Milestones — ECU dental school opens clinic in Brunswick County | Star News

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May 042016

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By Gareth McGrath
May 3, 2016

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — East Carolina University’s School of Dental Medicine last week opened a community service learning center in Bolivia.

ECU’s dental service learning centers are facilities that combine clinical education and patient care. Led by faculty members, fourth-year dental students spend clinical rotations and general dentistry residents also hone their skills at the centers.

The Brunswick County center, located at 100 Brunswick Medical Center Parkway, Bolivia, began accepting patients in February. The clinic contains 7,700 square feet of space with 16 operatories, state-of-the-art equipment, wheelchair lift, 3D imaging and an endodontic microscope.

Other ECU dental centers are in Ahoskie, Elizabeth City, Davidson County, Lillington, Robeson County, Spruce Pine and Sylva.

“This is an awful big county and transportation is difficult for a lot of folks,” said David Stanley, executive director of Brunswick County Health and Human Services. “That’s why this (dental center) is such a powerful, powerful resource we have available and we’re so fortunate to have it in our region.”


Greenville doctor receives Small Business Leader award | The Daily Reflector

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May 042016

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Ginger Livingston
May 4, 2016

Between Vidant Health, Brody School of Medicine and pharmaceutical manufacturers, Pitt County’s economy is firmly rooted in medicine.

On Tuesday, the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce recognized the role medicine plays in the small business community.

The chamber named Dr. Billy Ray Smith, owner of Eastern Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and a graduate of the Brody School of Medicine, its 2015 Small Business Leader. It is the first time in the award’s 30-year history that a medical doctor has been recognized.

“You always talk about the American Dream, and I think the American Dream is alive and well for anyone who is motivated enough to go out and live it,” Smith said. “My whole time I was in the military I was a proponent that we live in a great country. To have the opportunity to live those dreams is remarkable.”

About 170 people attended Tuesday’s event at the Holiday Inn, one of several activities being held as part of Small Business Week.

Dr. Paul Cunningham, retiring dean of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, praised his former student.

“It’s incredible to see a former student be so successful in life,” Cunningham said. “We rarely recognize the physician is a small businessman.”

Smith started Eastern Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation with two employees in 2010. Six years later, he has opened two other businesses: Eastern Health Care Associates and Emerald Property Management. He employs 15 people.

Owning a medical practice allows Smith to set his own pace.

“It provides me with an opportunity to spend more time with my patients and provide better care for them,” he said. ‘It allows me to personalize the care a little more.”

The chamber hosts the Small Business Awards Breakfast yearly to honor leaders in Pitt County’s business community who have demonstrated successful operations of their businesses as well as made a significant impact on the community.

Small businesses are defined as those employing less than 25 people full-time, said Tommy Price, the chamber’s chairman. About 75 percent of the chamber’s membership consists of small businesses, he said.

Along with Smith, Owen Burney of Burney and Burney Construction Co. was a finalist for the award.

Smith talked about his roots when accepting the award. His grandfather was a tenant farmer, and his mother didn’t graduate from high school. His father was enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, and his stepfather was retired from the U.S. Army.

His family instilled in him the value of hard work, lessons that were reinforced when he served six years in the Army after high school.

“The military taught me to stay focused and determined. I attribute my work ethic to them,” he said.

Smith graduated from East Carolina University in 1996 with a degree in exercise physiology. He graduated from the Brody School of Medicine in 2000. He spent several years in practice in Fayetteville before returning to Greenville.

Starting a medical practice was challenging, Smith said, because he knew little about the business side. He would like to see medical schools offer business development courses during the senior year so students can see it is possible.

Along with his business, Smith is involved in a multitude of community groups, including serving as a fund raiser for Rocking Horse Ranch, working with Troop 46 of the Boy Scouts of America, providing medical services at Oakmont Baptist Church’s free medical clinic and volunteering with several nonprofits through Operation In As Much.

Along with the Small Business Leader award, First Citizens Bank presented the 12th annual Forever First Award to Krispy Kreme Doughnuts of Greenville. The award recognizes businesses that value customer service, said Gordon Jethro, First Citizens Bank area executive.


ECU preparing for commencement traffic on Friday | WITN

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May 042016


May 03, 2016
Heather King

To view news video on WITN – click here.

Drivers in Greenville should expect extra traffic around Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Friday morning. ECU Commencement is planned for 9 a.m. at the football stadium.

ECU Police Lt. Chris Sutton says traffic around the stadium will be heavier than normal between 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. as people make their way to the event. Roads around the stadium that commuters should avoid include Greenville Blvd., Charles Blvd., 14th Street, and Elm Street. The parking lots will open at 7 a.m.

Parking may be more difficult than usual because of the construction on campus and the closing of the lot behind Mendenhall Student Center.

Once the ceremony is over, traffic will likely be heavy again between 11 a.m and 11:30 a.m.

There will be departmental ceremonies across campus on Friday and Saturday.

In addition to the traffic alert, Lt. Sutton is urging all graduates to enjoy their weekend, but to celebrate responsibly.


ECU nurses train to help curb opioid epidemic | WNCT

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May 042016


By Jessica Jewell
May 4, 2016

To view news video on WNCT, click here.

