Category Archives: Staff

Dr. Michael Piehler named interim executive director of UNC Coastal Studies Institute

Effective July 1, Dr. Michael Piehler assumed the role of interim executive director of the UNC Coastal Studies Institute (UNC CSI).

Piehler has been an integral part of the growth and success of UNC CSI, serving as the head of the estuarine ecology and human health research program since 2004. Piehler assumes the role following the retirement of Dr. Nancy White, who served 14 years as the founding executive director for UNC CSI.

Dr. Michael Poehler (Photos by Mary Lide Parker)

Dr. Michael Poehler (Photos by Mary Lide Parker)

The UNC Coastal Studies Institute is a multi-university institute located in Wanchese and administered through East Carolina University.

ECU Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Dr. Ron Mitchelson selected Piehler as the interim executive director.

“Mike is an accomplished scholar with impressive leadership qualities,” Mitchelson said. “Dr. Piehler has been part of the CSI team for many years and that experience will be crucial in the upcoming year. I look forward to working with Mike as we grow key coastal programs at CSI.”

Dr. Michael Piehler prepares samples in the lab.

Dr. Michael Piehler prepares samples in the lab.

Piehler received his Ph.D. in environmental science and engineering from UNC Chapel Hill, and since 1998 has been a member of the faculty at UNC Chapel Hill’s Institute of Marine Science. Piehler’s research occurs at the coastal land-water interface and is focused on quantifying the transport and transformation of nutrients. His research is funded by federal, state and regional sources and he serves on scientific advisory panels for governments, non-government organizations and industry.

Piehler is excited about this next stage in the growth and development of the institute. “I am honored to have been tapped by Provost Mitchelson to lead during this important period in the development of the Coastal Studies Institute.  We have remarkable people and facilities, and I look forward to helping us excel,” said Piehler.

For more information, visit



-by John McCord, Coastal Studies Institute 


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.

Volunteers Needed for Fall Move-In

Campus Living is seeking groups and organizations to assist with Fall 2017 freshmen move-in, which begins at noon on Tuesday, August 15 and runs through Sunday, August 20. They will focus on volunteer efforts Wednesday, August 16 through the end of the day on Friday, August 18.

As in past years, Campus Living will rely on volunteers to assist residents with carrying boxes and furniture, answering questions, providing directions, and, for the first time, assisting with their indoor check-in process.

If you are involved with an organization or group interested in participating, please arrange for a representative to contact Dave Hilbert at They will schedule meetings with representatives of each organization in early July, at which time they will collect each group’s availability. Campus Living will distribute a volunteer schedule and provide additional updates as they approach the week of the move-in.

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 or contact John Gill, Director of ECU Grounds Department at (252) 737-1179 or


–by Chad Carwein, ECU Sustainability

Students, faculty and staff attend N.C. Graduate Education Day in Raleigh

East Carolina University graduate students Molly Albecker, Spencer Miller and Kenyann Stanford traveled with their mentors and ECU Graduate School faculty to Raleigh as representatives for North Carolina Graduate Education Day held May 16 at the Legislative Building.

Albecker, a biology graduate student, Miller, who is earning a kinesiology graduate degree, and Stanford, a graduate student in educational leadership, visited with legislators and discussed their research interests to emphasize the importance and value of graduate education.

Between 2012 and 2022, the United States is projected to see a 16 percent increase in the number of jobs requiring a doctoral or professional degree and an 18.4 percent increase in jobs requiring a master’s degree. North Carolina is tied at 25th with the District of Columbia in the estimated percentage of residents age 25 and older with a graduate or professional degree. These individuals contribute to North Carolina’s technically skilled and entrepreneurial workforce that benefit the state’s economy.

Also attending from ECU were: Jeffrey Brault (kinesiology), Kathy Cox (graduate school), Paul Gemperline, dean of the graduate school, Tom McConnell (graduate school), Michael McCoy (biology), Heidi Puckett, graduate school, and Art Rouse (educational leadership).

