Retired ECU dean honored for service

Dr. Stephen Thomas, dean emeritus of the College of Allied Health Sciences at East Carolina University, pictured with his wife Melodie, recently received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award. Dr. Johnny Williams (far right), is president of the Old North State Medical Society, which nominated Thomas for the honor.

Dr. Stephen Thomas, dean emeritus of the College of Allied Health Sciences at East Carolina University, pictured with his wife Melodie, recently received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award. Dr. Johnny Williams (far right), is president of the Old North State Medical Society, which nominated Thomas for the honor.

The dean emeritus of the College of Allied Health Sciences at East Carolina University was recently honored with one of North Carolina’s most prestigious civilian awards for his outstanding service to the state in the area of health equity.

Dr. Stephen Thomas, who retired in October, was presented the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award Feb. 6 during the 11th annual Jean Mills Symposium, an event aimed at generating awareness and solutions for health problems that plague North Carolinians and especially minorities. Thomas has been instrumental in organizing the event over the past decade.

Although the honor was conferred by the governor, the surprise presentation was made by Dr. Johnny Williams, president of the Old North State Medical Society; Amos T. Mills, founder of the Mills Symposium; Dr. Don Ensley, professor emeritus of health services and information management; and Dr. Julius Mallette, president of the Andrew A. Best Medical Society.

Thomas served the university for 34 years. He joined 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 and interim dean of the former School of Allied Health Sciences in April 2001.

After his promotion to dean in 2003, Thomas led the school through several new endeavors including a move from its former location in the Belk Building to the new Health Sciences Building in 2006, and a name change from the School of Allied Health Sciences to the College of Allied Health Sciences in 2007.

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Mills Symposium set for Feb. 6

The 11th Jean Elaine Mills Annual Health Symposium, which focuses on health concerns and health equity issues plaguing minorities in eastern North Carolina, is set for Feb. 6 at the East Carolina Heart Institute at East Carolina University.

This year’s event will address new models for empowering personal and community health and will feature a presentation by Dr. L. Allen Dobson Jr., president and CEO of Community Care of North Carolina, the comprehensive network that manages health care delivery for the state’s Medicaid recipients and low-income insured residents.

The day-long symposium will also include sessions on creating community partnerships focused on the behavioral causes of obesity, improving outcomes among African- American women with Type 2 diabetes, innovative approaches to mental health issues for minority adolescents, community partnerships as portals to access, improving health through community engaged dental education and new models for empowering community and minority health.

Mills was an ECU alumna who died of breast cancer in 2000. Her brother, Amos T. Mills III, created the annual event to keep her spirit of discovery and community outreach alive.

The symposium is presented by the College of Allied Health Sciences in collaboration with the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation, Inc. Health care providers, community leaders and representatives from faith-based organizations, as well as interested students, faculty and community residents are all invited to attend. To register visit http://go.ecu.edu/cb13b252.

 

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Allied Health alumnus receives governor’s award

East Carolina University alumnus Joe Finley (third from left), is pictured with N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos (second from left) and two of Finley’s DHHS colleagues following the 2014 Governor’s Award for Excellence ceremony in Raleigh. (Contributed photo)

East Carolina University alumnus Joe Finley (third from left), is pictured with N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos (second from left) and two of Finley’s DHHS colleagues following the 2014 Governor’s Award for Excellence ceremony in Raleigh. (Contributed photo)

 

An alumnus of the College of Allied Health Sciences at East Carolina University was among the 38 state employees honored with a 2014 Governor’s Award for Excellence.

Joe Finley, a dysphagia specialist who works at the O’Berry Neuro-Medical Treatment Center in Goldsboro, was one of three N.C. Department of Health and Human Services workers cited for providing excellent customer service.

“Each of you may have felt you were just doing your job, but it’s the way you do your job that distinguishes you,” Governor Pat McCrory said to the honorees prior to the awards ceremony.

Finley works to find ways for program residents with extreme developmental disabilities to continue enjoying solid foods and to delay their need for liquefied diets. He developed and taught therapeutic exercises to help residents maintain or regain the ability to chew and swallow.

Finley earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication sciences and disorders from ECU in 2004 and 2006.

The Governor’s Award for Excellence is the highest award for service given to state employees. The program was created in 1982 to honor state employees for outstanding achievements.

“Each of these outstanding employees goes beyond simply performing their responsibilities to provide patient-focused care and make a difference in the lives of the people they so selflessly serve,” said DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos. “We can all be proud of our employees’ commitment to our patients and others and willingness to serve from their hearts.”

Finley’s wife Stacy holds identical degrees from the ECU College of Allied Health Sciences and is employed by Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro.

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Dean Stephen W. Thomas honored with retirement reception

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 will retire as the dean of the College of Allied Health Sciences this month 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.”

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Mark Your Calendars: TEDMED is coming to ECU on Sept. 13

 

TEDMED is an annual, three-day gathering that unites extraordinary people and ideas from all disciplines inside and outside of medicine. The unusual and provocative program features short talks and artistic performances to reframe our mental models and inspire new possibilities.

On Saturday, Sept. 13, TEDMED is coming to the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU.

Attendees to the ECU Live event will be able to view the best of this year’s TEDMED sessions free of charge, and can also attend live sessions presented by a crop of homegrown, inspiring speakers from ECU.

The ECU event will also feature another traditional component of TEDMED: “The Hive.” There, attendees can informally converse with individuals and groups who have invigorating ideas or projects that are changing health and medicine. It’s not a poster session, but a way to creatively connect.

Register to attend TEDMED Live at ECU at http://tedmedliveecu.org/.

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