Harriot College announces 2018 Dean’s Early Career Award recipients

East Carolina University’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences has announced that Dr. Elizabeth Ables, assistant professor of biology, and Dr. Jacob Hochard, assistant professor of economics, are recipients of the 2018 Dean’s Early Career Award. The announcement was made May 10 during a special reception hosted by Dean William M. Downs at the home of the THCAS Dean’s Advancement Council Chair Jim Mullen and his wife Pam.

The Dean’s Early Career Award, established in 2015 through the generosity of the Harriot College Advancement Council, recognizes and rewards exceptional performance by tenure-track assistant professors. It represents the college’s breadth of faculty excellence in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and mathematics.

“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 Drs. Ables and Hochard exceeded these qualifications.”

In addition to their recognition at the home of the Mullens, Ables and Hochard will be acknowledged at Harriot College’s fall convocation in August.

Dr. Elizabeth Ables, assistant professor of biology, and Dr. Jacob Hochard, assistant professor of economics, are recipients of the 2018 THCAS Dean’s Early Career Award. (Contributed Photos)

Dr. Elizabeth Ables, assistant professor of biology, and Dr. Jacob Hochard, assistant professor of economics, are recipients of the 2018 THCAS Dean’s Early Career Award. (Contributed Photos)

Dr. Elizabeth Ables

“I am humbled and surprised,” said Ables. “This award has gone to some folks that I really admire in the field, especially in our department. It’s nice to consider myself part of that rank.”

Born and raised in rural Virginia, Ables has a lot in common with a majority of the students at ECU.

“It means a lot to me personally to have been able to come to this part of the country,” Ables said. “One of the things I decided I wanted to do when I started this path was to provide experiences for students from rural areas, and I feel East Carolina University has given me the opportunity to do that.”

Ables received her doctoral degree from Vanderbilt University in 2007 and completed post-doctoral training at Johns Hopkins University in 2012, before coming to ECU in January 2013. She is a cell biologist and geneticist, and she teaches undergraduate and graduate-level courses in cell biology.

“I teach very differently to the undergraduates than I do to the graduate students,” Ables said. “I enjoy the undergraduates. They tend to be more enthusiastic when they learn something for the first time. But I like challenging the graduate students, in part, because they challenge me back. I think my most rewarding experience is teaching the graduate students who work in my lab.”

Ables studies the Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) stem cells seen here. They are located in the ovary and are the parent cells for every oocyte, or egg, produced by the female fly. (Contributed photo)

Ables studies the Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) stem cells seen here. They are located in the ovary and are the parent cells for every oocyte, or egg, produced by the female fly. (Contributed photo)

As a cell biologist and trained developmental biologist, Ables researches how cells that make up the human body are instructed by genomes to have a specialized function. She uses stem cells as a model because they have the potential to divide and make new daughter cells. This research underlies two fundamental biological questions pertaining to regenerative medicine, and how we make new cells from stem cells or other tissue sources; and cancer biology, which is a problem of unlimited cell division.

Currently, two doctoral students, three master’s students and up to four undergraduate students per semester conduct research in Ables’ lab using Drosophila melanogaster, the common fruit fly.

Fruit flies are being sorted by a student researcher in Ables’ lab. In the lab, Ables and her students study the basic biology of how cells use the information encoded in the genome to establish specialized functions. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Fruit flies are being sorted by a student researcher in Ables’ lab. In the lab, Ables and her students study the basic biology of how cells use the information encoded in the genome to establish specialized functions. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

“It’s a great model system. I use it as a way to teach cell biology in my classroom,” said Ables. “It’s really hard to get attached to a fly, which I think is good for beginning experimentalists, and we have a lot of tools so the experiments we do are relatively simple.”

At ECU, Ables collaborates across campus with researchers in the reproductive biology interest group. She is involved with a variety of microscopy groups including the Laser Technology Applications Group, an east/west campus initiative that seeks to provide more dynamic research and information-sharing opportunities to industry and academic researchers. Also, Ables serves or has served on the biology departmental undergraduate curriculum committee, the biology graduate curriculum committee and on a number of faculty searches.

