Payne named university counsel, vice chancellor for legal affairs
By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services
Donna Gooden Payne has been named university counsel and vice chancellor for legal affairs at East Carolina University.
The ECU Board of Trustees approved Chancellor Steve Ballard’s appointment of Payne as vice chancellor at its meeting Nov. 30. The appointment is subject to final approval by the UNC system president.
Payne has served as university attorney since July 2008. She is responsible for providing comprehensive legal counsel to ECU by advising the chancellor, board of trustees, senior administrators and, through them, faculty and staff.
She leads a team of six attorneys and four support staff. They provide counsel on the legal implications of proposed policies, compliance with federal and state laws and administrative regulations, draft and review contracts, and coordinate or provide legal support for a variety of matters including employment proceedings, student disciplinary appeals, health care regulations, and transactions involving real, personal and intellectual property interests.
“Donna Payne has excelled as a lawyer, policy advisor and university leader,” said Ballard. “This title change recognizes the quality of her performance and will help us keep a great leader at ECU.”
Changing the title of Payne’s position brings ECU in line with some other UNC institutions and reflects the complex legal environment faced by universities, especially research institutions with health science components like ECU’s medical and dental schools and Division 1 athletic programs, Ballard said. Her salary will be $193,160.
“It is an honor and pleasure to serve as ECU’s chief legal officer,” Payne said.
A native of Bladen County, Payne is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead Scholar. She holds a law degree from the University of Texas at Austin. In 1988, she attended Macquarie University in Sydney (North Ryde), Australia as a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar.
Before joining ECU, Payne was university counsel for the University of North Carolina at Pembroke where she also served as chief of staff, liaison to the North Carolina Ethics Commission and assistant secretary to the board of trustees. She also briefly served as interim university counsel at UNC-Wilmington while at UNC-Pembroke. She previously was in private practice in Austin, Texas and Elizabethtown and served as general counsel to the Bladen County Board of Education and Bladen Community College.
Payne has worked on numerous boards and committees, including a five-year term on the board of directors for the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, an organization that offers specialized accreditation for graduate and doctoral programs in professional counseling and counselor education. She is certified to mediate Superior Court cases in North Carolina and has provided mediation services in employment matters for the North Carolina Office of State Personnel. Payne is a member of the Greenville Noon Rotary Club.