Category Archives: In the news

Saeed earns national psychiatry award

Dr. Sy Saeed, professor and chairman of the Department of Psychiatric Medicine in the Brody School of Medicine, has been honored with the Administrative Psychiatry Award by the American Psychiatric Association. Saeed also serves as chief of psychiatry for Vidant Medical Center.



Established in 1983, the award honors an APA member who is a nationally-recognized clinician executive, whose effectiveness as an administrator of major mental health programs has expanded the body of knowledge of management in the mental health services delivery system, and who serves as a role model for other psychiatrists.

The award is co-sponsored and selected by the American Association of Psychiatric Administrators. The award and lecture were presented May 18.

A 1982 graduate of Dow Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan, Saeed completed residency training at the Illinois State Psychiatric Institute. He served as professor and chair of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria and clinical director for the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Service Network of North Central Illinois from 1995 until 2004.

Saeed is the founding editor of the Psychiatrist Administrator journal, and is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Psychiatric Administration and Management. He is an elected member of the American College of Psychiatrists, a diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, a distinguished fellow of the APA and an elected fellow of the Royal Society of Health, London.

ECU alum qualifies for U.S. Open


ECU graduate and 2012 Conference USA Player of the Year Harold Varner III of Gastonia, N.C. qualified for the 2013 U.S. Open as an alternate from the sectional qualifier in Rockville, Md.

Varner set state records as the first African American to win both the North Carolina Amateur at Greensboro and two months later, the Match Play Championship in Bermuda Run.


Read a Spring 2012 East magazine profile of Varner.

Pirates win national CIT championship

ECU PIrate Miguel Paul moves the ball down the court in a February 2013 game against UAB.

ECU Pirate Miguel Paul moves the ball down the court in a February 2013 game against UAB. (Photo by Jay Clark)

The East Carolina University Pirates Basketball team pulled out a last-second win over Weber State April 2 to win the tournament, with the best season in school history.

Akeem Richmond hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to take the win 77-74. The Pirates had trailed 71-65 with less than three seconds remaining but managed to trim the lead as time ran out.

For more details about the win, visit

ECU named to community service honor roll

 ECU College of Business graduate assistants Heather Clayton and Devang Patel work together to paint a wall in the Salvation Army's Family Store during the 2012 MLK Day of Service.  East Carolina University has been honored for its efforts in serving the community. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

ECU College of Business graduate assistants Heather Clayton and Devang Patel work together to paint a wall in the Salvation Army’s Family Store during the 2012 MLK Day of Service. East Carolina University has been honored for its efforts in serving the community. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)


For the seventh year in a row, East Carolina University was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service. The Honor Roll recognizes exemplary community service and meaningful outcomes in the community. The award is the highest federal recognition that honors a university’s commitment to service and civic engagement.honorroll1

Winners were announced March 4 at the American Council on Education annual conference in Washington, D.C.

Community outreach at ECU is supported through the efforts of the Volunteer and Service-Learning Center, which engages students in volunteer and service-learning activities that benefit the community while enhancing the students’ academic experiences. For additional information about the Volunteer and Service-Learning Center, visit

The entire Honor Roll list is available at

Programs included in best grad schools list

ECU News Services

The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and the ECU Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies have been ranked among the best graduate programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report magazine.

The Brody School of Medicine is ranked 19th overall among primary care schools this year, up from a tie for 31st last year. ECU also sent the fifth-highest percentage of its graduates, 54.4 percent, into primary care residencies between 2010 and 2012. U.S. News defines primary care as family medicine, pediatrics and internal medicine.


Dr. Paul Cunningham

“It is clear that our school has what it takes to rank with many well established schools from across the nation,” said Dr. Paul Cunningham, dean of the Brody School of Medicine. “What is even more remarkable is that we are still the best value in the United States. Our tuition and fees are still the most affordable. As long as we remain true to our mission of service to the citizens of North Carolina, very little else really matters. But it’s good to be noticed.”

In addition, the rehabilitation counseling program in the ECU College of Allied Health Sciences is ranked 13th among such programs by U.S. News.