Dr. Jacob Hochard

When Hochard learned he would be one of the recipients of this year’s award, he said, “It’s definitely humbling. I know a lot of the past recipients, and they are great scholars. I am privileged to be in their company.”

“ECU has done a really good job of supporting early career researchers,” Hochard said. “I think they are progressive at institutionalizing interdisciplinary research, which is one of the reasons I am very happy here.”

Hochard received his doctoral degree from the University of Wyoming in 2015, before beginning his career at ECU that same year. At ECU, Hochard is an assistant professor of economics and an assistant research scientist at the Institute for Coastal Science and Policy. He teaches an introductory-level principals of microeconomics course, and he teaches doctoral students in the coastal resources management program.

“I love teaching the introductory level students,” said Hochard. “Most of them are first-generation college students, and I am too. So I think I can identify with them and get them excited about economics.”

Through one of his research projects, Hochard traveled to rural Karnataka, India, where he visited schools and interviewed farmers about their agricultural practices and challenges. (Contributed Photo)

Through one of his research projects, Hochard traveled to rural Karnataka, India, where he visited schools and interviewed farmers about their agricultural practices and challenges. (Contributed photo)

Hochard’s research focuses on ecosystem services from land, water and wildlife. He is examining the red wolf recovery program in eastern North Carolina, how land use changes in the developing world affect poverty rates and the human health impacts of hog farms on eastern North Carolina, specifically how ingesting contaminated water affects birth weights and gestation lengths.

His most pressing work is the focus on water quality in eastern North Carolina, which is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. ECU co-collaborators include Dr. James Randall Etheridge, assistant professor of engineering, and Dr. Ariane Peralta, assistant professor of biology.

“We are hoping to inform communities on how they can protect themselves against potentially contaminated water sources, whether that’s expanding public services into rural areas that currently lack them, or investing in natural capital – forest cover, restoring buffers that will filter out contaminants – and how that might protect human health,” said Hochard. “The thing I find intriguing about the work we are doing in water quality and human health is it is one of those areas where you can have a local impact and still make a broad intellectual contribution that is recognized by our peers.”

Beyond his research at ECU, Hochard is a member of the Coastal Maritime Council. Earlier this year, he received the 2018 Coastal-Maritime Council Coastal Scholar Award during ECU’s Research and Creative Activity Week. He is a member of the Coastal Resource Management doctoral program admissions committee, a member of the Science and Technology Advisory Committee for the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuarine Partnership, and he founded and organized ECU’s Early Career Contributions in Climate and Coastal Science seminar series.

 

-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications

Researchers attend Air Force workshop

Five East Carolina University researchers presented their projects at the U.S. Air Force Science and Technology 2030 Workshop in April.

The workshop, hosted by the University of South Florida, was tasked with pushing researchers to the “boundaries of what is possible in the areas of science and technology to defend America.”

A group of East Carolina University researchers including Nicholas Murray (from left), Zachary Domire, Kamran Sartipi and Teresa Ryan attended the U.S. Air Force Science and Technology 2030 Workshop in April to discuss new research topics relevant to the military branch.

A group of East Carolina University researchers including Nicholas Murray (from left), Zachary Domire, Kamran Sartipi and Teresa Ryan attended the U.S. Air Force Science and Technology 2030 Workshop in April to discuss new research topics relevant to the military branch. (Contributed photos)

ECU researchers attending the event and their research projects included:

  • Yong-Qing Li, Department of Physics, “Laser tractor beam pulls small objects over a long-distance in air and space.”
  • Nicholas Murray, Health and Human Performance, “Adaptive BCI Environments for Enhanced Training and Performance.”
  • Kamran Sartipi, Department of Computer Science, “Global Integrated Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance: Eyes and Ears on Adversaries.”
  • Zachary Domire, Health and Human Performance, “Imaging biomarkers for identification of potential muscle injuries.”
  • Teresa Ryan, Department of Engineering, “Acoustic detectability in the littoral environment has wide military applicability over any terrain.”

