Category Archives: Blog

McCrory budget to support Brody School

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North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, far right, toured the East Carolina Heart Institute March 2 with N.C. Secretary of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos, seated at the da Vinci surgical system console. ECU physician Dr. Wiley Nifong, center, explained how surgeons are trained on the system. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, far right, toured the East Carolina Heart Institute March 2 with N.C. Secretary of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos, seated at the da Vinci surgical system console. ECU physician Dr. Wiley Nifong, center, explained how surgeons are trained on the system. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Amy Ellis
ECU News Services

Gov. Pat McCrory announced during his March 2 visit to the East Carolina Heart Institute at East Carolina University that his budget will allocate $16 million over the next two years to stabilize the financial challenges at the Brody School of Medicine.

“With those funds, my goal is for all of us to use the next two years to develop a long-term plan for a sustainable economic model that will allow the school to continue producing the doctors North Carolina needs for generations to come,” said McCrory.

Following a private meeting with ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Rick Niswander and Brody administrators, the governor toured the heart center’s Robotics Lab and tried his hand at a robotic surgery simulation.

Also in attendance were Dr. Aldona Wos, secretary for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, N.C. Sen. Louise Pate and N.C. Rep. Brian Brown.

N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory, left, and Dr. Wiley Nifong examine an interactive display illustrating that ECU has trained surgeons from 33 states in the use of the robotic da Vinci Surgical System.

N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory, left, and Dr. Wiley Nifong examine an interactive display illustrating that ECU has trained surgeons from 33 states in the use of the robotic da Vinci Surgical System.

At a press conference following the tour the governor said, “The Brody School has continued to deliver on the mission our state legislature set forth for it. Now we need to find a way to build upon those successes and expand them.

“I don’t see ECU as being only for eastern North Carolina. I see it as being for all of North Carolina,” he added.

Wos said, “It’s critical that we continue to fulfill the promise of 1974 – to provide access to care for the citizens of this region. The only way to do that is to have a viable medical community here that’s training the next generation of providers. The majority of physicians who train here, stay here. And I want to thank Brody for that.”

Ballard told McCrory, “I assure you that ECU will do our part. We’ll continue to spruce up the long-term plan we’ve been working on. It focuses on increasing efficiencies and continuing the excellent relationship we have with Vidant Medical Center, who is instrumental to our long-term plan.

“This funding means a flagship program of ours will be sustained,” he said, “and we’ll be able to continue impacting health care and economic development in the east.”

The governor’s recommended budget will soon be delivered to the legislature for consideration.

ECU selects Ron Mitchelson as provost

Ron Mitchelson
(Photo by Jay Clark)

By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services

Ron Mitchelson has been named provost at East Carolina University after serving in the role on an interim basis since last year.

The ECU Board of Trustees made Mitchelson’s position permanent at their meeting Feb. 20. After a national search, Chancellor Steve Ballard selected Mitchelson from what he described as “an excellent pool of candidates.”

Ron Mitchelson (Photo by Jay Clark)

Ron Mitchelson
(Photo by Jay Clark)

After the board’s unanimous vote to approve Mitchelson for the position, the decision was greeted with a round of applause from the audience. Asked if he had any further comments on Mitchelson’s appointment, Ballard said, “I believe the applause speaks for itself.”

A geographer, Mitchelson has been at ECU since 1999. He chaired the geography department and served as interim chair of the English department. In 2011 he was appointed to chair ECU’s Program Prioritization Committee, which evaluated programs campus wide and examined the university’s academic structure.

Mitchelson also spent two years as interim associate vice chancellor for research and chief research officer in the Division of Research and Graduate Studies.

“Ron Mitchelson has proven himself as department chair, associate vice chancellor and now interim vice chancellor,” said Ballard. “He has excellent experience with the Program Prioritization Committee and the Committee on Fiscal Sustainability. He has earned the respect of his colleagues. We had a competitive national search, and Ron was easily the choice, in large part because of his proven leadership qualities and values.”

As provost, Mitchelson will serve as ECU’s chief academic officer with oversight of academic programming, enrollment management, institutional planning and research, and equity and diversity. His salary of $297,000 must be approved by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

Newly appointed Provost Ron Mitchelson stands to receive congratulations from the audience at the Board of Trustees meeting Feb. 20. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Newly appointed Provost Ron Mitchelson stands to receive congratulations from the audience at the Board of Trustees meeting Feb. 20. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

During his six months as interim provost, Mitchelson guided the development of ECU’s new strategic plan, which sets the course for the university for the next five years. He said he’s “honored and will work tirelessly” to achieve the school’s mission and the priorities set out in the strategic plan, primarily student success, regional transformation and public service.

The time as interim provost has provided valuable training, he said.

“I think I’ve learned a lot more about some of the parts and pieces of the university I was less familiar with,” he said. “Those experiences really have helped me come to a deeper understanding of ECU and the university system as a whole.”

Mitchelson graduated from the State University of New York in Buffalo in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in geography. He holds master’s and doctoral degrees in geography from The Ohio State University. Before coming to ECU, he held faculty and administrative positions at the University of Georgia and Morehead State University in Kentucky.

Events mark progress in medical education

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First-year medical students and third-semester nursing students from ECU's Quality Improvement Olympics hold their protected raw egg that will be dropped from a stepladder. The protection was created during a timed teamwork exercise. Team members, from left, are Skyler Cauley, Isaiah Dunnaville, Jennifer Okpala, Dan-Thanh Nguyen, Staci Allgood, Sam Olsen. (Photos by Gretchen Baugh)

First-year medical students and third-semester nursing students from ECU’s Quality Improvement Olympics hold their protected raw egg that will be dropped from a stepladder. The protection was created during a timed teamwork exercise. Team members, from left, are Skyler Cauley, Isaiah Dunnaville, Jennifer Okpala, Dan-Thanh Nguyen, Staci Allgood, Sam Olsen. (Photos by Gretchen Baugh)


By Amy Ellis

ECU News Services

When East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine was awarded a $1 million grant by the American Medical Association in 2013 to help shape how future doctors are trained, AMA leaders cited the school’s reputation for bold innovation.

That spirit of innovation was the guest of honor at two recent grant-related events: a faculty-driven Quality Improvement Symposium and a Quality Improvement Olympics involving nursing and medical students.

The Quality Improvement Symposium, held at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU on Jan. 21, showcased 25 projects by faculty members across the health sciences. All are inaugural fellows in Brody’s Teachers of Quality Academy (TQA) who spent the past year pioneering ways to better meet the demands of a changing health care delivery system.

At the TQA Quality Symposium are, from left, Dr. Chelley Alexander, chair of the Department of Family Medicine; Dr. Patricia Crane, associate dean for research and creative activities, College of Nursing; Dr. Sylvia Brown, dean of the College of Nursing; Dr. Pamela Reis, assistant professor, College of Nursing.

At the TQA Quality Symposium are, from left, Dr. Chelley Alexander, chair of the Department of Family Medicine; Dr. Patricia Crane, associate dean for research and creative activities, College of Nursing; Dr. Sylvia Brown, dean of the College of Nursing; Dr. Pamela Reis, assistant professor, College of Nursing.

“Health systems today need every physician to be an expert in patient safety, quality improvement and systems-based practice, “ said Dr. Elizabeth Baxley, senior associate dean for academic affairs at Brody. “At the same time, every physician is required to embody the highest values of professionalism and be equipped to thrive in an environment of inter-professional, team-based care.”

Baxley said that’s why Brody established the academy shortly after being named one of only 11 medical schools to receive the five-year REACH (Redesigning Education to Accelerate Change in Healthcare) grant.

“Clinical teachers today face complex challenges not encountered by their predecessors,” she said. “They have to teach, while simultaneously delivering care in expanded inter-professional teams, while simultaneously learning about redesigning clinical delivery systems.

“This 18-month faculty development program is designed to ‘teach the teachers,’ to equip them with the skills they’ll need to practice and teach a new curriculum more focused on issues like patient safety, quality improvement and team-based care,” she said.

Poster and presentation topics at the symposium ranged from reducing clinical no-show rates to accelerating collaboration between medical and nursing students.

“This energetic, passionate, creative group of TQA fellows has been so inspiring,” Baxley said, “and they have already made major impacts, in just 12 months, in the way we provide patient care and educate future physicians.”