“I am not surprised that our program continues to be ranked among the best,” said Dr. Paul Toriello, chair of doctoral and graduate programs in the Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies. “Our faculty, students and graduates are of the highest caliber, and I am glad the U.S. News & World Report recognizes the quality of our program.”

ECU’s master’s in rehabilitation and career counseling teaches theory, applied counseling approaches and the clinical skills necessary for professionals to help individuals with disabilities achieve their maximum level of physical, psychological, social, educational, vocational and economic potential. The doctoral program in rehabilitation counseling allows students to specialize in substance and clinical counseling, vocational evaluation or rehabilitation research.

Nationally-recognized faculty and an innovative curriculum give rehabilitation counseling students a variety of skills that make them highly marketable. The program has a long history of seizing opportunities to advance practice in high needs areas such as a new military and trauma counseling course, the first in a postgraduate certificate program that will begin this fall, said Dr. Stephen Thomas, dean of the College of Allied Health Sciences.

The ECU College of Nursing is also included in the most recent publications, ranked 10th among online graduate nursing programs. This was previously announced in an online-only listing posted by U.S. News on Jan. 15.

Online degrees have been growing in popularity the past 10 years driven in part by a competitive job market and stagnant economy, according to U.S. News. ECU’s College of Nursing has been consistently named as one of the largest distance education programs in the country since 2004. The current rankings assess quality categories over size.

The College of Nursing offers seven online options in the master of science nursing program: adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, family nurse practitioner, neonatal nurse practitioner, nursing education, nursing leadership and nurse midwifery. Of 704 total students enrolled in the MSN program, 606 – or 86 percent – are distance education students.

Full lists and rankings can be viewed online at

ECU professor interviewed from ‘bottom of the earth’

In a video conference from the “bottom of the earth,” ECU researcher Reide Corbett said that Palmer Station in western Antarctica feels like “the top of the world.” Corbett is leading a team of scientists in Antarctica studying how the flow of fresh groundwater from the continent delivers nutrients into the coastal ocean.

The three-year project is funded by a $530,000 grant from the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs.



Developed by the UNC Coastal Studies Institute, the video included a question and answer session with students from Manteo and Columbia high schools in eastern North Carolina.

Corbett, a professor in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Department of Geological Sciences, a research scientist at the ECU Institute for Coastal Science and Policy and co-program head for coastal processes at the UNC Coastal Studies Institute, has studied submarine groundwater discharge throughout his academic career.

For additional details on Corbett’s research, visit

ECU grad shares deception detection on CBS


The hosts of CBS This Morning interview Phil Houston on the recent release of Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception.


ECU political science graduate and former Central Intelligence Agency expert Philip Houston, co-author of “Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception,” appeared on the CBS morning news show Jan. 18. Houston spoke on methods to detect deception and how to elicit more truthful answers.

Houston, of Greenville, is chief executive officer of Qverity, a provider of behavioral analysis and screening services for a worldwide clientele. According to Qverity’s web site, Houston is a national expert on deception detection, critical interviewing and elicitation who is credited with developing a deception detection method that is now used throughout U.S. intelligence and law enforcement communities. Read more about Houston at




ECU alumna named new Raleigh police chief

East Carolina University graduate and acting interim chief Cassandra Deck-Brown was chosen as police chief for Raleigh on Jan. 31. She is the first African-American woman to head the department and the first chief chosen from within the department since 1994.



That year, Deck-Brown’s brother-in-law, Mitchell Brown, was promoted to chief and served nearly seven years.

Deck-Brown has been with the Raleigh Police Department since 1987 and worked her way up to deputy chief. She was selected for the position following a national search.

She grew up in Franklin County but spent summers with her mother’s relatives in Philadelphia, where she saw a female police officer on the street one day. The sight of a woman in uniform and in control inspired her, she said in 2006.

Deck-Brown graduated from East Carolina University with a degree in criminal justice, then entered the police academy and the Raleigh Police Department in 1987. She worked as a patrol officer, a crime prevention-community relations officer and a detective, before earning a master’s degree in public administration from N.C. State University in 1995.

Promoted to captain in 2003, she became commander of what is now the North District. She later headed the department’s Administrative Services Division and was promoted to deputy chief last summer.

