Eastern AHEC breaks ground on new building

An artist’s rendering shows the new building that will house the Eastern Area Health Education Center. (Photo by Steve Tuttle)

An artist’s rendering shows the new building that will house the Eastern Area Health Education Center. (Photo by Steve Tuttle)

The Eastern Area Health Education Center (AHEC) broke ground at 8 a.m. April 30 on a new building in Greenville that will also become the new home of East Carolina University’s Office of Clinical Skills Assessment and Education.

The 36,400-square-foot facility will feature the latest technology to improve the learning environment for the Office of Clinical Skills and the many other educational programs that Eastern AHEC operates, according to Executive Director Dr. Lorrie Basnight.

Clinical Skills now operates out of a mobile unit on the Health Sciences Campus. Clinical Skills uses standardized patients and physical training assistants to assist in the training of health sciences students. Health sciences students learn the physical exam, communication skills and interpersonal skills at Clinical Skills.

Clinical Skills will occupy the second floor of the three-story building, amounting to 10,700 square feet of space, officials said. At its March 24 meeting, the ECU Board of Trustees agreed to lease the space for $203,300 annually for a five-year term with options to renew the lease.

The new building at the corner of Arlington Boulevard and West Fifth Street will replace space that Eastern AHEC now leases on Venture Tower Drive.

“Having both AHEC and Clinical Skills in the same building will provide an opportunity for new types of learning,” Basnight said.

“This will enhance the ability of Eastern AHEC to continue to improve the health and workforce needs in our region,” said Dr. Sylvia Brown, dean of the ECU College of Nursing.

Brown said ECU also would use the new facility for several health-related conferences.

Basnight said a big plus of the new facility will be its accessibility.

“We have people from all over the region who come here for our conferences or for training, and it’s often difficult for them to navigate through the medical campus area and find a place to park. Now it will be so much easier to find us, get parked and get to your meeting quickly,” she said.

Eastern AHEC provides grants to support programs at clinical sites used by ECU’s medical, nursing, dental and allied health students. One such site is the Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Community Center.

In 2014, Eastern AHEC and two other regional centers established subsidized housing sites for ECU dental students working in community service learning centers across the state.

Eastern AHEC, which serves 23 counties in eastern North Carolina, is one of nine regional centers that focus on the health care needs of the state’s underserved populations. Its mission is to provide educational programs and services that bridge academic institutions and communities to improve public health.
Basnight said the new facility, including land and furnishings, is expected to cost around $11 million. She said the center has been putting aside savings from its ongoing operations for the past several years to pay for the new facility.

The project is scheduled for completion in 2016. C.A. Lewis is the general contractor.

– Steve Tuttle

Reade Street Market to close for renovation

The Reade Street Market in the West End Dining Hall will close at the end of spring semester to undergo a $269,000 renovation. The project, funded by dining receipts, should be completed by next Aug. 1, according to project manager Michael Talton.

The project includes renovating the existing convenience store space in the market and remodeling of the attached Subway sandwich shop. A semi-private dining area and meeting room also will be added.

— Steve Tuttle



Phil Kirk to address Honors College students

Phil Kirk of Raleigh, who chaired the State Board of Education for six years and led the state chamber of commerce for 16 years, will address Honors College students on Tuesday, March 31. He is expected to speak about the role of leadership in industry, education and government.

Phil Kirk

Phil Kirk

The Leadership Lecture Series event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in room 1032 in the Bate Building.

Kirk, currently director of business and leadership for Brady, a Greensboro energy solutions company, served two terms on the ECU Board of Visitors and is a member of the ECU Educators Hall of Fame. A graduate of Catawba College, Kirk was named an honorary ECU alumnus in 2003.

Kirk was chief of staff to former governors Jim Holshouser and Jim Martin and U.S. Sen. Jim Broyhill. He twice served as secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

He currently serves on the boards of Meredith College, the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching Foundation, the VIF International Education program. He was co-chair of the Strategic Planning Working Team for the Wake County Public schools.

In 1999, he chaired the working committees for the largest successful bond issue in North Carolina history–$2.75 billion for schools and roads and $3.1 billion for the UNC System, community colleges and UNC TV.

ECU received about $200 million from the bond issue, which funded construction of the Sci-Tech Building, the Student Rec Center and a major expansion of Joyner Library.

A native of Salisbury, Kirk began his career as a middle school journalism and English teacher. Honors College Dean Marianna Walker was one of his students.

Former Gov. Jim Hunt has said of Kirk, “If there’s a single person in this state who is more involved and at the center of every issue, I don’t know who it is.”

