ECU Alumni Association names award winners

The East Carolina Alumni Association has announced the recipients of the 2015 Robert H. Wright Alumni Leadership Award. These five students will be presented with the award during commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 8.

The most prestigious award for undergraduates at East Carolina University, the Wright award recognizes academic achievement, service to both the university and community, and demonstrated leadership. Recipients are recognized as those who will make a positive impact on their respective professions and communities.

In addition to receiving the Wright medallion at commencement, recipients are given a lifetime membership in the East Carolina Alumni Association.

Recipients are:

  • Ajay Ajmera of Greenville, NC; biology and chemistry double-major
  • Matthew Ryan Baucom of Marshville, NC; chemistry and biochemistry double-major
  • Jessica Katlyn Jewell of Clayton, NC; communication major
  • Shayna Nitin Mooney of Winterville, NC; neuroscience and international studies double-major
  • Kristi Noelle Wilkerson of Mastic, NY; nutrition major.

 

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ECU graduate sells the Broadway Channel

Matt Hege, left, said he frequently bumps into other ECU graduates while covering New York City’s theater scene for the Broadway Channel. At right is Jeremy Woodard, a 2001 graduate who has spent the past couple years starring in the Broadway musical “Rock of Ages.” At center is Regina Gatti Fogle, a 2004 graduate who is a recruitment director in New York City.

Matt Hege, left, said he frequently bumps into other ECU graduates while covering New York City’s theater scene for the Broadway Channel. At right is Jeremy Woodard, a 2001 graduate who has spent the past couple years starring in the Broadway musical “Rock of Ages.” At center is Regina Gatti Fogle, a 2004 graduate who is a recruitment director in New York City.

East Carolina University alumnus Matt Hege said interning at Greenville television station WNCT and then working as advertising director of the “East Carolinian” student newspaper taught him everything he needed to know to start a Broadway-themed cable TV channel. The MBA he also earned at ECU came in handy this week while negotiating the sale of the channel to an investor for a small fortune, he said.

“It’s all the same fundamentals,” Hege said Thursday, a day after he finalized the sale of the Broadway Channel to New York theater mogul John Gore. Hege declined to release financial details of the transaction.

“The real opportunity for me to understand the potential I had came from my work at the ‘East Carolinian,’” Hege said Thursday. “To go out and negotiate the deal for a quarter-page ad–that is real world stuff. When I realized I could do that, then the sky was the limit.”

2BroadwayChannelLogoHe said he attended graduate school on a scholarship from the ECU Media Board while working as director of advertising for the student paper.

The Broadway Channel, which Hege and his father started in 1998, is carried on most New York area cable systems and also is available in more than 40,000 hotel rooms in the Big Apple. It also is available over streaming media services.

Hege is executive producer of most of the shows airing on the Broadway Channel, including “Broadway Previews,” “Broadway on Tour,” “Las Vegas Previews,” “West End Previews,” “What’s Hot on Broadway” and the series “Broadway Profiles.”

Gore owns Key Brand Entertainment (KBE), which is widely known as the owner of the ticket-sales website Broadway.com. KBE also owns Broadway Across America, which manages the touring productions of Broadway shows.

Hege, who completed an undergraduate degree in communication in 1994 and returned for an MBA in 2000, will join the Key Brand management team with a continued focus on the Broadway Channel.

Hege lives in Miami where the channel’s corporate offices are located.

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Gift honors family that once owned Dail House

A recent gift to the ECU Foundation by James L. “Jim” Ratledge ’51 of Roswell, Georgia, came with a note that shines light on an era when the Dail House–the official residence of East Carolina presidents and chancellors for six decades—was actually known as the Young House.

Ratledge’s $10,000 gift to the foundation honors an aunt and uncle—the late Anne and Willoughby F. “Red” Young. A prominent Greenville family, the Youngs owned what we call the Dail House for 10 years.

When he graduated high school in 1947, Ratledge’s parents enrolled him in ECTC and shipped him off to live with his aunt and uncle in Greenville. As a small town boy from the western part of the state, moving into the mansion on Fifth Street was a cultural shock.

“I remember walking into their house for the first time, and I was just awed at how big it was, and how tastefully decorated it was,” says Ratledge. “They were such nice people, always helping somebody. They took me in and gave me a home and really made college possible for me. Looking back on it now, it was their help and loving support that put me on the right track in college.”

