Alumni association announces upcoming events

Alumni and friends of East Carolina will have opportunities to connect with each other and the university at several upcoming events in Greenville and beyond hosted by the East Carolina Alumni Association.

A networking lunch will be held in Raleigh on Tuesday, Nov. 10 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 18 Seaboard. The featured alumni will be Keith Frazier ’94, an executive at the American Kennel Club, and Shannon Frazier ’94, an executive at Lenovo. Advance registration is required by the deadline of Nov. 3.

Alumni are invited to bring their friends to a tour, tasting, and lunch at Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston on Saturday, Nov. 14. Participants can enjoy a tour of the brewery and sample Mother Earth’s classic brews like Weeping Willow Wit, Endless River Kolsch, Dark Cloud Lager, and Old Neighborhood Oatmeal Porter, as well as seasonal offerings like the Fig and Raisin Ale and a special cider. An included lunch will be provided by Queen Street Deli & Bakery. Advance registration is required by the deadline of Nov. 4. Tickets will not be sold at the door.

Another networking lunch will be held in Greenville on Tuesday, Dec. 1 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Holiday Inn on Greenville Boulevard. The featured alumni will be Henry Hinton ’76, owner of Inner Banks Media, and Amanda Tilley ’03, owner of Coastal Banking Company and the Greenville Krispy Kreme. Advance registration is required by the deadline of Nov. 23.

Alumni are invited to bring their families and join PeeDee the Pirate for a country dinner and holiday hayride at Mike’s Farm in Beulaville on Saturday, Dec. 13. Dinner will begin at 6 p.m., with down-home fare like fried chicken and ham biscuits, followed by the hayride through a festival of lights at 7:30 p.m. Families will also have a chance to take pictures with PeeDee. Because space is limited to the first 50 people, registration will only be taken over the phone. Advance registration is required by the deadline of Dec. 3. Tickets will not be sold at the door.

Fall 2015 graduates and their families are invited to a Senior Celebration dinner on Thursday, Dec. 17. The alumni association will honor the accomplishments of the class of 2015 and officially welcome them as alumni of ECU. The event will begin at 6:00 p.m. in Harvey Hall in the Murphy Center. Space is limited. The deadline to register is Monday, December 7, but Senior Celebration is a popular event and may fill up before the deadline, so advance registration is strongly encouraged.

More information on all these events can be obtained by calling 800-ECU-GRAD (252-328-4723) or by visiting


Bowman assumes leadership role for alumni association

Heath Bowman was named president of the East Carolina Alumni Association and associate vice chancellor for alumni relations at East Carolina University. He began his duties Oct. 14.

Heath Bowman

Heath Bowman

Bowman is a recognized alumni relations professional with 10 years of management and higher education leadership experience. Most recently, Bowman served as director of outreach at the Arkansas Alumni Association, which has more than 26,000 dues-paying alumni members and nearly 2,500 dues-paying student members.

“This is a tremendous honor and honestly very humbling,” said Bowman. “Pirate Nation has so much to be proud of. To be trusted to lead and grow alumni relations efforts at such a respected and innovative institution is the opportunity of a lifetime and a responsibility that I will take very seriously. I am excited to build on past successes and to blaze new paths for East Carolina and its alumni association.”

ECU Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Christopher Dyba said, “Heath brings a wealth of knowledge, management skills, connections across the profession, and vision to the position, as well as commitment to make ECU and eastern North Carolina his family’s home.”

Bowman earned his bachelor’s degree in hospitality management at Texas Tech University in 2007, and his master’s degree in higher education leadership at the University of Arkansas in 2011.

He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Ashley, since 2008. She is a speech-language pathologist specializing in treatment of geriatric patients recovering from post-op and post-stroke impairments.

“The excitement here is contagious,” Bowman said.

“The moment my wife, Ashley, and I set foot in Greenville, we knew that this was the place we were meant to be. It immediately felt like home. I feel lucky to be in a place where I can use my skillset and past experiences to benefit a place as special as ECU. Ashley and I are so excited to be Pirates! Arrrgh!”


