Monthly Archives: February 2014

Pull Out Your Beads and Masks – Mardi Gras is March 4th!

Is it just me, or is this year FLYING by?  I can’t believe it’s almost March and Mardi Gras is just four days away.

Ruby Gallagos holds a handful of beads before a Mardi Gras parade. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Mardi Gras, also known as Carnivale, Carnival, Shrove Tuesday and Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”), is the last day of feasting before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.  Fat Tuesday is celebrated around the world, with the largest celebration in the world occurring in Rio de Janeiro.  In the US, New Orleans, LA is most famous for their long-standing Mardi Gras party and parade and people flock from all over the world to be a part of it!


Popular celebratory practices include wearing masks, costumes, beaded necklaces in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of Purple, Gold and Green, and FOOD (it’s called FAT Tuesday for a reason!).  Traditionally, there are cakes, pastries, and pancakes as well as plenty of other rich and fatty foods to indulge in.

mardigrasblogMardi Gras ParadeMardigrasmask

I’ve never been to Carnivale or Mardi Gras, nor has anyone in my family, but it was a tradition in our house to celebrate it (along with most celebrations – Chinese New Year, Cinco de Mayo, etc…basically, anything and everything that allowed us to break out of the norm, enjoy different food, learn about other cultures, dress up and be a little silly, even if only for dinner).  We would pull out our beaded necklaces, wear masks adorned with purple feathers make Hurricane Drinks (for adults only, of course) and eat a dinner consisting of crab dip, gumbo, rice and fried bread, then we would always have a slice of King cake for desert!

GumboMardi Gras HurricaneKing Cake

If you are interested in setting some of your own traditions, you can find recipes Here, HereHere, and Here.  Or, if you prefer to have someone else do the work for you, we have one restaurant in town that is known for their Mardi Gras party (so much so that they have a clock that does a “Countdown to Mardi Gras” running every day).  I’m afraid to call them out by name, for fear of “endorsement” – but the restaurant is located close to the Health Sciences Campus.  If you have never experienced Mardi Gras or a taste of New Orleans, their party is a lot of fun.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!!  (pronounced lazay lay bon tom roulay) OR…..



Pirate Perk – Free Tax Preparation from Liberty Tax Service

Tax season is here… Oh the stress of it all!

Let Liberty Tax Service ease your anxiety and prepare your taxes for free. From February 24 – March 9, Liberty Tax Service is offering free tax preparation for all new customers that are  teachers or school employees. With three convenient locations, tax season has never been easier to navigate.

Liberty Tax Service
Liberty Tax Service Locations and Contact Information:

1913 E. Firetower Road, Greenville, NC
(Beside Realo Pharmacy)

2208 Memorial Drive, Greenville, NC
(Dickinson & Memorial Drive)

4600 E. 10th Street, Greenville, NC
(Inside the Walmart Super Center)

Print this ECU Appreciation Coupon, bring your W-2(s) / tax receipts, and your ECU One Card or School ID to receive free tax preparation today!

For the latest tax news and tax saving tips, sign up for their  free Tax Talk Newsletter.




Staff Senate Nominations – NOW OPEN

The nomination process for the 2014-2015 Staff Senate is officially open. 

Do you know a full-time, permanent SPA, CSS or non-teaching EPA employee who is a team player; ambitious, driven, dedicated to ECU, an advocate of communication and who wants to be part of the change as we take ECU into the next year?  Then please nominate them for our ECU Staff Senate (self-nominations are also welcome!)!

Senators are elected to a two-year term and alternates to a one-year term and we have vacancies in the following divisions, beginning in May, 2014:

  • Chancellor’s Division – 2
  • Academic Affairs – 2
  • Administration and Finance – 8
  • Athletics – 2
  • Health Sciences – 7
  • University Advancement – 2
  • Research and Graduate Studies – 2
  • Student Affairs – 2

ECU benefits from a community of employees who value shared-governance and promote open and transparent communications between the staff, administration and leadership.  During these challenging times, it’s even more important that the staff of ECU have a voice in decisions that influence our careers and future.

If you are interested in the Staff Senate, don’t wait for someone else to nominate you, nominate yourself!! 

Senators have the responsibility to be the “voice” of their peers when attending and participating in monthly Senate meetings (missing no more than 3 per year), committee work and other university activities.

