ECU joins national honor society for veterans

East Carolina University has started a chapter of SALUTE, the first national honor society for veterans.

SALUTE, an acronym for service, academics, leadership, unity, tribute and excellence, recognizes veterans, active duty service members, National Guard members and reservists who have been honorably discharged, or who are currently serving. Undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for membership.

File photo - ROTC

ECU ROTC students recognized at a ceremony earlier this year are some of the students eligible for the new SALUTE honor society being organized on campus this fall. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

“The students who are inducted into membership in SALUTE represent every slice of American military and veterans in higher education,” according to SALUTE’s website.

Set up as a four-step system, SALUTE encourages student veterans to improve their GPAs in order to advance to the next tier level throughout their academic career. Tiers include Delta (3.00-3.24), Charlie (3.25-3.49), Bravo (3.50-3.74) and Alpha (3.75-4.0).

“Student veteran services decided to apply for membership to SALUTE because transitioning from military service can be a challenging time for our student veterans. We want to support our students by taking time to officially honor those who have succeeded academically at ECU,” said Nicole Jablonski, assistant director of ECU Student Veteran Services.

Although ECU’s chapter is purely an academic recognition group, Jablonski hopes to add a service component in the future.

Each new member will be presented with a certificate and a challenge coin at an awards ceremony. Approximately 50 veterans are expected to be inducted into the inaugural group in spring 2017.

SALUTE was founded at Colorado State University in 2009. The honors society includes both two-year and four-year higher education institutes.

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For more information, contact Nicole Jablonski at 252-737-6542 or visit SALUTE’s website at www.salute.colostate.edu.

–Sophronia Knott

ECU’s behind-the-scenes work part of “The Treehouse Guys” episode to air July 5

Behind-the-scenes work by East Carolina University students and a faculty member will come to life in an upcoming episode of “The Treehouse Guys.” 

The popular DIY Network show was filmed between February and April while hosts James “B’fer” Roth and Chris “Ka-V” Haake and their crew built two, 200-square-foot treehouses in a cypress swamp in Windsor. The show airs at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, July 5. 

Dr. Paige Viren, associate professor of recreation and leisure studies at ECU, and undergraduate students in recreation and park management, as well as graduate students in sustainable tourism, have worked on the project for the past three years.

ECU first began working with the town in 2013 when Viren and her students were asked to examine the feasibility of building treehouse accommodations or “treezebos” in cypress trees on the Cashie River as part of a sustainable, community-based tourism and economic development plan for the area. The treehouses are located near the N.C. Wildlife boat access at the end of Elm Street in Windsor. 

(contributed photo by Morgan Schneider)

The assessment was made possible through Viren’s participation in ECU’s Engaged Outreach and Scholarship Academy, which provided seed money to hire a consultant to determine the treehouse project feasibility. 

The consultant connected Viren and the town with the DIY Network show, which decided to take on the project as an episode for the program.

ECU recreation and park management majors in Viren’s tourism and planning and development class have continued to collaborate on the town’s efforts to enhance recreation and tourism in Windsor.

(contributed photo by Morgan Schneider)

Students have played a role in obtaining grants for funding to make improvements in Windsor including the Elm Street Campground, universally-accessible kayak launches and boat access at Hoggard’s Mill Bridge and now the first universally-accessible treehouses in North Carolina, Viren said.

ECU students also have participated in river clean-ups and several students have completed internships in Windsor.       

The TV episode represents a culmination of efforts by ECU, the Town of Windsor and grassroots leaders and residents to spur economic development while protecting the environment and showcasing the culture of eastern North Carolina, Viren said.  

“By drawing attention to the area’s unique natural resources, this project represents a major shift in how communities think about sustainable economic development,” said Dr. Clifton E. Watts, incoming interim chair of the ECU Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies.

ECU alumni have been involved in the effort too. Coastal Fog, a Greenville interior design firm, was contracted to “stage” the treehouse for filming. Jordan Vainright Proctor, her sister Jennifer Vainright Lutz and their mother Marty East Vainright – all alumnae of ECU – co-own and operate the business.

One ECU graduate has been hired by “The Treehouse Guys” and another now works for the Town of Windsor, Viren said. 

The treehouses are expected to be available for overnight rentals later this year.

–Crystal Baity

Joyner Library surpasses 1 million visitors during academic year

The Joyner Library at East Carolina University set a new record for attendance with more than one million visits in the past academic year. It is the first time the annual gate count has ever hit the million-visitor mark.

Joyner Library's one millionth visitor

Joyner Library’s one millionth visitor during the 2015-2016 academic year, Josiah Thornton. (Photos by Jay Clark)

“It is particularly remarkable that this threshold was exceeded this year,” said Dr. Jan Lewis, director of Joyner Library. “Despite the construction, the road closings, the changes in bus routes, and the lack of parking.”