Kleckley joins national teleconference


ECU College of Business professor James W. Kleckley, director of the Bureau of Business Research, participated in the National Association for Business Economics Quarterly Economic Forecast Teleconference on Dec. 17.

The teleconference covered the results of NABE’s survey of economic forecasters. Kleckley was one of three panelists who offered alternative perspectives on the economy. Read more about the conference.  Read more about Kleckley.

Professor named NASSM fellow



Dr. Melanie Sartore-Baldwin, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at East Carolina University, was named a fellow of the North American Society for Sport Management.

She is one of five scholars who received this honor at the 2012 NASSM conference in Seattle.

Fellow status recognizes NASSM scholars by honoring their achievement in sport-related scholarship disseminated through NASSM.

The designation is one of distinction and encourages high standards of research and other forms of scholarship among NASSM’s members.

“We are proud of Dr. Sartore-Baldwin’s international recognition and her commitment to our students,” said Dr. Glen Gilbert, dean of the College of Health and Human Performance.

Her areas of study are diversity-related issues and social justice within sport.

A native of Macomb, Ill., Sartore-Baldwin began teaching at ECU in 2007. She earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education/exercise science from Western Illinois University in 2000. She received a dual master’s degree from Indiana University in 2003 and a doctorate from Texas A&M University in 2007.

Article highlights expedition led by ECU archaeologist


ECU archaeologist Megan Perry was featured in the News and Observer and The Charlotte Observer in a story about her work as co-leader of a research expedition to Petra, the “lost city” in Jordan. Petra has been named one of the “Seven Wonders of the Modern World.” Working with NCSU colleague S. Thomas Parker, the team led students through an excavation to recover human remains and artifacts at the archaeological site.

Read the story in the News and Observer; in the Charlotte Observer.

Read a May 2012 article about the expedition.

Riggs quoted in News & Observer


Following severe damage from Hurricane Sandy, the N.C. DOT is making plans to rebuild sections of Hwy. 12 on the Outer Banks.

ECU geologist Stan Riggs has researched coastal rebuilding. In a Nov. 27 article in the News and Observer, Rigss said the DOT has no more room to build the highway, since the narrow strip of land continues to decrease in size.

Read the N&O story.

Read more about Riggs’ research on coastal rebuilding.

Stiller elected to lead international organization

East Carolina University biology professor John W. Stiller was elected to the role of incoming vice president and president elect of the Phycological Society of America. The election results were announced at the PSA annual national meeting in Charleston, S.C. June 22.


Stiller will serve a three-year term as vice president/president-elect in 2013, president in 2014 and past president in 2015. He will also serve on the PSA executive council for all three years.

The international organization promotes research and education in fields related to the biology of algae, and publishes the Journal of Phycology: an International Journal of Algal Research.

The journal was recently redesigned and its first updated issue featured research by Stiller and ECU biology student Justin Perry. The paper, “Major Developmental Regulators and their Expression in Two Closely Related Species of Porphyra (Rhodophyta),” reflected a large collaborative effort to sequence the genome of the red alga Porphyra, also known as Nori or as Stiller described it, “the black stuff wrapped around the outside of most sushi.”

The research is funded through grants from the Joint Genomic Institute/Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. Stiller is a co-principle investigator on both grants.

Perry was an undergraduate at the time of the research but has since joined the biology department as a master’s student.

For additional information about PSA , visit For more details about Stiller, visit

Election experts in the news

East Carolina University experts on politics are featured in a new Elections Experts site from ECU News Services. The site is available at

Recent postings featuring those experts include the following:

Comics come up short with election

ECU political science professor Jody Baumgartner said that the 2012 presidential election provides less fodder for comedy than the election in 2008. An expert on the influence of comedy on U.S. politics, Baumgartner was quoted in the Vancouver Sun. “There’s less raw material to work with in terms of the targets of the jokes,” he said.  Read the article. 


High profile visitors in eastern North Carolina

ECU political science professor Carmine Scavo was featured in a Sept. 27 Daily Reflector article titled, “Eastern N.C. draws high profile visitors.” Scavo spoke regarding the attention the state has received as a swing state in the presidential election. That attention has included visits by first lady Michelle Obama and Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. Read the story.

