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

mobilefeature
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

bestdocsfeature
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

hpfeature
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.

Program supports new teachers’ growth

eppesfeature
Eppes Middle School teacher Kirsten Coleman, left, works with Aujahanna Davis at C.M. Eppes Middle School in Greenville. Coleman is part of a collaboration with ECU to support new teachers. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Eppes Middle School teacher Kirsten Coleman, left, works with Aujahanna Davis at C.M. Eppes Middle School in Greenville. Coleman is part of a collaboration with ECU to support new teachers. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

East Carolina University wants to entice new teachers in Pitt County to become students again.

ECU’s College of Education has received a $60,000 grant from the BelleJar Foundation that will help pay for 12 first-year teachers in high-need schools to get their master’s degrees in a collaborative effort with Pitt County Schools.

Seven teachers have enrolled in graduate school at ECU, and officials are recruiting to fill the remaining slots at Belvoir Elementary, C.M. Eppes Middle, HB Sugg/SD Bundy Elementary and North Pitt High.

High-need schools typically have more beginning teachers, double-digit teacher turnover rates, and a large number of students who receive free and reduced lunch.

“We want to touch as many teachers as we can,” said Dr. Judy Smith, ECU associate professor of elementary education and middle grades education. “We are preparing effective teachers and we want to retain those teachers in eastern North Carolina.”

The program, Collaborative Teaching Communities, is aimed at giving new teachers “the time and support necessary to gain skills and confidence required to teach successfully, particularly in high need settings,” according to the grant summary.

Those in the program will be part of professional teaching teams. The teams will include one master teacher, two ECU undergraduate co-teaching student interns and two novice teachers (first to third year teachers). The program builds on a successful co-teaching model piloted in the ECU College of Education.

“The benefit for us is that we’ve got our master teachers in the schools working directly with beginning teachers and interns in a more comprehensive way,” said Seth Brown, teacher support coordinator with Pitt County Schools.

He explained that “like co-teaching, two ECU undergraduate student interns are placed in a master teacher’s classroom, where teaching and learning is maximized through collaboration, co-instruction and co-assessment. In this expanded model, two novice teachers and their classrooms are assigned to the same master teacher.

“The master teacher and the two novice teachers are still responsible for delivering lessons to their classroom daily, but with this extension of co-teaching, five teachers (instead of three) are sharing in the planning, organization, delivery, and assessment of instruction for three classrooms (instead of one),” Brown said.

 Left to right at Eppes Middle School are ECU intern Alexandra Arsenault, Eppes teacher Kirsten Coleman and ECU intern Allie Smith, who are all working together on the same team to enhance teacher preparation.


Left to right at Eppes Middle School are ECU intern Alexandra Arsenault, Eppes teacher Kirsten Coleman and ECU intern Allie Smith, who are all working together on the same team to enhance teacher preparation.

Jennifer Stalls, an ECU alumna and sixth-grade science teacher at Eppes, is working toward a master’s degree in middle grades education with a concentration in science through the grant program at ECU. She expects to graduate in 2016.

“Going back to school and working at the same time is an incredible challenge,” said Stalls, who is in her second year of teaching and still experimenting with techniques and instructional methods to see what works best for her students.

Because of the support provided to beginning teachers at Eppes, Stalls said she had a phenomenal first year. “The experience I gained as a beginning teacher helped me tremendously as a graduate student,” she said. The co-teaching team helps Stalls in planning and practice. “As a cohort, we are able to plan together to improve instruction for our diverse group of learners,” she said.

Interning at Eppes has been one of the best experiences of ECU senior Lexie Arsenault’s college career, she said. Arsenault is a middle grades mathematics and science education major and ECU Maynard Scholar.

“I enjoy working with the students, helping them grasp concepts, and seeing that light bulb go off above their heads when it finally clicks,” Arsenault said. “My internship has given me the opportunity to work with some amazing professionals who are always willing to help ensure that I am comfortable in my school setting.”

Research shows that co-teaching models improve student performance. “That part is important because it’s not worth doing if it doesn’t positively impact the kids,” Brown said.

Up to $5,000 is available for graduate school through the grant, which some participants have said is the only way they could pursue an advanced degree.

“The money is important, but to deliberately create that collaboration and support is more important in the early years,” Brown said. “If we’re not deliberate about how we recruit, retain and reward teachers, then we’re not going to have teachers to teach our kids.”

Mentoring and advising is crucial because the highest attrition comes in the first four years of teaching, Brown said. “If we provide them support, they will know that if they can get through this, they can get through anything,” he said.

Research also shows it can take up to three years for a new teacher to feel comfortable in the classroom. “Our goal is to prepare teachers to positively impact student achievement their first year out in the field,” Smith said.

The grant provides an instructional coach with years of teaching experience to work with the co-teaching teams as well. “The coaches are really valuable,” Smith said. “They’re not evaluating but observing and giving assistance and support to the entire team through mentoring and professional development.”

Success will be measured by student achievement, teacher performance and satisfaction and increased teacher retention.

“When a teacher starts working toward a higher degree, they get more invested,” Smith said. “It’s that domino effect.”

If the program proves successful, ECU’s College of Education wants to apply for additional grant funding to expand to more of the 39 public school systems with whom they work in eastern North Carolina.

To learn more, contact Dr. Judy Smith at smithjud@ecu.edu or 252-737-2486 or Dr. Christina Tschida at tschidac@ecu.edu or 252-737-4161. Applications are available through Pitt County Schools by contacting Seth Brown at brownse@pitt.k12.nc.us or 252-558-6831.

Pictured below ECU intern Alexandra Arsenault, right, works with Eppes middle schooler Daceion Sander.

Pictured below ECU intern Alexandra Arsenault, right, works with Eppes middle schooler Daceion Sander.

Partnership produces healthy, happy hearts

heartsfeature1
Chuck Barber, right, enjoys a moment with Luis Amarro, who had heart surgery in Greenville thanks to the Children's Heart Project. Barber and his wife were pre-surgery hosts for the Bolivian families. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Chuck Barber, right, enjoys a moment with Luis Amarro, who had heart surgery in Greenville thanks to the Children’s Heart Project. Barber and his wife were pre-surgery hosts for the Bolivian families. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Amy Adams Ellis
ECU News Services

Two Bolivian hearts were mended, and many local hearts warmed last month, thanks to a partnership between the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, Vidant Medical Center and Samaritan’s Purse’s Children’s Heart Project.