Throughout the year Lewis had concerns that construction of the new student center would disrupt normal operations and discourage students from using the library. She credits the hard work of library staff for the increase in attendance.

“It is because of their excellent customer service, student and faculty-centered approach, resources, and work spaces that people are here,” said Lewis. “Thanks to everyone and to our colleagues in housekeeping and facilities for all they do to make Joyner a valued and inviting location.”

Jan Lewis and Josiah Thornton

Jan Lewis, director of Joyner Library, welcomes the library’s one millionth visitor, business student Josiah Thornton.

Josiah Thornton, an undergraduate student in ECU’s College of Business, was the library’s one-millionth visitor.

“The library is a lost treasure at many universities and campuses,” said Thornton. “The library can enrich a student’s total learning experience while offering everything students need in a one-stop shop.

“If we are to compete in a global capacity, we must meet the needs of every student. The library is one part of the university that truly tries to do that.”

Jan Lewis speaks

Jan Lewis, director of Joyner Library, speaks during a celebration of the library’s one millionth visitor.

Mark Sanders, assistant director for public services says that Joyner Library attendance numbers have doubled in the last 17 years.

“Today, the Library welcomes more than twice as many people as attend all of ECU’s home sporting events, combined,” said Sanders. “This doesn’t diminish the importance of athletics, but demonstrates the university community’s commitment to student success and academic production.”

For more information, visit http://www.ecu.edu/lib/.

–Jay Clark

ECU students selected as State of N.C. interns

Two East Carolina University students have been chosen to serve as State of North Carolina interns this summer.

Kathryn Stanley, a political science major, is working in the General Assembly’s House of Representatives, and Ann Marie Ballance, a history major, is working with Natural and Cultural Resources at a historic site. More than 475 students applied for 103 internships this year.

Ann Marie Ballance and Dean William Downs

Ann Marie Ballance and Dean William Downs (contributed photo)

The 2016 intern applicants represented 77 counties, 74 public and private colleges and universities, law schools and community colleges, and more than 110 different majors. The N.C. Internship Council selected 95 students to work on projects in 20 state departments.

Established in 1969 as the first such program in the nation, the State of North Carolina Internship Program offers paid internships to N.C. residents attending a two- or four-year college or university, community college, graduate school or law school in N.C. or an equivalent institution in another state. The internships provide a professional work experience that integrates education, career development and public service. Opportunities exist in numerous recognized fields of study, from accounting to zoology.

Amin attends national student entrepreneur program

East Carolina University’s Mona Amin is one of 19 students from across the country selected for a prestigious student entrepreneur program.

Amin, an Honors College student from Charlotte, is participating in the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council Student Entrepreneurship Program held June 19-24 in Orlando.

Mona Amin (contributed photo)

Mona Amin (contributed photo)

“I am most excited about meeting other young female entrepreneurs as well as meeting my mentors from Kroger and Ragozzino Foods,” said Amin before leaving for the conference.

Amin is part of a team developing an app called FreshSpire, a mobile application and text system that notifies consumers, including low-income shoppers, about discounts on near-expiring foods at local grocery stores, allowing them to take advantage of healthy foods at lower prices.

Amin, a biology major set to graduate in 2017, plans to continue work on FreshSpire before attending the Brody School of Medicine as an Early Assurance Scholar.

ECU and North Carolina A&T State University are the only colleges in North Carolina with a student at the conference. Sixteen colleges or universities are represented.

The program aims to foster growth for the next generation of women-owned businesses through a tailored entrepreneur curriculum, a live pitch competition awarding $10,000 in seed capital and mentoring from successful Women’s Business Enterprises and Fortune 500 companies.

Students also participate in experiential learning through off-site visits to WBE and corporate campuses and accelerators. Since 2008, more than 150 students from 40 colleges and universities across the country have graduated from the program.

Women-owned businesses are growing at one and a half times the U.S. national average and contribute more than $1.5 trillion dollars to the national economy and employ about 7.9 million people. An average of 887 new businesses opened every day in 2015, according to the WBENC.

For more information, visit http://www.wbenc.org/student-entrepreneur-program/#program-details.

–Crystal Baity

Updated 1 Card design unveiled during orientation

The ECU 1 Card office has announced a redesign of the ECU 1 Card. Students attending the first New Student Orientation were among the first to receive a newly designed card. The new multi-purpose ID card will be phased in rather than doing a complete recarding of the entire campus community. Current 1 Cards will remain active.

The new card features a rendering of the cupola and university logo, along with the card holder’s name, photo, and designation, such as student, faculty or staff. It was a collaborative effort, with input from several campus constituents and student leaders, according to 1 Card Director Merlena Artis. The design was done by ECU Creative Services.