Ratledge lived with the Youngs and their two children for two years. In 1949 the Youngs sold their home to East Carolina and moved to Durham to be close to their daughter, Bettie Ann Young Doebler, after she enrolled at Duke University. She is now is a professor emeritus at Arizona State University.

“When I was a teenager,” Doebler recalls, “sometimes six or eight of us would take our sheets outside (and sleep on) the roof over the sun room–there was no air conditioning in those days. In (the living room) was a baby grand piano that my grandmother gave me, and I often played hymns and sang for the family.”

The Youngs’ other child, William Foster “Billy” Young ’66 came back to Greenville for college, and then settled in Charlotte.

The Youngs were generous to others in their extended family. When Mary Anne Howard ’73 of Raleigh, a niece of the Youngs, was in high school in Greenville, her mother died. The Youngs took her in, just as they had done for Ratledge.

About a dozen years ago Ratledge was back on campus for an event and asked about seeing the home where he lived for two years.

“The chancellor was Dick Eakin then, and when I called him he said come right on over, and he gave me a tour of the place. And it looked exactly like it did in 1947 when I first walked through the door.”

The Chancellor’s Residence was built in 1921 by William Haywood Dail Jr. He owned a brick-making company in Greenville that supplied the brick for the original six buildings on campus. It’s because of his role in East Carolina’s early years that the home bears his name.

A complete history of the Dail House was written by Gladys Howell in 1987 upon the retirement of her husband, Chancellor John Howell. It can be downloaded here.

– Steve Tuttle

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Alumni Association seeking survey responses

The East Carolina Alumni Association will conduct a 10-minute alumni survey asking about experiences as students and as alumni.  The survey link will be distributed by e-mail and will be open until March 23.

Alumni are encouraged to check to see if the Alumni Association has their current e-mail address.

For additional information about the survey visit https://piratealumni.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/alumni-survey-coming-up/.

 

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ECU graduate to use grant to fund Project Opera Camp

Brenton O’Hara, left, and Kate McKinney (Submitted photo)

Brenton O’Hara, left, and Kate McKinney (Submitted photo)

A recent ECU music graduate will use a $20,000 prize from the University of South Carolina to fund a non-profit that will introduce opera to disadvantaged children.

Brenton O’Hara, who graduated in 2013 and who is now enrolled in the master’s degree in opera theater program at USC, was half of a team that won the Maxient Social Impact prize. The prize was one of several awarded on Nov. 18 as part of USC’s annual Proving Ground entrepreneurial competition. Working on the project with O’Hara was his girlfriend, recent USC music graduate Kate McKinney.

O’Hara and McKinney will use the money to support a non-profit organization they founded, Project Opera Camp, which seeks to promote life skills among underserved children through the arts. O’Hara said the camp will accommodate about 40 elementary and middle school-age children from Charleston, South Carolina and will run the first two weeks of June. In September, the organization will offer after-school arts programs in Charleston schools.

O’Hara said campers will be nominated by teachers at schools with a high percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

Using opera as a vehicle to teach life skills, classes will include skills not typically taught in the classroom like wellness and yoga, leadership seminars and team-building exercises. The camp will culminate with performances of a children’s opera that will demonstrate participants’ self-esteem and allow them to express themselves in an artistic way, O’Hara said.

O’Hara said the couple chose Charleston as the site of the camp because they developed ties to the arts community there after volunteering at last year’s Spoleto Festival.

O’Hara is a native of Pinehurst. While at ECU, he was president of the Student Forum for Musical Organizations.

– Steve Tuttle

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Named to high school hall of fame

Tynita Butts (Photo courtesy of Alexandria News)

Tynita Butts (Photo courtesy of Alexandria News)

Tynita Butts, the record-setting high jumper on ECU’s track and field team who won the Penn Relays twice and was named an NCAA All-American six times, was inducted into her high school’s sports hall of fame. The ceremony was held Dec. 8 at T.C. Williams High School in her hometown of Alexandria, Virginia.

Butts graduated last May with a degree in sociology and a concentration in marriage and family relations. She is working at an athletic clothing retailer in Washington, D.C., while pursuing professional sports.

She tied for second in the high jump at the NCAA track and field championships in Eugene, Ore., last June. That’s the highest-ever finish by an ECU athlete at the NCAA nationals. She finished her ECU career as the school record holder in both the high jump (1.91-meters) and long jump (6.22-meters). She qualified for the NCAA Championships every year in which she competed at the collegiate level.