The academy has produced 20 new curricular components and student experiences that are already being infused into medical, allied health and nursing education across ECU, Baxley said.

One example is the Quality Improvement Olympics held Jan. 23 at Brody. The event, organized by the College of Nursing’s Dr. Gina Woody and Dr. Luan Lawson, assistant dean for curriculum, assessment and clinical academic affairs at Brody, involved about 80 first-year medical students, 116 third-semester nursing students and more than 130 raw eggs.

Organizers divided the students into groups of six, with a mixture of nursing and medical students in each group. At each table was an assortment of packing peanuts, straws, plastic bags, sponges, rubber bands, gauze and newspaper.

Using these materials, each group was asked to construct an egg “vehicle” that would protect their egg as it was dropped from the top of a stepladder. Along with egg “safety,” timeliness and cost-effectiveness were factored in to determine each team’s success.

Lawson said the purpose of the activity was to introduce nursing and medical students to the concepts of patient safety and quality improvement through experiential learning in inter-professional teams. She said it allowed students to apply their knowledge to a game-based activity before transferring the experience to a clinical scenario.

“Well-functioning teams are necessary to improve patient care and health,” she said. “We want our graduates to have the skills and confidence to transform our healthcare system and work collaboratively to serve our patients and their families.”

Medical student Taras Grinchak was on a team whose egg was unscathed by the drop. “If we hadn’t worked as a team with our individual contributions, we wouldn’t have been able to complete the task in five minutes,” he said.

“Focusing on each other’s strengths and assigning specific roles to each person is what enabled us to get this outcome.”

Nursing student Alexandra Simkus agreed. “We learned the importance of working together as a team; everyone’s input was valuable,” she said.

When one team’s egg did not survive the drop, organizers commended the students for their creativity and risk-taking – attributes that landed Brody the REACH grant in the first place.

ECU again recognized as StormReady university

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East Carolina University has been recognized again as StormReady, meaning that the university is prepared with infrastructure and communication systems to deal with episodes of severe weather, like the ice storm pictured above. (File photo)

East Carolina University has been recognized again as StormReady, meaning that the university is prepared with infrastructure and communication systems to deal with episodes of severe weather, like the ice storm pictured above. (File photo)

 

By Grace Haskin
ECU News Services

Whether a snowstorm emerges or a hurricane strikes, East Carolina University has a plan.

That’s one reason the National Weather Service has again recognized ECU as StormReady, a nationwide program that helps communities plan for severe weather through advanced planning, education and awareness.

“Receiving StormReady recognition does not mean that a community is storm proof, but it means we are prepared for severe weather,” said Lauren Gunter, ECU continuity and emergency planner.

A severe thunderstorm in July 2012 toppled trees along Fifth Street near campus. ECU's Facilities Services personnel responded quickly to clear away the damage. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

A severe thunderstorm in July 2012 toppled trees along Fifth Street near campus. ECU’s Facilities Services personnel responded quickly to clear away the damage. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Since Eastern North Carolina is prone to severe weather, including hurricanes, tornadoes, winter weather and flooding, it is important for ECU to be StormReady. “To keep our community safe before, during and after hazardous weather events, we use the StormReady standard and then go above and beyond to implement the infrastructure and communication systems to keep our folks safe,” said Gunter.

There are six requirements to become recognized as StormReady. One of them is to have a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center. The ECU Police Department serves as the primary warning point and operations center by receiving severe weather warnings and forecasts and sending alerts to the public.

Another requirement is to have more than one way to alert the public of severe weather. ECU has 10 notification methods, including ECU Alert, which is a collection of communication tools used by the university to transfer emergency information.

ECU was first recognized as StormReady in May 2009, then recognized again in March 2012 and again on Jan. 8. The designation lasts for three years before it needs to be reviewed. After six years, the application process and investigation must start over.

“The re-recognition process ensures that equipment is in place and updated, contact information is accurate, and allows for improvements to be made to the program using technological advancements in communications and warning dissemination,” said Gunter.

Being StormReady has helped ECU effectively respond to severe weather on multiple occasions. “We’ve had some winter, tornadic and hurricane events that have impacted our campuses and satellite facilities,” said Gunter. “These hazardous weather events prompt the university to work through our hazardous weather checklists to make decisions and prepare the campus. We also frequently utilize our emergency notification system, ECU Alert, for notices other than weather-related events.”

There are 154 universities, six of which are in North Carolina, that are designated StormReady.

To learn more about StormReady, go to www.stormready.noaa.gov.

Project catalogues items from outdoor theaters

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Ashley Williams, project librarian at ECU's Joyner Library, displays some of the materials being catalogued from hundreds of outdoor theaters for an online inventory. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Ashley Williams, project librarian at ECU’s Joyner Library, displays some of the materials being catalogued from hundreds of outdoor theaters for an online inventory. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

East Carolina University archivists are in the middle of a yearlong project to catalogue everything from film reels to financial statements from more than 600 outdoor theaters across the nation.

ECU’s Special Collections Division at Joyner Library is processing the records of the Institute of Outdoor Theatre with a $56,290 grant from the National Archives and Records Administration. The funds were matched by ECU, Joyner Library and the Institute to provide a total of $119,500 for the project, said Dr. Michael C. Hardy, director of the Institute of Outdoor Theatre, which is located at ECU.

A comprehensive online finding aid is being created to provide worldwide access to the inventory of the collection which includes photographs, video and audio recordings, publicity materials, audience surveys, blueprints, research and other items from hundreds of outdoor theaters dating to the 1920s.

“The materials will provide unparalleled insights into the challenges and successes experienced by outdoor theatres and the communities in which they operate,” said Janice S. Lewis, interim dean of Joyner Library.

Ashley Williams, project librarian, created a blog, “Bringing the Outdoors ‘Indoors,’ ” which provides regular online updates about the archivists’ work: http://blog.ecu.edu/sites/outdoortheatre/.

Williams has gotten positive feedback, including help in identifying some previously unknown materials.

Dale Sauter

Dale Sauter

“You get to see something new every day, there’s just so much information,” Williams said. “It definitely makes me want to go to some of these plays. It’s really a genre I never knew much about.”

The archivists have been tackling the massive project alphabetically by state one box at a time, one person starting with A and another with Z, working toward the middle of the alphabet.

“North Carolina is still to come,” Williams said, but photos and materials from the state’s outdoor productions including the well-known “Unto these Hills” and “The Lost Colony” will be a part of the online archives.

Two graduate assistants, Kate Clothier and Jeff O’Neill, have joined the project this semester. To protect the items, each wear nitrile gloves when working with audiovisual materials. For photos, the archivists make sure their hands are clean and pick up photos by their edges, Williams said.

The inventory so far indicates there was a boom of sorts for outdoor theater around America’s bicentennial. Many productions are related to history, such as the founding of a state or annual event, or an important historical figure. “If not history, the other major theme is passion plays – anything related to Christ’s birth, life or death,” Williams said.

One of those, Texas-based “The Promise,” was performed in Russia in 1992 and hailed as the first Christian production since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Another taken abroad was “My Old Kentucky,” a drama about Stephen Foster, known as “the father of American music.” It was performed in Japan in 1986 and a large poster shows the main sponsor was KFC.

The archival materials provide a “unique view of a distinct movement in American theater history,” Hardy said.

The archives will be a great resource for producers, directors, set designers, regional and local historians, folklorists, performing arts history majors, tourism history, Shakespeare and Renaissance festivals and anyone interested in the origin of outdoor drama, said Dale Sauter, the grant’s principal investigator and manuscript curator at Joyner Library.

The Institute of Outdoor Theatre, founded in 1963, was created to support outdoor theaters with technical assistance, documentation of best practices and management and feasibility studies. To learn more, visit http://www.outdoor-theatre.org/.

 

An historical poster featuring outdoor dramas of North Carolina is among the materials being inventoried at Joyner Library.

An historical poster featuring outdoor dramas of North Carolina is among the materials being inventoried at Joyner Library.

