Category Archives: Feature

Health Services, Information Management faculty published in current journal

Robert Campbell

Bonita Sasnett

Patricia Royal

Faculty in the Department of Health Services and Information Management in the College of Allied Health Sciences have reported recent publications in the Journal of Health Administration Education 28(2).

An article by Patricia Royal, “Does practice make perfect? An approach to incorporating simulations and role plays in healthcare administration students’ curriculum,” describes how using standardized clients helps students gain interpersonal skills in preparation toward health careers.

An article by Robert Campbell and Bonita Sasnett, “Using Service Learning to Teach Teamwork and Peer Learning Skills to Health Services and Information Management Students,“ discusses the importance of introducing service learning into the curriculum with sophomores and seniors working in teams to develop community projects for local health care facilities in the Greenville communities.


ECU graduates first students in sustainable tourism master’s program

Stefanie Benjamin, left, and Shannon Arnold are among the first graduates in ECU's new master of science in sustainable tourism program.

Four East Carolina University students graduated this summer with a degree unlike any other; they were the first to earn the university’s new master of science degree in sustainable tourism, the first program of its kind in the United States.

Established in 2010, the degree program incorporates an interdisciplinary approach to teach students how to protect and enhance the resources of popular tourist areas, while at the same time encouraging tourism and the resulting economic boost to the area. The program reflects a growing concern about how to balance the benefits of tourism with its impact on vacation destinations.

Graduates Michaelina Antahades, far left, and Whitney Knollenberg, second from right, are pictured with Dr. Joseph Fridgen, director of academic programs for the MS-ST program (left) and Dr. Patrick Long, director of the Center for Sustainable Tourism (right).

The program draws upon emerging sustainability sciences in various disciplines at ECU. Courses provide study of sustainability through participating faculty in the university’s College of Business, the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Human Ecology, the College of Fine Arts and Communication and the College of Health and Human Performance.

The graduates were Shannon Arnold of Kinston, Stefanie Benjamin of Miami Shores, Fla., Michaelina Antahades of Charlotte and Whitney Knollenberg of Delton, Mich.

The next step for Arnold and Antahades is employment within North Carolina’s travel and tourism industry. Benjamin and Knollenberg plan to pursue doctoral degrees in hospitality and tourism management, at the University of South Carolina and Virginia Tech, respectively.

For additional information about the Center for Sustainable Tourism and the master of science program, visit


Contact: Dr. Patrick Long, director

Center for Sustainable Tourism at East Carolina University

(252) 328-4969


Research finds discrimination, resilience among older lesbians

More than half of lesbians aged 55 and older have been married to a man at some point in their lives. More than 90% said their families knew about their lesbian relationships.

East Carolina University researchers reported these findings in their article, “Older Lesbians: Experiences of Aging, Discrimination and Resilience,” published in the Journal of Women and Aging. The work was the largest and most comprehensive research done on this demographic since 1984.


Social work professors Paige Averette, Intae Yoon and Carol L. Jenkins surveyed 456 lesbians 55 years of age or older regarding socio-demographics, social activity, health, sexual identity, family relations, romantic relationships, use of service/help programs, mental health, end of life care, and experience with discrimination.

The research uncovered persistent discrimination and hostility toward lesbians despite improvements in public attitudes since the last national study. Compared to the earlier study, the group reported slightly higher levels of perceived discrimination in their employment settings due to their sexual orientation.

The researchers said that older lesbians contend with ageism in their work and social settings, just as many older individuals do. However, members of the study group face additional intolerance and discrimination from family and from the public, while walking down the street and going about their daily lives.

“More older lesbians have reported being married to men than twenty-five years ago,” said Averett, “which points to the continued pressure that lesbians feel to hide and to the power of heterosexism that continues within our culture.”

Averett said, “Older lesbians struggle with federal and state policies that disregard their lifetime romantic partnerships, denying them end-of-life decision making as well as access to partners’ Social Security and retirement benefits.” This forces them into legal battles with partners’ families, hospitals and employers, she said.

Despite the ongoing challenges, study participants showed an increase in positive thinking about their sexual orientation and about aging. While more than 80% reported participation in therapy at some point, the researchers said, they consider themselves overall to be in good mental health. More than 90% said they were “out” to their family members, and a majority reported having positive relationships with family members who know about their sexual orientation.

The study also showed an increase from the prior study in the duration of lesbian relationships. That number is now similar to the duration of heterosexual marriages.

For additional information about the study, contact Paige Averett, assistant professor in the ECU School of Social Work, at 252-328-4193 or


Full text of the article is available at:


Words of Support

Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Operations Bill Bagnell and Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences Phyllis Horns greet Gov. Beverly Perdue during a quick inspection of the ECU School of Dental Medicine construction site on Feb. 17. Operating funds for the dental school were included in the governor's proposed budget which she announced earlier that day. (Photos by Jeannine Manning Hutson)

Perdue pledges support for dental school during visit Feb. 17

By Mary Schulken

GREENVILLE   (Feb. 17, 2011)   —   N.C. Gov. Beverly Perdue said funding to open East Carolina University’s School of Dental Medicine is an urgent need that should stay on track despite the state’s toughest budget in 60 years.