Youth health program up for national honors

By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services

With election season in full swing, there’s one more local candidate seeking votes.

Only this candidate isn’t a person; it’s a program — one aimed at helping reduce youth obesity.

East Carolina University’s MATCH program is one of more than 100 programs geared toward youth nationwide participating in the Childhood Obesity Challenge to identify the best ideas for helping young people reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Dr. Suzanne Lazorick

MATCH (Motivating Adolescents with Technology to CHOOSE Health) is working in 15 schools in 9 counties. It is an approach to student wellness that combines physical activity, nutrition education, and technology. Former seventh-grade teacher Tim Hardison developed the program in Martin County. He now directs the program at ECU.

For 16 weeks, students learn goal-setting, self-monitoring, decision-making and other skills to help them achieve and maintain a healthier lifestyle and weight. The MATCH curriculum fits within the seventh-grade N.C. Standard Course of Study, and lessons are designed to improve performance on end-of-grade tests in reading, writing, math and computer skills.

Led by Hardison and Dr. Suzanne Lazorick, an ECU associate professor of pediatrics and public health, MATCH is in schools in the following counties: Martin, Pamlico, Halifax, Johnston, Washington, Pitt, Hyde, Chowan, and Edgecombe.

“As MATCH has expanded, consistently anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of kids who were overweight at the start of the program are less overweight after they finish, and also over 75 percent of all kids in MATCH improve their cardiovascular fitness as measured by a standardized fitness test in P.E.,” Lazorick said.

Many of the schools in the MATCH program have obesity rates among the highest in the state and have more than half of students receiving subsidized school meals, according to Hardison and Lazorick.

To see more information about MATCH , go to Voting ended in September.

The Childhood Obesity Challenge is organized by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. In addition to the public vote, submissions will be judged by an expert panel. The program judged to be the best will be published in an upcoming issue of AJPM. It will also receive a cash award, as will the top online vote-getter, which Lazorick said would be invested back into MATCH.

Newton co-authors research on money, med careers

ECU News Services

Primary care physicians are at the heart of health care in the United States and are often the first to diagnose patients and ensure those patients receive the care they need.

But researchers from East Carolina University, N.C. State University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York have found that many students are choosing to pass up a career in primary care because those physicians make substantially less money than specialists, such as dermatologists or radiologists.


Dr. Dale Newton

“We found that students who placed a premium on high income and students who anticipated having a lot of student debt were significantly more likely to pursue a high-paying medical specialty rather than become primary care physicians,” said Dr. Lori Foster Thompson, a professor of psychology at N.C. State and co-author of a paper describing the research.

“This held true even for students who entered medical school with the goal of becoming primary care physicians – they often switched to high-paying specialties before graduating.

“The study, published online in Medical Education, surveyed more than 2,500 medical students attending New York Medical College and the Brody School of Medicine at ECU between 1993 and 2012. Students were surveyed at the beginning of their first year of medical school and just before graduation four years later. The survey asked the students what sort of medical career they planned to pursue, to estimate their final student loans and to rate the value they place on income.

The researchers then looked at those students planning to pursue a career in primary care, as well as those students planning to pursue any of the 12 specialties with a median income of more than $300,000 per year, based on 2010 salary data. By comparison, primary care physicians had a median income of just under $200,000 per year. Primary care consists of internal medicine, family medicine and pediatrics.

The study found that anticipated debt was a significant factor in the students’ career decisions. Graduating students who pursued high-paying specialties were facing average student loans of approximately $104,000, whereas those who chose primary care faced an average debt of less than $94,000. Students facing higher debt were also more likely to switch to high-paying specialties – including more than 30 percent of students who had expected to become primary care physicians when they entered medical school.

“The income gap between primary care and specialty physicians started growing in earnest in 1979, and now we’re seeing the consequences of that ongoing trend,” said Dr. Martha Grayson, senior associate dean of medical education at Einstein and the study’s lead author. (Grayson was at New York Medical College at the time of the study.)