ECU graduate students, mentors, and graduate school staff at North Carolina Graduate Education Day, NC Legislative Building, May 16, 2017; le to right: Michael McCoy (Biology), Tom McConnell (Graduate School), Jeffrey Brault (Kinesiology), Spencer Miller (Kinesiology), Molly Albecker (Biology), Paul Gemperline (Dean, Graduate School), Kenyann Stanford (Educational Leadership), Art Rouse (Educational Leadership), Kathy Cox (Graduate School), Heidi Puckett (Graduate School). (contributed photo)

ECU graduate students, mentors, and graduate school staff at North Carolina Graduate Education Day, NC Legislative Building, May 16, 2017; le to right: Michael McCoy (Biology), Tom McConnell (Graduate School), Jeffrey Brault (Kinesiology), Spencer Miller (Kinesiology), Molly Albecker (Biology), Paul Gemperline (Dean, Graduate School), Kenyann Stanford (Educational Leadership), Art Rouse (Educational Leadership), Kathy Cox (Graduate School), Heidi Puckett (Graduate School). (contributed photo)



-by Crystal Baity 

CRW Family Fun Day 2017!

Friendly Reminder!

Join Campus Recreation & Wellness for an afternoon of family fun at the North Recreational Complex this Sunday, June 4, 2017 from 2-5pm. There will be zip lining (ages 8 and up with closed toed shoes), boating, fitness walk, a treasure hunt, basketball toss, face painting, inflatables, and water activities!

For those with children attending the CRW Summer Camp, parents and kids can meet with the camp counselors they will be hanging with this summer.

For Family Fun Day, each child must be accompanied by an adult and all adults will check in on-site with an ECU 1Card or ID and sign a waiver for themselves and any minor.

For more information, please contact Jenny Gregory at 328-6387 or

Joyner conference connects fellow institutions with community empowerment

Joyner Library’s SHRA Assembly held its 13th annual Paraprofessional Conference on Friday, May 12.

Joyner Library hosts a Paraprofessional Conference. (Photos by Brooke Tolar)

Joyner Library hosts a Paraprofessional Confrence. (Photos by Brooke Tolar)

This year’s theme, Libraries and Community Empowerment, addressed the role played by libraries and librarians to help individuals and communities acquire knowledge about themselves and the world around them.

Joe Barricella, digital services production coordinator for Joyner Library, said, “Our Library and librarians interact with the community daily. We offer a variety of resources, including computers and books, which allow us to serve patrons. Although Joyner Library is often thought of as being a library for only the university, one of our key goals is also to serve the public.”

“The Beyond Bricks & Mortar: Revisiting the Sycamore Hill Community project is a perfect example of Joyner library partnering with the local community,” Barricella explained. “We were able to offer resources they might not have had readily available. These collaborative partnerships are the types of projects we hope to continue completing in the future.”

The one-day event was attended by more than 110 school, public and academic library paraprofessionals from at least 13 counties in North Carolina. In addition to a keynote presentation, attendees were offered four concurrent sessions for a total of 16 presentations about bringing positive change and growth to their home institutions.

This year’s keynote speaker, assistant professor and graduate advisor in the Library Science Program for the Department of  Interdisciplinary Professions at East Carolina University, Dr. Lou Sua, presented a message on “Library as Place: Community, Leadership and Empowerment.”

Sua believes libraries are equalizers in their communities and more important today than ever.

Assistant professor and graduate advisor for the Department of Library Science at East Carolina University, Dr. Lou Sua, gives keynote presentation. (contributed photo)

Assistant professor and graduate advisor for the Department of Library Science at East Carolina University, Dr. Lou Sua, gives keynote presentation. (contributed photo)

“It’s our job to empower communities,” said Sua. “We are the people who can make a difference in the lives of so many people.”

With a percentage of the population unable to afford access to technology, libraries offer these resources and services for free. Libraries have also been a place where people develop citizenship skills.

“I think that we help shape our communities by providing an atmosphere for them to develop their own learning,” said Sua. “And with everything that’s going on now with fake news and alternative facts, it’s the libraries that can help people understand exactly what is real and what is not.”

She also thinks this conference gives attendees the tools they need to go back and do their jobs even better. “During this conference, people share their experiences and talk about what works well for them,” she explained. “Conferences like this help someone from a library that’s maybe struggling from budget cuts hear another approach to cost savings and inspire them to bring that back to their community.”

Facilitated by experts in the profession, attendees were offered a variety of session topics such as the role of free educational resources for community members, outreach to community groups and special populations, and citizen science community engagement.

Tammiika Krowner works in the Curriculum Learning Resources Lab at Fayetteville State University and attended a session on open educational resources (OERs).