“I don’t know what we would do if we were to build a building this sophisticated to train dentists for all of North Carolina and have it stand empty,” she said during a visit to the school’s construction site Thursday, Feb. 17.

“I hope the people of the General Assembly understand you can’t do that,” she told university officials and reporters gathered on west campus, where the school’s foundation has begun to rise.

Perdue proposed biennial budget includes the $5 million the UNC system and ECU have requested to keep construction of the dental school on schedule. It also includes funding for enrollment growth and financial aid at the state’s universities while trimming the state’s work force by an estimated 10,000 employees.

University of North Carolina President Tom Ross said state funding for enrollment growth and financial aid are priorities.

“We are particularly thankful that (Gov. Perdue) recognizes the critical importance of our enrollment growth funding and need-based financial aid, although those needs would be only partially met, as well as operating reserves for new buildings,” Ross said.

Still, cuts of the magnitude proposed in the governor’s budget would put an estimated 1,500 jobs at the state’s universities in jeopardy, he said, and students will feel the impact.

“With fewer faculty, staff, and course sections, many more students would not be able to obtain the courses and academic services they need to graduate on time,” he said.

ECU’s School of Dental Medicine is set to admit its first 50 students, all North Carolina residents, in August, with plans to admit 50 each year. Currently, the construction site consists of the building foundation, utilities, and the structure for the dental school basement. The steel to frame the building is expected to arrive later this month.

The UNC system has asked for $3.5 million in fiscal year 2011-2012 and $1.5 million in fiscal year 2012-13 to operate the dental school.

North Carolina is below the national average in the ratio of dentists to population, and that ratio has declined recently as the population has increased faster than the supply of practitioners. That need drove the establishment of a second state dental school.

On Thursday, Perdue chatted with ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard at the construction site, asking him how things were going at ECU.

“Things are good,” Ballard said. “We are doing what we are supposed to be doing.”

“I hope I’ll be back again when there’s more to see here at the dental school,” Perdue said.

Valentine Gift

June Long, an executive assistant at the Brody School of Medicine, recalls her Valentine's Day kidney transplant. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

A Valentine’s Day gift of a different sort

ECU staff member recalls the Feb. 14 kidney transplant that gave her a new life

By Doug Boyd

GREENVILLE, N.C. (Feb. 11, 2011) — June Long was with her daughter browsing Valentine’s Day cards when she received the call.

A match to replace Long’s failing kidneys had been found and was on its way to North Carolina. If the new kidney and Long passed the final matching criteria, she would undergo a transplant the following day, Feb. 14, 1997.

“It was very emotional,” said Long, 62. “It’s just overwhelming when you know something that means so much to you has cost a family so much.”

The transplant surgeon on call that day at East Carolina University was Dr. Paul Cunningham, now dean of the Brody School of Medicine at ECU.

“He said, ‘It’s about a perfect match. We’re going to the O.R.,'” Long said.

Feb. 14 isn’t just Valentine’s Day at the Cunningham household. It’s also the Cunninghams’ wedding anniversary, and that year was their 10th. “Our plans usually involve not doing a whole lot other than spend time with each other,” Cunningham said. “Typically, I cook a meal.”

When Cunningham told his wife, Sydney, their anniversary and Valentine’s Day dinner would have to wait, her response was warm.

“She felt this was the best Valentine’s Day gift we could give one another – to help somebody,” Cunningham said.

Long was prepped for surgery, and the operation proceeded. After Cunningham made all the connections, the new kidney began working before his eyes.

“From a surgeon’s viewpoint, it’s so exciting to be able to do that and see the thing run,” Cunningham said. “It’s like a kid at Christmas; you put the battery in the toy and see it work.”

Long, who worked at the ECU medical school in 1997 and still does, as an executive assistant, has enjoyed 14 years of normal life. She said anti-rejection medication is far better than 10 hours of dialysis each night. “I was pretty much tied to the dialysis machine,” she said. “All you do is take a handful of pills, and that’s so much better than being on dialysis.

“This has been a real good match,” she added. “I’ve never had any rejection episodes. It’s been a great kidney.”

In addition, new anti-rejection medications have fewer side-effects and are less damaging to the kidneys and body, Cunningham said.

While the job of dean leaves no time for surgery, that’s OK with Cunningham. “There’s a time for everything,” he said. “My job now is to support those who are doing transplants now.”

More than 280 eastern North Carolinians are awaiting a kidney transplant, according to ECU experts. ECU surgeons performed 73 kidney transplants in 2010.

For more information about kidney transplants at ECU, call 252-744-2620.

