Category Archives: Faculty

Professor to appear on UNC-TV’s Exploring North Carolina

East Carolina University professor Dr. Stan Riggs will appear in two episodes of the UNC-TV series, “Exploring North Carolina,” in January. Hosted by Tom Earnhardt, the show focuses on the natural features of the state.

ECU professor, Dr. Stan Riggs, will appear in UNC-TV’s “Exploring North Carolina” this month. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

ECU professor, Dr. Stan Riggs, will appear in UNC-TV’s “Exploring North Carolina” this month. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Riggs, a distinguished research professor of geology, said he worked with Earnhardt to determine what topics were exciting and important to the show’s viewers. Each program required three to five days on location collecting video footage and interviews.

“The purpose of the programs is educating the public – how the cultural history is dependent on the coastal system,” said Riggs.

The first episode, “Canals of Northeastern North Carolina,” features the role of slaves who were brought to the state to dig the original canals that changed the landscape in the region. Riggs discusses the geology of the lakes and swamps and their significance.

The second program, “Long Parks,” tells the story of how two very different national parks –Cape Lookout National Seashore and the Blue Ridge Parkway – display the natural wonders of eastern and western North Carolina. Riggs speaks about the unique geological aspects of each park.

“Canals of Northeastern North Carolina” will air Thursday, Jan. 12 and “Long Parks” will be shown on Thursday Jan. 19 at 8:30 p.m.

Riggs said the episodes, along with others in the Exploring North Carolina series, will be made available to area schools after airing on UNC-TV.

In addition to his role at ECU, Riggs is chair of the board of directors of North Carolina Land of Water (NC-LOW), a non-profit group that partners with ECU and co-sponsored the Exploring North Carolina programs. NC-LOW’s website says the mission of the group is to contribute to long-term, sustainable economic development based on the natural resources and cultural history of the region and enhance the quality of life for residents. ECU geology faculty Dr. Dorothea Ames and Dr. Steve Culver and ECU Chief of Staff Jim Hopf also serve on the organization’s board of directors.

“NC-LOW looks at how we can build sustainable jobs for the future in a region that’s changing due to environmental factors like storms and flooding,” said Riggs.

More information about NC-LOW can be found at and Exploring North Carolina,


-by Jamie Smith

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

Former ECU dean named to Order of Long Leaf Pine

A former dean of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University has been named by the governor to the Order of the Long Leaf Pine for his outstanding contribution to health care in North Carolina.

Dr. Paul Cunningham, who stepped down from his post as dean of the medical school in September, was presented the award during Vidant Health’s medical staff meeting Nov. 15 by Greenville urologist and N.C. Rep. Dr. Greg Murphy.

Dr. Paul Cunningham, left, dean emeritus of ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, is presented the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award by Rep. Dr. Greg Murphy. (Photo by Sandra Harvey)

Dr. Paul Cunningham, left, dean emeritus of ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, is presented the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award by Rep. Dr. Greg Murphy. (Photo by Sandra Harvey)

“I have known Dr. Cunningham a long time – not only as a talented and gifted surgeon, but as a compassionate human being,” Murphy said. “He always puts patients’ needs above everything else. He leads by example, with camaraderie and with vision.”

Considered among the highest honors the governor can confer, the award recognizes citizens for their exemplary service to the state. Other recipients include Andy Griffith, Bill Friday, the Rev. Billy Graham and Michael Jordan.

Previously an ECU trauma surgeon and educator, Cunningham was named Brody’s dean in 2008. He led the school in its devotion to producing primary care physicians for the state, increasing opportunities for underrepresented minorities in medical education and improving the health status of the citizens of eastern North Carolina.

Cunningham is taking time away to prepare for teaching and research responsibilities before returning to work as a faculty member in the medical school’s Department of Surgery, with interests in trauma and bariatric surgery.

He currently leads the state’s physicians as president of the North Carolina Medical Society.

–Amy Ellis

Fulbright program builds partnership for ECU Allied Health in Bulgaria

College of Allied Health Sciences Dean Dr. Robert Orlikoff traveled to South-West University “Neofit Rilski” in Bulgaria this September to assist in developing a professional program in speech-language pathology and to promote research and clinical practice in voice and speech disorders.

