ECU ranked among best colleges in new listing

East Carolina University is listed in a new ranking of Best Colleges released this week by Money magazine.

ECU is ranked 339 out of 665 institutions. Educational quality, affordability and alumni earnings provided by were used to determine the rankings, according to the magazine’s methodology.

The magazine evaluated about 1,500 four-year colleges across the nation to find which offered the most for the amount of tuition paid. Colleges with below-average graduation rates were dropped, which left 665 institutions that were measured and ranked.

Information is available at



Grant funds multiple chemistry, physics scholarships

Ten incoming freshmen chemistry and physics majors at East Carolina University received scholarships of $5,000 each thanks to a $620,884 grant from the National Science Foundation.

All recipients are North Carolina residents.

Scholarship winners who intend to major in chemistry are Lauren Ackerman of Trent Woods, Mary Becker of Black Mountain, Rahel Haile of Charlotte, Jahmil James of Fayetteville, Mitul Patel of Hendersonville, Sophia Pena of Hope Mills, Fabricio Sanchez of Matthews and Nouci Vue of Connelly Springs. Recipients who plan to major in physics are Roderick Hall from Riegelwood and Timothy Sault from Cary.

The scholarship program was developed in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences under the direction of Allison S. Danell, Anthony M. Kennedy and Anne Marie Spuches from chemistry, and Regina DeWitt and John M. Kenney from physics. The program aims to provide higher education access to students with solid academic preparation, financial need and the potential to succeed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Scholarship recipients will live for two years in the chemistry and physics living learning community, a residence hall dedicated to students with interests in sciences. The same residence hall houses the ECU Honors College and bio-excellence living learning communities.

The living learning community will be “enriched by the presence of first generation college students and will continue to provide rewards to ECU beyond the funding period,” said Danell.

“The students we educate and mentor will share their experiences, encouraging many more young scientists to pursue an education in scientific disciplines, which will provide a strong foundation for innovation and economic development not just regionally but nationally.”

Scholars will be encouraged to demonstrate a commitment to local and regional science activities, thereby instilling a sense of civic responsibility and awareness.

Recipients may qualify for up to $10,000 in additional funding during their sophomore, junior and senior years, which could lead to a total of $35,000 in four years at ECU.

High school students intending to major in chemistry or physics may apply for one of the 2015-16 scholarships by contacting Anthony Kennedy at 252-328-9816 or



ECU welcomes new Disney International Program students

Participants in the ECU Disney program gather for orientation.

Participants in the ECU Disney program gather for orientation.

Bob O’Halloran from the School of Hospitality Leadership along with James Gehlhar, Julie Williams and Katie Erickson from the Office of International Affairs recently traveled to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida to deliver an orientation program for newly arrived ECU Pirates.

Forty-one students from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru will take 15 credits from the School of Hospitality Leadership while completing their Disney Internship in various positions throughout Walt Disney World.

The orientation included an overview of the online courses they will be enrolled in while in the program, which also includes a research project and internship.

This semester the students, who are in the United States on J1 visas sponsored by the university, are representing four South American institutions: Colombia’s Politecnico Grancolombiano – Bogota, Ecuador’s Universidad del San Francisco, and Peru’s Universidad  San  Ignacio  de  Loyola and Universidad Nacional San Agustin Arequipa.

For more information on the Disney International Program, contact Dr. Robert O’Halloran at


Brody names new chair of Family Medicine

The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University has announced that Dr. Chelley Kaye Alexander has been hired to chair the Department of Family Medicine, effective August 11.



Alexander brings with her a wealth of teaching, clinical, administrative and research experience. She comes to Brody from the Department of Family Medicine in the College of Community Health Sciences at the University of Alabama, where she has served as department chair since 2006 and as assistant dean for Graduate Medical Education since 2005.

She earned her undergraduate degree in neuroscience from Davidson College in 1990 and completed her medical degree in 1996 at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Her residency training was with Tuscaloosa Family Practice Residency in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Additional faculty development pursuits include a Rural Health Research Junior Investigator Program (2003-2004) and a National Institute Program Director Development Fellowship (2004-2005).