Project STEPP gets boost from statewide charitable trust

ECU students Emily Bosak, left, and Becca O'Hea, standing at right, assist Natilie Grey and Ryan Coan in their artwork.
Nick Dixon examines artwork he created with help from ECU student participants in the Eye to Eye afterschool mentoring program, which pairs college students with learning disabilities with local students who share the same obstacles. ECU's chapter of the nationwide program will benefit from a grant from William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Nick Dixon examines artwork he created with help from ECU student participants in the Eye to Eye afterschool mentoring program, which pairs college students with learning disabilities with local students who share the same obstacles. ECU’s chapter of the nationwide program will benefit from a grant from William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

ECU News Services

An East Carolina University program that assists college students with learning disabilities will get an important boost from a two-year grant recently awarded by the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust.

The $167,135 grant will support the work of ECU’s Walter and Marie Williams STEPP program (Supporting Transition and Education through Planning and Partnerships) to mentor, encourage and support students with learning differences in middle and high school.

“The STEPP Program at East Carolina University is an inspiration to students with learning challenges and their families,” said Douglas C. Zinn, executive director of the Kenan Charitable Trust. “The Program is entrepreneurial and steadfast in its commitment to excellence and is worthy of duplication at other educational institutions.”

Specifically, the funds will be used to further develop a student transition curriculum to include materials for middle-school students, and to create additional resources for high school families.

ECU student Patrick Young, standing, shows Nick Dixon how to make cuts to create a paper snowflake.

ECU student Patrick Young, standing, shows Nick Dixon how to make cuts to create a paper snowflake.

“Not only are high school seniors in transition (to collegiate life), but so are their families,” said Dr. Sarah Williams, director of the STEPP Program. “This is especially true when a student has a learning difference.

Families look to the public schools for advice, support and resources for this major change, and we hope to help address that need.”

The grant funding will also aid ECU’s chapter of the nationwide Eye to Eye afterschool mentoring program (Read more about Eye to Eye here). Eye to Eye pairs college students with learning disabilities with elementary and middle school students in the community facing the same obstacles. The ECU chapter was founded in 2011 and is a partnership with Building Hope Community Life Center and the Oakwood School in Greenville.

Only three universities in North Carolina offer Eye to Eye.

“Partnerships are at the core of our work,” Williams said. “We work not only with individuals on the ECU campus but also with our public school colleagues. This grant will help us contribute more broadly to the advancement of education for talented and capable students with learning differences and also help support role models and resources for students, teachers and families.”

An estimated 3-9 percent of students on college campuses have some kind of learning difference, many of which are identified while the student is in grade school. Research also suggests that students with learning disabilities who aspire to attend college during middle school put that goal aside more often than their peers. College-bound students should begin researching postsecondary opportunities early in high school, allowing them ample time to find a campus and support resources that are a perfect fit for them.

The STEPP Program at ECU provides an innovative and comprehensive system of academic, social and life-skill supports to a targeted group of students. STEPP staff members provide a full transition year of support while incoming students are still in high school, enabling the program to learn about student experiences and support needs prior to and soon after graduation.

A prior grant from the Oak Foundation enabled the initial development of transition support materials for use beyond the students at ECU. These resources are available on-line at no cost to teachers throughout the country to use with their high school students. These early materials have been well-received, and the Kenan grant will enable the transition support team to expand, further refine and disseminate the materials to teachers and transition specialists nationally.

The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust was founded by William R. Kenan, Jr., a successful businessman and entrepreneur. A primary focus of the Kenan Charitable Trust is to support education, with an emphasis on enhancing excellence of teaching and access to high-quality education.

ECU students Emily Bosak, left, and Becca O'Hea, standing at right, assist Natilie Grey and Ryan Coan in their artwork.

ECU students Emily Bosak, left, and Becca O’Hea, standing at right, assist Natilie Grey and Ryan Coan in their artwork.

‘Topping out’ celebrates new residence hall

Dr. Virginia Hardy, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, signs the
Dr. Lynn Roeder, dean of students; Dr. Andrew Morehead, chair of the Faculty Senate; and Dr. Rick Niswander, vice chancellor of administration and finance, sign a construction beam that will be part of the new Gateway Residence Hall on College Hill. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Dr. Lynn Roeder, dean of students; Dr. Andrew Morehead, chair of the Faculty Senate; and Dr. Rick Niswander, vice chancellor of administration and finance, sign a construction beam that will be part of the new Gateway Residence Hall on College Hill. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

Heavy downpours didn’t dampen the celebration of a construction milestone for Gateway Residence Hall at East Carolina University on Jan. 12.

At a rainy topping-out ceremony, representatives from ECU and construction contractors signed a beam that will be added to a truss on the roof of the new building.

Slated to open in August, Gateway will house 720 students and will include study spaces, meeting rooms, music practice rooms, lounges, outdoor courtyards, a sand volleyball court and a basketball court. It is the first new residence hall to open on campus in almost 10 years.

“We’re in the homestretch with this project,” said Dr. Virginia Hardy, vice chancellor for student affairs at ECU. “This really will be the crown jewel and capstone for College Hill.”

As its name describes, the hall will serve as a gateway from the campus’s College Hill area – bounded by 10th and 14th streets – to ECU athletic complexes across 14th Street. It replaces Belk Residence Hall, which was demolished last year.

Gateway will be home to several university living-learning communities, where students with the same major or interests live in the same hall, including biology and the Honors College.

Dr. Virginia Hardy, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, signs the

Dr. Virginia Hardy, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, signs the beam at the topping out ceremony for the new residence halls.

“We have a lot to be proud of here,” said Aaron Lucier, director of housing operations at ECU. “This is an amazing addition to College Hill. It truly will be a core part of campus.”

The Gateway East and Gateway West towers will be connected by an enclosed aerial bridge on the second floor, said Gina Shoemaker, the project manager and assistant director of facilities and architectural services at ECU.

“We have started putting up brick on the outside,” Shoemaker said. Windows will be installed soon and the roof will be attached. Once the building is dry, workers can begin installing interior sheetrock, fixtures and mechanical equipment.

If certified, it will be the first residence hall at ECU with Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification for building sustainability. “We do have other buildings on campus with that status but no residence halls,” Shoemaker said.

The $58 million building was designed by Davis Kane Architects of Raleigh. Barnhill Contracting Company of Rocky Mount and Raleigh is the construction manager. Contractors include Cooper Electrical Construction Company of Morrisville, Kirlin Mechanical Services of Raleigh, Southern Piping Company of Wilson and Manning Masonry of Williamston.

Approximately 250 people work every day at the site, which has a “construction cam” available at http://oxblue.com/open/ECUBelk to view progress online. “We still have a lot of hard work left,” said Brad Martin, Barnhill manager.

Gateway will be the first residence hall to open at ECU since College Hill Suites in 2006. Before that, no other newly constructed residence hall had opened since the 1960s, although many have had extensive renovations, Shoemaker said.

ECU receives Carnegie classification

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East Carolina University was recognized for community engagement that takes place campuswide with programs such as the ECU Honors College Day of Service, shown above. During the fall 2014 Day of Service, students and faculty planted a winter garden in Greenville's Dream Park Community Garden. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

East Carolina University was recognized for community engagement that takes place campuswide with programs such as the ECU Honors College Day of Service, shown above. During the fall 2014 Day of Service, students and faculty planted a winter garden in Greenville’s Dream Park Community Garden. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

East Carolina University has earned higher education’s top honor for community engagement.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching announced Jan. 7 that ECU received the 2015 Community Engagement Classification.

ECU first received the designation in 2008. The re-classification – the first offered by the foundation – is valid for 10 years.

“We do public service because it is our mission and it makes a positive difference for North Carolina,” said Chancellor Steve Ballard. “We don’t do it to gain recognition, but it is nice when our peers recognize our efforts.”

seal1Carnegie noted in their selection letter that ECU showed “excellent alignment among campus mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy community engagement.”

The classification “is a demonstration of ECU’s promise to the public to continue to work with our community partners to solve issues that are important to them,” said Dr. Beth Velde, former director of public service and community relations at ECU. “It demonstrates that community engagement is present across the entire campus.”

The work supports the university’s mission to be a national model for student success, public service and regional transformation, and ECU’s motto, Servire, she said.

From coordinating nutrition-focused programs to addressing health issues prevalent in eastern North Carolina to leading art projects at community local centers, ECU students and faculty members are working with community partners on a range of projects. The work advances scholarship by linking theory and practice across a wide range of academic disciplines through engagement and outreach, course work and service.

