ECU Professor inducted into Sigma Delta Pi’s Order of Don Quijote

On July 6, 2017 during the 99th Annual Conference of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, Dr. Benjamin Fraser, professor and chair of East Carolina University’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, was inducted into Sigma Delta Pi‘s Order of Don Quijote, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society’s highest award that is conferred annually upon only 2-3 three people worldwide.

Professor Fraser’s exemplary record of scholarship and professional contributions have earned him this international distinction. Past inductees include renowned literary figures such as Carlos Fuentes, Carmen Laforet, Fernando Arrabal and Camilo José Cela, among other highly accomplished literary artists and scholars. A complete list of past honorees is available here.

Established in 1919 at the University of California, Berkeley, Sigma Delta Pi honors those who have completed three years of study of college-level Spanish, including at least three semester hours of a course in Hispanic literature or Hispanic culture and civilization with a minimal grade point average of 3.0 in all Spanish courses taken.

Candidates must also rank in the upper 35% of their class–sophomore, junior, or senior–and must have completed at least three semesters or five quarters of college work. Graduate students may also be elected to membership upon completion of two graduate courses in Spanish with an average which, if continued, will make them eligible for a graduate degree.

With over 610 chapters nationwide and its national office at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, Sigma Delta Pi is a member of the Association of College Honor Societies, the nation’s only certifying agency for college and university honor societies.


–By Mark P. Del Mastro, delmastromp@cofc.edu

Brody School of Medicine names associate dean for research and graduate studies

The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University has named one of its first PhD graduates as its new associate dean for research and graduate studies at the Brody School of Medicine.

The appointment of Dr. Russ Price was made following a rigorous national search. Price, who also will serve as professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology, will begin his role on Aug. 16.

Dr. Russ Price. (contributed photo)

Dr. Russ Price. (contributed photo)

As associate dean for research and graduate studies, Price will provide leadership for Brody’s extensive research enterprise. He joins ECU at a time when the university is looking to strengthen its research efforts. Chancellor Cecil Staton has stated that increasing extramural research funding is one of his priority goals for the institution.

Since 2012 Price has served as associate vice chair for research in the department of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. He has been professor of medicine and physiology at Emory since 1991.

“I am really delighted to welcome Russ Price back to the Brody community,” said Dr. Nicholas Benson, the school of medicine’s interim dean. “He has had a very successful career as a scientist with continuing extramural funding and as an administrator for research programs at Emory University. He will bring a new level of expertise in bench research to us that will greatly enrich the science our faculty do here at Brody and across ECU.”

Price said that he is thrilled to be selected for the position, which represents a homecoming for him.

“During the interview process, I was drawn back to ECU by the palpable renewed commitment to research and the desire of the faculty and leadership to build on the current strong foundation at BSOM,” he said. “I am excited about the partnership between BSOM and Vidant Health and the combined efforts to provide communities throughout eastern North Carolina with access to the most up-to-date clinical trials and health care.”

Having authored more than 100 publications and book chapters, Price is a recognized leader in his field. His research is directed towards explaining the mechanisms that cause muscle atrophy in chronic conditions such as end-stage kidney disease and diabetes. He serves on editorial boards for the Journal of Biological Chemistry and American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology. He has previously served on the editorial boards of Kidney International and the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. In addition, Price is on the Executive Council for the International Society of Renal Nutrition and Metabolism.

Price will lead Brody School of Medicine's extensive research enterprise. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Price will lead Brody School of Medicine’s extensive research enterprise. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Before earning his PhD in biochemistry at ECU, Price completed a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship in the Laboratory of Cellular Metabolism at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Benson thanked Dr. Jeff Smith for his service as interim associate dean for research and graduate studies since March 2016. Smith is professor emeritus of microbiology and immunology at Brody.

Price’s appointment follows Tuesday’s announcement that the Brody School of Medicine has named Dr. Mark Stacy as its new dean. Stacy begins his role on Sept. 1.

 

 

-by Angela Todd, University Communication

 

 

 

ECU’s Laupus Library to host “Potion Power: Medicinal Herb Discoveries for Kids”

The William E. Laupus Health Sciences Library at East Carolina University will host “Potion Power: Medicinal Herb Discoveries for Kids” on July 19 from 2-4 p.m. in the library’s 4th-floor gallery as part of a botanical exhibit from ECU’s Country Doctor Museum.

