The Honor College at East Carolina University will host its annual convocation Thursday, Aug. 31, inside Wright Auditorium, featuring ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton and local entrepreneur Dennis Tracz.
Following remarks from Staton and Honors College Dean Dr. David White, Tracz will kick off the school year with the keynote address to the Honors College highlighting innovation, entrepreneurship and the future impacts on eastern North Carolina and beyond.
Tracz said he was excited to formally welcome the Honors College Class of 2021 and recognize their potential to make a difference to the Honors College community.
“I am honored to be included in the efforts of the Honors College to help introduce students and the broader community to embrace innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Tracz. “I look forward to contributing to this remarkable institution and engaging with students and faculty alike.”
“I am pleased to welcome Mr. Tracz to the Honors College,” said Dean White. “His experiences and expertise in innovation and entrepreneurship have helped us to shape our plans here. His message will help our community understand the bright future possibilities through innovation and entrepreneurship in addition to their course work.”
Tracz is the CEO and Co-Founder of Carolina Wild, a muscadine juice company based in Pink Hill, NC. Tracz has set out to help transform the land that tobacco forgot into the land of the muscadine. He was the founder of the Virginia Financial Group, Inc. and served as the Director of the Entrepreneurship Center for James Madison University’s College of Business. Tracz has experience in entrepreneurship and innovation through eight start-ups established over more than 30 years. Tracz serves on the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Rural Center and is active in helping his rural community receive access to broadband and other technology services.
Greenville native and East Carolina University graduate Katie Stanley (Class of 2017) was one of four recent graduates named a Presidential Scholar for the 2017-18 school year by the University of North Carolina General Administration. UNC President Margaret Spellings announced the appointment Thursday, July 20, through a press release.
Presidential Scholars serve a one-year appointment and provide a wide range of professional functions for UNC General Administration. The position has regular interaction with senior leadership and members of the UNC Board of Governors and will also work to help research, write, and implement policy.
“The Presidential Scholars program allows some of our most talented graduates to hone professional skills and gain real working experience in higher education,” Spellings stated in the release. “Scholars also have the unique opportunity to explore and understand the inner workings of an institution that has helped transform our great state.”
During her time at ECU, Stanley was a member of the Honors College, Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society, and majored in political science. Stanley plans to pursue a master’s degree in public policy with the goal of working in the North Carolina state government. Stanley previously interned for Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Representative Dean Arp (R-Union).
“We were thrilled to learn about Katie’s appointment as a Presidential Scholar and look forward to hearing about all the great work she will accomplish in this role,” said Dr. David White, Dean of the ECU Honors College. “Katie’s story is an example of how successful our Honors College students are, and how often they make us proud with their personal and professional achievements after graduating.”
The Presidential Scholars were selected among May 2017 UNC system graduates who demonstrated leadership skills, strong motivation, intellectual curiosity, and were not afraid to take risks, according to the release. Previous Scholars had projects assigned from all General Administration departments including legal, advancement, academic affairs, and communications.
By Cole Dittmer
ECU University Communications