“University-community partnerships are important because of the mutual benefits that result,” said Dr. Sharon Paynter, interim director of public service and community relations at ECU. “The Carnegie classification recognizes the hard work and commitment of ECU faculty, staff, and students as well as our community partners.”

In 2013-14, more than 10,200 ECU students worked on projects through community-based learning, service-learning, internships and capstone courses.

As part of the application process, the university submitted documentation describing the nature and extent of its community engagement, Velde said.

Since 2008, ECU showed sustained growth in several key areas including student involvement in community-based learning and engagement through internships, fieldwork, cooperative education and practice-based experiences, Velde said.

“The importance of this elective classification is borne out by the response of so many campuses that have demonstrated their deep engagement with local, regional, national and global communities,” said John Saltmarsh, director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education, Carnegie’s partner in administering the Community Engagement Classification process. “These are campuses that are improving teaching and learning, producing research that makes a difference in communities, and revitalizing their civic and academic missions.”

More than a dozen universities in North Carolina were re-classified this year, and two were named community engagement classification institutions for the first time. ECU is one of 361 institutions in 33 states and U.S. territories that hold the designation. A listing can be found at http://www.nerche.org.

Online graduate programs ranked among best

Dr. Sylvia Brown

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

Online graduate programs in nursing and business at East Carolina University rank among the nation’s best, according to a listing released Jan. 7 by U.S. News & World Report.

The ECU College of Nursing ranked 18th while the online Master of Business Administration program in the College of Business was ranked 69.

Also recognized was criminal justice, which placed 25th among ranked programs in the country and the highest in the state. ECU’s graduate education and bachelor’s programs also were listed.

U.S. News surveyed online graduate programs in business, computer information technology, criminal justice, education, engineering, MBA and nursing on criteria including student engagement, faculty credentials, admissions selectivity, student services and technology and program ratings by peer institutions.

Dr. Sylvia Brown

Dr. Sylvia Brown

ECU’s online nursing and business programs have consistently been recognized by U.S. News.

“We are honored to be ranked 18th in the country for online master of science in nursing degree programs,” said Dr. Sylvia Brown, dean of the ECU College of Nursing. “The ECU College of Nursing is committed to offering programs that give working nurses the ability to pursue advanced education while continuing to make an impact on the lives of their patients.”

Nursing offers five online options: adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialist, neonatal nurse practitioner, nursing education, nursing leadership and nurse midwifery.

Of 616 total students enrolled in the MSN program in the 2013-2014 academic year, 582 – or 94.5 percent – were distance education students.

The online program in the College of Business has grown from a single course offering in 1998 to undergraduate and graduate degrees in several concentrations. Of 684 total students enrolled in the MBA program for the fall 2014 semester, 75 percent attended part-time and selected online classes.

“We’re proud that our online MBA program again ranks among the nation’s top schools for the third straight year, ever since U.S. News & World Report began ranking graduate-level business distance education programs,” said Dr. Stan Eakins, dean of the ECU College of Business. “The ECU College of Business has pioneered the field of distance education, and we continue to innovate – providing an engaging learning environment to the leaders of today and tomorrow.”

This year, U.S. News evaluated schools based solely on data related to their MBA program. In the past, U.S. News had combined MBA programs and all other online graduate business programs to develop a single ranking. This year, non-MBA business degrees have been assessed separately.

This is the first year that ECU’s online criminal justice graduate program was ranked by U.S. News, said Dr. William P. Bloss, professor and chair of the department.

The program is growing rapidly and enrollment is expected to reach 60 students by fall 2015.

“The majority of our students are working practitioners,” Bloss said. Many work rotating shifts or travel with jobs in law enforcement, making online education their best option for attaining a higher degree. “We are committed to making our program as accessible to as many people as we can,” he said.

The complete listing can be viewed at http://www.usnews.com/online.

Online patient portal takes health care everywhere

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A new patient portal called MyChart enables patients to review their health records, request refills of medications and contact their health providers using computers, tablets or smartphones with an Internet connection. (Photo by Gretchen Baugh)

A new patient portal called MyChart enables patients to review their health records, request refills of medications and contact their health providers using computers, tablets or smartphones with an Internet connection. (Photo by Gretchen Baugh)

 

By Amy Adams Ellis
ECU News Services

All ECU Physicians clinics are now offering patients access to their own electronic health records through a secure online patient portal called MyChart.

Once enrolled, patients can use any computer, tablet or smartphone with Internet access to securely view their test results or appointment notes, send non-urgent messages to their health care providers, request medication refills or appointments and review their active problem or medication list.

“MyChart allows patients to stay connected to their providers and to get better control of their own health,” said Dr. Tommy Ellis, chief medical information officer for ECU Physicians. “It’s a safe, easy, convenient way for patients and their families to keep tabs on all aspects of their health care. Everything’s all in one place, up-to-date and at their fingertips all the time, no matter where they are.”

Ellis said MyChart’s rollout is already contributing to better health outcomes for ECU Physicians patients, because patients who are actively involved in their own health care are more likely to comply with their doctors’ recommendations.

“When a patient can easily communicate personal health information and questions to their provider, it also helps the health care team diagnose them more accurately and develop the best care plan possible for that patient,” he said.

Ellis noted that the patient portal can also help patients avoid unnecessary or duplicate tests, procedures or immunizations when patients seek care from multiple providers.

A proxy option enables family members to monitor health information for their children or aging parents.

Retired ECU employee and ECU Physicians patient Kim Blanton has been using MyChart since its inception. Her favorite feature is the ability to track her lab results, especially while traveling.

“I can use the MyChart mobile application to monitor my lab results on my phone while I’m sitting at the soccer field,” she said. “The trends I see empower me to take control of my health. For example, I may decide to pack a lunch the next time I’m on the road in order to better control my sodium intake.”

Blanton said she uses MyChart to record questions she wants to ask her doctor at her next appointment – and to eliminate the stack of appointment cards she once had to keep up with.

“Now I can see all my appointments in MyChart,” she said. “And it allows me to specify for my health care team which days and times are most convenient for me to schedule future appointments, as well as how I prefer to receive notifications – by mail, phone or email.”

These personalized features, Blanton said, translate into fewer missed appointments for patients.

MyChart’s searchable database is another feature Blanton uses. “It’s better than just Google-ing a condition, because the MyChart database is endorsed by the same physicians who treat me,” she said. “And everything is in layman’s terms – in simple, everyday, eastern North Carolina language. It’s suited to our region, with individual and cultural sensitivities built in.”

Dr. John Stockstill, a professor in ECU’s School of Dental Medicine, said MyChart “takes the guesswork out of being a patient.

“It keeps the uncertainties from piling up,” he said. “I can log into my medical record anytime and review what my doctor has said regarding me, how I should be taking my medications, what my medicines are supposed to be doing, when my appointments are, what my lab results are, what procedures or tests my doctor has recommended for me to stay healthy.”

Stockstill said he especially values the quick response he gets from his medical providers when he submits requests or questions through MyChart – typically less than 48 hours.

“MyChart is very patient-friendly,” he said, “but it’s not generic. It’s very personal and individual.”

More than 9,000 patients have signed up for MyChart since the first ECU Physicians clinic offered the online patient portal early in 2014.

Anyone whose health care has been provided by ECU Physicians, a Vidant Health hospital or a participating clinic of Vidant Medical Group is eligible for a free MyChart account. Patients can sign up with the help of a health care team member during their next appointment, or they can obtain an activation code from their health care team and enroll at a later time.

MyChart’s mobile application is available for Apple and Android smartphones. For more information visit www.ecu.edu/MyChart.

ECU physicians named to annual Best Doctors list

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Dr. Elaine Cabinum-Foeller, a child advocacy specialist in the Brody School of Medicine's Department of Pediatrics, has been named one of North Carolina's "Best Doctors" by her peers. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Dr. Elaine Cabinum-Foeller, a child advocacy specialist in the Brody School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics, has been named one of North Carolina’s “Best Doctors” by her peers. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

 

ECU News Services

Forty-seven physicians from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University have been chosen by their peers for inclusion in the 2014 “Best Doctors in America” list.