Orlikoff lectures with a Bulgarian translator. (Contributed photos)

Orlikoff, right, lectures with a Bulgarian translator. (Contributed photos)

The highly-competitive Fulbright Specialist Program connects U.S. scholars like Orlikoff with their counterparts at host institutions overseas. Fulbright Specialists serve as expert consultants on curriculum, faculty development, institutional planning and related subjects in over 150 countries worldwide.

Orlikoff was hosted by Professor Dobrinka Georgieva, Head of the International Relations Office at South-West University "Neofit Rilski."

Orlikoff was hosted by Professor Dobrinka Georgieva, Head of the International Relations at South-West University “Neofit Rilski.” Here, they’re pictured together in front of the Rila Monastery, regarded as Bulgaria’s most important cultural site.

Orlikoff completed several Fulbright projects in Bulgaria during his two-week residency in September. In addition to providing lectures to undergraduate and graduate students, he led faculty workshops, consulted with clinical practitioners and evaluated several courses in South-West’s program in logopedics – the European equivalent of speech-language pathology as practiced in the U.S.

“This Fulbright grant was an exciting opportunity to interact with students and to work alongside the faculty at South-West University…helping them explore ways to enhance education, research and practice at their institution and throughout Bulgaria,” said Orlikoff.

“While we remain dedicated to caring for our underserved communities in eastern North Carolina, this type of project clearly demonstrates our commitment to the advancement in healthcare nationally and globally.”

An internationally recognized laryngeal physiologist and voice scientist, Orlikoff delivered a keynote presentation at an international voice symposium in Turkey last year. He has presented his scientific and clinical work throughout much of Europe, Asia and North America.

Politics and kids: Explaining a contentious election

The 2016 election season has come to a close, but the polarized attitudes surrounding the campaigns may still continue to impact our children. The amount of negative campaigning, especially in swing states like North Carolina, has been difficult to conceal from our youngest citizens, according to two child development experts at East Carolina University.

Amanda Blakley works with students at the Nancy Darden Child Development Center on campus. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Amanda Blakley works with students at the Nancy Darden Child Development Center on campus. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

“Children in elementary schools were talking about the candidates and what they have heard on television or from parents. I’ve had to answer questions from my own school-age children about topics they discussed in school,” said Dr. Sheresa Blanchard, assistant professor of human development and family science at ECU.

Blanchard and her colleague, Melissa Nolan, director of the Nancy Darden Child Development Center at ECU, offers tips for discussing the outcome of the election with children.

Display good sportsmanship

Whether your candidate wins or loses, it’s an opportunity for adults to display good sportsmanship. Children mirror the emotions and attitudes of their parents, and the emotions this election year have run high.

“Remain calm. It’s a fact that children respond to how we react and will feed into it. If parents are frustrated, angry or happy about the outcome, it’s OK to identify those feelings and calmly put them into words,” said Blanchard.


Choose your words carefully

Try to remain as neutral as possible when talking about the outcome of the election.

“Children do not have the cognitive ability to rationalize exaggerated comments. If they overhear an adult say, ‘the world will end’ if their candidate loses, children believe the world will end,” said Blanchard.

These kinds of statements can lead to fear and uncertainty. Nolan encourages parents to reassure their children that they are still safe and will be taken care of no matter the outcome.

Be honest 

Blanchard and Nolan agree that it’s OK to be honest with your children and share what you are feeling. Give them the space and the opportunity to share their emotions too and ask questions. Ask them how they feel about what they’ve seen and heard.

“Don’t give children more information than what they want,” said Nolan. She suggests encouraging children to ask questions and for adults to stick with short honest answers.

“Adults tend to give too much information,” she added.


Recognize teachable moments

Use opportunities that arise to teach and model, tolerance.

“Parents can explain that even though they may not agree with the person in office, we should still respect them and find a way to move on,” said Nolan.

Blanchard said parents can try to find optimism in the situation.


Jessica Pate, Collier Taylor, Finley Charles, and Marai Blanchard play at ECU's Darden Center.

Jessica Pate, Collier Taylor, Finley Charles, and Marai Blanchard play at ECU’s Darden Center.

Meet our experts:

Dr. Sheresa Blanchard is an assistant professor of human development and family science at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. Her research interests include early childhood education, parenting and family-centered practices.