Six-year-old Sebastian Viscarra and 15-year-old Luis Amarro traveled from La Paz, Bolivia, recently to receive life-altering surgery in Greenville. The two boys were participants in the Children’s Heart Project, an international relief project that matches up children who need heart surgery – but lack access to it in their home countries – with North American medical centers willing to donate their services. The project arranges for host families and an interpreter to accompany the children and their guardians, and furnishes round-trip transportation.

Dr. Charlie Sang

Dr. Charlie Sang

Both children suffered from a common congenital heart defect that in the United States is typically repaired at 3-6 months of age, said Dr. Charlie Sang, the ECU pediatric cardiologist who cared for the boys before and after surgery.

“Both children had a ventricular septal defect, which is essentially a hole in the bottom wall of the heart,” said Sang, who is chief of pediatric cardiology at Brody.

“The opening allowed too much blood to flow to the right side of the heart, causing increased blood pressure in the vessels of the lungs. If not repaired, the patients would have developed irreversible pulmonary vascular disease, worsening heart failure symptoms and premature death.”

When the boys arrived in early October, Sang said, “They couldn’t walk the block without getting tired.” Since the surgery, he said, “They will pretty much be able to do what normal kids their age do – and live long, prosperous lives.”

ECU pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon Koh Takeuchi performed the surgeries. “In both children, we closed the hole by sewing a patch over it. The whole procedure takes three hours,” he said.

“It’s a procedure we do every day here.”

Sebastian, who lives with his mother and three siblings in a one-room apartment in La Paz, wants to be a policeman when he grows up. When asked if he was strong like Spiderman – the superhero featured on the watch he was sporting – he peered up sheepishly through long, dark eyelashes and said in Spanish, “I know I am.

His mother, Victoria Villca, said through the interpreter, “When I got the news Sebastian was chosen for the project, I had two emotions. I was very nervous and very happy. Sebastian is a blessed child to be chosen by this program. We’re very thankful for the medical staff, the host families, and every little thing that anyone has done to help us.”

Luis said he was scared when he first heard he was coming to the United States for surgery, because he didn’t know what to expect. “But I’ve been happy here,” he said. “I’m happy about my new heart. Now I can run and play soccer.”

Luis has lived in an orphanage in La Paz since his mother abandoned him as a toddler. When he was offered pain medication after the surgery, he remarked that his pain wasn’t nearly as bad as other pain he’s endured in his life, according to Ainslie Guion of Cove City, whose family hosted the recovery end of the Bolivians’ stay.

“We love them both,” Guion said of the two boys.

This is the second time her family has hosted children for the project. She and her husband Marty have four children, and the youngest is an adopted son from Russia who is close in age to Luis. Like Luis, he suffered much mental and physical pain as a young child moving from one orphanage to another.

Dr. Koh Takeuchi

Dr. Koh Takeuchi

“I want to show Luis that people do want to love and care for him,” Guion said. “We thought we were helping these families, but in the end, they’re a huge blessing to us. We’re just a tiny piece of the puzzle,” she added.

Guion’s church, Tabernacle Baptist in New Bern, sponsored the children’s trip, meaning church members provided housing, food, local transportation and emotional support for the families during their stay.

Youth pastor Chuck Barber and his wife, Judy, of Landmark Baptist Church in Greenville, also opened their home to the children before the surgeries. This was the third time the Barbers have hosted families for the project.

Luis’s grandmother, Nilda Salazar, who accompanied him, said, “We are very happy and thankful for the medical team and the host families who have given us their homes and their support. Everyone has been so kind to us.”

Salazar chose to show her gratefulness by leaving a piece of herself behind when she returns to Bolivia. Both she and interpreter Aylin Limpias had their waste-length hair cut while they were here and donated to Locks of Love, a charity that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the U.S. and Canada who suffer from long-term medical hair loss.

“They have really big hearts,” said Guion of her Bolivian house guests.

Sebastian and Luis are the 32nd and 33rd Children’s Heart Project patients to be treated in Greenville since ECU began partnering with the project in 2001.

In the United States, the cost of surgery to repair a congenital heart defect can range from $30,000 to $80,000, according to Cindy Bonsall, director of the Children’s Heart Project.

The Children’s Heart Project is a ministry of the international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan’s Purse. Since it began in 1997, the project has brought more than 1,000 children to North America to receive heart surgery and treatments unavailable in their home countries. To find out more, visit SamaritansPurse.org.

 

Heart surgery recipients Luis Amarro, 15, and 6-year-old Sebastian Viscarra find common ground in electronic devices as they recover from their surgeries in Greenville.

Heart surgery recipients Luis Amarro, 15, and 6-year-old Sebastian Viscarra find common ground in electronic devices as they recover from their surgeries in Greenville.

Exercise after surgery improves health

Dr. Joseph Houmard, College of Health and Human Performance

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

People who exercise following bariatric surgery gain health benefits beyond weight loss, according to researchers at East Carolina University, the University of Pittsburgh and Florida Hospital – Sanford-Burnham Translational Research for Institute and Diabetes Institute.

“This is really the first clinical trial to look at the effects of exercise on insulin sensitivity and other risk factors following bariatric surgery,” said Dr. Joe Houmard, professor of kinesiology in the College of Health and Human Performance, director of ECU’s Human Performance Lab and principal investigator of the new study at ECU. “It shows even with huge weight loss that exercise can make you healthier. If you want optimal benefits, you need to be physically active.”

Dr. Joseph Houmard, College of Health and Human Performance

Dr. Joseph Houmard, College of Health and Human Performance

The joint study, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation and funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, involved 119 people who recently had Roux-en-Y bypass bariatric surgery. The weight loss surgery is the most common metabolic surgery performed in the United States. One group of patients participated in an intensive education program after surgery while a second group incorporated 120 minutes of exercise each week with education.

Compared to the education group, those who exercised showed significant improvement in insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. Low insulin sensitivity and poor glucose metabolism are associated with the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Both are common in pre-diabetes, meaning a person’s blood sugar level is higher than normal but not enough to be classified as diabetes.