“The workshop was quite interesting and informative for researchers in understanding real engineering and informatics problems to tackle,” said Sartipi, an assistant professor in the computer science department. “The Air Force deals with all sorts of science and technology problems, along with human aspects, in their projects. Working with the Air Force will result in high-quality research programs and will increase the research profile of the university.”

Workshop presentations revolved around the theme “Global Vigilance, Global Reach and Global Power for America.” Presentations topics included rapid global mobility, enhancing the performance of airmen and air, space and cyber superiority, among others. Each session consisted of five-minute presentations with opportunities to brainstorm with workshop participants. Participants were tasked with identifying new ideas relevant to Air Force missions.

“The new Air Force aircrafts are heavily dependent on information technology and utilize huge data from sensors, especially when communicating with ground systems with different mechanisms,” Sartipi said. “The Air Force is very interested in new advancements in information technology, system intelligence and cybersecurity that can help them ensure that it sustains its superiority over its adversaries.”

Presentations at the U.S. Air Force Science and Technology 2030 Workshop touched on research topics that pushed “boundaries of what is possible in the areas of science and technology to defend America.”

Presentations at the U.S. Air Force Science and Technology 2030 Workshop touched on research topics that pushed “boundaries of what is possible in the areas of science and technology to defend America.”

Sartipi’s project focused on what technologies are available, or could be created and utilized, to gather information, monitor adversaries and provide real-time knowledge to forces in combat. He suggests that big data analytics, fast data mining and machine-learning algorithms will provide valuable knowledge for the Air Force.

“Workshops such as these increase ECU faculty engagements with Department of Defense researchers,” said Jim Menke, director of military research and engagement. “Opportunities like these greatly increase the university’s potential for building future multidisciplinary and multi-institutional collaborations that support national defense research.”

ECU was voted a 2017 Military Times Best for Vets College and has been named a Military Friendly and Military Friendly Spouse School by MilitaryFriendly.com.

 

-by Matt Smith, University Communications

Order inducts new engineers

The Department of Engineering recently inducted 73 graduate engineers and three professionals into the Order of the Engineer during its ninth induction ceremony. (Contributed photos)

The Department of Engineering recently inducted 73 graduating engineers and three professionals into the Order of the Engineer during its ninth induction ceremony. (Contributed photos)

The College of Engineering and Technology’s Department of Engineering hosted the Ninth Order of the Engineer induction ceremony on May 2. The basic premise for the Order recognizes the obligation engineers have to each other, the profession and the public they serve.

During the presentation, the new engineers were given a ring to wear on their little finger. The ring symbolizes a dedication to upholding honesty, integrity and lessons learned from their predecessors.

“According to tradition, a twisted iron pipe from an early 1900s bridge failure was sliced into rings and worn by engineers to remind them of their solemn responsibilities and the potential consequences of their work,” said Dr. Gene Dixon, professor in the Department of Engineering.

“The ring signifies the wearer is an engineer who is possessed of a publicly-avowed dedication to his profession and the public it serves.”

A graduate joins the Pirate Engineer Link #269.

A graduate joins the Pirate Engineer Link #269.

With this ceremony, 73 graduating students and three professionals joined the Pirate Engineer Link #269. Links are the local sections of the Order, and ECU’s link was established in 2009 after the accreditation of the college’s engineering program.

Sponsors of this year’s induction ceremony included Goldsboro’s SPX Transformers Solutions and Greenville’s Terracon.

Dixon hosted the induction ceremony. Speakers included Jim Hackney, CEO of the Hackney Group, who provided a history of the Order, and Carl Bonner of Terracon, who spoke about the Order’s significance.

Engineer and ECU 2016 alumna Lindsay Staten, currently an electrical engineer with SPX, spoke to the new inductees to close out the ceremony.

New inductees were given a ring that will serve as reminder of responsibilities and consequences of their work.

New inductees were given a ring that will serve as a reminder of responsibilities and consequences of their work.

 

-by Michael Rudd, University Communications

ECU offers new master’s degree in Hispanic studies

Spanish is the official language of 20 nations and is the second most spoken language in the world, with more than 400 million native speakers. Students at East Carolina University now have the opportunity to expand their knowledge of Spanish and to prepare for a successful career with the new Master of Arts in Hispanic Studies.