Melissa Nolan, M.S. is the director of East Carolina University’s Nancy Darden Child Development Center, part of the Department of Human Development and Family Science. Her expertise includes best practices in early childhood education and child care administration.

*Note to editors and reporters: If you’re interested in speaking to one of these two experts, contact ECU News Services at 252-328-6481. 

ECU’s medical family therapy receives first family oriented care award

Behavioral health support and collaboration between health care services were among the top concerns of local citizens according to a 2015 Pitt County Needs Assessment report. East Carolina University’s medical family therapy program is addressing this need with an integrated approach and its work has garnered national recognition.

ECU medical family therapy doctoral student Mary Moran meets with Drs. Jake Jensen, Jennifer Hodgson, director and Glenda Mutinda, fellow student.

ECU medical family therapy doctoral student Mary Moran meets with Drs. Jake Jensen, Jennifer Hodgson, director and Glenda Mutinda, fellow student. (Photos by Gretchen Baugh)

ECU’s medical family therapy program received the first-ever Family Oriented Care Award on Oct. 14 from the Collaborative Family Healthcare Association, a nationally recognized association for advancing the integration of behavioral health in medical settings.

The award recognizes ECU’s program, which trains graduates, behavioral health workforce providers and researchers to better meet the needs of communities like Pitt County through implementation of integrated behavioral health care models. Integrated behavioral health providers work side-by-side with medical health care teams to assess, diagnose and treat patients and their families using evidence-based approaches to behavioral health. Integrated family-oriented care focuses on a patient’s mind and body, while respecting that the patient interacts with a family/support system before and after each medical visit.

Faculty-initiated research grants provide behavioral health support and health coaching to five rural southeastern Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers.  These centers include Bernstein Medical Center, Snow Hill Medical Center, Kate B. Reynolds Medical Center, Walstonburg Medical Center, and Pamlico Community Health Center.

“Our students provide family centered care to an underserved population where they have the opportunity to receive health coaching and medical family therapy interventions while seeing their primary care provider,” said Dr. Jennifer Hodgson, professor and director of the program. “This is not only convenient for patients but communicates a new model of health that respects how closely the mind and body work together.”

ECU students Jessica Goodman, Eunicia Jones and David Haralson discuss integrated behavioral health care and medical family therapy at the Redditt House.

ECU students Jessica Goodman, Eunicia Jones and David Haralson discuss integrated behavioral health care and medical family therapy at the Redditt House.

During the past 10 years, the medical family therapy program has collaborated with Greene County Health Care, who funds more than 20 of the program’s student internships.

“The students are able to serve a great number of patients in all of our medical centers,” said Doug Smith, president and CEO of Greene County Health Care.

“We serve over 40,000 patients a year and are firm believers in an integrated care approach.  It makes an incredible difference in patients’ lives to be able to get the medical, dental and behavioral health care that they need at one place and have it affordable,” he said.

The program has grown from two students in 2006 to a team of 21 students today.  Training includes facilitating and encouraging communication among the providers, patients, and family members. Students can offer brief and long term individual, couple, and family therapy, as well as provide behavioral health services in each clinical setting.

“This is something that is gaining momentum nationally as research is showing time and time again that we can improve health outcomes better when we integrate services into the medical visit versus forcing patients to choose their medical health over behavioral health. To us, it is all health,” Hodgson said.

ECU master's and doctoral level students and faculty associated with the Greene Country Health Care Inc. Integrated Behavioral Health Care Project stand in front of ECU’s Redditt House.

ECU master’s and doctoral level students and faculty associated with the Greene Country Health Care Inc. Integrated Behavioral Health Care Project stand in front of ECU’s Redditt House. (Photo by Kathy Muse)

ECU’s program was the first of its kind in the nation and is one of two medical family therapy programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. It is housed in the Department of Human Development and Family Science in the College of Health and Human Performance.

–Kathy Muse

Brody’s Department of Public Health welcomes new leader

East Carolina University is welcoming new leadership for its graduate public health programs this fall. Dr. Ronny Bell has been named chair of the Brody School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health, effective Nov. 7.

