Category Archives: In the news

Social work faculty member appointed to Pitt County board

Dr. Shelia Bunch, professor and director of the School of Social Work at East Carolina University, has been appointed to the Pitt County Board of Social Services.

Dr. Shelia Bunch (contributed photo)

Dr. Shelia Bunch (contributed photo)

Effective July 1, she will serve through June 30, 2020. Drew Pledger, chair of the North Carolina Social Services Commission, announced Bunch’s appointment on June 30. She was sworn in July 11.

“I am excited about the appointment,” Bunch said. “Our School of Social Work has a great working relationship with the local DSS agency, which employs many of our alumni and serves as a field internship site for our students.”

Bunch received her bachelor’s degree from ECU, a master’s in social work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a doctoral degree from North Carolina State University.

Her research interests include rural domestic violence, rural social work education, issues related to children and families and social inequality.

The Pitt County Department of Social Services is a human services organization that provides many programs including food and nutrition services, adult protective services, child services including child support enforcement, and emergency assistance to residents.

 

-by Crystal Baity

Dr. Hardy Receives Distinguished Service Award

Article originally published on Pitt County Community College’s Website


Pitt Community College administrators took time during Thursday’s graduation ceremony to show their appreciation to three Board of Trustees members for outstanding service to the college and community.

Before nearly 700 graduates turned their tassels in East Carolina University’s Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum, Distinguished Service Awards were presented to former trustees Virginia Hardy and Jimmy Nelson and current trustee Walter Williams.

Hardy, a Greenville native, is ECU’s Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. She served as a PCC Trustee from 2008 to 2016, after being appointed to the board by Pitt County Commissioners. As a trustee, she chaired the college’s Personnel Committee for two years and served on numerous other committees.

In presenting Hardy with her award, PCC Trustee Patti Sanders-Smith noted that Hardy utilized the student affairs and employee leadership experience she gained at ECU to provide trustees and college administrative staff with welcomed insight throughout her eight years of service.

Dr. Virginia Hardy. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Dr. Virginia Hardy. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

When she first joined PCC’s governing board, Hardy called it a chance to serve the community. She praised the college for its versatility in meeting the training needs of local business and industry and for giving people “choices to better their lives.”

The youngest of eight children, Hardy earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She later received a master’s in counseling from ECU and a Ph.D. in counseling from N.C. State University.

“Education has always been important to both my family and me,” she said. “My parents expected that each of us would attain postsecondary education so that we would be afforded opportunities that weren’t available to them.”

A Bethel native, Nelson was appointed to the board by former Gov. Mike Easley in 2004. In 12 years as a trustee, he served on several committees and chaired the Building and Grounds Committee during the planning stages of the Science and Technology Center now under construction and scheduled to open later this year.

Nelson’s first encounter with PCC came as a high school student, when he enrolled in several college courses before graduating from North Pitt. He went on to enroll at UNC-Chapel Hill as a Morehead Scholar and earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1977.

As a UNC student, Nelson participated in student government and varsity athletics. As a member of the Tar Heels track team, he was named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference Academic Honor Roll.

Nelson continued his studies at Campbell University School of Law and received a law degree in 1980. He joined the firm of Mark W. Owens Jr., where he was named a partner in 1983 and continues to practice to this day.

The son of Frances Nelson and the late Jimmy Nelson Sr., Jimmy Nelson Jr. and his wife, Beth, have three adult children – Jay, Suzanne and McKenna.

Williams, who has been a PCC Trustee since 2005, is an ECU alumnus and the founder of Trade Oil Company. A Pitt County Commissioners appointee, he has referred to PCC as “an investment in the area’s future” and has served on numerous college committees, including Building and Grounds, Finance and Audit, and Personnel.

“Mr. Williams has frequently served as the legislative liaison with elected officials of the North Carolina General Assembly for the Board of Trustees,” PCC Trustee Don Mills said in presenting Williams with his award. “His counsel has been invaluable in advocating for community college budget priorities.”

Mills noted that it was rather appropriate for Williams to receive his Distinguished Service Award during a PCC graduation ceremony taking place in a facility that bears his name.

Raised on a tobacco farm just south of Greenville, Williams has long given back to his community, both financially and through volunteer service.

In 2007, the Council for the Support and Advancement of Education named him its southeast regional winner of the Bill Franklin Volunteer of the Year Award in recognition of his dedicated service to his alma mater. A year later, he served as co-chair of the PCC Foundation’s Futures First Campaign Committee, helping raise $8 million to fund new technology, student scholarships and construction of a 34,000-square-foot addition to the college’s health sciences facilities.