“1934 Environment” was painted by Cândido Portinari (December 29, 1903 - February 6, 1962), a prominent Brazilian artist and influential practitioner of the neo-realism style in painting. 

“1934 Environment” was painted by Cândido Portinari (Dec. 29, 1903 – Feb. 6, 1962), a prominent Brazilian artist and influential practitioner of the neo-realism style in painting.

Approved in March, the program is accepting applications through July 15 for the fall semester. The program is unique in that it is not divided into traditional language, culture and literature courses but takes a holistic approach to teaching, said Dr. Dale Knickerbocker, professor of Hispanic studies and director of the new graduate program.

“The M.A. graduate will develop a transcultural understanding of Hispanic studies, defined as the ability to comprehend and analyze discourse – the cultural narratives that appear in every kind of oral and written expressive form,” Knickerbocker said.

ECU students come to the Hispanic studies program with a wide variety of professional interests, from health to banking and communications to criminal justice.

Through the graduate program, students will be matched with a partner in the state that aligns with their interests and professional goals on an active-learning research project. A few partners include Vidant Health Care, the Association of Mexicans in North Carolina, El Centro Latino and the East Coast Migrant Head Start Project.

“Students will learn to communicate with the degree of formality needed to succeed in professional environments,” said Knickerbocker.

Once they graduate, students are highly competitive in pursuing many careers, including health care, education, banking, media, social work and law enforcement.

Chichén Itzá is a complex of Mayan ruins on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. A massive step pyramid known as El Castillo, or Temple of Kukulcan, dominates the ancient city that thrived from around 600 A.D. to the 1200s. (Photo by Daniel Schwen)

Chichén Itzá is a complex of Mayan ruins on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. A massive step pyramid known as El Castillo, or Temple of Kukulcan, dominates the ancient city that thrived from around 600 A.D. to the 1200s. (Photo by Daniel Schwen)

According to the 2010 United States Census Bureau, Hispanics and Latinos constitute both the largest and the fastest growing minority in North Carolina and the U.S., growing from 13 percent of the U.S. population in 2000 to 16.3 percent in 2010, or from 35.3 million to 50.5 million individuals – an increase of 43 percent.

The master’s program will give ECU students the linguistic and cultural competency to provide goods and services to this rising demographic.

In addition, beginning in fall 2019, the program will offer online, distance education courses, continuing 20 years of distance education success by ECU Hispanic studies faculty. This opens up the possibilities for professionals and K-12 educators to continue their education on a more flexible basis, Knickerbocker said.

Once distance education classes begin, ECU’s online program will be the only online master’s of Hispanic studies offered in North Carolina or the southeastern United States. Currently, New Mexico State is the only other institution to offer an online master’s program in Hispanic studies.

For more information or to apply for the fall 2018-19 academic year, visit http://www.ecu.edu/cs-cas/foreign/mahispanic/ or contact Knickerbocker at knickerbockerd@ecu.edu.

 

-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications

Laupus Library heartens students through their hardest trials

Students love donuts. Especially this one who thanked Laupus with a cool Instagram post.

Students love donuts. Especially this one who thanked Laupus with a cool Instagram post.

Today you can almost hear a pin drop over the soft hum of computers and a muted conversation between two staff members in Laupus Library. What a drastic contrast the space was to what only days earlier had been a busy hub of student activity as they filled every study room, carrel and quiet space to study.

Laupus Library successfully championed another class of students through final exams.

Sarah Eagle, a junior in the College of Nursing, said one of the reasons she comes to Laupus to study is because of its size. “It’s a bit smaller and there are more people here in the same field. If you have a question, most of the time someone close by studying is usually in the same major and can help.”

“Plus, I feel like the people who work here care about us,” she said. “Like this morning, there were a bunch of donuts upstairs.”

A bunch indeed; in fact 300 donuts were devoured by students on reading day and it was a close call for Finley, a 2-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, whose sweet kisses and rubs were consumed by the same group.

The paws of pet therapy dog, Finley rarely touched the floor during his visit to the library. Instead he spent most of his time in the arms of students who needed a little comfort and had a hard time putting him down.