Bell earned an MED and a PhD in foods and nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and later completed a MS in Epidemiology during a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. He most recently served as a tenured professor in the Division of Public Health Sciences, Department of Epidemiology and Prevention, at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, where he also directed the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity.


Bell (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

A native of Lumberton, Bell believes there are many opportunities to collaborate across the health sciences to improve the health status of the region and state. His interests include diabetes, racial and ethnic minority health, and health disparities.

“I have long admired East Carolina’s mission – to serve the people of eastern North Carolina,” Bell said. “There is a need to train the next generation of public health professionals, to serve in the East – and in a number of venues, really.”

“After 25 years at Wake Forest, it was time for something different,” he added.

During his time at Wake Forest, Bell served as co-director for the Wake Forest School of Medicine Clinical and Population Translational Sciences master’s program and the Health Disparities in Neuroscience-Related Disorders master’s program. He has also worked as a lead instructor at Wake Forest and a guest instructor for classes at UNC Greensboro, Winston-Salem State University and Gardner-Webb University.

His research efforts include service on the editorial board of the American Journal of Health Behavior and the North Carolina Medical Journal. Most recently he was a co-primary investigator of the Coordinating Center for the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth, and primary investigator of the P60 Center of Excellence grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, focused on addressing disparities in diabetes prevention and control. He has over 220 publications in professional journals and has served on numerous National Institutes of Health and Center for Disease Control grant review panels.

Additional professional service includes time with the North Carolina’s Eat Smart Move More University Collaborative, the North Carolina Institute of Medicine Rural Health Task Force, and chairing the North Carolina Diabetes Advisory Council and the American Indian Health Board. Nationally, he has served on the U.S. Census Bureau Race and Ethnic Advisory Committee, the Native Research Network Board of Directors, and the American Diabetes Association Health Disparities Committee. In 2009, Bell received the UNC Greensboro School of Health and Human Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award, and in 2014, he was the recipient of the Diversity Alumni Award from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Public Health is focused on strategies for groups of people,” Bell noted. “Diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke…if you look at eastern North Carolina versus the rest of the state, we’ve got dire conditions. We’ve got the pieces (at ECU) to make an impact.”

Bell replaces Dr. Maria Clay in the leadership post, who has served as interim chair for public health since July 2014. Clay will retain her position as chair of Brody’s Department of Bioethics and Interdisciplinary Studies.

–Kathryn Kennedy

Kennerly, Sitzman inducted as fellows in the American Academy of Nursing

Two East Carolina University faculty members have been inducted as fellows in the American Academy of Nursing. College of Nursing Professors Dr. Susan Kennerly and Dr. Kathleen Sitzman were honored during a ceremony at the academy’s annual conference Oct. 20-22, 2016, in Washington, D.C.

“I am delighted to welcome this superb cohort of talented clinicians, researchers, policy leaders, educators and executives as they join the ranks of the nation’s leading nursing and health care thought leaders,” said Academy President Dr. Bobbie Berkowitz.

Selection criteria for fellowship include evidence of significant contributions to nursing and health care and sponsorship by two current fellows. Applicants are reviewed by a panel of elected and appointed fellows.

Kennerly is an eminent scholar known for her work in geriatric nursing and on the influence of nursing culture on care practices. She led entrepreneurial practice activities that enhanced nursing care delivery and outcomes and informed the science behind nursing practice environments by co-authoring the Nursing Culture Assessment Tool, the first of its kind, now used nationally and internationally to evaluate and shape nursing culture.



Kennerly is widely recognized for her pioneering work testing systematic interventions for pressure ulcer prevention in nursing homes. She was a co-investigator on the seminal research that aimed to reduce pressure ulcers by using music to cue staff to reposition nursing home residents every two hours. The pioneering study — which resulted in a 45 percent protective effect against pressure ulcers — was broadly reported in high-impact journals and serves as a key reference for subsequent work in advancing nursing best practices.