“You can go through life coasting or floating along, or you can be aggressive,” Williams said of the campaign. “If the leadership and citizens of Pitt County want Pitt Community College to be on the cutting edge, then we need to move forward, and the capital campaign is just part of moving forward.”

PCC has presented Distinguished Service Awards each spring during graduation since the honor was created by trustees in 1989 to recognize individuals for their efforts to enhance the college’s mission and services.

ECU English graduate student participates in prestigious Washington, D.C. workshop

East Carolina University English student Sarah McKeever was one of only 12 students nationwide selected to participate in a highly-competitive workshop held recently at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

The library is home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection and one of the nation’s premier research libraries for Renaissance history, literature and culture.

“I felt incredibly lucky to receive this opportunity, which is a dream come true,” said McKeever, who received her bachelor degree in English from ECU in May and will begin her studies in ECU’s master’s program this fall.

Marianne Montgomery, chair of the Department of English, was thrilled that McKeever was selected to participate in the workshop held June 26-30.

In "the Vault" looking at 400 + year old manuscripts.  This was a surreal, spiritual and elating experience! Left - Sarah McKeever looking at the book. (Photos by Syd Bauerman)

In “the Vault” looking at 400 + year old manuscripts.  This was a surreal, spiritual and elating experience! Left – Sarah McKeever looking at the book. (Photos by Syd Bauerman)

“Sarah was among peers who share her passion for Renaissance literature and had the opportunity to study with top visiting faculty from around the nation,” said Montgomery. “We are proud of Sarah and know that she represented ECU well.”

While at the library, McKeever and other scholars worked in small teams to digitally encode and format early modern dramas not yet included in the digital archives. The authors of the dramas are contemporaries of Shakespeare and their digital presence will supplement the current collection at the library.

“I have been in awe of the Folger Library’s rare collection for as long as I can remember and was excited to step foot within its hallowed walls,” said McKeever. “It was exciting to work directly with the rare manuscripts in the vault’s reading rooms.”

The workshop complemented McKeever’s interests and immersions at ECU. For three years, McKeever has served as an editorial assistant to English professor Dr. Jeffrey Johnson on the John Donne Variorum project, a multi-volume digital anthology of John Donne’s poetry.

In Folger's theatre students acted out a scene from Thomas Middleton's play, "The Roaring Girl.”

In Folger’s theatre students acted out a scene from Thomas Middleton’s play, “The Roaring Girl.”

“Sarah is an imaginative and insightful thinker, one whose intellectual curiosity and intellectual humility are the hallmarks for why she is such an accomplished student, as well as a promising scholar,” said Johnson.

McKeever intends to focus on Renaissance literature in her master’s program.

“ECU has an incredibly stellar Renaissance literature program and faculty, and ECU has been the most fortuitous place that I could have begun my path in early modern literary studies,” said McKeever.

“Familiarity with the treasure-trove of Folger resources will enhance my research in graduate school and greatly inform my interpretations,” said McKeever.

After completing her master’s degree, McKeever wants to pursue a doctoral program. She plans to dedicate her scholastic life to early modern studies and hopes to never cease learning – and perhaps teaching – about its literary works. In addition, she finds digital technology an exciting supplement to literary texts.

“I am very enthusiastic about the development of digital anthologies; their creation being at the forefront of literary innovation today,” said McKeever. “Access to these materials will benefit future scholars in the same ways that they have been beneficial for me.”

For additional information about the Folger workshop, visit http://folgerpedia.folger.edu/Opening_the_Digital_Anthology_of_Early_Modern_English_Drama:_Skills,_Tools,_and_Texts_(workshop).

 

 

-by Lacey Gray, University Communications

ECU Club Baseball’s Tanner Duncan signs contract with MLB’s Houston Astros

Tanner Duncan has been on a whirlwind ride during the month of June. The ECU Pirate has experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows.

On June 1, Tanner led the ECU Club Baseball team to a World Series National Championship, winning 1-0 in ten innings over Central Florida. He was almost perfect in the World Series, surrendering no runs and only five hits in 18 innings pitched. He won both games and was named the NCBA World Series Most Valuable Player.

“I can’t describe the feeling of winning that championship,” said Duncan. “These coaches, my teammates and the ECU Club baseball program just came together and worked so hard to make this dream come true.”

ECU Club Baseball won the Club Baseball World Series. (Contributed photos)

ECU Club Baseball won the Club Baseball World Series. (Contributed photos)

Tanner Duncan rode that wave for about 10 days while he waited for the Major League Baseball draft on June 12-14. Like hundreds of baseball players around the country, he hoped his phone would ring and a professional baseball organization wanted him.

But the phone didn’t ring any of the three days.

