Medical school names first female surgery chair in the Southeast

The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University has named a new chair for its Department of Surgery, making Brody the first medical school in the Southeast to have a female in that position.



Dr. J.E. “Betsy” Tuttle-Newhall is the seventh woman to be appointed surgery chair at any of the nation’s 200-plus medical schools, according to the Association of Women Surgeons.

Originally from Madison, Tuttle-Newhall has returned to North Carolina after serving as the division chief of abdominal transplant surgery and primary transplant surgeon at Cardinal Glennon Pediatric Hospital in St. Louis. She was also vice chair of the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at the St. Louis University Hospital School of Medicine and co-director of their Abdominal Transplant Center.

While in St. Louis, Tuttle-Newhall was the recipient of multiple clinical and teaching awards, as well as several Medals of Honor from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for her efforts to improve and expand organ donation and transplantation processes.

Her research efforts have focused on living kidney donors, critical care of transplant recipients, and transplant center design and governance.

After earning a medical degree from Wake Forest University’s Bowman Gray School of Medicine in 1988, Tuttle-Newhall completed a surgery residency and a clinical fellowship in surgery at the New England Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. She furthered her training with a surgical critical care fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an abdominal transplant surgery fellowship at Duke University Medical Center.

Following her fellowships, Tuttle-Newhall held several academic positions at Duke, including associate professor of surgery and critical care, and director of the medical school’s physician assistant residency in surgery.

She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in health care administration at the St. Louis University School of Public Health.


ECU celebrates International Women’s Day

The 2015 celebration of International Women’s Day will be held Wednesday, March 4 in the Mendenhall Student Center, Great Rooms 1 & 2. The day features a series of speakers on the following topics:

8-8:50 a.m. International Perspectives on Women’s Status
A discussion between representatives from the University of Gdansk, Poland; Fatima Jinnah Women’s University, Pakistan; and Covenant University, Nigeria.

9-9:50 a.m. Women in the Media
Beth Mendelson has more than 25 years experience in media and is currently executive producer at Voice of America. Her portfolio includes broadcast, radio and the web. Mendelson was Winner of the 2006 Women of Vision Award by Women in Film & Video.

10-10:50 a.m. Women in Religion
Ann Harrington was recently ordained as a priest by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, a renewal movement within the Roman Catholic Church whose goal is to achieve full equality for all within the church as a matter of justice and faithfulness to the gospel.

11-11:50 a.m. Women in Social Justice
Shirrell Thomas has more than 40 years experience working on domestic violence. She leads the social enterprise section of the Center for Family Violence Prevention. Her initiative of My Sister’s Closet plays a major role in aiding victims of domestic violence in our community.

Noon-12:15 p.m. Is There Still Bias Against Women?
Brody School of Medicine professor Rachel Roper shares the latest studies on this subject.

12:15-12:30 p.m. ECU Chapter of She’s the First
ECU student and chapter president Keerthana Velappan shares information about this organization, which sponsors girls’ education in low-income countries, giving them the chance to become the first in their families to graduate from secondary school.

12:30-2 p.m. Lunch and ECU Panel on Sexual Harassment
Speakers include ECU students, faculty and staff.

2-2:50 p.m. Women in Romance
Laurie Kahn is a resident scholar at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center. Her film “Tupperware!” was broadcast in more than 20 countries, won the George Foster Peabody Award and was nominated for an Emmy. Kahn is executive producer of The Popular Romance Project, which explores the origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs and Internet fan fiction.

3-3:50 p.m. Women in Health Care
Dr. Janice Daugherty, assistant professor of Family Medicine at the Brody School of Medicine. Her interests include women’s health through the lifespan, integrative mental health care, nutrition and wellness and chronic disease mitigation.

International Women’s Day is sponsored by the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women, the Office of the Provost, the Office of Student Affairs and ECU Women’s Studies.

Individuals requesting accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should contact the Department for Disability Support Services at least 48 hours prior to the event at (252) 737-1016 (Voice/TTY).


Pirates tackling heart disease during February

East Carolina University’s Division of Student Affairs will hold a number of events in February to raise awareness about heart health and heart disease during national Heart Health Month.

ECU Campus Recreation and Wellness will kick off the events with a Heart Health Extravaganza from 4 until 6 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Student Recreation Center. Attendees will have an opportunity to visit healthy stations to learn about stress, heart health, blood pressure and more. All student participants will be entered to win a FitBit wristband activity tracking device.

On Feb. 4 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Campus Wellness staff and students will distribute heart health information across campus. Campus Recreation and Wellness will join Campus Dining staff Feb. 9 and Feb. 12 to teach students about healthy food choices and portion sizes in West End and Todd dining halls.

On Feb. 6, all members of the ECU community will be urged to wear red for National Wear Red Day, as a sign of support for fighting heart disease. All those dressed in red will be asked to gather for a group photo at 12:15 p.m. at the Student Recreation Center.

Shane Stephens

Shane Stephens

“When people wear the red, it’s a reminder that heart disease is a real disease,” said Shane Stephens, assistant director of wellness programs in Campus Recreation and Wellness. “The red will remind us to make the choices we need to make to fight this disease and live longer happier lives.