These are free materials that can be used as an outreach tool for the public to gain access to work that might only normally be available through a paid educational institution or school. OERs can be used as supplements or core learning for homeschool families that are on limited budgets, for those seeking additional materials, as well as self-learning and discovery.

“I work with pre-service teachers and we are moving away from textbooks towards online information,” she said. “Building up those resources and the teachers’ knowledge about them and where to locate them is paramount for the future.”

Barricella says his biggest hope was for the attendees to enjoy themselves and learn something. “I believe this year’s conference was a big success,” he said. “Everyone I’ve spoken to has been enthusiastic about what they’ve learned today.”

Joyner Library offers special thanks to The Scullery, Great Harvest Bread Company, Dowdy Student Stores and Bagelman for their donations in support of this year’s conference:

For more information on this event or about Joyner Library, contact Kelly Rogers Dilda at or 252-744-2232.



-by Kelly Rogers Dilda, University Communication

ECU’s Harriot College Holds Inaugural Staff Awards and Recognition Ceremony

The Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Staff Council recently hosted its inaugural Staff Awards and Recognition Ceremony. The event, held May 9 on the East Carolina University campus, honors all dedicated THCAS staff members and recognizes the hard work they engage in on a day-to-day basis.

“Our staff are the unsung heroes of Harriot College,” said Dean William M. Downs. “Their professionalism and commitment to our students and faculty deserve our full recognition. I’m so proud of who they are. I’m privileged to work with them, and I’m grateful each day for all they do to advance ECU’s mission.”

Dean William M. Downs (left) poses with Junior Staff Excellence Award winner, Beverly Estorge (center), and Cindy Mills (right), from the Department of Economics, at the inaugural THCAS Staff Awards and Recognition Ceremony. (Photos by Rob Taylor Photography & Design.)

Dean William M. Downs (left) poses with Junior Staff Excellence Award winner, Beverly Estorge (center), and Cindy Mills (right), from the Department of Economics, at the inaugural THCAS Staff Awards and Recognition Ceremony. (Photos by Rob Taylor Photography & Design.)

During the ceremony, two members of the college staff received the newly created THCAS Staff Excellence Awards. Suzanne Powell, lead administrative associate in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, received the Senior Staff Excellence Award. Beverly Estorge, administrative support associate in the Department of Economics, received the Junior Staff Excellence Award.

“When I read the email informing me that I was selected for the Senior Staff Excellence Award, my first reaction was to re-read the email because surely I had read it wrong. I am not used to recognition on such a large scale, and I felt a bit overwhelmed,” said Powell. “I am thankful to the college and Dean Downs for noticing the need to include and embrace the college’s staff and creating the vehicle to let them be heard and to be recognized.”

Prior to the ceremony, many colleagues provided words of praise in their nominations of Powell.

“Ms. Powell embodies some of the best features of a representative member of the Pirate Nation. She’s a dedicated professional, a dependable colleague, a generous individual, and a strong and graceful woman,” wrote one supporter.

Another of Powell’s colleagues commented, “She truly embodies the description of selflessness. Even through all the personal hardship, Suzanne has never faltered. Her strength of character is unparalleled.”

Suzanne Powell accepts her Senior Staff Excellence Award at the inaugural THCAS Staff Awards and Recognition Ceremony.

Suzanne Powell accepts her Senior Staff Excellence Award at the inaugural THCAS Staff Awards and Recognition Ceremony.

As an example of her selflessness, Powell gives credit back to her colleagues.

“I work with a large number of people who always, knowingly or not, make me feel appreciated. I am honored that so many took the time to nominate me for this award. I would not be the employee or person that I am if it were not for those that were placed in my path to help guide me and give me confidence. I owe most of this award’s recognition to them,” said Powell.

Powell has served as the lead administrative associate in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures for the past four-and-a-half years and has worked at ECU for six-and-a-half years.

Estorge also was surprised to hear she was receiving the Junior Staff Excellence Award.

“Really? Me? Wow! I can’t believe it, but I am so honored. I nominated someone else for the Staff Excellence Award but never thought about myself receiving it,” said Estorge. “I wake up every morning so thankful for my job at ECU and winning this award is ‘icing on the cake’ for me. The THCAS Staff Council has done a great job at making me feel like all of the ‘behind-the-scene’ work is noticed and valued.”