The exercise group also showed notable improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, which reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, lung cancer and stroke.

Although both groups lost weight – about 50 pounds – as a result of bariatric surgery, there were no differences in the total amount of weight loss between the two groups in the 24-week study.

“Importantly, our study showed that aerobic exercise is feasible in this population—a result that directly counters the perception that severely obese individuals cannot respond to lifestyle interventions,” said Dr. Bret Goodpaster, director of the Exercise Metabolism Core and professor at Sandford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, in a news release. “We look forward to additional studies to determine the optimal amount and type of exercise that produces the best physiological results.”

The study was done in collaboration with the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Medicine, Department of Health and Physical Activity, and the Department of Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh and the Department of Kinesiology at ECU.

ECU faculty members Chuck Tanner and Gabe Dubis were co-authors on the paper and registered nurse Angela Clark assisted with the study.

“ECU has long been involved in research with exercise and gastric bypass and hopefully we’re now making another contribution to treating the obesity epidemic,” Houmard said.

Research by another ECU faculty member, Dr. Walter Pories, who developed the “Greenville Gastric Bypass,” shows conclusively that not only does the surgery result in durable weight loss but also causes a long-term remission of type 2 diabetes in patients who undergo the surgery.

Researchers to study arthritis treatment

knudsonfeature
Left to right, Warren Knudson, Shinya Ishizuka and Emily B. Askew conduct research at the Brody School of Medicine in search for treatments to alleviate arthritis symptoms. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Left to right, Warren Knudson, Shinya Ishizuka and Emily B. Askew conduct research at the Brody School of Medicine in search for treatments to alleviate arthritis symptoms. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Amy Adams Ellis
ECU News Services

Researchers at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine have earned funding that could lead to pain relief and improved mobility for millions of people who suffer from osteoarthritis.

Dr. Warren Knudson, professor in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology; Dr. Cheryl Knudson, professor and chair of the department; Dr. Emily Askew, research assistant professor; and Dr. Shinya Ishizuka, post-doctoral scholar, recently received a two-year, $356,950 grant from the National Institute for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases – a division of the National Institutes of Health.

The grant will fund research focused on a potential treatment for degenerative osteoarthritis, a chronic condition in which cartilage – the material that cushions joints – breaks down. Its deterioration allows the bones to rub against each other, resulting in pain, swelling and loss of movement. The disease most often affects the fingers, hips, knees and lower backs of aging adults or adults who have experienced joint injuries.

“There’s no cure for osteoarthritis, or even a way to slow it down,” said Warren Knudson. “The tissue just keeps progressively wearing away to the underlying bone, which can be very painful. Right now, all we can do is treat the symptoms. It’s a real quality of life issue.

“And everyone gets arthritis if they live long enough,” he added.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, osteoarthritis affects about 27 million Americans and costs the economy dearly in direct medical care and lost workdays.

The issue, according to Knudson, is that unlike other types of tissue in the body, cartilage lacks the ability to regenerate, and with age, loses its ability to repair itself.

Many people who suffer from osteoarthritis eventually resort to total joint replacement, an invasive procedure usually followed by a lengthy healing process and extensive rehabilitation.

Others attempt to manage their symptoms with dietary supplements like glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate, even though they haven’t been proven to offer much relief. “Because cartilage is largely made up of chondroitin, people think that taking chondroitin sulfate will replace their cartilage,” Knudson said, “but that’s not true.”

Some physicians inject affected joints with hyaluronic acid, a relative of chondroitin sulfate that comprises most of the lubricant naturally found in joints. “These injections do seem to make people feel better for a time,” Knudson said.

But what if cartilage could be influenced to repair itself?

Building on his decades of research into the biochemistry of hyaluronic acid, Knudson and his team are trying to answer that question.

One project their lab has undertaken is cloning the gene that makes hyaluronic acid, engineering that gene into a virus, injecting the virus into small disks of human or bovine cartilage (from cow hooves) and growing the disks in vitro.

“We’re basically trying to replace what we think is a defective critical gene with a better one and see how it will express itself,” Knudson said. “We want to see if the deteriorated cartilage can rescue itself – if it can regain the structural properties of pliancy and strength that we see with the original cartilage.”

In a second version of that experiment – which mimics the autologous cartilage transplants many younger people require after joint injury – they’re drilling a hole in the cartilage and injecting genetically altered cells back into the hole to see if the tissue will repair itself.

Thus far, Knudson’s team has discovered that their “modified” cartilage begins making its own hyaluronic acid in increasing amounts. “Is this beneficial?” Knudson said. “Well, that’s what we’re trying to find out.”

Credit offered through ACE consortium

acefeature
As an ECU distance education student, Theresa Shouse represents a group of students who are most likely to benefit from the new ACE alternative credit project. The program will ease the path for nontraditional learners through an agreement to accept transfer credits for more general education courses. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

As an ECU distance education student, Theresa Shouse represents a group of students who are most likely to benefit from the new ACE alternative credit project. The program will ease the path for nontraditional learners through an agreement to accept transfer credits for more general education courses. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

ECU News Services

East Carolina University has joined an American Council on Education alternative credit consortium as part of an initiative to create a more flexible pathway toward a college degree for millions of nontraditional learners.

The 25 institutions serving in the ACE pilot project have agreed to accept all or most of the transfer credit sought by students who successfully complete courses that are part of a selected pool of about 100 low-cost or no-cost lower division general education online courses. These institutions also will help identify the sources, criteria and quality of the courses.

The participating institutions represent a diverse group of four-year and two-year, public and private, non-profit and for-profit colleges and universities that have a strong commitment to access and attainment and serving nontraditional learners.

Among others, they include Central Michigan University, University of Memphis, Northern Arizona University and fellow N.C. schools Fayetteville State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“ECU is serious about its commitment to non-traditional, ‘part-way’ home and military populations,” said ECU Senior Associate Provost Austin Bunch.

“This project will allow East Carolina to get a jump start on piloting alternative course credit from both traditional colleges and universities as well as non-accredited education providers such as the ACE’s credit program for military training. We are honored to be among the 25 founding institutions.”

Participating institutions have agreed to provide anonymized data to ACE regarding the amount of credit their institution accepts, as well as progress and success rates of students transferring in courses through this project. Additional college, university and system partners will be recruited in fall 2015 to join the consortium.