The annual list is compiled by Best Doctors Inc., a Boston-based group that surveys more than 45,000 physicians across the United States who previously have been included in the listing, and asks who they would choose to treat themselves or their families.

Approximately 5 percent of the physicians who practice in the United States make the annual list. A partial list of the state’s best doctors will appear in the December issue of “Business North Carolina” magazine. The full list is online at http://www.bestdoctors.com.

The ECU physicians on the list are Dr. Diana J. Antonacci, child and adolescent psychiatry; Dr. Mary Jane Barchman, nephrology; Dr. L. Lorraine Basnight, pediatrics; Dr. Paul Bolin Jr., nephrology; Dr. Susan B. Boutilier, pediatric neurology; Dr. Mark Bowling, pulmonary medicine; Dr. Nathan Brinn, internal medicine and pediatrics; Dr. William A. Burke, dermatology; Dr. Elaine Cabinum-Foeller, pediatric child advocacy; Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood Jr., cardiothoracic surgery; Dr. David N. Collier, pediatric healthy weight; Dr. Paul P. Cook, infectious diseases; Dr. John M. Diamond, child and adolescent psychiatry; Dr. Raymond Dombroski, maternal fetal medicine; Dr. Jonathan Firnhaber, family medicine; Dr. John W. Gibbs III, neurology; Dr. David Hannon, pediatric cardiology; Dr. Robert Harland, surgery; Dr. Eleanor Harris, radiation oncology; Dr. Glenn Harris, pediatric critical care; Dr. Karen Hillenbrand, pediatrics; Dr. Thomas G. Irons, pediatrics; Dr. Yash P. Kataria, pulmonary medicine; Dr. Susan Keen, family medicine; Dr. Greg W. Knapp, family medicine and Dr. Lars C. Larsen, family medicine.

Also listed are Dr. Suzanne Lazorick, pediatrics; Dr. Gary I. Levine, family medicine; Dr. Scott S. MacGilvray, neonatal medicine; Dr. Kaye L. McGinty, child and adolescent psychiatry; Dr. Daniel P. Moore, rehabilitation and physical medicine; Dr. Dale A. Newton, internal medicine and pediatrics; Dr. Edward R. Newton, maternal fetal medicine; Dr. William E. Novotny, pediatric critical care; Dr. John M. Olsson, pediatrics; Dr. Ronald M. Perkin, pediatric critical care and pediatric sleep medicine; Dr. C. Steven Powell, vascular surgery; Dr. Keith M. Ramsey, infectious diseases; Dr. Michael Reichel, pediatric developmental and behavioral problems; Dr. Charlie J. Sang Jr., pediatric cardiology; Dr. Robert A. Shaw, pulmonary medicine and sleep medicine; Dr. Kenneth Steinweg, family medicine; Dr. Eric Toshlog, trauma and critical care surgery; Dr. Danielle S. Walsh, pediatric surgery; Dr. Ricky Watson, family medicine; Dr. Charles Frederick Willson, pediatrics and Dr. Emmanuel Zervos, surgical oncology.

Information on Best Doctors can also be found at https://twitter.com/bestdoctors, https://facebook.com/BestDoctors or http://www.linkedin.com/company/best-doctors.

Health psychology grads to serve the underserved

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Dr. Modjulie Moore, left, and Julie Austen collaborate to assist a patient. Austen is among the 2014 graduates of the Health Psychology doctoral degree with a concentration in pediatric school psychology. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Dr. Modjulie Moore, left, and Julie Austen collaborate to assist a patient. Austen is among the 2014 graduates of the Health Psychology doctoral degree with a concentration in pediatric school psychology. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

 

 

By Spaine Stephens
For ECU News Services

Growing up on a military base, Jessica Ford witnessed the physical and psychological effects of war on her community.

As she watched service members and their families cope, Ford felt inspired to someday be a part of a health-care team that improved the overall health of individuals, one that could address the link between mental and physical health.

That dream is now a reality.

Ford was awarded a doctoral degree on Dec. 19 in health psychology, along with 11 other graduates in East Carolina University’s degree program. Ford earned the degree in the clinical health psychology concentration; her cohort of seven students is the largest to complete the program to date. The class also includes five health psychology graduates in pediatric school psychology.

ECU’s health psychology Ph.D. in pediatric school psychology is one of only two such programs in the country (others are emerging as the field grows); the clinical health psychology program is one of just seven nationwide, said Susan McCammon, professor and chair of the Department of Psychology.

The accomplishments come at a critical time for North Carolina; a report prepared for the North Carolina General Assembly in 2013 revealed that the state is below the national rate of psychologists for its population. The report noted that because of its rate of population growth, North Carolina needs an additional 63 psychologists per year for the next five years to meet the needs of its citizens.

“Our dozen new graduates is a strong contribution toward meeting this number,” McCammon said. “There is a particular need for psychologists who can serve in rural areas, and who can provide services to people with chronic illness, to survivors of trauma and abuse, and to military personnel, veterans and their families.”

‘Service-oriented spirit’

Ford, who completed her degree in August, is part of a team in the Public Health Assessment Program at the Army Institute of Public Health, where she addresses behavioral health and social and community programs that relate to soldiers, their families and communities.

Ford wants to explore whether or not preventative public health programming ultimately reduces poor health behaviors and chronic disease—like heart disease—that are evident in military and veteran populations.

After listening to a lecture by ECU professor Sam Sears, director of doctoral studies in psychology, she was hooked.

“Dr. Sears gave an impassioned lecture about the great need for clinical psychology and behavioral intervention in medicine,” Ford said. “It was the culture and service-oriented spirit that convinced me that the clinical health psychology program at East Carolina was the perfect fit for me.”

It has been a perfect fit for others as well.

The clinical health psychology program saw its first class of students in 2007; the program’s vision is to be among the nation’s best programs in preparing and developing new generations of psychologists to help deal with complex medical issues including diabetes, obesity, heart disease and hypertension.

“I can say we have, without a doubt, accomplished our goal,” said Lesley Lutes, director of the clinical health psychology program.

The class is the largest graduating cohort to date, with a 100 percent placement rate for post-doctoral fellow or clinical faculty positions in higher education, Veterans Affairs, or medical facilities.

Equally successful, the pediatric school psychology program is set to prepare students to help children get the treatment they need to succeed academically, behaviorally and emotionally, said Christy Walcott, director of that program.

“Our graduates have expertise in mental health, learning and behavior,” she said. “Our program is very unique in its emphasis on both health psychology and school psychology.”

Both programs are producing graduates who already are pursuing their passions not only for improving patients’ qualities of life and conducting research in the quickly growing field of health psychology. Even with other programs emerging at universities around the world, this semester’s graduates feel that ECU’s programs place them at an advantage.

“We stand out,” said Amaris Tippey, whose focus is also clinical health psychology. “What makes East Carolina stand out from other programs is that we make cutting-edge clinical and research endeavors available to individuals that are often living in rural and underserved areas that typically would not have access to cutting-edge care.”

‘Competitive in the national market’

ECU pediatric school psychology graduate Albee Ongsuco-Mendoza is an adjunct instructor in the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington, Indiana. Ongsuco-Mendoza enjoys teaching using real-world applications.

“I am eager to engage with students in the capacity of a research mentor by continuing my research on underserved rural and ethnic minority populations,” she said, “and involving undergraduate students in my work.”

Ongsuco-Mendoza said ECU’s program made it easy to find opportunities for clinical practicums because of partnerships with the East Carolina Heart Institute, the neonatal intensive care unit at Vidant Medical Center, Children’s Developmental Services Agency of Pitt County and Greene and Nash county school districts, among others.

“The clinical practicums that are available enable students to gain experience that make us competitive in the national market,” she said.

Ongsuco-Mendoza and the other graduates have come a long way as part of a young program that worked hard to give them the highest quality education while also working toward accreditation in both clinical health and pediatric school psychology by the American Psychological Association.

‘On the brink of change’

The graduates already are having an impact in Eastern North Carolina.

Julie Austen, who focused on pediatric school psychology, is in her post-doctoral year with Rural Health Group Inc., a non-profit community health clinic in Halifax County. She is a psychologist for the primary care office and works alongside a practitioner, case manager and community supports.

“We help enhance the quality of life for under-resourced adults and adolescents,” Austen said.