Kennerly currently serves as the co-principal investigator on a nearly $3 million National Institutes of Health grant that aims to determine if every two hour repositioning frequency can be extended to three or four hours without negative outcomes for residents at risk of pressure ulcer development. In 2014, she was a member of a working group that published standards for the International Clinical Practice Guideline for Pressure Ulcer Prevention and Treatment. Kennerly is wound care certified and a certified nurse educator, and serves as a team leader and evaluator for the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Sitzman is an internationally respected expert for her knowledge and research on human caring in nursing. One particular area of her expertise is virtual caring, in which Sitzman explores the scholarship of teaching in ways that convey and sustain communities of caring among students and faculty in online classroom settings. She has been primary investigator for eight studies on this topic alone. In addition to ECU, she is an adjunct professor with the Watson Caring Science Institute and created the College of Nursing’s first Massive Open Online Course, on the topic of Caring Science, which has been attended by over 2,000 people internationally since its first offering.



In addition to publishing more than 100 journal articles, she has co-authored four successful nursing textbooks. Her book A History of American Nursing: Trends and Eras won the American Journal of Nursing Textbook of the Year Award in 2009. Two of her books are being translated: Caring Science, Mindful Practice is coming out in Chinese and Spanish; Understanding the Work of Nurse Theorists is being translated into Spanish.

Sitzman serves as assistant editor and peer review board member for the International Journal for Human Caring. She is a peer reviewer and editorial board member for Nursing Education Perspectives, the journal of the National League for Nursing. She was inducted into the National League for Nursing’s Academy of Nursing Education in 2015. In November, she will be a keynote speaker at the Third International Congress of Nursing in Lima, Peru, where she will receive an honorary doctorate from the Universidad Privada Norbert Wiener S.A.

Also inducted as a fellow was North Carolina State Rep. Gale Adcock, an ECU alumna, College of Nursing Hall of Fame member, and recipient of nursing’s 2006 Distinguished Alumni Award.

The academy comprises more than 2,400 nurse leaders in education, management, practice, policy, and research. Fellows include hospital and government administrators, college deans, and renowned scientific researchers. With the new class of 164 inductees, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 28 countries are represented.

–Elizabeth Willy

Brody School of Medicine names new chair of cardiovascular sciences

The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University has named a new chair for its Department of Cardiovascular Sciences.

Dr. Mark Iannettoni assumed the role Oct. 1, following a one-year appointment as acting chair and a previous stint as vice chair. In his new role he will also serve as chief of cardiovascular services at Vidant Medical Center.

Dr. Mark Iannettoni

Dr. Mark Iannettoni

“This is an extremely exciting time for me to be in this leadership role, as we are in the process of merging several opportunities within Brody and the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences,” Iannettoni said, referring to the ongoing effort between Brody and Vidant Health to integrate clinical services. “We’re bringing together a successful and very solvent medical center with a well established and highly respected medical school.

“Combining an extremely dedicated department of academic faculty with a group of talented cardiology clinicians from Vidant Medical Group – who are highly valued partners for the future – will allow us to provide additional educational opportunities for our learners to understand the complexities of both forms of practice,” Iannettoni continued. “It also offers opportunities to expand our specialty care network into different regions of eastern North Carolina as a concerted effort to improve population health issues related to cardiovascular, lung and esophageal disease.”

Iannettoni is chief of Brody’s Division of Thoracic Surgery, which focuses on operations performed on organs within the chest. He joined Brody in 2014 and organized the thoracic surgery residency program at Vidant Medical Center. He received the 2015 Socrates Award from the national Thoracic Surgery Residents Association for his commitment to resident physicians’ education and mentorship.

He earned his medical degree from the State University of New York, where he also completed a general surgery residency. He went on to complete a thoracic surgery residency at the University of Michigan and earned an MBA from its Ross School of Business.

Iannettoni’s medical career spans 30 years and has yielded several academic appointments, including the Ehrenhaft professorship and chair of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and staff physician in the Section of Thoracic Surgery at the University of Michigan Medical Center.

He sees patients at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU. His clinical interests include all diseases of the esophagus with a special focus on foregut surgery and esophageal cancer, as well as lung cancer and all aspects of general thoracic surgery.

He is board-certified in both general and thoracic surgery and completed a specialty fellowship in esophageal and lung surgery. He has published more than 100 articles in these areas of research.

“We have already developed an outstanding program here for clinical care and education,” Iannettoni said. “We now need to focus on our ability to perform outstanding clinical research to help with population health issues that plague us in eastern North Carolina.”

–Amy Ellis

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