He oversaw and supervised a major renovation of the ECU Accelerator Laboratory, funded by the National Science Foundation and the ECU Division of Research and Graduate Studies, and he has been serving as interim chair of physics since July 1, 2015.

“I am honored to be selected as the next chair of the department, and I look forward to serving the department in this role,” said Shinpaugh. “We have great faculty who are committed to their research and are dedicated to teaching and student training at all levels in our BS, MS and PhD programs.”

Shinpaugh’s research interests include biological effects of radiation, radiation damage in materials and particle track structure, material analysis and modification using ion beams, and atomic collision processes. He has received more than $2.6 million in financial support from NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Energy and has conducted experiments at various ion beam facilities in the U.S. and Germany.

As chair of physics, Shinpaugh has several goals for the department.

“One of our primary goals is to continue to expand our research programs in biomedical physics. We expect to strengthen our collaborations with the other science departments and with the medical school, and for our undergraduate programs, we expect to significantly increase the number of physics majors. A physics degree provides many career options, and our graduates have found very successful careers,” said Shinpaugh.

Dr. Alethia Cook

Dr. Alethia Cook, associate professor of political science and director of the security studies program, has been named chair of the Department of Political Science.

Alethia Cook (contributed photo)

Alethia Cook (contributed photo)

“I am very excited to have this opportunity to lead the Department of Political Science,” said Cook. “We have incredibly talented faculty and students who are among the best on campus. I’m looking forward to being in a position to help the department’s faculty and students achieve their goals.”

Coming to ECU in 2007, Cook’s attraction to ECU included her ability to be part of the Security Studies Program. Cook said it was particularly important that she play a role in developing the courses and curriculum for the Master of Science in Security Studies, which admitted its first students in 2010. Under Cook’s direction, the program has experienced continuous growth, including a new BA/BS Security Studies informal concentration created in the spring of 2015.

Cook’s research interests span various aspects of homeland and international security, including Weapons of Mass Destruction, terrorism, pandemic disease and the factors that influence violence in conflicts.

Since coming to ECU, Cook has published three books “Emergency Response to Domestic Terrorism: How Bureaucracies Reacted to the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing,” “The United States and Iran: Policy Challenges and Opportunities” and “Drawing a Line in the Water: The Mavi Marmara Incident and Israel’s Naval Blockade of Gaza.” She has two additional works in development.

In her new role as department chair, Cook plans to build on the department’s strengths.

“Building on the department’s existing strengths will be an important factor,” said Cook. “These include a high level of scholarly productivity, strong and positive interaction with our students, interdisciplinary collaboration across campus and a growing Master of Science in Security Studies program. It is important to not lose sight of these areas where we are excelling.”

Dr. Marianne Montgomery

On August 16, associate professor of English Dr. Marianne Montgomery will step into the role of chair for the college’s Department of English. Montgomery came to ECU in 2006, and currently, she is serving as interim chair of the department.

Marianne Montgomery (contributed photo)

Marianne Montgomery (contributed photo)

“I’m excited by the opportunity to lead a vibrant, vital department whose work is central to ECU’s mission of student success, public service and regional transformation,” said Montgomery. “English is a big department, so this is a big new job. I am fortunate to have supportive and experienced colleagues in the department and in the college to help me to learn this new role.”

Montgomery, who specializes in Shakespeare and Renaissance drama and is particularly interested in English accounts of cultural encounter, including the work of the college’s namesake,Thomas Harriot.

“My goal is for English to be a department that works constructively with other units in the college and university, attracts lots of students and educates them well, uses its resources wisely to encourage productivity in teaching and research/creative activity, and celebrates individual and collective successes,” said Montgomery. “In the coming year, we will focus on recruiting, workload and our academic program review self-study.”

Dr. William M. Downs, dean of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, underscores the importance he places on these three programs as engines of excellence in the college.

“Political science, physics and English are disciplines that are absolutely essential for the success of the College of Arts and Sciences and for our university’s broader mission,” said Downs. “Together, they account for more than 700 of the college’s undergraduate and graduate majors.

“I have great confidence that these three new departmental leaders will work effectively to promote impactful research, provide inspirational teaching and serve our community. I am grateful to have their talents on the Harriot College leadership team.”

–Lacey Gray

Updated 1 Card design unveiled during orientation

The ECU 1 Card office has announced a redesign of the ECU 1 Card. Students attending the first New Student Orientation were among the first to receive a newly designed card. The new multi-purpose ID card will be phased in rather than doing a complete recarding of the entire campus community. Current 1 Cards will remain active.

The new card features a rendering of the cupola and university logo, along with the card holder’s name, photo, and designation, such as student, faculty or staff. It was a collaborative effort, with input from several campus constituents and student leaders, according to 1 Card Director Merlena Artis. The design was done by ECU Creative Services.

Also changing with this new class of East Carolina students is a new name for the Gold Key Account, one of the declining balance funds tied to the 1 Card. Bounty Bucks is the name of the account, making it more reflective of the university’s nautical themes. 

“We’re hoping students will find the new name fun, and be more inclined to join the number of students, faculty and staff who take advantage of the account,” said Artis. Given the enthusiasm at the first two orientation sessions, the account is becoming more popular than in previous years.

