ECU community mourns loss of instructor

By Kathryn Kennedy and Jeannine Manning Hutson
ECU News Services

Co-workers and students of East Carolina University teaching instructor Debbie O’Neal are grieving this week following her death March 31.

She and her husband – both rated pilots – were killed when their fixed-wing Lancair LC-42 aircraft crashed in a Winston-Salem residential neighborhood after experiencing engine trouble, a National Traffic Safety Board official told media on Monday.

Funeral services are scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 3 at Rock Springs Center, 4025 N.C. Highway 43 N, Greenville.

An additional memorial service was held Tuesday, April 2 at the Washington Eye Center, where her husband, Dennis, worked.

O’Neal came to ECU in 2004, and this semester she was teaching three sections of English composition in the classroom and two distance-education sections of English grammar.

Department of English Chair Jeffrey Johnson spent Tuesday meeting with students in O’Neal’s classes, accompanied by staff from the ECU counseling center. He said the students were “taking it hard,” and many asked if they could reach out to her family.

“Her students know how invested she was in them,” Johnson said. “She was really outgoing, full of energy and ideas, generous with her time. All these qualities of hers…make (the loss) even harder.”

O’Neal was very involved in the ECU Language Academy, which provides intensive English-language instruction to international students and professionals. She also worked with the College of Education by developing ways to integrate English as a second language (ESL) teacher education into existing curriculum.

Marjorie Ringler, associate professor in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership, said she and O’Neal worked closely for years. “We were inseparable at work and as friends as well,” Ringler said Tuesday.

O’Neal was a linguist and Ringler works on partnerships with principals and school districts; together they were a great team, Ringler said. The pair recently attended an international conference in Dallas, presenting their success in teaching English as a second language in a rural eastern North Carolina school.

O’Neal engaged her classroom students as well, Ringler said, and held them to high standards.

“In the Department of English, she saw her students as her kids,” Ringler continued. “She was a mother to them because (she taught) the freshman composition class.”

She added that O’Neal kept in touch with many students and would get Facebook and email messages about how she had changed their lives. “She made sure everybody knew that she cared,” Ringler said.

“She lived life to the fullest. She was a pilot, made her own jewelry, and was always in touch with her three kids. She skied as well. What did she not do? And she tackled everything head on.”

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“Crossing Borders” event set for Oct. 25

East Carolina University’s Division of Health Sciences will host an interdisciplinary program, “Crossing Borders,” from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25 in the Brody School of Medicine Auditorium.

The event will bring students and faculty from each of the health sciences disciplines – allied health sciences, dental medicine, Laupus Library, medicine and nursing – together with a focus on collaboration in education. Approximately 300 students have been invited.

They will watch the film, “Crossing Borders,” a feature documentary directed by Arnd Wächter examining different cultures, hidden preconceptions and discovering oneself.

After the film, students will divide into small discussion groups to work with facilitators from each unit.

The event is sponsored by the offices of ECU Diversity and Dr. Phyllis Horns, vice chancellor for health sciences. Dr. Donna Lake from the College of Nursing has led the event planning group.

For more on the film, go to http://crossingbordersfilm.org/

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ECU’s Campus Dining launches sustainable ‘TOGO’ initiative

The "TOGO" logo represents a new sustainable dining initiative under way at ECU.

East Carolina University and Campus Dining have launched a new sustainable dining initiative that should reduce the amount of waste in landfills.

The TOGO program at Todd and West End Dining Halls replaces the disposable Styrofoam containers formally used for take-out meals with a new reusable container. The program will drastically reduce waste; more than 145,000 of the Styrofoam containers ended up in ECU’s trash last year. Organizers also hope the program will encourage responsible dining habits, build community in the dining halls and reduce overall costs.

Students who sign up for the program receive a reusable container they can use to take lunch or dinner out of the dining halls. When they return the used container at either dining hall, participants may receive either a clean, reusable container or a key tag they can present for a new container on their next visit.

Participants also receive a free 17 oz. aluminum TOGO beverage bottle for taking beverages from the dining halls. The bottles may also be refilled with a fountain beverage for $.99 at any Campus Dining location.

Styrofoam containers and paper cups will no longer be provided as take-out options.

For additional information about the TOGO program, contact Joyce Sealey at (252) 328-2822 or visit www.ecu.edu/dining (click on “Sustainable”) for instructions and a “How To” video.

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Open forums set to discuss master plan

Master plan consultants Smith Group and JJR will be on campus June 29 and 30 to discuss the final draft of the ECU campus master plan. As part of the process, ECU will hold open forums to discuss the master plan on June 29.

Forums for faculty, staff, students and members of the community will be held at three times and locations:  from 4 to  5:30 p.m.  in the Croatan Greene Room; from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the Allied Health Room 1305; and from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Greenville Centre Conference Room 1200.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to participate and provide feedback on the master plan.

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Read more about the master plan at http://www.ecu.edu/news/newsstory.cfm?ID=1933.

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Faculty, staff urged to conserve electricity

Members of the ECU community are asked to turn off equipment not in use to conserve energy. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)
William E. Bagnell, associate vice chancellor for Campus Operations, notified the campus community that May 31 is the likely utility peak day for the month, which means that conservation efforts are essential.

Faculty and staff are asked to turn off all unnecessary electrical equipment including lights, radios, calculators, printers, copiers, computers, monitors and coffee makers. Those with windows are asked to lower blinds to reduce cooling loss. 

Bagnell reminded everyone to turn off all equipment when leaving for the day.

For more details on the Electrical Peak Demand, visit http://www.ecu.edu/facility_serv/energy/FAQonpeakdemand.htm .

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