Currently on display, “Nature’s Remedies: Traditions of Botanical Medicine,” explores the history of using herbs and other plants as remedies and preventatives. From botanical oils and apothecary tins to rhubarb and ginger, the exhibit showcases objects used by ordinary consumers, druggists and medical practitioners in their search for relief and well-being.

Laupus invites children ages eight and up and their parents to visit the exhibit and participate in an afternoon of hands-on learning and exploration.

Kids will use a mortar and pestle to make dream pillows. (contributed photo)

Kids will use a mortar and pestle to make dream pillows. (contributed photo)

“We’re really excited to share the history of medicine in a fun way with kids from the community,” said Beth Ketterman, interim director of Laupus Library. “Eastern NC has a rich history of providing health care to our community and the kids who come to the event will learn how our doctors in the region used to make medicine in ‘the good old days.’”

During the afternoon, kids will visit several activity stations. One stop will allow them to make dream pillows using traditional medicinal herbs and mortars and pestles. An old fashioned pharmacy station will require them to use math skills, play dough and antique pill rollers to fill prescriptions. At the microscope station, they will discover plant cells up close where they can compare dandelion fuzz to a carrot root. Lastly, kids will be able to show off their creativity with a chance to color historic botanical drawings from the pages of the oldest coloring book in the world.

The event is free and open to the public. Registration is not required. Light refreshments will be provided.

Parking passes will be available to all attendees upon arrival. Guests are required to park in “B-Zone” parking lots during the event.

For more information about the event please contact Kelly Rogers Dilda at rogerske@ecu.edu or 252-744-2232.

 

 

-by Kelly R. Dilda, University Communications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then, the game changed. His phone rang.

 

Lifelong Dream

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

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

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

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

Duncan was named Player of the game.

Duncan was named Player of the game.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Three Days of Craziness

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

Tanner Duncan signs with the Astros. (contributed photos)

Tanner Duncan signs with the Astros. (contributed photos)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

-by Chris Stansbury, Student Affairs 

Free speech gets the ‘green light’ at ECU

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

-by Jules Norwood

ECU Honors College alumnus to work with National Weather Service

This fall, East Carolina University Honors College alumnus Thomas Vaughan ’15 will join the National Weather Service in Wichita, Kansas as one of 31 new hires by the federal agency that is responsible for providing weather, water and climate data, forecasts and warnings across the country.

ECU Honors College alumnus Thomas Vaughan ’15 stands in front of the National Weather Service Station. Vaughan will start his career with the NWS this September. (Contributed photos courtesy of Thomas Vaughan)

ECU Honors College alumnus Thomas Vaughan ’15 stands in front of the National Weather Service Station. Vaughan will start his career with the NWS this September. (Contributed photos courtesy of Thomas Vaughan)

Vaughan, who has nearly completed his master’s degree in meteorology from Florida State University, said he had his choice of going to the NWS offices in Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Michigan. Vaughan ultimately chose Wichita.

“I picked Wichita because I knew I would get a lot of severe weather experience there,” Vaughan said. “I knew Wichita would be more beneficial in the long run to my career because they have severe weather all the time, and I’ll get to experience all four seasons.”

Vaughan gives a weather briefing at the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Vaughan gives a weather briefing at the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Vaughan was one of 31 hired out of 850 applicants. After not being referred to the final pool of applicants the first time he applied, Vaughan said he was relieved to have his choice of four stations this time.

“It is pretty competitive to get into and I knew I would have better chance to get in with a masters, so that is why I went to Florida State,” he said. “This is something I have been wanting to do for a long time.”

While the official title for Vaughan’s position is meteorologist intern, it is the entry level staff position for the NWS. In his first couple years, Vaughan said he will be learning how to complete NWS forecasts, train on the NWS computer systems and radar, launch weather balloons and help manage his office’s social media accounts.

Vaughan after graduation from ECU in May 2015.

Vaughan after graduation from ECU in May 2015.