Tough Times

Ballard: ECU will survive tough times

GREENVILLE, N.C. (Feb. 2, 2011) — College and division cuts of 9 to 12 percent along with tuition hikes may be necessary to make up state budget shortfalls, East Carolina University Chancellor Steve Ballard said Wednesday.

Those steps could mean fewer and larger classes for students as well as increased teaching loads for faculty, Ballard said.

In his second-annual State of the University address, Ballard praised ECU’s accomplishments while warning that the next budget year will be the most daunting faced in 60 years. The state budget is expected to have a $3.7 billion gap — a 20 percent shortfall — for the fiscal year that begins in July.

Ballard cautioned that state lawmakers are not expected to approve the 2011-2012 budget for several months. But if public universities are asked to cut 20 percent, he said, ECU will lose $60 million — on top of $106 million that’s vanished from its budget in recent years.

“One can certainly hear estimates ranging from 8 percent to 20 percent, depending on assumptions about sales taxes and economic performance in the state,” Ballard said. “While I ask everyone to pray for 8 percent, as a chancellor I must plan for 20 percent.”

For students, the cuts are likely to mean higher tuition and fees. Under the scenario Ballard outlined, students could fund at least 20 percent — or $12 million — of the $60 million gap. Such hikes would come on top of substantial increases approved in previous years by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

“We have always prided ourselves in being an access institution and our first university priority is student success, so making higher education less affordable is a painful option for me,” Ballard said. “I would not propose it if I did not consider it necessary to protect the quality of their academic experiences.”

Even with tuition increases, ECU will remain either second- or third-most affordable among peer universities, Ballard said.

Faculty and staff could be affected by 9 percent to 12 percent cuts to colleges and divisions throughout the university. Ballard said those reductions would generate $30 million in savings, or half ECU’s $60 million target.

“While I hope that we can keep the overall size of our faculty close to what it is today, many schools and colleges will have no choice other than to use faculty openings and academic resources to reach their goal,” Ballard said. “The availability of classes will be reduced, while class size and teaching loads, on average, will increase.”

Ballard said ECU could use as much as $15 million from its emergency fund to avoid further cuts as well as look for ways to consolidate services to further fill the gap. The university has used its emergency fund to pay for clean-up from disasters such as Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and other unforeseen expenses.

ECU has already done its best to cut costs, Ballard said, citing UNC system data that indicate the university is one of two state campuses in which the rate of administrative growth has been less than the rate of student population growth.

Ballard said he’s asked Marianna Walker, chair of the Faculty Senate, to work with its Educational Policy and Planning Committee to recommend ways to consolidate academic units and reduce administrative costs.

Such cuts would make the fiscal year that starts in July the fourth that state universities have lost money. Last year, the UNC system accounted for 20 percent of cuts, though it represented 13 percent of the state’s budget, Ballard said.

Much of the cuts have come from administrative positions and functions. Two years ago, 92 percent of ECU’s cut to its budget base came from those areas, Ballard said.

He pointed out that a majority of states have experienced worse cuts than North Carolina. California, for instance, has a $20 billion gap while Illinois faces a $25 billion shortfall. University of California system tuition has tripled since 2002.

ECU will focus on the long-term and be strategic as it deals with cuts, Ballard said.

“We will define where we want to be at the end of this recession and stay focused,” he said. “We won’t eat our seed corn. We will protect our fundamental commitments as a public university.”

ECU is a “vital part of the solution” to the state’s problems, Ballard said.

“ECU is about the promise of opportunity — giving students access to an excellent university and a chance to realize their dreams,” Ballard said.

Ballard highlighted several of the university’s accomplishments in job creation, including:

•The engineering program, which began in 2004 and was accredited in 2009, attracts more applicants with higher academic credentials each year. Half of its students are from eastern North Carolina and more than 90 percent of graduates have found jobs in the field or have enrolled in a graduate program.

•More than 90 percent of hospitality management majors are employed upon graduation, despite a severe recession in the industry.

•More new N.C. teachers come from ECU than any other institution.

•All nurse anesthesia, occupational therapy and physical therapy graduates are employed after graduation.

ECU also is improving the health of eastern N.C. residents, Ballard said. He cited, among other things, the Brody School of Medicine’s No. 2 national ranking in producing primary-care doctors and its rank of seventh nationally in meeting its overall social mission.

ECU knows how to survive tough times, he said.

“On the other side of this great recession, we will not only be here, we will be proud of the difference we make,” Ballard said. “And we will never lose sight of the opportunities we provide.”

The university has to preserve its academic core, said the vice president of the Student Government Association, who listened to Ballard’s message.

“If the choice is between cutting away things that make the academic core strong or raising tuition, then it probably would be necessary to raise tuition,” said Josh Martinkovic, a senior. “During hard times, you have to do the best you can with what you have.”

Dr. Paul Cunningham, dean of the Brody School of Medicine, said Ballard delivered his message with honesty and confidence.

“He expressed great resolve and optimism about our future as a university,” Cunningham said.