The paws of pet therapy dog, Finley rarely touched the floor during his visit to the library. Instead he spent most of his time in the arms of students who needed a little comfort and had a hard time putting him down. (Photos by Michelle Messer and Kelly Rogers Dilda)  

Later that evening Argos, an American Staffordshire Terrier, visited students who also needed a quick break for some pet therapy and puppy love.

“I come to this library purposely during finals week because of the crafts and snacks they plan,” said Margaret Barry, graduating senior in the College of Nursing. “It makes us feel better, like we are being looked after and not forgotten during the hard times. Some of us are struggling, so the ‘Hey, we are looking out for you,’ and the ‘We want you to do well,’ support means a lot.”

Chancellor and Mrs. Cecil Staton walked through every floor of the library to personally distribute cookies to every student and offer kind words of guidance and encouragement.

Chancellor and Mrs. Cecil Staton walked through every floor of the library to personally distribute cookies to every student and offer kind words of guidance and encouragement.

On Thursday, April 26, Chancellor and Mrs. Cecil Staton made a special visit to the library and delivered cookies and coffee, and interacted with students during their stay.

Barry said the visit showed her the chancellor cares about everyone’s individual success. “There are like 30,000 students at ECU but he and Mrs. Staton took their time at this library to single everybody out, and to shake our hands and say hello,” she said.

“He was very personable and kind and seemed interested in our futures. He also asked about our plans for jobs. To make the effort to come all the way over to this side of the campus was really nice.”

Megan Sands, graduating senior in the College of Nursing, said the words of encouragement by Chancellor and Mrs. Staton mean a lot. “I’ve noticed that they do take their time, several times throughout the semester, to really get to know the students and interact with us.”

Some students seemed a bit starstruck to meet the chancellor for the first time.

Some students seemed a bit starstruck to meet the chancellor for the first time.

“It shows that they are trying to get to know us and not just fulfill their duties to the university but also to the students. The mood and energy in the library is a lot lighter just from this interaction.”

Twenty-five pizzas were delivered and served to students later that evening and kept them fueled for all-night cramming.

ECU Dining Services’ CRAMcart made a few stops at the library throughout the week and offered free healthy snack options to students. And Campus Recreation and Wellness staff from the Division of Student Affairs hosted a day of wellness on the library’s second floor.

A coloring station and other calming activities were offered to those who needed a quick break, and one last visit from Argos helped push students through to the end.

Laupus also presented extra boosts to support the endurance needed for long study hours by offering free healthy and savory snacks each day.

“Laupus Library shows that they care about our well-being, especially during finals when mental health is something that is very important,” said Sands. “There is a lot of stress; we are all worried about passing our finals, getting good grades, and it shows that they are thinking about us when we aren’t even thinking about ourselves.”

 

-by Kelly Rogers Dilda, University Communications

Local company benefits from ECU innovation

Linda McMahon (Contributed photo)

Linda McMahon (Contributed photo)

National Small Business Week (NSBW) is April 30-May 5. Linda McMahon, administrator for the United States Small Business Administration and East Carolina University alumna, will wrap up a multi-city bus tour that celebrates NSBW by serving as the keynote speaker for ECU’s Spring Commencement Ceremony, which is Friday, May 4, at 7 p.m.

McMahon’s tour is an annual event that celebrates small-business owners and their key support groups. It highlights American entrepreneurship with events such as community workshops, award ceremonies and a three-day virtual conference for small-business owners.

About her participation in ECU’s commencement ceremony, McMahon said, “Whether or not they (graduates) will become part of America’s 30 million small businesses, they now have an opportunity to work hard to achieve success for themselves and to make a positive impact in their communities and beyond.”

ECU impacting small businesses

Snow Hill’s Glean is a subsidiary of Ham’s Farms, a family-owned small business that focuses on sweet potatoes and other vegetables such as beets and pumpkins, and has used many of the resources available to small businesses through ECU.