This initiative is made possible by the support of a $1.89 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Its initial focus will be on the more than 31 million adults who have completed some postsecondary coursework but lack a degree or credential; but many of these students represent first-generation, low-income students, so findings from this investment likely will apply to younger students from this population, as well.

 

About ACE: Founded in 1918, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation’s higher education institutions, representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents, and more than 200 related associations, nationwide. It provides leadership on key higher education issues and influences public policy through advocacy. For more information, please visit www.acenet.edu or follow ACE on Twitter @ACEducation.

Honor society celebrates 40 years

nursingfeature
A panel of the organization's past presidents spoke at ECU's  chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing 40th anniversary banquet Nov. 13.

A panel of the organization’s past presidents spoke at ECU’s chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing 40th anniversary banquet Nov. 13.



By Elizabeth Willy
ECU College of Nursing

Like a traditional honor society, East Carolina University’s Beta Nu chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing requires incoming members to meet certain academic and professional achievement requirements. But the organization, which celebrated its 40th anniversary with a banquet Nov. 13, does much more than recognize scholarly excellence.

The group is one of only two of Sigma Theta Tau’s 500 global chapters to have earned 11 Chapter Key Awards. Sigma Theta Tau bestows the honor on chapters that successfully recruit and retain members, generate publicity and programming, support scholarly activities, provide leadership development and foster international collaboration.

Beta Nu chapter has more than 500 active members — including undergraduate students, graduate students and nurse leaders who work to advance the profession through scholarship, leadership and a variety of service projects.

medals“Beta Nu has been the most influential nursing organization in my career,” said College of Nursing Dean Dr. Sylvia Brown. “It allowed me to engage with nurse leaders nationally and internationally and refine my own personal leadership skills.”

Brown, a past president, said that providing leadership opportunities for career growth is one of Beta Nu’s greatest contributions. Several of the College of Nursing’s senior faculty members were founding or early members of the organization, and ECU’s Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences Dr. Phyllis Horns was a charter member.

Former President Dr. Lou Everett explained that Beta Nu consistently sends students and faculty to research and leadership academies organized through Sigma Theta Tau and its partners. Over the past 40 years, she said, members have served in numerous official capacities at regional and national levels.

“It was truly through Beta Nu Chapter that many of our faculty began to see the contributions that the College of Nursing made to a global society and the world at large,” said Everett, who also works at ECU as assistant to the dean for the undergraduate program. “We became mentors to other chapters in our state and continued more involvement on an international level by serving on the ballot for various positions.”

Many members routinely attend Sigma Theta Tau’s biennial convention, where they can network with 2,000 other attendees, hear plenary speakers and present their work through oral and poster presentations.

“You meet the people who write the textbooks and research articles,” Karen Krupa, past Beta Nu president and an ECU clinical assistant professor of nursing, said of the conference. “You’re kind of in awe that you’re in the presence of all these people who are so important in the profession. You bring back that enthusiasm and you share that with a few other people who get excited and want to get involved.”

Beta Nu also stands out for its record of giving back to the profession. It provides grants to support members’ research, and has given $11,000 in student scholarships since 2005. The organization also co-sponsors Collaborative Nursing Research Day, a joint venture between Beta Nu, the ECU College of Nursing, Vidant Medical Center and the Eastern Area Health Education Consortium. The event provides a venue for continuing education and gives nurses an opportunity to showcase their research and creative projects.

The community at large is another beneficiary of Beta Nu’s outreach. Scout Out Nursing Day, held biannually at the College of Nursing, has introduced more than 500 Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to the profession since its inception in 2007.

Asked what Beta Nu’s future holds, President Dr. Donna Roberson said the group is working to be member focused with a global perspective. This direction matches ECU’s strategic goals and that of Beta Nu’s parent organization, which has 135,000 members in 85 countries. Sigma Theta Tau’s president, Hester Klopper of South Africa, has issued a call for chapters to “serve locally, transform regionally, lead globally.”

“I see us having a wider base of influence, beyond our community, and having an international impact,” said Roberson, an associate professor of nursing.

Existing international projects include providing nursing student scholarships and mentorship to the Faculty of Nursing Science of the Episcopal University of Haiti. Beta Nu also makes donations to a clean water initiative that has provided water filters to more than 70 families in Guatemala since 2008.

 

Alumni discover WWII shipwrecks

shipwreckfeature
ECU alumni John Bright, left, and Joe Hoyt are shown with an image of the German submarine they discovered using location techniques Bright developed. (Photo by Brandi Carrier, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management)

ECU alumni John Bright, left, and Joe Hoyt are shown with an image of the German submarine they discovered using location techniques Bright developed. (Photo by Brandi Carrier, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management)

 

By Steve Tuttle
ECU News Services

Two East Carolina University alumni were the principal investigators in the Oct. 21 discovery of two shipwrecks from an important World War II naval battle off the North Carolina coast.

Joe Hoyt and John Bright led a team of divers and scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in identifying the remains of the freighter Bluefields and the German submarine that sank it. Hoyt and Bright are recent graduates of ECU’s master’s in underwater archaeology program.

The ships went down on July 15, 1942 about 30 miles off Cape Hatteras during the storied Battle of the Atlantic phase of the war. Their discovery culminated a five-year-long NOAA project to survey and document vessels lost during WWII off the North Carolina coast.

ECU and the UNC Coastal Studies Institute were partners in the project with NOAA and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Dr. Nathan Richards, an associate professor in ECU’s maritime studies program, and other ECU students assisted Hoyt and Bright.

ECU alumnus John Bright prepares to dive during the search for the shipwrecks. (Photo by John McCord, Coastal Studies Institute)

ECU alumnus John Bright prepares to dive during the search for the shipwrecks. (Photo by John McCord, Coastal Studies Institute)

“It was pretty exciting,” Hoyt said about the discovery. “I was really happy for John because he had worked on (new mapping technology used to detect such underwater artifacts) as part of his master’s thesis. We have been working on this for five years and having all that work pay off is a great feeling – it’s hard to describe.”