“I was sitting on my couch thinking the dream was over. I had completed all my course work for my kinesiology degree and was trying to figure what in the world I was going to do with my life. I just kept thinking, I am a baseball player. I want to play baseball.”

Then, the game changed. His phone rang.

 

Lifelong Dream

At three years of age, Tanner Duncan knew what he was going to be when he grew up.

“I was going to be a professional baseball player,” Duncan said. “I always thought I was good enough even when others didn’t agree.”

Duncan started playing t-ball in his hometown of Tabor City, North Carolina. His parents, Greg and Wendy Duncan, spent the next 15 years taking Tanner from ball field to ball field, from Little League and Summer Travel Leagues to the high school diamonds.

Tanner found success at pretty much every level as a hitter and fielder. He received a few offers to play college baseball from some Division III schools, but chose to attend East Carolina University and try his best to walk on and make the team.

Duncan was named Player of the game.

Duncan was named Player of the game.

“I tried out as a shortstop during my first year at ECU, but I just didn’t make the cut,” Duncan said. “I just knew that I was good enough if I could just get a chance to prove it.”

Tanner Duncan had heard about ECU’s club baseball team and thought it would be a great way to keep his dream alive. He converted from shortstop to pitcher during that first season. Duncan’s goal was to work as hard as he could and try out again the next season.

“The guys on our club team were just special. They work their tails off in every practice and every game and wanted to win a championship.”

A championship didn’t come and neither did a spot on the team after trying out again the following season. But Tanner wasn’t going to stop.

“My parents always believed in me,” said Duncan. “They told me anything was possible if you were willing to work at it. So, I kept working.”

During his junior year, Tanner Duncan and the ECU Club baseball team made it to the World Series but lost in the championship game to Nevada. In 2017, the team was back in the World Series and entered as the number one ranked team in the country.

Tanner had an amazing season on the mound. He won nine games, only losing one. He pitched 75 innings, striking out 132 batters and garnered a stunning 0.84 earned run average. That means every time he pitched the opposing team averaged less than one run per game.

“The ECU Club Baseball program was a blessing for me,” Duncan said. “I am so appreciative to the folks in Campus Recreation and Wellness, the club sports organizers and everyone that helped this team win a championship.”

And so after the MLB draft, Tanner Duncan thought the end of his baseball career may be here. Then, while sitting on his couch contemplating his future, the phone rang and he was offered a chance to pitch in front of professional scouts.

 

Three Days of Craziness

Tanner hopped in his car and drove to Richmond, Virginia to showcase his talents for pro scouts. It was his one true chance to demonstrate his skills, his passion and his desire to become a professional baseball player.

Tanner Duncan signs with the Astros. (contributed photos)

Tanner Duncan signs with the Astros. (contributed photos)

“It was a lot of pressure, but I just believed that I could do it. When I was done, I just didn’t know if it would be enough.”

It was enough. Less than an hour later, as he was heading back home to North Carolina, his phone rang. He was being offered a spot with the Houston Astros organization.

“There wasn’t much time to celebrate. I was on a plane the next morning at 6 a.m., headed to West Palm Beach, Florida to join the Gulf Coast League Astros.”

On June 23, he officially signed a contract with the Astros organization and was assigned to the Rookie League. He pitched two innings of shutout relief on June 27 and is expected to see his first action as a starting pitcher on July 3.

And while you can’t wipe the smile off his face right now, he hasn’t forgotten there is still more to accomplish.

“Becoming a pro baseball player is great, but it’s only step one. Now I have to work hard enough to move up. Level by level, I will keep working. And even if I make it to the big leagues (Major League Baseball), I will not quit working.”

Tanner said he learned that from playing Club Baseball at ECU.

“Resilience, persistence and relentless. That’s what I learned at East Carolina and those same words are going to keep the fire in me burning.”

 

 

-by Chris Stansbury, Student Affairs 

Free speech gets the ‘green light’ at ECU

East Carolina University has earned the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE’s) highest, “green light” rating after changing four campus policies to meet First Amendment standards. The state of North Carolina now has six institutions with this rating, more than any other state.

“ECU is the latest university to tell students and faculty that free speech and open debate are welcome on campus,” said Laura Beltz, FIRE’s policy reform program officer. “FIRE is thrilled to see so many universities in North Carolina take concrete steps to preserve First Amendment rights on campus, and we are happy to work with any other college or university to protect student and faculty speech rights.”

After ECU’s Craig Malmrose, a professor in the School of Art and Design, asked the university to revise its “yellow light” speech codes, administrators at the 29,000-student university revised four policies in accordance with FIRE’s recommendations.