She hopes to influence other community health centers across the state to turn toward more integrated health care that addresses all areas of wellbeing.

“I feel well prepared to work with rural populations, making me especially prepared to work in eastern North Carolina,” she said.

Austen wants to be part of a transformation in public health.

“It is electrifying,” she said, “to be living in this moment when so much is on the brink of change, and health psychologists are being asked to contribute to that change.”

Others want to personally impact young lives.

Mili Lal is a school psychologist for New Hanover County Schools in Wilmington. For her, earning her PhD with a concentration in pediatric school psychology is just the beginning of a career she hopes will produce meaningful life improvements for children.

“The number of children with asthma, allergies, diabetes, obesity and other health conditions I encountered was steadily rising,” she said. “As the number of children presenting with chronic health conditions increases, it is necessary for pediatric care to expand so that it includes better collaboration among psychology, medicine, and other related disciplines.”

As these graduates move beyond East Carolina as their young careers unfold, program leaders tout their abilities to move seamlessly into specific roles within the field.

“The transformation from layperson to psychological professional is profound,” Sears said.

They also consider the trails they have blazed and what it means for future graduates in the field. “As PhDs in clinical psychology, the power of our graduates is exponential,” Ford said. “As we make a name for ourselves, our success will draw future bright stars to ECU.”

The Department of Psychology is housed in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences.

Pirate Read author encourages accountability

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Visiting author Wes Moore, author of ECU's Pirate Read selection "The Other Wes Moore, interacts with a small group of students on campus Oct. 21 before a larger presentation that followed in Wright Auditorium. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Visiting author Wes Moore, author of ECU’s Pirate Read selection “The Other Wes Moore,” interacts with a small group of students on campus Oct. 21 before a larger presentation that followed in Wright Auditorium. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Spaine Stephens
For ECU News Services

A hush swept over the standing-room-only crowd Oct. 21 in Wright Auditorium as Wes Moore bounded to the center of the stage. The author of “The Other Wes Moore” delivered a message that touched on the importance of accountability, opportunity and community.

“You’re here to be heard,” Moore told the group of mostly students. “You’re here to give it everything you’ve got.”

He urged them to take advantage of higher education and all it has to offer, to experience it not just for good grades but also to exact a positive difference for themselves and for others in college and beyond. “Take this experience and drive it ‘til the wheels fall off,” he said. “Higher education will never simply be determined by your transcripts.”

Moore visited ECU as part of the annual Pirate Read program, through which incoming freshmen are expected to read and study a selected book before arriving on campus. Students then participate in class discussions, seminars and other activities based on the book’s central themes.

“The Other Wes Moore” explores how the paths of two “Baltimore sons,” both named Wes Moore, diverged based on decisions and circumstances.

The author and the man who shares his name were born blocks apart within a year of each other. The author became a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House Fellow and business leader.

The other Wes Moore is serving a life sentence for his involvement in the 2000 murder of a Baltimore County police officer.

ECU students gathered for an in-depth discussion of the Pirate Read selection, led by the book's author, Wes Moore.

ECU students gathered for an in-depth discussion of the Pirate Read selection, led by the book’s author, Wes Moore.

Moore emphasized the importance of choosing a positive direction in life based on motivation to improve society, and how accountability can change both individuals and society. The book also shows how factors like socio-economic status and the presence of role models can play a part in how people perceive their strengths and abilities— and what they choose to do with them.

“There are people standing on the edge of greatness,” he said, “and they don’t even know it.”

After considering both Moores’ life stories and whether or not to write the book, the author decided to write a letter to the imprisoned Moore. The response he received was “one of the most interesting letters I’ve ever read in my life,” he said. It was also one that raised more questions than answers on how two lives could go in such different directions. The letters continued, followed by face-to-face visits at the prison.

Moore stressed that the point of the book is not to “celebrate one” Wes Moore and “castigate the other,” but that one thing he hopes readers get out of the work is “how thin that line is between our life and someone else’s,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Moore met with a small group of selected students for an in-depth discussion of the book and a question-and-answer session. The students peppered Moore with creative inquiries about the title of the book and how the incarcerated Moore felt about its publication.

The author Moore said he would not have moved forward with the project without the other Moore’s permission—he agreed and gave the author contact information for friends and family whose accounts also appear in the book. Even with his cooperation, said the author, tensions naturally flared at times throughout the research process because of the investigative nature of the project.

“We had to delve into a place of discomfort,” he said. “It was definitely a delicate dance.”

He said the imprisoned Wes Moore was amazed after reading the book, seeing how his decisions and actions changed the course of his life. The author added that he is haunted that the two Wes Moores could have easily been in opposite situations.

“I wanted to let the reader go on a journey,” he said, “to see that it’s the smallest decision—made by us or to us—that can make all the difference in where we end up.”

Evidence of that journey was present in the students’ questions for Moore. Some wondered which Moore was truly the “other Wes Moore,”—both are, Moore said—while others wanted to know the very moment the author knew his own life was headed in a positive direction. One student wanted updates on other people mentioned in the book who played parts in both Moores’ lives—some updates were good; others were tragic.

Destiny DeHart, a senior majoring in art and psychology, was selected to attend the small group session through the Honors College and EC Scholars program. She said hearing Moore speak helped her view the book and its themes in a new narrative voice and perspective.

“I want to go back and re-read it in his voice,” she said. “You could really see how he grew.”

DeHart said that having access to authors and other guest speakers on campus enriches students’ experiences and enables them to learn as much as possible from the speaker’s expertise.

“These kinds of opportunities,” she said, “are really important to the quality and our outlook as a college and as individuals.”

The Pirate Read program encourages students to engage in intellectual dialogue and critical thinking. It offers opportunities for students and faculty to relate the selected books’ central themes across the curriculum. Each year, a committee of faculty, staff and students choose the book. Recent selections include “Picking Cotton,” “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” and “It Happened on the Way to War.”

ECU hosts adapted sports clinic

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Members of the ECU club hockey team took on the Cat5 Canes during an adapted sports clinic exhibition of sled hockey Oct. 18. (Photos courtesy of Courtney Tittus, team photographer)

Members of the ECU club hockey team took on the Cat5 Canes during an adapted sports clinic exhibition of sled hockey Oct. 18. (Photos courtesy of Courtney Tittus, team photographer)

 

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

Black Jack resident William Hulslander tried sled hockey at a clinic hosted by East Carolina University and liked it so much that he ended up joining a team.

Hulslander, who lost both legs in an accident, took part in ECU’s fall adapted sports clinic held Oct. 18 at Bladez on Ice in Greenville.

The day helped bring awareness to recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Hulslander joined the Cat5 Canes sled hockey team from Raleigh, which played ECU’s club hockey team in an exhibition game before the clinic. The Cat5 Canes are sponsored by the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.

William Hulslander, far left wearing orange, warms up for a game of sled hockey.

William Hulslander, far left wearing orange, warms up for a game of sled hockey.

Sled hockey, a Paralympic sport, is physically demanding because movement on the sled is totally dependent on the upper body. Players propel themselves by use of spikes on the ends of two three-foot-long sticks.

Core balance and strength are necessary to excel, said Dr. David Loy, ECU associate professor of recreational therapy and graduate program director in the College of Health and Human Performance.

Hulslander, 51, had watched sled hockey in the Paralympic Games and wanted to give it a try. “I didn’t even know ECU had a hockey team,” he said. “I enjoyed it. I got to try it out and block a puck or two.”

A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Hulslander has lived in the area since leaving military service in 1985. He was hurt in an industrial accident in 1999 after a lift fell on him at work. Trapped for more than five hours, he lost circulation in both legs, which led to his double amputation.

Originally from Minnesota, he left winter sports behind after moving to North Carolina. “I played a little hockey when I was young, but I haven’t been on the ice in 35 years,” he said.

Events like the sled hockey clinic help introduce different sports to keep people with disabilities healthy and active, and provide valuable opportunities for ECU students.

“Our community is a classroom and (having the event) supports ECU’s mission of serving our community and providing our students an opportunity to learn about the sport of sled hockey, adapted sport equipment and how to build these types of sport programs in other communities,” Loy said.

Meredith Hayek, a doctoral student in physical therapy and graduate research assistant in the Human Movement Lab, was one of five graduate students who served on the planning committee for the event. The clinic presented a practical, real-world situation for students, she said.