Glean’s name is what it does. It gleans, or extracts, reserve products to produce sweet potato and pumpkin flours and powder from beets. Knowing it had university resources in its backyard, Glean reached out to ECU’s Department of Nutrition Science through the university’s I-Corps NSF grant to help develop recipes for products like protein bars and smoothies in which the flours can be used. The partnership between ECU and Glean provides students, who are taking food science and marketing courses, with real-time, real-world examples for economic development and interdisciplinary collaborative learning opportunities.

Students with the College of Business present packaging research to local small business, Glean out of Snow Hill. (Contributed photos)

Students with the College of Business present packaging research to local small business, Glean out of Snow Hill. (Contributed photos)

After assisting with product development, nutrition science faculty and students brought in the College of Business’ (COB) marketing department to look at how these new products can be marketed and to whom. In the fall of 2017, student teams presented ideas to Laura Hearn and Will Kornegay. Both are co-founders of Glean. Of these initial presentations, Hearn wrote in a follow-up email, “After talking with each class, we walked away incredibly blown away by the engagement and commitment by the students. Will and I both said we would love to be able to go back to school at ECU and learn under the professors we have met.”

After the initial presentations, Glean wanted to continue its relationship with COB, just like it continues to work with the Department of Nutrition Science. Kornegay said they developed a list of projects in which the company thought the COB could provide guidance. This list resulted in project opportunities in six Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management courses.

“We met with a team of professors, kind of a roundtable discussion, and put together a scope of work of things that we were looking for as a startup, a small company, a small business,” Kornegay said.

He added the company realized it wanted to provide projects for the students to work on and give them “real-industry experience. They’re helping us accomplish a lot of things we want to do right now that we (Glean) don’t have time to do.”

Impacting students

Nicole Peters

Nicole Peters

ECU senior Nicole Peters will graduate with a degree in business administration with a marketing concentration this spring. She participated in the fall 2017 projects, as well as this spring’s Glean project, which focused on research and branding. Her team looked at ways Glean could bring an unboxing experience to its product delivery process. She said she appreciated the opportunity of working directly with the client, and, like Kornegay, she sees the value of participating in this project with Glean.

“Since they are such a new company, you (the student) are learning the whole process with them, how to utilize what you’re learning in your classes,” Peters said.

Senior Garrett Hinton of Fayetteville also was part of a student team that worked with Glean this spring. His team focused on packaging analysis and wanted to know what the consumer response was to Glean’s current packaging. Their deliverable showed Glean the consumer would like to see the actual vegetable – sweet potato, beet and pumpkin – as opposed to clip art or no art on its packaging.

Garrett Hinton

Garrett Hinton

“This (experience) means something because I’m helping a client on top of receiving a grade,” Hinton said. “It was gratifying. Not many other students can say they’re pitching ideas to a company.”

Glean also has turned to the Small Business Institute, which is part of the College’s Miller School of Entrepreneurship. Miller School director Mike Harris said both COB and College of Engineering and Technology students spent 500 hours to deliver Glean strategic and implementation plans that included analysis, objectives and issues regarding retail and budgets.

Dr. Christine Kowalczyk, associate professor in COB’s Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, highlighted the importance of this relationship for the college and students. “Our relationship with Glean is perfectly aligned with the mission of ECU. We offered unique hands-on learning projects that are preparing our students to become future business leaders. The project experience has resulted in job and internship opportunities with Glean. We look forward to continuing our support of Glean and innovating the learning opportunities for our students.”

What’s next

Hearn and Kornegay said that Glean plans to continue its relationship with ECU and COB. They see ECU as an innovator that can help other small businesses in the area.

“The professors and academia stand out among the universities that we’ve become familiar with in North Carolina and it’s right in our backyard,” said Hearn. “Any small business who is able to lean on the professors and students will gain something valuable from it.”

Glean’s Laura Hearn, left, and Will Kornegay, right, listen to students present ideas on how to package Glean products.

Glean’s Laura Hearn, left, and Will Kornegay, right, listen to students present ideas on how to package Glean products.

 

-by Michael Rudd, University Communications

ECU recognized as 2017 Tree Campus USA

East Carolina University was recognized in April as a 2017 Tree Campus USA.