Some recent accomplishments of the Staff Senate include:

  • Sponsoring the Employee Appreciation Week activities and events
  • The Health Fitness Walk
  • Managing two separate scholarship programs for staff children of staff
  • Providing input to Chancellor Ballard on staff concerns
  • Staff Forums
  • Working with Human Resources to review, update and implement policies that are in the best interest of the staff
  • Providing input to our UNC President, Thomas Ross
  • Attending the ECU Board of Trustee Meetings

We are looking forward to a terrific year and look forward to working with our new Staff Senators!  Come and make a difference with us!!

To nominate yourself or a fellow employee to serve as an ECU Staff Senator, please click here.

ECU Board Of Trustees Meeting

Over a two day span, beginning on Thursday, February 13th, through  Friday, February 14th, the Board of Trustees Meeting was held at the East Carolina Heart Institute.  Thursday’s schedule included meetings from the following committees: University Affairs, Finance and Facilities, Executive, and Health Sciences. The full day event was ended by tour of the ECHI’s new Research and Robotic Division on the fourth floor and a BOT reception honoring the Chambers Singers.  On Friday, after a call to order, the Pledge of Allegiance, and a moderately timed closed session, the following highlights the reports and remarks disclosed during this session:


  • Chancellor Ballard discussed several “needle-mover” projects that ECU should focus on funding due to the return on investments in the future.  The next big “needle-mover” project will be growing the Biomedical Engineering program to a size and rank that will be comparable to NC State’s Engineering program.  We are well on our way to doing this – ECU currently has the largest and most reputable Biomedical Engineering Program in the state!
  • Health Sciences : There was real excitement over the recent opening of the ECU School of Dental Medicine Community Service Learning Center in Lillington, NC at the end of January this year. The 7,700-square-foot center, the third of its kind, aims to serve rural areas in North Carolina that are in need of healthcare resources, while providing ECU dental students with a learning opportunity in a real community.
  •  As mentioned in the First Monday update on February 3, 2014, Provost Marilyn Sheerer will be stepping down from the position of Provost on August 15, 2014. She has submitted her letter of resignation to Chancellor Ballard and he has accepted it.  Her intention is to take retreat rights for a year and return to the faculty in the College of Education in August of 2015. The process of selecting a replacement Provost has begun. The Chancellor welcomes input from staff, faculty, and the community regarding the appointment of an interim Provost. This appointment will be made in April. A standing ovation was given to Provost Sheerer for her hard work and dedication to ECU.
  •  The board voted unanimously for non-salary compensation to be dispensed to the football coaching staff for outstanding performance.
  •  The Finance and Facilities Committee proposed that a new student services building was needed and the proposed location is between the Heart Institute and the Allied Health building. Plans detailing the proposed third phase of the North Recreational Complex included new softball fields, batting cages, lighted tennis courts, and a trail were presented.
  •  University Affairs remarked on the Structured for Success program that involves early intervention of students with drug related issues. The goal of this program is to enhance student success and increase retention from the freshman to sophomore year. Nineteen of the current participants are male. The current success rate reported for Fall 2012 involved 15 out of 22 students with an 80% rate of students continuing onto their sophomore year.
  •  A lighting study across campus has been conducted determining that several areas need improvement such as the Mall area and the parking area near the Messick building. Projects are underway to level the lighting across campus and convert to LEDs.

Credit is given to Mary Schiller for comments regarding Chancellor Ballard’s discussion of “needle-mover” projects and the Biomedical Engineering program.

Discussion with Vice Chancellor Rick Niswander

Let me hi-jack our topic for a moment to wish you all a Happy Valentines Day!  May your day be FILLED with kindness and love!!!


The meeting began with introductions, then Dr. Niswander gave a report about the state budget and ECUs budget.  Some bullets from his report include:

  • Budget dollars are fine
  • Income collection is greater than estimated
  • Medicaid is the big unknown right now, partially because of the new NCFAST system has had implementation problems
  • Undergraduate enrollment at ECU has increased, but Graduate enrollment has decreased, which will reduce funding – the decrease in graduate enrollment is directly linked to the public education system no longer giving incentives to teachers with masters degrees.
  • The 2014-2015 NC Budget plan includes a very small pay increase for state employees (it’s not been approved yet).  Interesting fact, a 1% pay increase at ECU equates to $5 million a year which ECU has to budget for, so even if we get a raise, we may pay for it in other ways…
  • Dr. Niswander is going to ask units this if/then question…just to be prepared in case it happens:  if the state cuts ECU’s budget, what could each unit do?
    • Research dollars fact (which generates F&A funding)
      • UNC-Chapel Hill est. $500 million
      • ECU est. $20 million