During her high school career she was a two-time Virginia state champion and two-time Penn Relays champion in the jumping events. She was honored as The Washington Post’s Track and Field Athlete of the Year as well as Gatorade Athlete of the Year.

Ranked first in the nation in the high jump and second in the long jump her last season as a Pirate, Butts recorded four first-place finishes in the high jump and won the event at the 2014 Conference USA Outdoor Championships.

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Alumni Scholarship Applications Due Jan. 30

The East Carolina Alumni Association is accepting applications for Alumni Scholarships for the 2015-2016 school year through Jan. 30.

New this year, applications must be submitted online through the ECU Online Scholarship Management System. No paper applications will be accepted. To receive a scholarship, students must be able to attend the Scholarship Luncheon on April 25.

Approximately 20-25 scholarships of $1,000 or $2,500 are available. Recipients must be registered as a full-time undergraduates with at least 12 credit hours and a 3.0 GPA. Students should demonstrate service and leadership in the university and community.

Applications must be accompanied by a signed letter of recommendation and a creative expression, both of which can be completed and/or uploaded through the online system.

Since 2005, the Alumni Scholarship program has awarded 197 scholarships totaling more than $260,000.

For more information, visit Piratealumni.com/scholarships.

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Work by ECU grads featured at N.C. Museum of Art

 

The N.C. Museum of Art is hosting a video installation of three works by New York artist Jason Mitcham, including the “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” piece produced with Scott Avett of the Avett Brothers band. The installation will be in the museum’s East Building from Jan. 9 through April 12.

Both Mitcham and Avett are East Carolina University graduates.

“Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” is a four-minute, 20-second-long video Mitcham created from 2,600 versions of a single painting. It is set to the song of the same name written by Avett for the band’s 2009 hit album, “I and Love and You”. National Public Radio reviewer Robin Hilton described the video as “a spare but stunning work of art (that) shows the rise, fall and inevitable decay of rampant urban development.”

“These animations began from a need to incorporate time into a painting involving a specific site,” Mitcham said. By altering his paintings mark by mark, Mitcham is able to add both a sensation of time and the fluidity of movement to an otherwise static art form. To produce each second of running time in the video required him to create 10 alterations to the painting, Mitcham said.

Mitcham is a 2002 ECU bachelor of fine arts graduate from Greensboro who completed a master of fine arts at the University of Florida in 2005. Now based in Queens, New York, he has exhibited extensively in the New York area, Los Angeles and England.

Scott Avett is a 1999 ECU graduate. The Avett Brothers band had its start in Greenville while Scott Avett was an ECU student and brother Seth was attending UNC Charlotte.

Also featured at the Museum of Art’s installation will be two other videos by Mitcham ­– “Ruin Rising,” a video without sound he created in 2013, and “Three,” a 2011 piece featuring music by Meredith Varn. Those two videos also are created from thousands of variations to a single painting.

The museum on Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh is open six days a week and closed on Mondays. The exhibition is free.

Steve Tuttle

Visit Mitcham’s web site at http://jasonmitcham.com/JasonMitcham/Home.html.

Information on the Avett Brothers is available at http://www.theavettbrothers.com/.

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ECU Retired faculty forums begin in January

Retired faculty of East Carolina University are invited to a series of free informational forums in the spring of 2015, hosted by the Retired Faculty Association and sponsored by the East Carolina Alumni Association. These forums are designed to keep retired faculty connected to each other, their fields of study, their university and their community. Membership in the RFA is not required, but those interested in joining are encouraged to inquire. Current faculty and other members of the East Carolina community are welcome.

Events are scheduled as follows:

Tuesday, January 13
“Sylvan Heights Bird Sanctuary”
Mike and Brent Lubbock

Tuesday, February 10
“Inside the Exxon Valdez Accident”
Archie Smith

Tuesday, March 10
“Zero to Eighty on Unpaved Roads”
Evelyn McNeil

Tuesday, April 14
“Seeing Through the Camera”
Dwayne Frutiger

Tuesday, May 12
“Did Lincoln Own Slaves? And other FAQs about Abraham Lincoln”
Gerald Prokopowicz

All forums will be held 3 – 4:30 p.m. in the second floor conference room of the Family Medicine Center at 101 Heart Drive in Greenville. Ample parking is available after 2 p.m. directly outside of the building in the B and A7 lots. For questions, contact Christy Angle at 252-328-1958.

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