The Bluefields was in a group of 19 merchant ships being escorted by the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard from Norfolk, Virginia, to Key West, Florida, to deliver cargo to aid the war effort. The German submarine U-576 attacked the convoy, sinking the Bluefields and severely damaging two other ships. U.S. Navy Kingfisher aircraft then bombed the U-576.
The crew of the Bluefields was rescued without any casualties. The 45-man crew of U-576 was lost.

Efforts to locate the shipwrecks were the focus of a 2013 National Geographic TV documentary, “Hitler’s Secret Attack on America.”

“This is not just the discovery of a single shipwreck,” said Hoyt, a NOAA sanctuary scientist. “These two ships rest only a few hundred yards apart and together help us interpret and share their forgotten stories.”

The discovery is a window into the underwater battlefield landscape of WWII, said David Alberg, superintendent of NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary.

“Most people associate the Battle of the Atlantic with the cold, icy waters of the North Atlantic,” Alberg said. “But few people realize how close the war actually came to America’s shores.”

Hoyt said it should not be surprising that ECU played a key role in the discovery. “The ECU diving program is one of the best there is in the country, the world even.”

Tise focuses on academic awards

tisefeature
ECU history professor Larry Tise is creating a searchable database housing information on the world's most distinguished academic awards. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

ECU history professor Larry Tise is creating a searchable database housing information on the world’s most distinguished academic awards. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)


By Kelly Setzer

ECU News Services

As the latest round of Nobel Laureates bowed their heads to receive medals last month, an East Carolina University professor  leaned into a computer screen crunching numbers on the world’s great academic awards—the Nobels and 183 others.

Through years of research, historian Larry E. Tise of ECU’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences has become the world’s leading authority on the history, development and current status of academic awards. And for the first time, he’s sharing his knowledge in a searchable database online.

“You can Google and find out information on almost anything in this day and age, but it’s actually really hard to find good data on this $10 billion awards industry,” said Tise, who is the Wilbur and Orville Wright Distinguished Professor of History at ECU.

It is the fifth time in the last 20 years that Tise has compiled and updated the rankings, which is the only directory of the most distinguished awards, prizes and honors on Earth.

Tise has counseled with a handful of scholars at other universities through the years, as well as tapped into assistance from ECU graduate students for building the new online database. “ECU has proved to be a wonderful perch for expanding this unique research on awards,” he said.

At ICDA.org, the website for Tise’s non-profit organization called the International Congress of Distinguished Awards, users can learn about the history of awards, sign up for the 2015 awards conference in Washington, D.C., or explore the comprehensive listing of academic awards.

“This ranking doesn’t list those (awards) for sports or entertainment,” Tise said. “It’s basically things that are accomplished through major discoveries at universities and higher education.”

While many people are closely following football between October and December, Tise gets a big kick out of watching what he claims to be the world’s other great fall sport. He’s been studying academic awards since 1989 when he realized no such resource existed.

Tise said he finds it fascinating because “the oldest ritual in human society is giving awards. When a society needed food, they would send out hunters and whichever hunter brought back the best game got awarded. It’s something engrained in human nature; it’s a universal instinct.”

To learn more about ICDA or the rankings of academic awards, visit ICDA.org.

UNC board moves to ease Brody budget

ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard, left, speaks with Harry Smith, chair of the UNC Board of Governors Committee on Budget and Finance during the Dec. 5 meeting in Chapel Hill. (Photo by Steve Tuttle)

By Steve Tuttle
ECU News Services

The Brody School of Medicine will get a budgetary shot in the arm if a recommendation adopted by the UNC Board of Governors is funded by the General Assembly.

Brody would receive $8 million in “sustainability funds” earmarked in the UNC system’s proposed budget for next fiscal year. The appropriation would help cover losses Brody incurred as a result of changes in Medicare reimbursement rates and other financial shifts in the evolving health care industry. The UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine would get $2 million to shore up its balance sheet.

“If we’re going to have financially stable medical schools and produce the health care professionals that are needed for North Carolina, then they need additional funding,” UNC President Tom Ross said after the board’s Dec. 5 meeting in Chapel Hill.

ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard, left, speaks with Harry Smith, chair of the UNC Board of Governors Committee on Budget and Finance during the Dec. 5 meeting in Chapel Hill. (Photo by Steve Tuttle)

ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard, left, speaks with Harry Smith, chair of the UNC Board of Governors Committee on Budget and Finance during the Dec. 5 meeting in Chapel Hill. (Photo by Steve Tuttle)

While drawing up an overall budget for the UNC system for the coming fiscal year, the board’s Committee on Budget and Finance became concerned about the financial health of the state’s two medical schools. It explored actual costs that East Carolina University and UNC Chapel Hill incur to train new doctors and provide a health care safety net for the state’s poorest citizens.

Committee Chair Harry Smith said his conclusion is that both state-supported medical schools are struggling but that Brody is in worse shape. Smith said his committee initially considered evenly dividing the $10 million between ECU and Chapel Hill. After looking closer at the numbers, he said the committee shifted the lion’s share to ECU.

Unlike Carolina, ECU does not own its teaching hospital. The Brody School of Medicine relies on state appropriations and revenue generated by its medical faculty practice plan, ECU Physicians.

UNC Chapel Hill has those two revenue streams plus income from UNC Health Care, one of the state’s largest health care systems. It earned a $114 million profit in fiscal 2013, according to its annual report.

ECU Physicians lost more than $10 million last fiscal year, mainly from indigent care and lower reimbursement rates, according to Rick Niswander, ECU vice chancellor for administration and finance.

The medical schools also lost revenue as a result of changes made by the General Assembly in 2013 to the Set Off Debt Collection Act and the reduction of Medicaid Upper Payment Limit reimbursements.

Brody has soldiered on “despite many cuts in funding over the years,” said Dean Paul Cunningham. “Even with sequential internal adjustments, and increased efficiencies, it is now clear that the school has arrived at a critical juncture. The recognition of this is evident in the strategies that are being developed by our leaders. We are grateful for the attention,” Cunningham said.

“Brody has to much more stand on its own legs, which primarily means standing on state resources because it can’t benefit from the generation of additional revenue that the UNC Health Care system produces for (the UNC) medical school,” Ross said.

During the board meeting, Bill Roper, dean of the UNC School of Medicine and CEO of UNC Health Care, rose from the audience to say he does not oppose ECU getting most of the proposed new funding. Both schools have unmet budget needs, but “they need it more than we do,” he said.