Alexander’s numerous academic and administrative appointments include serving as the Designated Institution Official, serving on the Board of Visitors Resident Education Committee and as the director of the Sports Medicine Clinic at the University of Alabama. Included among her teaching innovations and clinical work is the development of seven separate hands-on procedure workshops for residents to improve procedural training, and a medical home designed to reduce cost and improve quality of care for 30,000 Medicaid patients.

Her research efforts include several peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, national presentations and completed clinical trials.  In addition, she has a special interest in asthma, patient-centered medical homes, quality improvement and clinical teaching methodology.

Alexander will replace Dr. Kenneth Steinweg as leader of ECU’s Department of Family Medicine. Appointed chair in June 2009, Steinweg played a critical role in the department’s smooth transition into the new Family Medicine Center in 2011. Fully accredited programs in geriatrics and sports medicine were developed under his leadership and the Family Medicine residency program grew from 30 to 36 residents.

Steinweg will return full-time this fall to the department’s Division of Geriatrics. He called Alexander “a great fit for Brody.”



Cotterill named division director of Pediatric Dentistry at ECU



Christopher A. Cotterill has been appointed division director of Pediatric Dentistry in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics at the East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine. Cotterill assumed his new role July 1 following a national search.

Cotterill joined the ECU pediatric dentistry faculty in 2012, following three years as a pediatric dentist in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia. He previously served as part-time clinical faculty member in the pediatric dentistry residency program at the University of Kentucky and operated a pediatric dental private practice near Lexington, Kentucky. During Cotterill also served on the Board of the Bluegrass Dental Society and as the liaison to the State Board for the Kentucky Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

“Dr. Cotterill is a terrific teacher and a wonderful and skillful practitioner. He is a board certified pediatric dentist who brings enthusiasm, dedication, energy and expertise to his teaching and his patient care,” said Stuart Josell, chair of ECU’s Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics.

As a clinical assistant professor, Cotterill has been instrumental in developing the pediatric dental pre-clinical and clinical curriculum for pre-doctoral students. He has helped develop the pediatric dental component for residents in the advanced education in general dentistry program, and he is actively involved in planning the school’s pediatric dental residency program.

“I am thrilled, honored, and humbled by being selected as the division director of Pediatric Dentistry at ECU,” said Cotterill. “I eagerly anticipate overseeing the division through its growth as it strives to educate general dentists and specialists to provide dental services for underserved communities in North Carolina.”

Cotterill earned a doctor of dental medicine at the University of Kentucky, where he also completed a graduate residency program in pediatric dentistry. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. He is also a member of several professional societies, including the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, North Carolina Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Dental Association, North Carolina Dental Society, and American Dental Education Association. He was also recently accepted into the inaugural North Carolina Dental Society’s Young Dentists Leadership Academy.

— Peggy Novotny


NC GreenTravel Initiative names 100th sustainable-practice business

The ECU Center for Sustainability is a partner in the NC GreenTravel Initiative, which has named the Uptown Greenville Umbrella Market its 100th North Carolina business to be recognized for use of sustainable practices that save energy and protect the environment. The Umbrella Market is a Greenville farmer’s market that features locally-grown food and a free shuttle providing transportation.

Pat Long, director of the ECU Center for Sustainability, is pictured with the travel care code, which encourage travelers to take a pledge to travel responsibly. The code was developed at ECU.

Pat Long, director of the ECU Center for Sustainability, is pictured with the ECU-developed travel care code, which encourages travelers to take a pledge to travel responsibly.

The GreenTravel Initiative helps tourists locate lodging, restaurants and activities that will enable them to visit an area while making a positive impact on the environment, society and economy. The program began in 2011 as a joint effort between the ECU center, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, N.C. Department of Commerce and the Waste Reduction Partners.

Tourism-focused businesses apply for the program and are selected through a grading system that measures environmentally friendly practices used to conserve energy and water, reduce waste, recycle and protect the environment.

More than 50 million tourists visited North Carolina in 2013, according to the state Department of Commerce. Among those visitors, more and more are seeking out businesses that maintain sustainable practices. The NC GreenTravel Initiative helps by identifying those businesses.

“We know our tourism economy depends upon the protection of our nationally recognized travel offerings,” said Pat Long, director of the ECU Center for Sustainability.