— Steve Tuttle

He popped the question at a special place – the Rivers Building

Faith Fleming and Jamar Sampson

Faith Fleming and Jamar Sampson

The Rivers Building holds special memories for Jamar Sampson and Faith Fleming, both graduated from East Carolina University with psychology degrees in 2013.

It’s where both worked part-time jobs. It’s where he asked her to be his girlfriend. And it’s where he proposed to her on Feb. 27, after sending her on a scavenger hunt for clues to his intentions.

couple“I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to propose to her right where it all started,” Sampson said.

“She had no idea that the scavenger hunt I planned for her would lead her to a hallway full of friends and family to witness the best day of our lives.”

Friends of the couple created a video about the scavenger hunt and his proposal, which can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbBpSfo07vA.

Fleming is studying for a master’s degree in school counseling at UNC-Greensboro. Sampson is director of education for the Boys & Girls Club of the Coastal Plains.

Sampson said they plan to marry after she finishes graduate school.

— Steve Tuttle


ECU professor receives gubernatorial appointment

By Kathy Muse
Health and Human Performance

Gov. Pat McCrory has appointed East Carolina University assistant professor Dr. Beth Chaney to the North Carolina Substance Abuse and Underage Drinking Prevention and Treatment Task Force.



The task force consists of 20 members appointed for a two-year term.

“I am honored to be appointed to the Governor’s task force and am hopeful that we will make positive impacts related to substance abuse and underage drinking prevention,” said Chaney.

Chaney leads a team of ECU researchers in an alcohol field study conducted in downtown Greenville.  The study results will provide important data related to drinking behaviors of over 1,000 bar patrons for the task force to consider when developing recommendations for approaches to address the hazardous drinking issues in North Carolina.

“The behaviors associated with high-risk drinking are complex. Solutions to this problem will demand a multileveled approach, involving changes not only at the individual level, but also at the institutional, community and policy levels,” said Chaney.

Members are charged with preparing a comprehensive plan to address the underage sale and use of alcohol and drugs, risky behaviors and substance abuse among collegians.  Additional work includes providing treatment and recovery services for individuals struggling with substance abuse, according to the executive order which created the task force. “I look forward to working with the task force members to begin to develop strategies for tackling these problems, said Chaney.”

“Substance abuse and underage drinking are critical public health concerns,” said Dr. Glen Gilbert, dean of the College of Health and Human Performance.  “Beth’s service on this task force will add a researcher that understands the behavior of this important population as well as practical approaches to address the issues.”

The task force will build on statewide prevention, treatment and enforcement initiatives implemented by the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission, Alcohol Law Enforcement Division, the Department of Health and Human Services and the UNC system.

The governor signed the executive order at ECU May 14.  ECU is one of six University of North Carolina campuses that will take part in a pilot program that will emphasize prevention and treatment.

Chaney earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in health studies from The University of Alabama.  She received a doctorate in health education from Texas A&M University.

Aug. 9 Veterans Support Day to benefit ECU outreach program

ECU's Operation Reentry Program received a $500 gift from the Fleet Reserve Association Branch #301. Pictured left to right are Anthony Bishop, president of the Greenville FRA chapter, Patrice Frede, director of development for the College of Allied Health Sciences and ORNC and Jim Menke, military research liaison and project manager for Operation Re-entry North Carolina. (Contributed photo)

ECU’s Operation Reentry Program received a $500 gift from the Fleet Reserve Association Branch #301. Pictured left to right are Anthony Bishop, president of the Greenville FRA chapter, Patrice Frede, director of development for the College of Allied Health Sciences and ORNC and Jim Menke, military research liaison and project manager for Operation Re-entry North Carolina.  A benefit this weekend will also help support Operation Reentry. (Contributed photo)


The third annual Veterans Support Day and Bike Wash Saturday, Aug. 9 will benefit East Carolina University’s Operation Reentry NC, a university-wide initiative to address the rehabilitation and re-entry challenges for military personnel, veterans and their families.

Open to the public, the event runs from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Hometown Harley Davidson, 2300 Elaine’s Way in Winterville. Active and retired military personnel are urged to attend. Representatives from ECU will discuss Operation Reentry and other veterans programs available in eastern North Carolina.

Operation Reentry supports the veteran population who face numerous challenges in re-entering society following deployment. Some wounded warriors face physical disabilities resulting from blast injury, some face invisible wounds from traumatic stress. Most all face difficult post-deployment adjustment back to family and community life as well as in the workplace.

The Operation Reentry program helps them battle issues such as suicide, homelessness, substance abuse and unemployment by providing resilience and re-entry interventions. The ORNC mobile unit coordinates with the Navigate Counseling Clinic in the College of Allied Health Sciences to bring professional counseling services and other resources to veterans in rural and underserved areas.