The board then unanimously accepted the committee’s recommendations.

Smith, the CEO of Flanders Corp. in Washington and an ECU graduate, told the board his committee believes the medical schools need state funding above what’s needed to keep the lights on.

“What does it take to run both medical schools without having to put them on an oxygen tank?” he said. He recommended that the board start “pushing back in the other direction” when talk turns to further cuts in UNC system funding.

The $10 million is in a very small pot of new money in the Board of Governors’ proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The total operating and capital budget of $2.57 billion is an increase of about 1.9 percent from current levels. The board now will forward its budget to Gov. Pat McCrory, who will include it in the state budget he will propose to the General Assembly in January.

As directed by the Office of State Budget and Management, the Board of Governors spending proposal assumes a 2 percent net reduction in total state appropriations to the UNC system. ECU’s proportional share of that cut is about $5.5 million.

However, the Board of Governors budget includes $47.5 million in revenues resulting from a projected 2 percent growth in enrollment. If the campuses are allowed to keep enrollment growth money next fiscal year, as the governor’s office has indicated, ECU would gain about $2.5 million.

Trustees table renaming recommendation

aycockfeature
An ECU student strolls across the parking lot in front of Aycock Residence Hall. A motion to change the building's name was tabled until February by the Board of Trustees in a Dec. 18 meeting. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

An ECU student strolls across the parking lot in front of Aycock Residence Hall. A motion to change the building’s name was tabled until February by the Board of Trustees in a Dec. 18 meeting. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

After two hours and 30 minutes of debate, East Carolina University’s governing body voted unanimously to table a decision on renaming Aycock Residence Hall in a special called meeting Dec. 18.

ECU trustee Mark Copeland made a motion “to move to delay consideration of a motion to accept Chancellor Steve Ballard’s recommendation to un-name Aycock Residence Hall until the February board meeting.” The motion was seconded by Deborah Davis.

The action came after Ballard and an ad-hoc committee appointed to consider renaming the residence hall recommended that the name be changed.

“There are strong feelings on both sides of this issue, as reflected by the board’s own discussion today,” Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Brinkley said. “There are many levels of concerns and the feeling of the majority was that we should take sufficient time for the views and concerns to be duly considered. We want to address this issue in a responsive manner, and believe more time is needed to do so.”

Opened in 1960, the residence hall on College Hill was named for Charles B. Aycock, a former governor, lawyer, federal prosecutor and school superintendent who served as a spokesperson for white supremacy campaigns at the turn of the century.

ECU senior Sameer Thadani of Lumberton was disappointed with the outcome and said there had been sufficient time for trustees to consider the issue and make a decision. Tyler Moore, a junior from Mebane and ECU’s student body speaker of the senate, said he believed that the lack of a decision “was a victim of trying to rush the process through to start with.”

He pointed out that the meeting was held on the last day of final exams when many students had already left campus and most trustees were not able to attend in person. “My biggest frustration is the speed of the process ended up hurting the outcome,” Moore said.

Two trustees, chairman Robert Brinkley and Mark Copeland, attended the special called meeting at Mendenhall Student Center. Others participated by phone.

The university began receiving requests by alumni and community constituents to re-examine the name of the residence hall in early 2014. Administrators reviewed all of ECU’s named facilities and its naming policy, which was initially adopted in 1997 and last amended in 2009 and again at the board’s November meeting. Only Aycock Residence Hall was tapped for further review.

The 10-member ad-hoc committee voted unanimously Dec. 12 to recommend the renaming of Aycock Hall. Led by chair of the ECU faculty, Andrew Morehead, the committee was made up of faculty, staff, students and alumni.

“We believe the honoree’s reputation has changed substantially so that the continued use of that name dishonors the university’s standards and is contrary to the best interest of the university in that it prevents the university from fostering a ‘diverse community where intellectual freedom, scholarly discipline and the rigorous pursuit of knowledge thrive’ for students, staff and faculty, and does not reflect our intolerance of such racist actions,” the committee wrote in an eight-page summary prepared for the chancellor.

The committee received 2,433 responses via an informal online poll and website created to provide additional information about the residence hall and historical documents on Charles B. Aycock as well as gather feedback from the campus community.

At its Nov. 21 regular board meeting, trustees directed Ballard to activate the ad-hoc committee, as defined in a revised facility naming policy, to consider the un-naming/renaming of Aycock Hall and to report no later than its February meeting.

However, trustee Danny Scott requested that the issue be addressed before the end of the year.

Scott said he was willing to postpone the vote until February because he wanted his fellow board members to have time to research the issue.

Davis said “I’m anxious to bring this to a vote and closure,” adding she wants the board to take action in February.

Attorney Kieran Shanahan of Raleigh rejoined the Board of Trustees this month after being appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory. He joined the Board in July 2011 and resigned in January 2013. He will fill the remaining term of Bobby Owens of Manteo, who resigned his seat in November. That term expires in June 2015.

Tuition increase to address faculty salaries

ECU Board of Trustees member Terry Yeargan joins in discussion during the Nov. 21 Board of Trustees meeting.

By Crystal Baity and Kelly Setzer
ECU News Services

The East Carolina University Board of Trustees is recommending a 5 percent tuition increase for in-state undergraduate and graduate students in each of the next two academic years.

For in-state undergraduate students, tuition would rise $198 next year and $208 a year later, increasing to $4,365 by fall 2016. Current tuition is $3,959.

The proposal, unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees at its quarterly meeting Nov. 21, now goes to the University of North Carolina system’s Board of Governors for consideration.

“We take any tuition and fee hike very seriously, but we feel this is appropriate at this time,” said Robert G. Brinkley, board chairman.

ECU Board of Trustees member Terry Yeargan joins in discussion during the Nov. 21 Board of Trustees meeting.

ECU Board of Trustees member Terry Yeargan joins in discussion during the Nov. 21 Board of Trustees meeting.

Out-of-state undergraduate and graduate student tuition would increase by 3 percent each of the next two years. Non-resident undergraduate students who pay $19,156 this year would see tuition rise to $20,323 in 2016-17. Out-of-state graduate students, who currently pay $16,540 in tuition, would pay $17,547 by 2016.