Vaughan hopes to move through the ranks of the NWS and eventually make it back to the NWS station in Honolulu, Hawaii where he completed a summer internship while at ECU. Other “dream” stations for Vaughan include Guam, or one of the stations in Florida.

“I’d say my dream job would be to be the meteorologist in charge at one of those stations, but that is a long time away,” he said, laughing.

For now, Vaughan is focusing on defending his master’s thesis on historical rainfall variability in the Sahel and Guinea coasts of Africa before moving to Kansas in September.

 

 

-by Cole Dittmer, University Communications

Wounded Warriors recharge relationships at ECU

Tuesday was Meranda and Rusty Baggett’s 19th wedding anniversary. They spent it working on their relationship while helping other military members, veterans and their spouses work on theirs.

East Carolina University’s Campus Recreation and Wellness partnered with the Wounded Warrior Project to host a Project Odyssey Retreat at the Belk Building rope course. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

East Carolina University’s Campus Recreation and Wellness partnered with the Wounded Warrior Project to host a Project Odyssey Retreat at the Belk Building rope course. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

The Baggetts were one of 14 couples in which one or both spouses were active duty or retired servicemembers and one was dealing with a traumatic brain injury, combat stress or a post-traumatic stress disorder. They were at East Carolina University as part of a Wounded Warriors Project Odyssey Retreat to help military couples learn to rebuild trust in their relationships affected by combat stresses and experiences.

ECU provided a low ropes course at the Blount Complex on Tuesday and planned a canoe trip along the Tar River for Wednesday.

Jenna Potter, combat stress recovery specialist for Project Odyssey and a 2015 recreation therapy graduate of ECU, contacted university staff members last fall about hosting a Wounded Warrior event. After talking, they decided it was a natural fit.

The group makes it way through a spider web in a cave while maintaining group contact.

The group makes it way through a spider web in a cave while maintaining group contact.

“It just kind of clicked in my head,” said Potter, whose parents were in the Air Force. “I knew Pirate Nation is a strong community and has so much love no matter what. Within weeks, we had a great relationship going.”

“It was really a no-brainer to offer the collaboration,” said Adrienne Fike, assistant director for adventure leadership with Campus Recreation and Wellness, whose husband was wounded while on duty with the Marine Corps. “Wounded Warrior is a project that was looking for something really specific. The fact we got to be that is really great.”

Rusty Baggett was a master sergeant and medical operations specialist in the 18th Airborne Corps. After serving for 16 years from Hawaii to Iraq to Afghanistan, it was a routine training flight out of Fort Bragg in November 2010 – a month before he was to ship out for another mission to Iraq –that ended his military career.

People balance on a wooden surface.

People balance on a wooden surface.

He remembered being in the plane. The next thing he remembered was being in a hospital a month later. In between, he jumped from the plane, and experts pieced together that apparently a gust of wind caused his parachute to collapse about 100 feet from the ground. He crashed, broke his pelvis and had two brain bleeds. Sixteen of the 30 jumpers were injured during the exercise.

Meranda Baggett recalled rushing to the hospital after getting the call that he was critically injured.

“When I got there, what broke my heart the most was he didn’t know who I was,” she said. “That broke my heart.”

Months later, something else would bother her husband.

“I was still bitter that I wasn’t going to Iraq for the second time,” he said. “That was my job. That’s what I did.”

Meranda Baggett lifts a rope high to keep tension on it.

Meranda Baggett lifts a rope high to keep tension on it.

Seven years later, he still has short-term memory loss. Thus, they plan each day with an online calendar, right down to what they’re having for each meal. And he says the civilian world lacks the camaraderie and organization of the military.

“I had to find out where I fit in,” he said.

The couple, who met when they were 14 and have an 18-year-old daughter, found that together with the Wounded Warrior Project. After participating in a few odysseys, they are now peer mentors – helping other active and retired servicemembers. The camaraderie is back.

“We have the same pains and things we can work through, and we can do it together and learn from each other,” said Rusty Baggett, who graduated in May from Methodist College with a degree in health services administration.

This week’s event was the first Project Odyssey at ECU. Another one is scheduled for July, and more are tentatively planned for next year.