Dr. Niswander also mentioned that the GA has mandated a 30% energy reduction by 2015 – ECU is currently at 18% with the majority of our energy consumption being cooling costs.  So, be prepared for some warmer temperatures this summer, as ECU will be adjusting thermostats in attempts to save that additional 12%.  Of course, each summer we are asked to be mindful of our energy consumption – this is now more important than ever….(I’ve already started doing my part by leaving my office lights off most of the time.  I have windows, so I have plenty of lights without them.  I’ve also given up my electric stapler and am using the manual kind again.).  Small changes can add up to a large impact!

The Senators also had quite a few topics of discussion, which included:

  • A proposed change to the winter break calendar – a couple of options were discussed. Dr. Niswander asked that the Staff Senators to discuss and determine what the majority agrees on and let him know.
  • Employee Appreciation Week funding – Dr. Niswander approved the food vouchers, t-shirts, bowling and asked for other suggestions.
  • Senator Garrett Killian asked Dr. Niswander to speak at a Staff Senator meeting and he graciously agreed.
  • Continued challenges with the EPAF processes and Travel.  Dr. Niswander said that the new HR Director has been given the task to revamp the EPAF System.  The travel process is highly visible and scrutinized by the state/media/auditors and there is no quick fix but is on the ITCS list.
  • Discussion about Kronos and the benefits for employees.  It was suggested to have leave rules/guidelines clearly written so that all employees would be treated fairly campus wide.
  • Discussion regarding employee stress due to taking on additional responsibilities due to unfilled positions and lack of wage increases when the funds are available.

Overall this was an extremely insightful and productive meeting.  We will look forward to Dr. Niswander presenting at our April meeting!


ECU Needs To Show We Have A Heart For People – Volunteer Today!

Marian Wright Edelman once said, “We must serve consciously as caring role models, emphasizing the ethic of service, not consumption.” Truer words were never spoken.  Our ECU personnel needs to show that we are role models for our future generations.

February has been declared as a month of service by the UNC Staff Assembly. The focus is on service to our campus and local community. This is a great time to use some of the allotted 24 hours of community service leave we are granted each year. Get involved and volunteer!

Volunteer opportunities:

Other organizations may qualify for you to use your community service leave.  The guidelines are listed in the State Human Resource Manual: Community Service Leave section.

Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we GET, but we make a life by what we GIVE”. Give of your time today, make a difference in our community, and show that ECU cares!


Children of SPA Scholarship

The Children of SPA Employees Scholarship is open for application until March 15th 2014.  For the application, please click here.

This scholarship is for $600 (2 semesters at $300 per semester) and was established to assist deserving children of SPA/CSS Employees with tuition assistance while attending East Carolina University. 

In order to apply, the student must be pursuing thier first undergraduate degree, have a minimm 3.0 GPA, demonstrated leadership potential, demonstrated community involvement and participation in extracurricular activities.

In this economy, we could all use a little financial help and if you have a child in college, you’re probably feeling the strain a little more than the rest of us!  This scholarship is brought to you exclusively by the ECU Staff Senate.  We are always looking for ways to help SPA and CSS staff! 

 Good luck to all that apply!!

Let Us Entertain You!

We work hard! It’s time to relax, laugh, and enjoy a great performance! The ECU College of Fine Arts and Communication is working hard to provide a venue of entertainment that is enjoyable for the whole family.

Dance 2014
Dance 2014
: Tonight is the night! The final official performance.  Ticket holders for the January 30th performance will be able to see this incredible display of talent tomorrow night, February 5th,  at 8:00 p.m.


Event 2 Image

The Gizmo Guys: Comedy Jugglers
Friday, February 7 | Wright Auditorium | 7:00 p.m.

It’s not that they’ve performed internationally, appeared on all of the major TV shows and taught at the world’s best circus schools: it’s that they’re funny! See the Gizmo Guys. Dazzling technique. Infectious humor. Wholesome goodness for the entire family.


Other Events:

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

The Circus is coming to town! Make memories with your family that will last a lifetime!

Location: Raleigh, NC | PNC Arena (Formerly RBC Center)

Dates:   February 20th & 21st , Thursday-Friday at 7:00 p.m.
February 22nd, Saturday at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m., 7:30 p.m.
February 23rd, Sunday at 11 a.m., 3:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m.

Ticket Information