First-year and graduating students who chose to pursue one of the high-paying specialties also rated income as being significantly more important than students who chose to pursue primary care. In addition, those graduating students who felt income was more important than they had as first-years were more likely to have switched to a high-paying specialty.

Dr. Dale Newton of ECU, a study co-author, said other factors that guide student decisions about what specialty to pursue include parental or peer pressure, lifestyle desires and the exposure to more specialties once students reach medical school, though this study didn’t look at those issues specifically.

“The other major factor in choosing a primary care career is a service commitment — wanting to help others,” added Newton, a professor of pediatrics at ECU. “Measuring such a commitment in a research setting is very difficult, however.”

Based on an Association of American Medical Colleges survey of residents and fellows taken in 2010, 86 percent of medical students graduated with some education debt in 2010. The average debt was $158,000. Thirty percent of graduates had debt exceeding $200,000.

“While the amount of debt medical students take on is well-known, there hasn’t been much research to assess how students respond to this pressure,” said Grayson.

The study suggests exploring measures to encourage primary care careers such as incentive pay, debt forgiveness, additional scholarships and higher reimbursement for primary care services in order to meet the growing need.

Such measures would be good for ECU, which emphasizes primary care and has the lowest tuition of any medical school in the country, Newton said.

“The good news is that our low medical school cost for tuition and fees means that our students graduate with lower debt loads in general,” he said. “That means that more of them can ‘afford’ to choose a lower-paying primary care career.  If the current efforts at health care reform continue, the incomes of primary care physicians should improve over the next few years. Primary care has to play a major role in the new health care paradigm.”

The study findings come as the AAMC projects a shortage of 63,000 physicians by 2015, the vast majority of those in primary care.

The paper is titled “Payback Time: The Association of Debt and Income with Medical Student Career Choice.” It is online at

ECU alum featured in LA Times

An image from an ECU web feature shows Nathan Lean touring Tripoli while a student at ECU.

An editorial by East Carolina University alumnus Nathan Lean, “Anders Behring Breivik: Norway’s sane killer” appeared in the Los Angeles Times Aug. 26.

Lean earned a double major from ECU in piano performance and international studies and an MA in international studies. A graduate student at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Lean is a scholar of Middle East studies and a prolific writer on Islam, American foreign policy, national politics and global affairs.

He is editor-in-chief of Aslan Media and a contributing writer at Policy Mic. His writings have appeared recently in The Huffington Post, and the New York Daily News.

This year Lean authored “The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims.” And with ECU political science professor Jalil Roshandel, director of the Security Studies program, Lean co-authored “Iran, Israel, and the United States: Regime Security vs. Political Legitimacy.”

A 2010 ECU web feature shared details on how ECU’s global understanding course influenced Lean’s research interests. Read the feature.


ECU grad covers Republican National Convention for CNN

Elizabeth Lauten


East Carolina University graduate and Jacksonville, N.C. native Elizabeth Lauten ’07 served as a CNN News correspondent, in a guest reporting role for the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

Lauten was one of six winners of CNN’s “Your Political Ticket” iReport Convention Contest. She and two other reporters received an all-expense paid trip to the Republican convention, while three others are covering the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte Sept. 3-6.

The reporters covered the convention from first-person video commentary and on-air reporting, photography coverage and interviews with convention attendees and local residents.

“I heard about the contest through a friend. It started off as a joke and I said ‘let’s make it campaign style,’ which is different from typical videos,” Lauten said. “I thought I could get it out there and use my old broadcasting skills.”

“It’s kind of crazy looking back at where I am now from being in Jacksonville 10 years ago,” Lauten said. “Things are finally coming around full circle from then. A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have even said that I would be a correspondent for CNN.”

Lauten is social and earned media manager at Purple Strategies firm in Washington, D.C. She also writes movie and television reviews for Miss A, an online publication. Lauten previously served as press secretary for Republican congressman Joe Walsh and as a new media political manager for the Republican National Committee.

“I’m not nervous about going at all because I went to last convention as a volunteer,” Lauten said. “For me, it’s a different angle and I’m looking forward to making the most out of this opportunity and trying out as many things as I can.”

View Lauten’s reports at

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