Fellow colleagues of Estorge also provided words of admiration and approval in their letters of nomination.

“Beverly is a very charismatic and warm person and sets the tone for an inclusive and impassioned working environment in the Department of Economics,” stated one nominator.

Another colleague wrote, “Beverly has excellent relations with all of our faculty, students and visitors. She gets along with everyone in the department and is such an asset to work with.”

Estorge serves as an administrative support associate in the Department of Economics and has worked at the university for one-and-a-half years. She said there are two things she likes best about working in Harriot College; the atmosphere in the department and the joy of working with students.

“I genuinely like the people I work with. We have a sense of teamwork,” said Estorge. “Secondly, my joy comes from working with the students one-on-one. I want to make a difference in their college experience, and it is tremendously rewarding for me to hear back from them when that has happened.”

The Thomas Harriot College Staff Excellence Awards acknowledge administrative or technical staff within the college who have shown exemplary professionalism and have gone above and beyond the requirement of their position. Recipients of the award must demonstrate a positive attitude, be a team player and exhibit characteristics of a model member of Pirate Nation. Senior Staff Excellence Awards are given to an employee of the college who has more than 5 years of consecutive employment with the university. Junior Staff Excellence Awards are given to a college employee with a minimum of one year and no more than five years of consecutive employment with the university.

-by Lacey Gray, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences

Mathematical sculpture workshop spotlights the math behind art

Applied mathematician and sculptor Dr. George Hart led an April 7 workshop in Jenkins Fine Arts Center at East Carolina University which spotlighted the math behind art.

Hart, an interdepartmental research professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, demonstrated how mathematics is creative in unexpected ways.

Dr. George Hart is an applied mathematician and sculptor. (photos by Cliff Hollis)

Dr. George Hart is an applied mathematician and sculptor. (photos by Cliff Hollis)

Twenty-seven students, faculty and staff from across campus as well as teachers from the greater Greenville community assembled two of Hart’s sculptures and designed two of their own.

The event was organized by Dr. Sviatoslav Archava, teaching associate professor of mathematics at ECU.

Workshop participants started by connecting plastic struts and connector balls from a Zometool kit, forming shapes that would prove to be foundational for the sculptures that they would create.

The sculpture “Autumn.” (photos by Cliff Hollis)

The sculpture “Autumn.”
(photos by Cliff Hollis)

The first sculpture, named “Autumn”, was assembled from 60 identical laser-cut wood pieces that were connected using cable ties. Working together, the participants explored the possible ways to connect the pieces, a task that developed spatial perception and visual reasoning. The solution for the sculpture involved two phases. The first phase was a finding a solution to connect three pieces. After that, it was possible to build the sculpture by combining the trio of connected pieces to other trios. Only one way to connect the pieces led to a beautiful structure they were trying to assemble. The following facts about the sculpture were noted by the participants with Hart’s help:

  • “Autumn” may be viewed as an artistic version of a regular dodecahedron, a solid that is formed by 12 regular pentagons.
  • Sixty pieces from which the sculpture is built lie in 30 planes (two in each plane). The 30 planes are the facial planes of the five cubes inscribed in the dodecahedron or, equivalently, of the rhombic tricontahedron.


The "Ambagesque" sculpture.

The “Ambagesque” sculpture.

The second sculpture, named “Ambagesque” (from the Latin word for “tangle”), also had 60 pieces, which were laser-cut from colored acrylic sheets. The pieces lie in 20 different planes (three in each plane). Despite the smaller number of planes involved, it was much more difficult to assemble due to the non- edge-to-edge connections and more complicated geometry. On a few occasions, participants needed Hart’s help to find the correct way to proceed.

Assembling the sculptures gave the participants a sense of the mental processes that mathematicians use in their research and the excitement and pleasure of “figuring things out.”

At the end of the workshop, participants designed their own paper sculpture. This involved changing the faces of the rhombic tricontahedron so the altered faces could be glued back together to create a visually appealing form.

Participants went away with an idea of the underlying shapes, the curiosity to look for patterns in complex-looking sculptures they may see elsewhere or design themselves, and having experienced the thrill of exploring the world around them mathematically.

For more information on Hart and his work, visit



-by Dr. Slava Archava, Teaching Associate Professor of Mathematics


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