The tuition increase would generate an estimated $11.8 million in revenue over the next two years. The majority of funds would go toward the creation of a salary increase pool for faculty members, who have had one raise of 1.2 percent over the past six years. Funds also would be allocated for merit-based scholarships in the Honors College, STEM-related programs or for talented undergraduates in the fields of business, education, engineering and nursing.

Retaining and attracting faculty members in a competitive market is vital to the university’s mission. At least 35 faculty members – several with national research grants – left in the last year alone, said Dr. Rick Niswander, vice chancellor for administration and finance.

“It really is a brain-drain,” said Interim Provost Ron Mitchelson. “Our best-funded researchers are being cherry-picked.”

“If we don’t retain our faculty, the quality of our programs will decline and students’ degrees and experiences will be negatively impacted,” said Niswander in a summary presented to the board’s executive committee. “If we don’t recruit at market rates, we will not get the best faculty and will not be a competitive employer.”

The Brody School of Medicine would increase tuition by $1,150 in 2015-2016, with no proposed increase in 2016-2017. The School of Dental Medicine is proposing a 5.86 percent tuition increase of about $1,221 for 2015-16 and $768 in 2016-17.

Under the proposal, the following fees for all students would increase: athletics, education-technology and student

Housing has proposed a rate increase of 3 percent or about $150 for residence halls. Dining is proposing an annual increase of $100 per year for each of the next two years for residential meal plans.

Also on Nov. 21, trustees directed Chancellor Steve Ballard to activate an ad-hoc committee, as defined in a revised facility naming policy, to consider the un-naming/renaming of Aycock Hall, and to be prepared to make formal recommendations for a board vote no later than the scheduled Feb. 19-20 Board of Trustees meeting. The policy now has a stated process and criteria for considering the renaming of campus buildings following the work of a task force formed by the chancellor.

A number of students, alumni and others have called for the university to rename Aycock Residence Hall, which opened in 1960. The student residence hall is named for Charles B. Aycock, a former governor, lawyer, federal prosecutor and school superintendent who served as a spokesperson for the white supremacy campaigns at the turn of the century. That revelation helped prompt a review of ECU’s facility naming policy, which was initially adopted in 1997 and last amended in 2009.

Approximately 25 students attended the board meeting to show their support for renaming Aycock Hall. Tyree Barnes, a senior from Weldon, and Tyler Morrison, a senior from Dunn, spoke to the group.

“We have lied to ourselves long enough and pretended that Mr. Charles B. Aycock’s name on our campus is not one of the sources of our differences,” Barnes said.

“When I walk down College Hill, I am not reminded of the brilliance of East Carolina University. Rather, I am reminded of the mental and physical degradation of my ancestors just over a century ago.”

In other business, trustees approved final plans for the Student Union.

The student union will cover almost 209,000 square feet with construction costing $95.5 million. Furniture, fixtures, audiovisual and other equipment plus design costs and fees will total $122.2 million.

The facility will provide a new home for the Ledonia Wright Cultural Center, a new LGBT center, student government and student group office space, multi-venue dining facilities, a new bookstore and a dividable ballroom as well as balconies, patios and an outside media screen.

Jim Merriman with Perkins+Will presented revised plans to the Finance and Facilities committee on Nov. 20. Trustees had asked at their September meeting that the center, which will front approximately 300 feet on 10th Street, have a more defined presence from the street.

To try to invigorate the streetscape, some of interior spaces – such as dining seating areas – were moved from the Sonic Plaza side to the street side. The project includes a 700-car parking deck in same area as the current parking lot west of Mendenhall Student Center. Officials expect the center to be completed by the 2018 fall semester.

 

Jeannine Manning Hutson contributed to this story.

Grassroots Art Project Grant awarded

tgrassroots
Pictured above is a tea given for African-American Teachers, Oct. 19, 1954.  Attending were Pitt County School teachers including (third from right) Miss Sadie I. Saulter, former principal of the Fleming Street School now named Sadie Saulter School.  (Photo courtesy of Joyner Library Digital Collections "The Daily Reflector Image Collection.")

Pictured above is a tea given for African-American Teachers, Oct. 19, 1954. Attending were Pitt County School teachers including (third from right) Miss Sadie I. Saulter, former principal of the Fleming Street School now named Sadie Saulter School. (Photo courtesy of Joyner Library Digital Collections “The Daily Reflector Image Collection.”)

J.Y. Joyner Library at East Carolina University was awarded a $1,750 Grassroots Art Project Grant to support the planning and implementation of the upcoming project “African American Life in Eastern North Carolina.”

“The African-American Life in Eastern North Carolina” project will consist of an exhibition and community event to celebrate the art, culture, and living traditions of eastern North Carolina’s African-American community.

“We are excited about this opportunity to showcase the talent of local artists and musicians, along with our own unique collections, through this collaboration,” says Janice S. Lewis, interim dean of Joyner Library.

The project will include a physical exhibition combining the artwork of eastern North Carolina African American artists with images from Joyner Library’s extensive African-American History Collection within the Special Collections Division. The exhibition will open in the newly renovated Janice Hardison Faulkner Gallery in February 2015, coinciding with African-American History Month. The project will also include a free community celebration event honoring the opening of the exhibition and featuring performances by eastern North Carolina African-American musicians.

Heather White, director of library project development, said the event provides an opportunity to engage the campus, community and region. “Through visual arts, music, and our collections, our hope is to celebrate the rich African American tradition and experience,” she said.

Grassroots Arts Project Grants are made possible by the North Carolina Arts Council and dispersed to each county by their local arts council. Since 1977, the N.C. Arts Council’s Grassroots Arts Program has provided North Carolina citizens access to quality arts experiences. The program distributes funds for the arts in all 100 counties of the state primarily through partnerships with local arts councils. The Pitt County Arts Council at Emerge serves as the N.C. Arts Council’s partner in awarding subgrants to local organizations for arts programs in Pitt County.

For more information, contact Dawn Wainwright at (252) 328-4090.

EC Scholars help in fundraising event

tscholars
EC Scholar Payton Burnette sorts and organizes books for a Charleston County Public Library book sale.  (Contributed photo)

EC Scholar Payton Burnette sorts and organizes books for a Charleston County Public Library book sale. (Contributed photo)

Every year during East Carolina University’s fall break, the senior class of EC Scholars travels to Charleston, South Carolina. A major component of this capstone experience, called the senior impact trip, is a service project that benefits the local community.