Clark takes new assignment at Defense Health Agency

Brigadier General Jeffrey B. Clark salutes the flag for the last time as a one-star general, today he becomes the Army’s newest Major General. He was joined by Rear Admiral Raquel C. Bono (Left) and General Daniel B. Allyn (Center). (Photo by Bernard S. Little/WRNMMC PAO)

Brigadier General Jeffrey B. Clark salutes the flag for the last time as a one-star general, today he becomes the Army’s newest Major General. He was joined by Rear Admiral Raquel C. Bono (Left) and General Daniel B. Allyn (Center). (Photo by Bernard S. Little/WRNMMC PAO)


Maj. Gen. Jeffrey B. Clark, a 1984 graduate of the Brody School of Medicine, was given a new assignment as director of healthcare operations for the Defense Health Agency in Falls Church, Virginia.

For the past two years Clark served as director of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Top leaders in the U.S. military health system attended his reassignment ceremony at Walter Reed on Sept. 12.

clark2The Defense Health Agency was formed in 2013 to assume overall medical care for active duty Army, Navy and Air Force members. It provides health services to active duty soldiers and their dependents much like the VA cares for veterans. The agency has a budget of about $54 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

“This promotion means many things, but, for me personally, it means I am blessed to be able to continue to do that which I love, to continue to wear this uniform and to serve America’s heroes,” Clark said.

Clark became a two-star general in June when he was promoted from brigadier general to major general.

Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, vice chief of staff of the Army, said Clark is the kind of doctor that soldiers prefer. “There’s a close bond that develops between combat soldiers and ‘their doc,’ and Doc Clark has always been the kind of doc soldiers want to be round, that soldiers know that they can trust and that when soldiers deploy, they know that their families and loved ones will be cared for in their absence,” Allyn said.

Before his assignment at Walter Reed, Clark held the Army’s top medical post in Europe as commander of U.S. Army Europe Regional Medical Command and command surgeon of U.S. Army Europe. Clark was the 82nd Airborne Division’s top surgeon after the first Gulf War and headed Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany from 2011 to 2012. He started his military career as a family physician at what was then the 1st Corps Support Command Clinic at Fort Bragg and served as a faculty and clinic director for Womack Army Medical Center.

After graduating from medical school at ECU, Clark entered the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, as well as the Army War College. He also earned a master of public health degree from the University of Washington and a master of strategic studies from the Army War College.

A native of LaGrange, Clark is married to Sue Barnes Clark, who received a nursing degree from ECU in 1980. They have three children – Anna, Warren and John.

— Steve Tuttle



ECU Pirates urged to step outside in nationwide challenge

East Carolina University is asking all Pirates to step outside and get active through the 2015 Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge competition under way through Oct. 17. The university is competing against 58 other institutions representing 30 states.

Grants up to $1,500 will be applied toward outdoor activities on campus, and individual participant prizes are available. Grants are tied to the number of active participants who log their activities and identify ECU as their institution. For 500 participants, ECU will receive $500. If 1,000 Pirates join in, the grant increases to $1,000. For 1,500 active participants, the grant goes up to $1,500.

Participants may sign up and log in at (select East Carolina University).

Points may be earned for a wide variety of outdoor activities including walking, Frisbee golf, fishing and biking, enjoying a hammock, fishing, gardening, hunting, hiking, backpacking, running or jogging, water activities, outdoor yoga, horseshoes, bird watching and stargazing.

Organized team sports like basketball, soccer and football don’t count in the challenge. Activities must be for a minimum of 30 minutes and take place between Sept. 6 and Oct. 17.

For additional information, contact Mark Parker, assistant director for Intramural Sports and Youth & Family at (252) 328-1575 or


Higgs to lead new transportation plan for Atlanta

Clyde Higgs ‘99 of Charlotte, executive vice president of operations and business development for the N.C. Research Campus (NCRR) in Kannapolis, is resigning to be chief operating officer of a group implementing a new transportation plan for Atlanta.

Clyde Higgs

Clyde Higgs

Higgs has led economic development recruitment at NCRR for the past nine years.

In his new job Higgs will be vice president and chief operating officer of Atlanta Beltline, the entity overseeing redevelopment of 22 miles of abandoned railroad tracks running through the center of Atlanta. The old rail line will be transformed into 33 miles of trails, 1,300 acres of parks and 5,600 housing units. Its estimated completion date is 2030.