“It will only be enhanced by sending a clear message that North Carolina tourism providers are working hard to limit energy and water use, reduce waste generation, and still provide the quality vacation and business travel experience travelers have become accustomed to.”

For additional information on NC GreenTravel, visit

For more information on the ECU Center for Sustainability, visit

For information on the Travel Care Code developed by the center, visit



Fraser named chair, Foreign Languages and Literatures

Benjamin Fraser was named chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures in ECU’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Science. Fraser assumed the role July 1, replacing John Stevens, who served the department as interim chair since January 2011.



Fraser said he felt fortunate to step into his new role for a department that “boasts a talented faculty who are excelling in all three areas of productivity: teaching, research and service. It is really incredible.”  He said one of his top priorities is to invest further in the existing strength of the department.

“One of the things I’m most enthusiastic about is the opportunity to be part of a large department with so many different language and culture areas,” he said.

“With Classics (including both Latin and Greek), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish, we enjoy a very stimulating intellectual environment; a strong global sense of culture that you just don’t find in departments shaped around individual language and culture groups.”

Formerly with the Department of Hispanic Studies at the College of Charleston, Fraser earned master’s and doctoral degrees in Hispanic literature from the University of Arizona. He holds a B.A. in anthropology and Spanish from the University of Virginia.

Fraser is the founding/executive editor of the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, senior editor of the Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies, associate editor of Hispania and co-editor of the Hispanic Urban Studies book series.

For additional information, contact Fraser at 252-328-0104 or

— Lacey Gray, Thomas Harriot College of Arts & Sciences


ECU honors student wins competitive scholarship, NOAA internship

Chris Thaxton

Chris Thaxton
(Photo by Cliff Hollis)

By Jessica Nottingham
ECU Honors College

For the second year in a row, an East Carolina University Honors College student has won a prestigious scholarship and internship with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Chris Thaxton, a junior from La Grange and an EC Scholar, has received the Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship, which provides $16,000 for Thaxton’s junior and senior years and a 10-week paid NOAA internship in 2015. He is one of 106 recipients from across the country.

Thaxton, who is majoring in biology and chemistry, intends to pursue a career in marine conservation.

“As an undergraduate, the research experience beyond ECU will be huge,” Thaxton said. “My original goal was to work at a university, but seeing NOAA from the inside, I now hope for a career with NOAA. This is a great resume-builder and networking opportunity.”

A frequent visitor to the coast, Thaxton said his passion for marine biology comes from a desire to preserve the destinations that have meant so much to him so that future generations may have the opportunity to enjoy them as well.

“Summers spent at the beach paddling through salt marshes, boating and fishing nurtured my love for the coast,” he said. “I decided to focus my love for the ocean toward coastal and wetland conservation—preserving them so that people can enjoy them like I have.”

The EC Scholars program, the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship offered at ECU, requires undergraduate research and encourages students to engage in conferences, study abroad opportunities and internships. Thaxton will be studying marine biology in Australia this fall. He interned at the Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort last summer.

“We encourage our students to seek scholarships and internships that broaden learning as they prepare for their life’s work,” said Dr. Marianna Walker, dean of the ECU Honors College, where the EC Scholars program is housed.

Thaxton attributed receiving the scholarship to his specific research interests and what he learned in a visit to NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center lab in Beaufort.

“Chris is an exceptional student whose hard work was recognized in his selection for the very competitive Hollings Scholarship,” said Dr. Tim Runyan, an Honors College faculty fellow who encouraged Thaxton to apply. “While meeting with NOAA researchers at the Beaufort lab, it was clear to me that he was dedicated to the field of ocean conservation.”

Thaxton could be placed at any NOAA office for his internship, but he hopes for an assignment in Alaska or San Francisco to study wetland restoration next summer, he said.

Thaxton is the second consecutive ECU Honors College student to receive the Hollings Scholarship. Thomas Vaughan, a senior atmospheric science major, is completing an internship in Hawaii this summer.

More information about the ECU Honors College and EC Scholars program can be found at or by contacting Jessica Nottingham, coordinator for marketing and recruitment for the Honors College, at or 252-737-4625.


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