ECU joins 32 other colleges and universities that earn a green light rating because their written policies do not imperil student and faculty expression, according to FIRE’s Spotlight database. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte earned the same rating last week, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and North Carolina Central University both earned green light status in May. Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill previously earned FIRE’s highest rating for campus free speech.

“At ECU we are committed to free speech and freedom of expression on our campus,” said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Virginia Hardy. “We want our students, faculty, staff and guests to feel comfortable exercising their rights and exploring their ideas. Allowing the opportunity for freedom of expression and civil discourse around differing views has always been, and continues to be, a mainstay of institutions of higher learning.”

To learn more about the state of free speech on college campuses, see FIRE’s “Spotlight on Speech Codes 2017” report.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending liberty, freedom of speech, due process, academic freedom, legal equality, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses.

 

-by Jules Norwood

ECU receives Tree Campus USA designation

Students participating in the Tree Campus USA designation ceremony. (Photos by Chad Carwein)

Students participating in the Tree Campus USA designation ceremony. (Photos by Chad Carwein)

East Carolina University has officially earned the Tree Campus USA designation by the National Arbor Day Foundation for the first time in university history. Only 12 total North Carolina institutions of higher education can claim this certification, which was celebrated during a recent tree-planting ceremony on campus.

East Carolina University's Grounds Team planting a tree on campus for Arbor Day.

East Carolina University’s Grounds Team planting a tree on campus for Arbor Day.

To qualify, ECU staff worked over the past year to meet Tree Campus USA standards. Standards include a Campus Tree Advisory Committee including students, faculty, facility management and at least one community member. A tree care plan was developed containing the policies for planting, landscaping, maintenance and removal of the trees on campus. (To see ECU’s Tree Care Plan click here.)

For the third and fourth standards ECU needed to have dedicated annual expenditures and extend community education efforts through an Arbor Day event.

Lastly, the university needed to complete a variety of Service Learning Projects. ECU met this standard through the following tree planting events on campus: Earth Day (April 20, 2016) and ReLeaf Community Tree Day (March 18, 2017).

For more information about Tree Campus USA, please visit www.arborday.org or contact John Gill, Director of ECU Grounds Department at (252) 737-1179 or gillj@ecu.edu.

 

–by Chad Carwein, ECU Sustainability

ECU’s Heidi Bonner receives 2017 Harriot College Dean’s Early Career Award

East Carolina University’s Dr. Heidi Bonner, assistant professor of criminal justice, is the recipient of the 2017 Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Early Career Award. The award, which recognizes and rewards exceptional performance by tenure-track assistant professors, was announced at a special reception in Bonner’s honor, hosted at the home of Dr. William M. Downs, dean of Harriot College.

“I was incredibly flattered to be selected,” said Bonner. “I know many people in the college who do incredible work and it was an honor to be this year’s recipient.”

Bonner, who received her Ph.D. in criminal justice from the University at Albany, SUNY in 2012, just finished her fifth year at ECU and loves the people.

“I have met so many great colleagues in and out of my department,” said Bonner. “I especially enjoy research collaborations that cross disciplines, and [I] have had the opportunity to engage in more of those relationships now that we are part of Harriot College.”

As a researcher, Bonner’s interests lie in criminal justice decision making behavior, offender behavior while incarcerated, evaluation of criminal justice policy and practice, job stress and satisfaction, and the effectiveness of instructional strategy in the classroom. She engages in researcher-practitioner partnerships and currently is participating in several projects with local agencies, including evaluating policies pertaining to response to violence against women.

Bonner teaches predominantly in the criminal justice graduate program and focuses on policing, courts and research methods.

“We have great students, and I enjoy interacting with them in the classroom and through research mentoring opportunities,” said Bonner. “Getting to know students over four years and then reading their names at graduation is always bittersweet.”

This year, Bonner also received the Founders Award from the North Carolina Criminal Justice Association. At ECU, Bonner was honored with the Chair’s Faculty Excellence Award in 2013 and 2016, and she has participated in both the BB&T Faculty Leadership Fellows Program and the Chancellor’s Leadership Academy.

Because she enjoys working with agencies, Bonner is a proud member of the Board of Trustees for the John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety and a member of the Board of Directors for the Center for Family Violence and Prevention in Greenville. This year, she also was selected for one of the National Institute of Justice’s Standing Review Panels.

The Dean’s Early Career Award represents the college’s breadth of faculty excellence in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and mathematics. It is made possible through the generosity of the Harriot College Advancement Council. In addition to her recognition at Downs’ home, Bonner will be acknowledged at Harriot College’s fall convocation in August.