Tree Campus USA, a national program launched in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation, honors colleges and universities and their leaders for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation.

To obtain this distinction, ECU met the five core standards for effective campus forest management including establishment of a tree advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and the sponsorship of student service-learning projects.

ECU is one of 12 colleges/universities in the state to receive the designation, according to the Tree Campus USA website. Of the 12, five are University of North Carolina system campuses.

“Your entire campus community should be proud of your sustained commitment to environmental stewardship,” Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation, said in a letter to Bill Bagnell, associate vice chancellor for campus operations.

The letter, which announced the recognition, said ECU has shown its commitment to protecting and preserving valuable tree resources and will reap their benefits for generations of students to come.

Bagnell said the designation as a Tree Campus USA would not have happened without the leadership of John Gill, assistant director of grounds maintenance and landscape architect, and Gene Stand, grounds supervisor and certified arborist.

For more information about the program, visit: https://www.arborday.org/programs/treecampususa/.

Commencement week to feature Grad Bash, fireworks

East Carolina University’s Spring Commencement Ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, May 4 in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and will be capped off with a celebratory display of fireworks.

The keynote speaker will be Linda McMahon, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration and ECU alumna.

The spring ceremony will commemorate the accomplishments of 5,479 graduates who have completed their degrees or will do so this summer, including 3,989 undergraduate, 1,236 graduate and 254 doctoral degrees.

New this year is Grad Bash 2K18: ARRRGH You Ready! — a festival-style celebration for graduates and their families from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, May 3 at Five Points Plaza in downtown Greenville.

“This will be a commencement week unlike any other in ECU’s 110-year history,” said Chancellor Cecil Staton. “We look forward to recognizing and applauding the hard work and accomplishments of our graduates, and we can’t wait to see where they will go from here. As they embark on the next leg of their journey, they are prepared both to fulfill their own dreams and to have a positive impact on the world and in their communities.”

Many of ECU’s colleges, schools and departments will hold unit recognition ceremonies during commencement weekend. A complete listing can be found at https://commencement.ecu.edu/.

Commencement is an outdoor ceremony and will be held rain or shine. In the unexpected event of severe weather, the university ceremony will be postponed until Saturday, May 5 at 9 a.m. Any changes to the ceremony will be communicated via ECU Alert and the ECU website (www.ecu.edu).

ECU Police K-9 retires

It was a bittersweet day for officers with East Carolina University’s Police Department. On Friday, April 27, the officers said goodbye to their K-9 friend, Marko, as they sent him on to begin a happy retirement after serving Pirate Nation for five years.

K-9 Marko celebrates his retirement with his handler, Master Officer David Heath, right and Sgt. Stephanie Carnevale. (Photos by Rhett Butler)

K-9 Marko celebrates his retirement with his handler, Master Officer David Heath, right and Sgt. Stephanie Carnevale. (Photos by Rhett Butler)

Marko, a 7-year-old shepherd, has worked with ECU Police conducting bomb sweeps before major events on campus and tracking people when necessary. During his career, he has performed 204 sweeps for explosives.

ECU officers, employees and students helped celebrate Marko’s retirement with cake and cookies near West End on main campus. There were plenty of hugs, photos and even a few gifts.

“He may have four legs but we still view him as one of us. As another officer,” said Jon Barnwell, ECU police chief. Barnwell presented Marko’s handler, Master Patrol Officer David Heath, with a framed certificate honoring the K-9.

Heath makes the last radio call ending Marko’s service to ECU Police.

Heath makes the last radio call ending Marko’s service to ECU Police.

Marko was diagnosed with severe arthritis, and it would be too painful for him to continue working. He will spend the rest of his days as part of Heath’s family, which includes his wife and two sons.

“It’s a sad day but happy too. He’s done his time and service and, with his medical issues, it’s time so that he can have a good quality of life,” said Heath.

During the ceremony, Heath made one last radio call to ECU’s dispatch center that officially ended Marko’s service with ECU Police.

“After five years of service, 204 successful sweeps, show K-9 Marko 10-42,” said Heath.

 

-by Jamie Smith, ECU News Services

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