NCRR is a public-private venture aimed at redeveloping industrial property in Kannapolis, which once was the world’s largest producer of textiles. The state gives NCRR about $30 million a year to support its research programs. The funding is directed through the UNC system. Several UNC system campuses have a presence there.

Higgs is credited with recruiting 20 partners in NCRR, including major universities and international food companies such as General Mills. The center now employs about 1,000 people.

Before joining NCRR, Higgs was the executive director of the technology incubator program at the University of North Texas-Health Science Center. Before working in Texas, he was director of the Office of Technology Transfer & Commercialization at N.C. A&T State University.

Early in his career, Higgs was executive assistant to the president of the N.C. Community College System

Higgs is a graduate of the University of South Alabama who earned a graduate degree in public administration from East Carolina University in 1999.

Higgs recently was elected vice chair of the N.C. State Board of Community Colleges. He chairs the search committee seeking a new president of the state community college system.

— Steve Tuttle


Pirate Alumni Legacy Brunch set for Sept. 27

Families with two or more generations of Pirates including a current student are invited to the Pirate Alumni Legacy Brunch on Sunday, Sept. 27 at East Carolina University.

Hosted by the East Carolina Alumni Association in partnership with the Office of Parent and Family Programs, this annual event recognizes tradition and loyalty to East Carolina.

Students and their family members will enjoy a catered brunch in the company of fellow Pirates in the Great Rooms of Mendenhall Student Center. Participants will be given a pin to use in the pinning ceremony that they may keep. There will also be a family photo area where a professional university photographer will take free family snapshots.

This is an inclusive event; legacies are not limited to parent-child, and may include aunts, uncles, grandparents, stepparents, guardians, etc. Others who did not attend ECU but are in the student’s immediate family may also attend the brunch.

To attend, register by Monday, Sept. 21. Either students or other family members can register their whole party on one form, available online or for printing and mailing/faxing. Register well in advance, as this event may sell out prior to the registration deadline.

Attire is purple and gold business casual. The cost is $12.50 for alumni association members, including student Forever Pirates. For non-members, the cost is $22.50.

To find out more, contact Assistant Director of Alumni Programs Megan Howard ’07 at 252-328-5557 or


Sharing a special moment from the World Special Olympics


Donna Mooneyham (left) with Abigail Reznek, a swimmer from Maryland who competed on the U.S. aquatics team that Mooneyham coached at the World Special Olympics in Los Angeles. (Contributed photos)


Donna Mooneyham, an adjunct faculty member at East Carolina University’s College of Health and Human Performance, said she experienced many heartwarming moments as a coach of the U.S. aquatics team at the World Special Olympics. Held in Los Angeles July 25 through Aug. 2, the games attracted 6,500 athletes representing 165 countries.

But the one experience she will always treasure, she said, happened after she reached out to another East Carolina University graduate for help motivating an athlete on her team.

“I had an athlete from Kentucky and (at first) he was grumpy and lowly motivated. He wasn’t really gung ho for the competition. As I tried to connect with this individual, I found out he was a big NASCAR fan, and so am I. So we started talking about racing.”

Mooneyham reached out to one of her former ECU students, Greg Morin, who is a pit crew coach at Hendrick Motor Sports in Charlotte. Morin sent the athlete several items donated by NASCAR drivers.

After that, “he started getting very excited about swimming, he smiled more and he seemed to really take off with this encouragement. (At the next competition) he had his personal best time in swimming.”

On the last day of competition, Mooneyham said Morin called to let her know that he had sent something special to the athlete – a video of NASCAR great Jeff Gordon congratulating him for achieving his personal best time in the pool.

“That was such an inspiration that he went out and medaled,” Mooneyham said.

This was Mooneyham’s second time volunteering as a coach at the World Special Olympics. She also was an aquatics coach at the 2011 games held in Greece.

“This time it seemed more special because we were competing here in the U.S., which meant the families of a lot of the athletes could attend. And it was broadcast on ESPN, so there was so much more public awareness about the event. I think it was just really something special that (the parents) could have that experience” of watching their children compete against athletes from around the world, Mooneyham said.

She said a final tally showed that members of the U.S. Aquatics team won 86 medals.