Veterans Support Day is hosted by the Veterans Motorcycle Club and the American Legion Riders, with the support of Hometown Harley Davidson. Other participating organizations include the Pitt County Veterans Council, Disabled American Veterans, Fleet Reserve Association, Marine Corps League and the Department of Veteran Affairs.



Three academic leaders join Academic Affairs

Three new academic leaders have joined East Carolina University’s Division of Academic Affairs.



William Downs, dean of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences; Dave Meredith, director of admissions; and Rondall Rice, director of university studies, all started July 1.

Downs was formerly the area dean for Social and Behavioral Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at Georgia State University. He also served as chair of the department of political science and director of graduate studies in political science. He was the founder and co-director of the interdisciplinary Center for Human Rights and Democracy and faculty coordinator for semester-long study abroad programs in Strasbourg, France and Nottingham, England.

A Raleigh native, Downs earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in political science from Emory University.

“I am delighted to be joining the ECU faculty and to have the privilege of leading the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences as its dean,” said Downs. “While fully aware of the challenges that face us all in higher education today, I am energized by our strong foundation and very much look forward to helping guide a process of renewal that secures meaningful gains in research, student learning and public service.”



Meredith comes to ECU from the University of New Orleans, where he served as the executive director of enrollment services. Previous positions include service as senior assistant director of admissions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, director of Enrollment Management with the Honors Scholars Program at the University of Cincinnati and director of the Warren and Lebanon Branches of Wilmington College.

Meredith holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati. His research there focused on first-generation college students and their experiences navigating the higher education system.

“I’m excited to build on the success of the admissions office and help make East Carolina University the university for top students from across North Carolina and the United States,” he said.



Rice is the first director of university studies at ECU. He joins the university following a 25-year career as a U.S. Air Force officer. Rice spent the last three years at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany in the Air Operations Center for the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and U.S. Air Forces in Africa.

He served as associate professor of history and held administrative duties in the U.S. Air Force Academy.  He was association dean of the National Defense Intelligence College (now the National Intelligence University) in Washington, D.C., where he also held the position of acting dean for the School of Intelligence Studies. He represented NDIC on the Intelligence Community Analysis Training and Education Committee, which coordinated analysis training and education for 17 cabinet-level agencies.

A Greenville resident and eastern North Carolina native, Rice earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“I am extremely excited to return and work for and with the great people of this university and area,” Rice said. “Adding to the excitement is being on the ground-floor of a new university initiative designed to help people craft unique interdisciplinary programs to launch their future.”

Ice cream social honors provost


Derek Maher, associate professor in philosophy and religious studies, shares a laugh with Marilyn Sheerer during her ice cream social celebrating her service to the university since 1996 as professor, department chair, dean and provost.

The June 26 event allowed faculty and staff from across campus to hug Sheerer and wish her well in the next phase of her academic career. She steps down as provost Aug. 15.

One of those well-wishers was Rita Reaves, interim director of Office of Academic Program Planning and Development. “What she has done has helped us remember what’s important – the students who are here and the relationships we can establish to support them.”

(Photos by Cliff Hollis)


ECU Red Cross Club presented $10,000 check to local chapter in response to tornado relief

ECU student Taylor Waters, president of ECU’s Red Cross Club, left, presented the donation to Summer Woodard, chief development officer for the Pitt County Chapter of the American Red Cross. (Contributed photo)

ECU student Taylor Waters, president of ECU’s Red Cross Club, left, presented the donation to Summer Woodard, chief development officer for the Pitt County Chapter of the American Red Cross. (Contributed photo)

ECU’s Red Cross Club presented a check for $10,000 to the local Pitt County Red Cross Chapter on Thursday, May 1 in response to the recent tornado for disaster relief. The club president, ECU student Taylor Waters,  presented the check.

“The money donated will help those effected by last week’s tornados,” said Waters. “The American Red Cross makes a difference in people’s lives every single day and disasters like this remind us how imperative they are to our community.”

In response to the tornado and storm damages in eastern North Carolina, the Red Cross and its volunteers have been working day and night to help assess and report the damages, feed and clothe the victims and make sure all immediate needs are taken care of. Donations are essential to keeping trucks on location, supplies on hand, and providing assistance to families in need.

The check to the American Red Cross will help fund disaster relief efforts in Eastern North Carolina. This donation will serve as great help to the region as all the money raised here stays here.

The American Red Cross is able to provide assistance to families affected by disasters in our community through the generous support of public donations. Please consider supporting your local Red Cross disaster relief efforts by donating at www.redcross.org, text REDCROSS to 90999, or calling 252-355-3800.