Helping patients get from a wheelchair or land into the sled and on the ice requires proper body mechanics to ensure therapist and patient safety.

While providing an opportunity for individuals with disabilities to learn about sled hockey, the adapted sports clinic at ECU also gave ECU students in fields such as physical therapy a chance to learn techniques they can apply in their careers.

While providing an opportunity for individuals with disabilities to learn about sled hockey, the adapted sports clinic at ECU also gave ECU students in fields such as physical therapy a chance to learn techniques they can apply in their careers.

Therapists motivate patients to do as much as possible so they use their muscles and abilities, said Hayek, who is from Hickory. She earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology from ECU in 2013.

“As I look toward treating patients in the future, if I had a patient interested in sled hockey, I could use that as an exercise to improve their core strength, arm strength and balance,” Hayek said. “To stay upright in the sled, one must have good core stability and balance. This is especially important in turning.”

Hayek said sled hockey would be a fun way to improve a patient’s physical fitness and observe their limits of stability if an ice facility and equipment were available. She could incorporate exercises into a land-based program if no facility or equipment was available, she said.

“This is the first time we’ve offered this sport in our ECU community,” Loy said. “We continually look for unique sport and recreational opportunities to bring to our community to make others aware of the endless possibilities for individuals with disabilities. This is by far, in my opinion, the most unique sport we’ve included in our events.”

ECU’s departments of recreation and leisure studies and physical therapy collaborated with Support Team for Active Recreation, Vidant Medical Center and the Vidant Medical Center Foundation to host the clinic.

Former Miss America brings diversity message to campus

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Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri spoke to a selected group of students on campus Oct. 22, followed by a presentation in Hendrix Theatre. Davuluri urged her audience to celebrate diversity, while sharing her own experiences with cultural stereotypes. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri spoke to a selected group of students on campus Oct. 22, followed by a presentation in Hendrix Theatre. Davuluri urged her audience to celebrate diversity, while sharing her own experiences with cultural stereotypes. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Grace Haskin
ECU News Services

Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014, challenged East Carolina University students to celebrate their diversity – whatever that may be – and to be accepting of others.

Davuluri, who spoke Oct. 22 in Hendrix Theatre, is the first Indian-American and second Asian-American to hold the Miss America title. The Syracuse, New York native and daughter of Indian immigrants devoted her year of service to a platform of “Celebrating Diversity through Cultural Competency.”

“Everyone has a story, regardless of where they come from,” said Davuluri. “It’s not about agreeing with one another, or all believing the same thing. It’s about finding an understanding between all cultures and being able to communicate in an open and honest manner.”

At the Diwali festival on the ECU brickyard, Priya Birdi examines the table on which Diya lamps illustrate light replacing darkness.

At the Diwali festival on the ECU brickyard, Priya Birdi examines the table on which Diya lamps illustrate light replacing darkness.

Growing up as the only Indian-American in her school, Davuluri spoke about being harassed as a child because of her race and religion and the stereotypes she still faces today. “I’ve been called everything from Miss 7-Eleven to a terrorist,” she said, challenging the audience to think about how they want to be remembered.

“Your words have power. Any time you speak, you are influencing someone.”

Sonia Kaur, the founder and co-president of the Indian Student Association (ISA), said she felt inspired by Davuluri’s lecture. “Our whole ISA board was sitting there nodding while she spoke, because we could all relate to the stereotypes she talked about,” Kaur said.

Davuluri has been living out of her suitcase since she was crowned last September and has logged over 240,000 miles worldwide to promote her platform. She spoke candidly about the Miss America competition and the not-so glamorous aspects of it. “Everyone wants to win Miss America, but not everyone wants the job of being Miss America,” she said.

The Residence Hall Association and elementary education students met with Davuluri earlier in the day to talk about diversity, cultural competency and anti-bullying efforts. “The students also really appreciated her discussion on interviewing skills and how to be yourself and capitalize on things that make you unique,” said Melissa Haithcox-Dennis, director of the Ledonia Wright Cultural Center.

In September, Davuluri crowned Kira Kazantsev as Miss America 2015 and is now applying to graduate schools to start an MBA program. In the future, she sees herself working in the political arena and continuing to promote cultural awareness and diversity.

Following Davuluri’s lecture, the ISA celebrated Diwali in the Mendenhall Student Center brick-yard. Diwali, also known as Festival of Lights, is a traditional Indian celebration which signifies the victory of light over darkness.

“Diwali celebrates luck and fortune,” said Leela Goel, an EC scholar and junior at ECU. “It is one of the major holidays in India.”

The festivities included traditional Indian crafts, food, music and dancing.

The Ledonia Wright Cultural Center and the ISA co-sponsored the event, which was the largest Diwali festival ever celebrated on ECU’s campus. Organizers plan to make the celebration an annual event.

 

Dancers perform to traditional Indian music during the Diwali festival on campus.

Dancers perform to traditional Indian music during the Diwali festival on campus.

ECU recognized as bicycle friendly university

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East Carolina University was awarded for attention to providing healthy, alternative modes of transportation, including bricked bike paths and walkways for students making their way to class, pictured above. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

East Carolina University was awarded for attention to providing healthy, alternative modes of transportation, including bricked bike paths and walkways for students making their way to class, pictured above. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Grace Haskin
ECU News Services

East Carolina University has joined 100 cutting-edge colleges and universities nationwide recognized by the League of American Bicyclists with a Silver Bicycle Friendly University award.

“This recognition shows that we are proponents of alternative transportation, healthy lifestyles and reducing our carbon footprint,” said Debra Garfi, director of ECU’s parking and transportation.

Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists, praised participating campuses for recognizing the long-term impact a bicycling culture can create. “We applaud this new round of colleges and universities for investing in a more sustainable future for the country and a healthier future for their staff, students and surrounding communities,” he said.

ECU has made a safer environment for pedestrians and bicyclists by closing roads in the heart of campus and constructing new bike paths that run from Wright Circle to Joyner Library. Over the next several years, bicycling will continue to be encouraged as an easy transportation option.

Despite the progress that has been made, cyclists like Johnathon Fields, an ECU senior, still find themselves riding on the lawn. “A lot of times, I can’t ride on the bike path because people are walking on it, so I definitely think someone should put up signs that say ‘Bike Lane,’” said Fields.

Using the marked bicycle lanes on campus, a student riding a bicycle travels alongside another student on foot. The bicycle lanes marked by different colored bricks were designed to enhance traffic on campus by allowing specific places for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Using the marked bicycle lanes on campus, a student riding a bicycle travels alongside another student on foot. The bicycle lanes marked by different colored bricks were designed to enhance traffic on campus by allowing specific places for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Freshman Erin Olamon said she was unaware of the new lanes. “I thought that was just a cool pattern in the bricks,” she said, referring to the arrows marking the direction for cyclists on the brick path. “I don’t think most people know that those lanes are for bicycles.”

According to ECU landscape architect Kevin Barnes, informing both bikers and pedestrians of shared paths is going to take time. “Pedestrians need to become aware of and understand there is a generous width of a walking path specifically for them and bicyclists need to understand even though there is a lane dedicated to them, they are still responsible for avoiding pedestrians,” he said.

To raise awareness and make ECU even more bicycle friendly, additional amenities will be implemented, such as shared-lane markings and extensions to the Greenville Greenway.

“We are actively involved in planning bike storage and repair stations in university garages,” said Garfi. “We also are working toward covered bike racks and additional bike paths.”

For a detailed list of upcoming projects, view ECU’s Campus Bicycle Master Plan at www.ecu.edu/bikes/bikemasterplan.html.

 

 

ECU College of Business named a top business school for 2015

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ECU College of Business Dean Stan Eakins, pictured above, said that a consistent goal in the college is to prepare students who can think and lead in the business world of today. (Photo by Jay Clark)

ECU College of Business Dean Stan Eakins, pictured above, said that a consistent goal in the college is to prepare students who can think and lead in the business world of today. (Photo by Jay Clark)

 

By Jennifer Brezina
For ECU News Services

For the eighth straight year, East Carolina University’s College of Business ranks among the best in the nation by The Princeton Review.

The education services company features ECU in the 2015 edition of “The Best 296 Business Schools.”