Also changing with this new class of East Carolina students is a new name for the Gold Key Account, one of the declining balance funds tied to the 1 Card. Bounty Bucks is the name of the account, making it more reflective of the university’s nautical themes. 

“We’re hoping students will find the new name fun, and be more inclined to join the number of students, faculty and staff who take advantage of the account,” said Artis. Given the enthusiasm at the first two orientation sessions, the account is becoming more popular than in previous years.

Funds in the Bounty Bucks account can be used for prescriptions and services at the Student Health Center, purchases at Dowdy Student Stores, payment of fines and fees at various campus locations, as well as at the 1 Card Office. A complete list of Bounty Bucks uses and how to add funds to the account is found on the 1 Card web site: www.ecu.edu/1card. Additional uses for this declining balance account are in the planning stages.

Earlier this year a new application for mobile devices was released called GET, where all card holders can see the balance of funds in accounts tied to their card. The GET application information is also available on computers through the Pirate Portal or the 1 Card website. Transaction history for 1 Card accounts, the ability to report your card lost, and view locations to use the 1 Card are available through GET. Through settings, users have an added security measure where they can mark their mobile device as lost and deactivate PIN’s that would be used for the GET application.

Another new feature underway is the ability for parents and family members to add funds to card accounts via the internet through TouchNet.  

Updated cards for staff and faculty will be phased in by departments at various intervals over the next two years. Employees will be notified when they can have their new card made. Current 1 Cards will remain active throughout the transition, including the GET and TouchNet features.

See the 1 Card web site for more information about card uses and security: www.ecu.edu/1card.

The ECU 1 Card is the official photo ID card for East Carolina University. All students, staff, and faculty need this card whenever they are asked to show university identification. The ECU 1 Card is used for spending accounts such as the Dining Plan and Bookstore account.  It is also used for specific building access and worn as an ID badge at the Brody School of Medicine and other locations. While the ECU 1 Card is required for identification purposes, other accounts linked to the card are optional.

–Leslie Craigle

ECU awards inaugural Humanities Scholarship

East Carolina University sophomore Garrett Yarbrough, a soon-to-be 18-year-old from LaGrange, NC, is the inaugural recipient of the Humanities Scholar Program and will receive an annual $3,000 scholarship through his senior year.

“I am deeply honored to have been selected as a Humanities Scholar. I am elated to illustrate the significance of the understanding of the humanities, of what intrinsically defines us as human and how this essence and ambition is coupled with sciences and other fields to usher in progress,” said Yarbrough. “I eagerly anticipate my role as a representative of the humanities within the student body; to further the awareness of the importance of the accomplishments and exploration of the human spirit.”

Garrett Yarbrough (contributed photo)

Garrett Yarbrough (contributed photo)

Yarbrough, co-creator of the ECU Creative Writing Club, is pursuing duel majors in English and history. He aspires to be a creative writer and a published travel journalist, tackling international topics.

“I intend to use my background in English and history in order to bring awareness to global issues and to bring new perspectives to readers and those that would not have been exposed to differing views originally,” said Yarbrough.

The Humanities Scholar Program, established by the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences and the Honors College, is a way to acknowledge and increase awareness around the importance that the humanities play at ECU and in creating well-rounded students that are equipped to excel in the changing world.

Dr. Katherine Ford, Humanities Scholar Program coordinator and associate professor of Hispanic studies, said the humanities help people understand who they are and how they may connect with others; whether similar or not, and that the humanities attempt to answer the question, “Why?”

“Garrett Yarbrough, without a doubt, embodies the ideals of the humanities through his studies in English and history and is a perfect inaugural Humanities Scholar,” said Ford. “Garrett has a curiosity about the world around him and aims to help others understand this world better through writing.”

Garrett Yarbrough

Garrett Yarbrough and fellow students at the induction ceremony for Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society. (contributed photo)

In addition to his Humanities Scholar award, Yarbrough is an EC Scholar and a member of the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society. He served as vice president of the ECU Creative Writing Club for the 2015 academic year and will serve as president for the 2016 academic year.

Eligible applicants to the Humanities Scholar Program are students who are admitted to the Honors College and plan to major in a humanities discipline. A student who is awarded a position in the Humanities Scholars Program, and maintains annual eligibility requirements, receives a scholarship of $3,000 a year through the recipient’s senior year. The Humanities Scholar Program is in addition to the Honors College Scholarship, which is equal to in-state tuition.

“ECU’s College of Arts and Sciences values its partnership with the Honors College, and I’m so very pleased that together we have successfully launched the new Humanities Scholars program,” said Dr. William M. Downs, dean of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. “This scholarship helps us attract and retain high-ability students, such as Garrett Yarbrough, who will be ambassadors for learning in the disciplines of English, philosophy, foreign languages and literatures, religious studies and classical studies.”