This year’s senior EC Scholars spent six hours volunteering at the Charleston County Public Library’s “That BIG Book Sale” hosted by the Charleston Friends of the Library.

“We selected the Charleston Friends of the Library because of their long-term commitment to the city of Charleston, the history of the event and the important connection between reading and academic success,” said Todd Fraley, director of the EC Scholars award program at ECU.

More than 60,000 books, DVDs, CDs, and other items were available for purchase with all proceeds supporting the library. With the help from the EC Scholars, the organization raised $68,000, which surpassed their goal.

“Being able to be a part of something that provides this transformational experience to children and adults throughout Charleston and the surrounding communities was extremely fulfilling,” said senior EC Scholar and nursing major Lindsay Caddell.

The Charleston Friends of the Library is a nonprofit organization that supports and advocates for the Charleston County Public Library system. According to their website, the organization raises money to fund more than 6,000 programs sponsored annually by the library.

“I have no doubt our seasoned volunteers will be telling stories of the ECU students for years to come,” said Emily Everette, executive director of the Charleston Friends of the Library.

Students collaborate on performance

masks21
pictured left to right are ECU students Dylan Ritch, director of the showcase, and mask creator Jordan Brown. (Contributed photos)

Pictured left to right are ECU students Dylan Ritch, director of the showcase, and mask creator Jordan Brown. (Contributed photos)

Twenty-one East Carolina University students teamed up to present “Stories from Afar,” a Theatre for Youth Showcase Nov. 1 at the Turnage Theatre in Washington.

The performance was followed by a theater workshop for children to create their own tale and act it out.

Dylan Ritch, an ECU junior and theater arts major from Asheville, directs the performance aimed at entertaining while teaching children life lessons such as dealing with a bully and helping friends in need.

Stories are incorporated from cultures all over the world.

Senior Jordan Brown, a fine arts major concentrating in sculpture from Snow Camp, created nine African masks for the performance.

“I wanted to use these masks to communicate a form of theatre that originated from Africa and to expose children to multiple types of theatrical drama,” Ritch said.

Masks created by an ECU senior were part of a performance in Washington.

Masks created by an ECU senior were part of a performance in Washington.

“It is also my strong desire to inspire in children a love for theatre,” Ritch said. “I know seeing a play for the first time for me was a life changing experience. I wish to recreate that experience for other children who might be getting their first taste of theatre.”

Ritch also hopes the performance will introduce the community to ECU’s Theatre for Youth concentration, part of the theatre arts program in the School of Theatre and Dance. The concentration prepares graduates to work in professional theatre for children and youth. Students also participate in the Global Classroom Initiative, partnering with universities in such countries as Peru and Russia to extend their understanding and exposure to children’s theatre and cultures around the world.

Zipf named president of historical society

featuredzipf
Karin Zipf

Karin Zipf

East Carolina University history professor Dr. Karin Zipf was elected president of the Historical Society of North Carolina Oct. 24 at the organization’s biannual meeting in Montreat.

Zipf has been a member of the HSNC since 2006, and previously served as vice president. Her tenure as president will last for one year.

The Historical Society of North Carolina was established in 1945, and traces its origin from an earlier organization begun by former North Carolina Governor David L. Swain in 1833. The society promotes the scholarship, publication and preservation of North Carolina History.

The HSNC sponsors several awards recognizing research, scholarship and teaching, and coordinates presentations of research projects at its meetings. They maintain a close association with the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association. Members include professional historians, archivists, librarians, political scientists and a former N.C. Supreme Court Justice.

For additional information, contact Zipf at 252-328-6774 or zipfk@ecu.edu.

Thomas honored with retirement reception

homas
Retiring dean Dr. Stephen Thomas and his wife Melody stand beside the portrait unveiled at a retirement ceremony. (Photo by Gretchen Baugh)

Retiring dean Dr. Stephen Thomas and his wife Melody stand beside the portrait unveiled at a retirement ceremony. (Photo by Gretchen Baugh)

 

By Lauren Edmondson
College of Allied Health Sciences

Faculty and staff from across East Carolina University gathered at the East Carolina Heart Institute on Oct. 13 to honor Dr. Stephen Thomas, who retired as the dean of the College of Allied Health Sciences in October after 34 years with the college.

Thomas came to ECU in 1980 as a faculty member in the rehabilitation studies department, tasked to start and direct the vocational evaluation master’s degree program. He was named chair of the department in 1998 then later named interim dean of the College of Allied Health Sciences in April 2001.

After his promotion to dean in 2003, Thomas led the college through several new endeavors including the move from its former location in the Belk Building to the new Health Sciences Building in 2006, and a name change to the College of Allied Health Sciences from its original name, the School of Allied Health Sciences.

The retirement reception included food and fellowship, and several gifts and honors were presented to Thomas in thanks for his service and dedication to the field. Along with a certificate of appreciation for his work with the annual Jean Mills Health Symposium, Thomas received the honor of being named Dean Emeritus and a gold stole signifying that new role.

Following the presentations, words of gratitude and praise reflected the dean’s loyalty and passion for the allied health sciences, along with quips about Thomas’ notoriously messy office. Speakers included Vice Chancellor of Health Sciences Dr. Phyllis Horns; deans from across the health sciences campus; his daughter, Dr. Darby Thomas; and chairs of the eight allied health departments.

Thomas then took the podium to thank those in attendance for their continued commitment to the college. He recognized his chairs, faculty, staff and fellow administrators, and then thanked his wife Melody for her unwavering support during his years as dean, interim dean, chair and faculty member at the college.

The evening closed with the unveiling of a portrait of Thomas painted by artist Irene Bailey to be displayed in the Health Sciences Building.

Prior to joining ECU, Thomas held academic, research and administrative positions with the University of Arizona in Tucson, the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie and the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Thomas earned his doctorate of education and his master’s degree in rehabilitation studies from the University of Arizona and his bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

Thomas said that he bases his leadership philosophy on a quote by mariner and author John Rousmaniere that states, “The goal is not to sail the boat, but rather to help the boat sail herself.”

1 2 3 4 33