 

 

-by Doug Boyd, University Communication

Four sworn in as ECU police officers

Four new ECU Police officers were sworn in alongside their family and friends on June 21. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Four new ECU Police officers were sworn in alongside their family and friends on June 21. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

The East Carolina University Police Department gained four new officers as Adrian Baker, Jonathan Bryant, Meagan Johnson and Megan Johnson were sworn in during a ceremony held on Wednesday, June 21 at the Greenville Centre.

Megan Johnson with her brother Chase Johnson.

Megan Johnson with her brother Chase Johnson.

Joined by friends, family and fellow officers, the newest members took an oath before everyone and received their badge.

Lt. Chris Sutton gave advice to the recruitsin saying, “Service is the rent that we pay for the privilege to live on this Earth,” a quote made famous by Shirley Anita Chisholm.

“That’s a quote that I use when teaching students as they go through their basic law enforcement training (BLET),” Sutton said.

Bearing the same name with different spellings (and no relation), Meagan and Megan Johnson graduated from ECU with bachelors’ degrees in criminal justice. Meagan Johnson completed BLET training at Beaufort County Community College, and worked two years with the Greene County Sheriff’s Office before joining ECU.

J. Bryant and his sister Latara Johnson listen to Vickie Joyner during the swearing in.

J. Bryant and his sister Latara Johnson listen to Vickie Joyner during the swearing in.

“It’s good to be back. I feel like it’ll be a really good fit for me and I love everybody on the staff already,” Meagan Johnson said. “I’ve wanted to be in law enforcement ever since I was little.”

Megan Johnson completed law enforcement training at Pitt Community College. She holds an associate degree from Louisburg College.

Meagan Johnson with her father Darren Johnson.

Meagan Johnson watches her mother Gail Johnson pin her badge.

After the ceremony, Bryant explained that it was a great feeling to be sworn in. He completed law enforcement training at Craven Community College, where he also earned an associate degree in business. Bryant worked during the past year with the Winterville Police Department. He is also pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business at ECU.

Baker worked with the Kinston Department of Public Safety two years before joining ECU and completed basic law enforcement training at Lenoir Community College.

“They’re going to be great assets for the police department and when we have great assets for the police department, then we have great assets that we can offer to East Carolina University,” Sutton said.

“The service aspect for the job that we do sometimes gets overlooked,” he added. “We need to be mindful of the service role that we play within our communities and never feel like we’re above or beyond being able to offer someone help.”

B. Richardson pins a shield on Adrian Baker.

B. Richardson pins a shield on Adrian Baker.

 

-by Bre Lewis for ECU News Services

NEA grant to fund study on social, economic impact of glassblowing on Farmville

East Carolina University’s College of Fine Arts and Communication has received a $20,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant to research the cultural and economic impact of a glassblowing studio in Farmville.

GlasStation

The GlasStation on West Wilson Street in Farmville (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

The NEA announced the awards June 14. ECU was one of 19 organizations in North Carolina to receive the competitive national funding.

The studio, called the GlasStation, is a former service station in Farmville’s historic downtown repurposed as a glassblowing studio and education center. ECU began teaching academic classes and conducting community outreach programs in the facility in January.

The two-year award will primarily fund research by ECU graduate students in anthropology and economics on the social and economic revitalization impact of the GlasStation on Farmville’s business district. Residents will be asked about the GlasStation, how it affects their sense of identity and community cohesion and quality of life. Researchers will also look at how property is used, sold or rented in the historic business district. Surveys, interviews and observation will help provide data for the research.

First-year graduate student Ronson Schultz rotates a fiery glass object.

First-year graduate student Ronson Schultz rotates a fiery glass object.

The GlasStation is a cooperative community venture between the Farmville Group, a volunteer economic development association interested in growing the local economy through the arts, the Tabitha M. DeVisconti Trust and ECU.

Kate Bukoski, director of ECU’s School of Art and Design, is the lead principal investigator of the study. Christine Avenarius and David Griffiths of the Department of Anthropology and Chun Kuang of the Department of Economics are co-principal investigators. Michael Crane of the College of Fine Arts and Communication also is an investigator.

For more information, visit https://www.arts.gov/news/2017/nea-announces-grants-support-arts-every-us-state-and-jurisdiction or see an earlier news story about the GlasStation.

 

–by Harley Dartt, University Communication

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