For more information about the Humanities Scholars Program, visit http://www.ecu.edu/cs-acad/scholars/humanities.cfm.

Graduates toasted at Senior Celebration

Glasses were raised to East Carolina graduates of two generations at Senior Celebration on Thursday afternoon.


Sponsored jointly by the East Carolina Alumni Association and the Pirate Club, the event allowed members of the class of 2016 to celebrate earning their degrees and joining the ranks of Pirate alumni.

Graduates also had a chance to converse with 1966 alumni, who were back on campus for the association’s annual Golden Alumni Reunion for the 50-year reunion class.

While rain poured from the roof of the Club Level into Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, champagne was poured into keepsake flutes for a toast to graduates past and present.

“The future of ECU is certainly bright thanks to you, our newest Pirate alumni,” said Associate Vice Chancellor for Alumni Relations Heath Bowman, who led the toast.

“Like many families, we may not all live in the same place, but staying in touch keeps our bonds strong,” said Erinn Latta, a 2009 alumna who coordinates young graduate programming for the Pirate Club.

Also recognized were five graduates who received the 2016 Robert H. Wright Alumni Leadership Award from the alumni association: Ryan Clancy, Erika Dietrick, Joel Glotfelty, Sarah Lisson and Kate McPherson.

–Jackie Drake; video by Rich Klindworth

Laupus Library offers respites for stressed students

Final exam week is the busiest time for Laupus Library each semester, as students pack into every available study space for hours of studying. To encourage students to take a healthy break from their hard work, Laupus hosted a variety of stress relieving activities and programs April 26-29 for those needing a brief escape.

The library’s ongoing Pet Therapy program, sponsored by the Friends of Laupus Library, kicked off the week with much success as many students were eager to spend a little time with man’s best friend.

Health Sciences students take a break from studying for exams to engage in some pet therapy – part of an expanding student program sponsored by the Friends of Laupus Library. (Contributed photos)

Christa Sanderford, a graduate student in the environmental health sciences program, was talking on the phone about exams with her mom when she walked into the library and spotted the therapy dogs. “I was like, ‘mom I have to go,’” she said. “There are dogs in the library!”

“I am so excited,” she gushed after giving both dogs a good rub. “My exam is in 30 minutes and I am so much more cheerful now.”

“Bringing these dogs to the library is a way we can acknowledge that we appreciate what these students are going through and provide a bit of emotional comfort, particularly during finals week when the stress goes up another notch, explained Beth Ketterman, interim director of Laupus Library. “And there is good evidence in the health sciences literature that taking a few moments to stop and pet an animal has a positive impact on human psychology and physiology.”

Physician assistant studies student Hayden Mulligan says she spends more time in the library than her own home.

“Sometimes it’s hard to incentivize yourself to take a break because there is so much work to be done,” she said. “It’s so nice to be able to take a second away from studying and love on an animal that is sweet and generous and cuddly.”

“These dogs help me remember there is real life outside of school,” she continued. “They relax me and make the library feel a little more like home.”

Because of the positive response from students, the Friends of Laupus Library voted earlier this year to double the number of offerings by sponsoring sessions for fall and spring semesters during mid-term and final exam weeks.

Friends Chair John Papalas says the group is proud to support the library and students it serves.

“By sponsoring and promoting events like this we hope to highlight the prominent role Laupus plays in the education of a growing and ever more diverse student body,” he said.

Other activities held throughout the week included a Food N’ Fun Break on Wednesday evening for students who enjoyed free pizza, snacks, giveaways and board games. Also during the break, students completed surveys which collected feedback on ways the library can improve services to better meet their needs.

Programs concluded on Friday, April 29, as Laupus VIP contest winner Brittany Eure – a freshman nursing student – and four invited friends received 12 hours of private and reserved study space and a full day of pampering. Free breakfast, lunch, and dinner were delivered to the lucky group along with snacks and other giveaways throughout the day.

Laupus staff also decorated the exclusive spot to make the long study hours a more enjoyable experience.

“Winning the contest has made a huge difference in my studying,” claimed Eure. “I actually looked forward to coming to study today and was relieved not to have to worry about finding a room.”

The competition, created to encourage students to follow the library’s social media sites, required students to attend the Food N’ Fun Break and post a photo from the event on the Laupus Library Facebook or Instagram pages. Participant names were entered into a drawing held on Thursday morning.

“All these programs show the library cares about the students and wants to make this time as manageable as possible for us,” Mulligan said. “That makes me feel like they are on my team and I really appreciate their support.”

–Kelly Dilda