The Princeton Review has ranked ECU's business school among the top in the nation for the eighth consecutive year.

The Princeton Review has ranked ECU’s business school among the top in the nation for the eighth consecutive year.

“The College of Business is proud to be honored once again as one of the nation’s most outstanding business schools,” said Dr. Stan Eakins, dean of the College of Business. “Through all that we do, we strive to prepare and challenge our students with the necessary skills to think, act and lead in today’s business world.”

In the guide, ECU’s College of Business is featured in a two-page profile highlighting academics, career and placement, student life and admissions information. The profile states that “ECU has an intimate feel…Professors know students’ names, and the campus has a friendly atmosphere.” The MBA program “provides students with lots of individual attention and allows them to tailor the program to their needs.”

The Princeton Review compiled the information based on its 80-question survey asking 21,600 students to rate their schools on several topics and report on their experiences. Some school-reported data also was used. Lists and other data are available at http://www.princetonreview.com/business-school-rankings.aspx.

Educate To Career ranks ECU No. 4 in nation

ECU students work in the computer lab in the College of Technology and Computer Science, which prepares students to enter the workforce with skills that are currently in demand by major IT corporations. ECU has been ranked among the top in the nation for preparing its graduates to succeed in the workforce. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)
ECU students work in the computer lab in the College of Technology and Computer Science, which prepares students to enter the workforce with skills that are currently in demand by major IT corporations. ECU has been ranked among the top in the nation for preparing its graduates to succeed in the workforce. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

ECU students work in the computer lab in the College of Technology and Computer Science, which prepares students to enter the workforce with skills that are currently in demand by major IT corporations. ECU has been ranked among the top universities in the nation for preparing its graduates to succeed in the workforce. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

 

East Carolina University is ranked No. 4 out of more than 1,200 universities in the nation by Educate To Career in its 2015 College Rankings Index.

The rankings provide “actual college outcomes data,” according to the California nonprofit.

Chancellor Steve Ballard said the rankings reflect ECU’s commitment to student success. “ECU is especially pleased with the ETC rankings because they are one of the few rankings that measure what actually happens to the student when they get to campus,” he said. “We are clearly among the very best in the nation in terms of the value we add to the student experience.”

The ETC index analyzes data from four-year colleges with enrollments of 1,000 students or more. The index evaluates the total costs related to attending college and the outcomes of the students when they enter the workforce. The rankings are determined by which schools did the best job of improving the earnings and attainment of quality employment of their students, according to the ETC website.

“The Index empirically determines the economic value added by each of the 1,224 colleges ranked within our system. We calculate the improvement in earnings and employability of persons who attended specific colleges, relative to those similarly situated in other colleges,” said Michael R. Havis, founder of Educate to Career.

Some of the metrics used include percentage of graduates employed in occupations using their field of study, average salary, if students are employed within one year of graduation and the number of years in school.

“We are very proud of the accomplishment of our students and their ability to earn competitive salaries and attain success in their first destination upon completion of their education,” said Karen Thompson, director of the ECU Career Center. “This is evidenced by the fact that more than 64 percent of our graduates connected with the ECU Career Center multiple times throughout their academic career to intentionally plan their future career, apply their education through internships or co-ops and then actively apply for meaningful careers or advanced degrees.”

HEED award recognizes leadership in diversity

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ECU freshmen, left to right, David Lopez, Jordan Toth and David Warren take a break from classes near the Trustees Fountain. Attention to diversity and inclusion in everyday campus culture has led to a third consecutive HEED Award for East Carolina University. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

ECU freshmen, left to right, David Lopez, Jordan Toth and David Warren take a break from classes near the Trustees Fountain. Attention to diversity and inclusion in everyday campus culture has led to a third consecutive HEED Award for East Carolina University. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)


By Jamitress Bowden
For ECU News Services

East Carolina University has been recognized with the HEED award for the third consecutive year for its efforts in diversity and inclusion.

The Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award is given by Insight into Diversity magazine. The magazine annually recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“ECU continues to be among the leaders of diversity and inclusion efforts and initiatives within higher education and we’re being recognized for our efforts,” said LaKesha Alston, associate provost for equity and diversity.

Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of Insight into Diversity, said, “We hope the HEED award serves as a way to honor those institutions of higher education that recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion as part of their everyday campus culture.”

This recognition also aligns with the university’s new strategic plan, Beyond Tomorrow, which includes continuing the commitment to diversity and inclusion and increasing opportunity as two of the seven guiding principles.

“The Office for Equity and Diversity will be collaborating with partners across campus to develop the institution’s diversity plan for the next five years in alignment with the university’s strategic plan,” said Alston.

Working to provide students with a globally diverse and inclusive environment and curriculum is important for success, Alston said. Providing employees with a diverse and inclusive workplace is equally important and both remain a priority in groups at the university, such as the Chancellor’s Diversity Leadership Cabinet.

“Making sure that we preserve our mission as an access university, regardless of individual or cultural difference, is very important to me,” said Alston.

Also recognized from North Carolina were Elon University and N.C. State University.

Grant enables research on biological warfare agent

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ECU professor Dr. Marty Roop, left, and graduate student Ahmed Elhassanny are studying the Brucella bacterium at the Brody School of Medicine. A recent grant from the National Institutes of Health will support the ongoing research. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

ECU professor Dr. Marty Roop, left, and graduate student Ahmed Elhassanny are studying the Brucella bacterium at the Brody School of Medicine. A recent grant from the National Institutes of Health will support the ongoing research. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Amy Adams Ellis
ECU News Services

Twenty-seven years of studying the bacterium Brucella have only served to increase Dr. Marty Roop’s fascination with it. That’s a good thing, because Roop, professor in the Brody School of Medicine’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, recently landed a grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue studying this organism that can knock grown men to their knees and keep them there for weeks.

The new two-year, $364,000 grant will help Roop’s team continue laying groundwork for a vaccine to prevent Brucella’s crippling effects in humans. More specifically, they’re trying to determine exactly how the organism produces disease in the host.

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Research associate Josh Pitzer assists in the Brucella research under way at the Brody School of Medicine.

Brucellosis – the disease caused by Brucella – is the world’s leading zoonosis, or infection that occurs naturally in animals. Humans become accidental hosts through contact with animals like cattle, sheep, goats and swine, as well as animal products. The resulting flu-like symptoms are both debilitating and long-lived – but seldom fatal – making Brucella an ideal biological warfare agent.

“Having to care for thousands of sick people can wreak more havoc than dealing with as many deaths,” said Roop, who conducted years of research on Brucella at Louisiana State University Medical Center-Shreveport before joining Brody in 2001.

Roop said there are animal vaccines for the bacterium, but no vaccine that works in humans. “The current vaccines make us sick,” Roop said. “But if we can learn how Brucella produces disease, we can use genetic engineering to create strains without the ability to produce disease. Those strains could then be used in a human vaccine.”

Brucellosis is highly infectious, Roop said. Treatment requires six to eight weeks of two different antibiotics, which often produce undesirable side effects of their own. Patients are typically bedridden for the duration of the disease.

Brucella is rare in the United States but common worldwide, according to Roop. “A vaccine could greatly benefit our military troops who might consume dairy products in countries where agricultural agencies don’t control the disease in animals and where milk from these animals isn’t routinely pasteurized,” he said.

The particular type of grant Roop was awarded encourages researchers to venture out slightly from their former areas of focus. In this case, Roop and his fellow researchers will transition from exploring Brucella’s dependence on iron for survival to exploring its need for a different metal: manganese.

That’s enough to keep Roop fascinated for quite a while, he said.

“Brucella’s natural ecological niche is a microphage, the white blood cell that’s part of our innate immunity system – the cell that normally kills invading pathogens,” he said. “I just can’t get over the fact that ‘our bug’ has evolved to be able to avoid our natural defenses and make a nice little happy home for itself right inside this particular cell,” he said, laughing.

Roop’s lab is the only one in North Carolina researching Brucella, but there are between 10 and 15 labs working on it nationally, he said. “It’s a small community, and we openly share data with each other,” he added.

Roop’s team includes graduate students Ahmed Elhassanny and David Martinson, research associate Josh Pitzer, research technician John Baumgartner and Dr. Daniel Martin, research associate professor in microbiology and immunology.

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