– Steve Tuttle




ECU graduate stars in opera version of “Cold Mountain”

Deborah Nansteel as Lucinda and Nathan Gunn as Inman in the world premiere of Cold Mountain at the Santa Fe Opera.

Deborah Nansteel as Lucinda and Nathan Gunn as Inman in the world premiere of ‘Cold Mountain ‘ at the Santa Fe Opera.

Mezzo-soprano Deborah Nansteel, who earned a degree in music from East Carolina University in 2007, premiered the role of Lucinda in the Santa Fe Opera Festival’s world premiere production of “Cold Mountain” on Aug. 1.

Born in Okinawa, Japan, and raised in Havelock, North Carolina, Nansteel has performed as part of the American Opera Initiative; with the Seattle, Dayton and Merola opera companies; and with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi in Milan and the Seattle Symphony. She completed her second season at Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program in May.

In its review of the premiere, “Opera Today” wrote that Nansteel “sang with formidable vocal power while expressing the desperation of a runaway slave.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon based the opera on Charles Frazier’s 1997 novel. Like the book, the opera tells the story of Confederate soldier W.P. Inman and his struggle to return to his North Carolina home and his wife during the Civil War. Isabel Leonard and Nathan Gunn sing the starring roles.

Additional performances of the opera are scheduled on Aug. 14, 17, 22 and 24. The Dutch recording label PentaTone will release a recording of the premiere.

The opera will be reprised at Opera Philadelphia in February 2016. The North Carolina Opera, a co-commissioner of the opera along with Santa Fe Opera, Opera Philadelphia, and Minnesota Opera, plans to present “Cold Mountain” as part of its 2017-2018 season.

“This piece has deeply ingrained historical and cultural connections to North Carolina that will invigorate our core audience, while inspiring our state-wide community,” said Timothy Myers, artistic director and principal conductor at North Carolina Opera.

– Steve Tuttle


ECU alum consults on Netflix series

Charlie Cox and Joe Strechay1

Actor Charlie Cox (left) gives the credit to East Carolina University alumnus Joe Strechay (right) for the good reviews of his performance as Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer who at night becomes a superhero crime fighter, in the new Netflix series “Daredevil.”

Strechay, who works for the American Foundation for the Blind, was a consultant to the series before “Daredevil” began filming last year. He spent several days teaching Cox the subtle movements he needed to be convincing in the role. The show gained an audience in its first season and Netflix has signed up for 12 new episodes to air this fall.

Student and teacher were back together in June at the 2015 Helen Keller Achievement Awards in New York, where Cox was recognized for raising public awareness about the blind.

“He is a genuine guy and he portrays a positive role model any way you look at it,” Strechay said about the British-born actor, who first attracted attention in the 2007 film “Stardust.”

“The amount of time and effort he puts in to provide an accurate and respectful portrayal is amazing,” Strechay said.

Cox said the hardest acting lessons came when Strechay blindfolded him and led him on brisk walks down busy New York City sidewalks. “He was kind of freaked out but he didn’t tell me that initially,” Strechay said. “I just wanted to show him how I travel.”

Strechay came to ECU from West Virginia with his twin brother, Daniel Strechay. He says he lost most of his eyesight to a congenital condition during his freshman year. He and his brother pledged Sigma Pi and were active in Greek life. Joe majored in communication and Daniel majored in political science. Both graduated in 2001.

After graduation Joe enrolled at Florida State for a master’s degree in methods to improve employment prospects for people with limited vision. He joined AFB in 2008 as program manager for CareerConnect, an AFB website that offers free resources and tools for students and job seekers with vision loss.

Daniel Strachey is manager of sustainability communications for PepsiCo and lives in the New York area.

Joe Strechay now lives in Huntington, West Virginia and travels frequently between AFB’s New York headquarters and training program sites across the country. He remains connected to campus through CommCrew, an alumni support group for the ECU School of Communication.

He believes job opportunities are increasing for people with limited vision as technology improves.

“There is progress,” he said. “There are new regulations that require federal contractors and subcontractors to meet utilization goals for employing persons with disabilities. That actually has helped a lot of veterans. What I say is, we haven’t reached the pinnacle yet but I can see progress being made.”

– Steve Tuttle