Funds in the Bounty Bucks account can be used for prescriptions and services at the Student Health Center, purchases at Dowdy Student Stores, payment of fines and fees at various campus locations, as well as at the 1 Card Office. A complete list of Bounty Bucks uses and how to add funds to the account is found on the 1 Card web site: Additional uses for this declining balance account are in the planning stages.

Earlier this year a new application for mobile devices was released called GET, where all card holders can see the balance of funds in accounts tied to their card. The GET application information is also available on computers through the Pirate Portal or the 1 Card website. Transaction history for 1 Card accounts, the ability to report your card lost, and view locations to use the 1 Card are available through GET. Through settings, users have an added security measure where they can mark their mobile device as lost and deactivate PIN’s that would be used for the GET application.

Another new feature underway is the ability for parents and family members to add funds to card accounts via the internet through TouchNet.  

Updated cards for staff and faculty will be phased in by departments at various intervals over the next two years. Employees will be notified when they can have their new card made. Current 1 Cards will remain active throughout the transition, including the GET and TouchNet features.

See the 1 Card web site for more information about card uses and security:

The ECU 1 Card is the official photo ID card for East Carolina University. All students, staff, and faculty need this card whenever they are asked to show university identification. The ECU 1 Card is used for spending accounts such as the Dining Plan and Bookstore account.  It is also used for specific building access and worn as an ID badge at the Brody School of Medicine and other locations. While the ECU 1 Card is required for identification purposes, other accounts linked to the card are optional.

–Leslie Craigle

Drs. Carabello and Kiser bring international experience to improve cardiovascular care in eastern NC

The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and Vidant Medical Center have appointed two acclaimed specialists to key leadership positions. Drs. Blase Carabello and Andy Kiser bring international experience and a new level of expertise in cardiovascular care to the East.

Drs. Carabello and Kiser

Drs. Carabello and Kiser

Carabello joins the ECU Department of Cardiovascular Sciences as chief of cardiology at Brody and director of the East Carolina Heart Institute (ECHI) at the medical center.

He is recognized worldwide in the field of valvular heart disease. He specializes in the care of patients with complex valvular heart disease and general internal medicine. He co-authored the AHA/ACC Guidelines for the Treatment of Valvular Disease from 1998 to 2016.

Carabello earned his MD degree from Temple University. He completed his training in both internal medicine and cardiology at Harvard Medical School.

“I’ve known a thousand doctors in my life but only 50 physicians,” said Carabello. “A doctor is a technologist. A physician understands the power of science and the importance of evidence-based medicine but also knows the limitations of those disciplines, and that’s where the art of medicine learned from experience takes over. That art and the willingness to feel the patient’s anxiety about his/her illness and calm that fear makes a physician a physician.”

Kiser joins the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences as chief of cardiac surgery and director of cardiovascular surgical services at ECHI. He arrives from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was chief of cardiothoracic surgery.

An international leader in minimally invasive valve and coronary artery surgery, Kiser has particular expertise in interventional surgery to avoid incisions in the chest. He developed the suprasternal approach for transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), and performed the first such procedure in the United States in 2015. He also pioneered paracardioscopic procedures to treat atrial fibrillation.

A North Carolina native, Dr. Kiser earned his BS and MD degrees with honors at UNC-Chapel Hill, followed by training there in general surgery and cardiothoracic surgery.

“The East Carolina Heart Institute has a long and outstanding history of providing excellent care to the people of Eastern North Carolina.  The cardiac surgery program is recognized as being one of the top 30 in the country for the best patient care and outcomes, better than 97 percent of all other cardiac surgery programs nationally,” said Kiser.

“This is an example of the commitment by the Brody School of Medicine and Vidant Health to have a heart team approach to care where the patient and family is central to our processes and decision making.  I am honored to be a part of this community and to be able to join such an outstanding team.”

–Amy Ellis

Brody School of Medicine names new chair of pediatrics

The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University has named a new chair for the Department of Pediatrics. ECU neonatologist Dr. Jason Higginson assumed the role June 1.

ECU neonatologist Dr. Jason Higginson

ECU neonatologist Dr. Jason Higginson – the new chair of the Department of Pediatrics

Since joining Brody in 2012, Higginson has served as chief of neonatology for the department, medical director for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Newborn Medicine, and co-medical director for the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital at Vidant Medical Center.

Prior to joining ECU, Higginson served at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, as assistant chief of graduate medical education, division head of research resources, medical director of the Neonatal High-Risk Clinic, and assistant division chief of newborn medicine. In addition, he served on active duty in the U.S. Navy from 2002-2012 and transitioned to the Navy Reserve in 2012.

He currently serves as the regimental surgeon for the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Logistics Regiment 45 and leads the U.S. Navy Reserve Medical Corps Pediatrics Specialty, advising the surgeon general of the U.S. Navy regarding pediatric policy and credentialing.

Higginson completed his medical degree at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles, followed by an internship and residency in pediatrics at the University of California-San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. He then completed a fellowship in neonatal-perinatal medicine at the National Capital Consortium at Walter Reed.

“Dr. Higginson is an experienced clinician, researcher and administrator and brings an extensive skill set to the role of chair of the Department of Pediatrics,” said Dr. Paul Cunningham, dean of the medical school.

–Amy Ellis

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