“The award’s primary focus is on the faculty member’s productivity in research and creative discovery, which must be judged to be of such high quality and impact that it exceeds expectations,” said Downs. “Outstanding performance in professional development must be complemented by demonstrated excellence in instructional effectiveness and service, and I am extremely pleased to say Dr. Bonner exceeded these qualifications.”

 

-by Lacey Gray, Univeristy Communication

ECU’s Maritime Studies Program Accepted into International Network

East Carolina University’s Program in Maritime Studies recently was named a member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNITWIN Network for Underwater Archaeology. ECU joins as a full member with other universities including Texas A&M University, Southampton University, University of Southern Denmark and Alexandria University.

Associate Professor of History and Director of Graduate Studies Dr. Jennifer McKinnon travelled to Paris, France, the last week of May to attend the network’s annual meeting and present ECU’s application.

McKinnon (center-right, turquoise pants) poses with a group of UNESCO UNITWIN Network members and meeting attendees. (Photo by Jonathan Benjamin.)

McKinnon (center-right, turquoise pants) poses with a group of UNESCO UNITWIN Network members and meeting attendees. (Photo by Jonathan Benjamin.)

“Joining this network has the potential to further the program’s existing international contacts and partnerships, providing both faculty and students with opportunities to collaborate, research and study abroad,” said McKinnon. “It also speaks to our Chancellor’s vision for global impact and becoming a national model.”

Established in 2012, the objective of the cooperative program is to promote research, training, information and documentation in the field of archaeology related to underwater cultural heritage.

“Maritime Studies’ membership in the UNESCO UNITWIN Network for Underwater Archaeology is a prime example of the university’s commitment to expanding its global impact in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the field,” said ECU Executive Director of Global Affairs Dr. Jon Rezek.

ECU’s Program in Maritime Studies, established in 1982 and housed in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Department of History, is the second oldest and one of the largest of a few graduate programs in the United States that teach students in underwater archaeology. It has a national and international reputation working in areas around the world from Bermuda in the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, Caribbean, Africa and Latin America.

“The Department of History is committed to expanding our international footprint,” said Dr. Christopher Oakley, chair of the department of history. “We look forward to partnering with UNESCO UNITWIN to enhance our research collaboration with other prestigious universities across the globe.”

For additional information about the UNESCO UNITWIN Network, visit www.underwaterarchaeology.net.

 

 

-by Lacey Gray, University Communication

ECU professor of medicine named administrator for federal agency HRSA

A professor of medicine in the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University has been appointed by President Donald Trump as the new administrator for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

On May 1, Dr. George Sigounas assumed oversight of HRSA, the primary federal agency for improving health care to people who are geographically isolated, or economically or medically vulnerable. HRSA’s $10.5 billion annual budget expands access to quality health care through an array of grants to state and local governments, health care providers and health professions training programs.

Dr. George Sigounas (Contributed photo)

Dr. George Sigounas (Contributed photo)

Sigounas has served for 23 years as a professor of medicine at Brody, where he helped establish the Bone Marrow Transplantation Program. His work with this program gave him extensive experience in designing and conducting clinical trials, preparing patient treatment protocols and performing fiscal management. He also directed the Cellular Therapies Clinical Unit which provided the Bone Marrow Transplantation Program with the cells used to transplant cancer patients.

“One of my primary reasons for coming to the Brody School of Medicine was to have the opportunity to participate in developing and operating a cellular therapies program that would provide service to the patients of eastern North Carolina,” Sigounas said. “The purpose of the program was for patients to remain close to home and not have to travel more than 100 miles to receive necessary treatment.

“Through the bone marrow program and by serving as faculty at a school focused on primary care for 23 years,” Sigounas added, “I developed a unique perspective on treating the undeserved and rural medicine as a whole, as well as on the providers who make this their professional objective… it was an eye-opening experience regarding the commitment and sacrifice which must be made to improve health care for those who need it most.”

In her recent announcement about Sigounas’ appointment, Diana Espinosa, deputy administrator for HRSA, said, “His involvement in the establishment and operation of a bone marrow transplantation program, clinical trials, and patient committees have provided Dr. Sigounas with extensive understanding of the various aspects involved in patient treatment, including treatment processes, and financial issues.”

From 1987 to 1994, Sigounas was a researcher at the National Institutes of Health and the Naval Medical Center. Through the years, his research efforts have resulted in several U.S. and international patents.

Sigounas earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from the University of Patras in Greece, a master’s in physiology and biology from Northeastern University, and a Ph.D. in cell biology and physiology from Boston University.

Sigounas is on an approved leave of absence from Brody and expected to return in January 2020.

 

 

-by Amy Ellis, University Communication

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