“Students don’t typically perceive heart disease as being dangerous because they think they are too young,” said Stephens, but the American Heart Association reports that one out of every three women die from heart disease or stroke. It’s still the number one killer in the country.

“We are creating awareness and helping our young women learn that today’s decisions about smoking, food choices and exercise can have positive or negative impacts later in life,” Stephens said.

For additional information about Heart Health Month visit the American Heart Association website ( For more on ECU events and programs, contact Shane Stephens, assistant director of wellness programs, at or 252-737-4892.


Women’s Roundtable Book Club discusses Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’

Members of the ECU Women's Roundtable book club gathered April 9 to discuss Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg.

Members of the ECU Women’s Roundtable book club gathered April 9 to discuss “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

By Jamitress Bowden
ECU News Services

“Sister Talk,” the book club of East Carolina University’s Women’s Roundtable, met April 9 for the second time since its founding fall semester 2013.

The book club is composed of female ECU students who read a selected book focused on the topic of women in leadership. The book club includes mostly Access Scholarship recipients, who once a semester gather in Chancellor Steve Ballard’s residence with Nancy Ballard; Valeria Lassiter, chair of the Women’s Roundtable; Dr. Virginia Hardy, vice chancellor of Student Affairs; Marcy Romary, director of Women’s Philanthropy at ECU; and other roundtable members.

At this book club meeting, the women leaned into each other as they discussed lessons and realizations from “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg. Sandberg is the chief operating officer at Facebook. In the book she tells the story of how she embraced leadership throughout her life.

The book was chosen after the club read about Sandberg in last semester’s book, “How Great Women Lead” written by Bonnie St. John and her teenage daughter Darcy Deane.

“As a young woman striving towards leadership positions, I feel alone in some of my experiences and this book reminds me I am in good company with powerful women with similar experience,” said Taylor Waters, ECU junior and member of the book club. Waters said that the women in the book club were insightful and she found the conversation enlightening.

The group is intended to open a dialogue on leadership between the women.

“What I enjoyed most about our discussion is the refreshing feeling of talking to women about real issues and changes that need to be made with women in society,” said Kenya Shakir, ECU junior and member of the book club.

Next semester, the book club will read “The Power of Nice” by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval. Thaler and Koval serve respectively as the chief executive officer and president of the advertising agency Kaplan Thaler Group.

Dr. Virginia Hardy, vice chancellor of Student Affairs, was among the Women's Roundtable members present at the meeting of the organization's book club.

Dr. Virginia Hardy, vice chancellor of Student Affairs, was among the Women’s Roundtable members present at the meeting of the organization’s book club.


Seven women represent ECU in BRIDGES program

Seven East Carolina University women graduated this fall from the BRIDGES XIX academic leadership program. Pictured at the 2011 BRIDGES graduation are, left to right, Kathryn Verbanac, Lisa Clough, Susan Beck-Frazier, Cheryl McFadden, Tracy Gurnsey and Carol A. Brown. Participant Holly Hapke was not present for the photograph. (Contributed photo)


Seven East Carolina University women were selected to participate in BRIDGES XIX, an intensive academic leadership and professional development program for women held Sept. 9 through Nov. 12.

Selected from ECU were Susan Beck-Frazier, associate dean in the College of Fine Arts and Communication; Lisa Clough, professor of biology; Holly Hapke, professor of geography; education professors Cheryl McFadden and Carol A. Brown; Tracy Gurnsey, autopsy facility manager and medical laboratory supervisor in Pathology at the Brody School of Medicine; and Kathryn Verbanac, professor of surgery at the Brody School of Medicine.

Verbanac was elected to serve a 3-year term on the BRIDGES Advisory Board.

Over the course of four weekends in Chapel Hill, N.C., participants hone their leadership and communication skills while developing a stronger understanding of the academy. The program helps female university faculty and administrators identify, understand and move into leadership roles within higher education.

For additional information about the BRIDGES program, visit


Best-selling author to hold book-signing, presentation

As part of Earth Day at ECU, best-selling author Richard Louv will hold a presentation and book signing, 7 p.m. April 15 in Room C-307 Science and Technology Bldg. His best-selling book, “Last Child in the Woods,”sparked a national campaign to reconnect children with nature. His new book, “The Nature Principle,” focuses on adults’ need to reconnect with nature. Read more…


ECU honors 10 women for leadership, contributions

East Carolina University will honor members of its faculty staff, alumni and community leaders for their contributions to the institution and the region at an April 13 event focusing on women’s issues and leadership.

Valeria Lee, vice chairwoman and founding member of the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center, a state-funded non-profit that works toward rural economic vigor, will be the keynote speaker Wednesday, April 13 at this year’s ECU Women of Distinction awards. The event begins at 4 p.m. and concludes with an awards presentation at 6:30 p.m. in the Croatan Green Room. Lee’s talk is titled “Women’s Issues: 100 years back, 100 days forward.”  Read more…