Former student presidents surprise Chancellor Ballard with home-cooked meal

Photos by Cliff Hollis

Seven past SGA presidents and guests met on Summit street and carried food to prepare chicken parmesan at the Ballard’s home on Saturday, March 5. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

When a chancellor retires, formal receptions with various dignitaries are traditional, but one group of students at East Carolina University wanted to do something more personal.

Several former student body presidents got together and hosted a surprise home-cooked dinner for outgoing Chancellor Steve Ballard and his wife Nancy at the chancellor’s residence on Saturday, March 5.

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“We wanted to do something in an intimate setting and honor him in a personal manner,” said Drew Griffin ’08, who coordinated the event. He served as president during the 2008-2009 school year as a last semester senior and first semester graduate student. “We wanted him to hear how much we appreciated him in a way that he could relax and soak it all in.”

Griffin and many of the other former presidents have kept in touch over the years, so when they heard Ballard was retiring, they knew they wanted to put together a nice surprise for him, it was just a question of how. Griffin and the others worked in secret with Mrs. Ballard to set a date and make their plans. A meal on campus or at a restaurant would attract too much attention, and catering an event at the house would spoil the surprise.

“I told Mrs. Ballard, how about we do this: we’ll just show up with bags full of groceries and cook dinner for everyone,” Griffin said.

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It took some doing, with former presidents and spouses coming in from multiple states, and Mrs. Ballard having to convince her husband to stay home that night instead of attending a baseball game as he loves to do, but the event went off without a hitch.

After enjoying a meal of chicken parmesan, roasted vegetables and Caesar salad, everyone took turns sharing what Chancellor Ballard meant to them and what they had learned from him.

“It’s rare to encounter a leader that treats you as a peer,” said Justin Davis ’15, who served as president in 2012. Like all student body presidents at ECU, Davis served as an ex officio member of the Board of Trustees.

“Serving on the board can be daunting for a 20-year-old,” Davis said. “He really listened to us. That does something for your confidence and professional development. I learned as much on the board as I did in class. His character and commitment made us who we are as people today.”

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Davis is now the director of business development for a local catering company. Griffin is founding vice president of a consulting firm for the government in Washington, D.C.

“The environment he created at ECU allowed us to learn about leadership and entrepreneurship,” Griffin said. “He set an example. He was so poised under pressure. We got to see that up close. That’s definitely something I took away from ECU. It was nice to put life to the words we’ve been feeling all these years.”

Davis learned from Ballard that leadership is rendering vision into reality. Davis says, “His impact has been felt not only through the university but through this whole area.”

Drew Griffin (08-09); Keri Brockett Carelas (07-08); Bradley Congleton (09-10); Chancellor Steve Ballard; Justin Davis (12-13); Jake Srednicki (14-15); Tremayne Smith (10-11); Josh Martinkovic (11-12)

Left to right: Drew Griffin (08-09); Keri Brockett Carelas (07-08); Bradley Congleton (09-10); Chancellor Steve Ballard; Justin Davis (12-13); Jake Srednicki (14-15); Tremayne Smith (10-11); Josh Martinkovic (11-12)

–Jackie Drake, ECU News Services

Pantelidis retires with emerita status

East Carolina University professor Dr. Veronica Pantelidis is retiring July 1 after 35 years of service to the university.

She has been appointed professor emerita by the Department of Library Science in the ECU College of Education, where she served as distinguished professor.

She was co-director of the Virtual Reality and Education Laboratory, co-editor of the refereed journal, “VR in the Schools,” and program coordinator for the graduate certificate in virtual reality in education and training.

Pantelidis received ECU’s 1999 Max Ray Joyner Award for Faculty Service through Continuing Education and the 2000-01 Distinguished Professor Award from ECU’s College of Education.

Recent publications include a co-authored book, “Virtual Reality in Education,” and a double issue of “Themese in Science and Technology.” Her publications on the use of virtual reality in education are available at the  Virtual Reality and Education Laboratory web site.

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ECU alumna retires from National Portrait Gallery

Members of the ECU Women’s Roundtable who celebrated the retirement of ECU alumna and Women’s Roundtable member Beverly Cox included front row, left to right, Carolyn Breedlove, Nancy Ballard, Cox, Mary Plybon; and back row, left to right, Marcy Romary, Angela Allen and Sylvia Rohrbough.

East Carolina University alumna Beverly Cox celebrated her retirement after 43 years with the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. this month, and several fellow Pirates were there to share in the festivities.

Cox retired as director of exhibitions and collections management at the gallery, where she was responsible for exhibition programs as well as the care and housing of 20,000 works of art. She has managed the organization of more than 300 exhibits and is the author of several exhibition catalogues.

Cox joined the National Portrait Gallery in 1968 when it opened to the public, just after her graduation in 1967 from the ECU School of Art. She acquired her first position at the gallery by walking into the personnel office without an appointment and asking if any jobs were open. They hired her on the spot as a temporary assistant in the history department.

Cox shared this and other experiences working for the museum in an interview with Washington Post writer Erin Williams. The full interview is available at  http://ow.ly/5iC1z.

Joining a surprise celebration in Cox’s honor were members of the ECU Women’s Roundtable, created in 2003 to acknowledge the contribution of outstanding women to the legacy of East Carolina University. Cox was both a member and a WRT honoree, selected as one of “100 Incredible Women” by the organization in 2007.

WRT members who traveled to D.C. to attend the retirement reception included Nancy Ballard, wife of ECU chancellor Steve Ballard; Mary Plybon, a 1971 ECU graduate and chair of the WRT board of directors; and Marcy Romary, senior major gifts officer and director of women’s philanthropy at ECU. Also in attendance were Angela Allen, 1981 ECU graduate, now vice president of IBM Global Business Services and a WRT board member; Carolyn Breedlove, a 1970 ECU graduate and WRT member who manages the National Education Association’s Green Across America; and Sylvia Rohrbough , a WRT board member and 1959 ECU alumna.

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