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – 9 On Your Side continues tracking the opioid epidemic in our state, taking a look at local efforts to combat the growing problem that focuses on the prescribers.

Local physicians say there’s a lot of power in writing prescriptions, and with that comes a lot of responsibility. That’s why new policies from the CDC and universities say a crucial component in curbing the drug problem begins in the classroom.

Last week, nearly 200 nursing schools across the country announced plans to require prescriber education for all students. That’s something ECU has included in its curriculum for years.

Students in the nurse practitioner program use virtual clinics and work hands-on with trained patient actors.

Dr. Michelle Skipper says patients asking for opioids is common.

“Where the patient comes and they’re either out of medicine early or the dog ate my medicine or my purse got stolen or some of the red flag systems that a student… Scenarios that a student would run into that they would get trained for before they ever leave here,” Dr. Skipper said.

The CDC estimates 20% of patients presenting non-cancer pain receive an opioid prescription.


Students get ‘college-bound’ message from Montgomery | The Daily Reflector

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May 042016

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Sharieka Breeden
May 3, 2016

As East Carolina University football coach Scottie Montgomery addressed a group of minority male students from local high schools on Tuesday, he emphasized education, strong work ethics and making dreams a reality.

Minority males from South Central, North Pitt and Pitt Community College transitional studies attended day two of ”College Bound, Here We Come” at PCC, where Montgomery was the keynote speaker.

Donald Spell, vice president of student services, stressed the importance of working to increase the enrollment rates of minority men at universities and helping individuals obtain degrees.

“Now the problem we are wrestling with still is keeping them,” Spell said. ”Getting in is one thing. Staying in and finishing is another, so we are working hard to do that.”

Montgomery, preparing for his first year at ECU, used his athletic and academic skills to attend Duke University. But there were obstacles he had to overcome to succeed. He encouraged students not to set up roadblocks in their paths.

“Laziness is directly connected to what your energy will allow you to do,” Montgomery said. “If you are trying to go home and be up at 10:30 playing the video games, 11 o’clock getting on the cellphone, 12 o’clock looking at TV, 12:45 a.m. struggling because you cant go to sleep, then you call yourself waking up at 7, and now you’re struggling at 7 because you’re tired. That contributes to you being lazy for the rest of your day. … It’s killing your generation.”

Montgomery shared his habit of getting up at 5 a.m. daily, which allows him to get to the office before everyone else, work out and prepare for each day.

He attributed his work ethic to his parents — his father obtained a doctorate degree after dropping out of school in the ninth grade, and his mother worked two jobs.

“My father could not help my brother with fourth-grade work,” Montgomery said. “Do you understand how embarrassing that is? You got a 20-something-year-old man who can’t do fourth-grade work. I was too young to understand what just happened, I think my brother understood. My aunt was living with us at the time. I think she also understood what happened and my father, more than anyone, understood what happened.”

At Montgomery’s request, students removed their hats as a show of respect, helping him make a point about the significance of first impressions. Some in the room shared personal goals to become detectives and fashion designers.

“The number one reason I think education is important is for a happy and stable life.” Montgomery said. “That should be your goal in life. When I say happy and stable, I mean being able to directly look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and know that you have not cheated anyone, know that you haven’t cut any corners and know that when you get ready to speak to somebody your reputation is completely intact.”

For Xavier Boyd, a 17-year-old South Central junior, the event was an opportunity to learn more about what the college has to offer. Tables in the multipurpose room were lined with informational brochures and pamphlets about financial aid, extracurricular activities and academic and athletics programs. Students from J.H. Rose, D.H. Conley and Farmville Central attended a similar event on Monday.

While Boyd’s top choices for school include North Carolina A&T, UNC Charlotte, UNC Wilmington and NC State, he said the event could give him and others a different perspective on what PCC has to offer.

“It gives me a path and helps me figure out what schools will be best for me,” Boyd said. ”It helps me make my decision on what I want to study and where I need to go if I want to study it.”

Jasmin Spain, director of student mentoring, conduct and academic progression, said the program has helped to make great strides.

“First and foremost, it’s God’s work that (Montgomery) did,” Spain said. ”This is God’s work that we do as a program as a whole. I think that the message he gave was much-needed. Although it was inspirational,it also was a wake-up call and reality check that students need to hear. They need to be challenged and seek excellence. In order to achieve their goals, they have to be focused, and the key is getting a good education.”


Former Pirate Harold Varner III enjoying life on PGA Tour | The News & Observer

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May 042016

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By David Scott
May 3, 2016

Life on the PGA Tour has its perks, Harold Varner III is learning.

“I just got a brand new car this week,” said Gastonia’s Varner, who is playing in this week’s Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club. “We get one every week. The money’s cool. (The media) being around watching me is kind of cool. I enjoy that, all these cameras.”

But in Varner’s quieter moments, it’s not easy. As he has set out in his first year on tour – during which he already has a fifth-place finish and two other top 10s – he’s discovered some very real, more intangible challenges.

“It’s lonely,” Varner said. “Everyone kind of does their own thing, which is fine. I kind of have to have fun by myself, which is kind of weird. But I didn’t realize how people just kind of went about their own way.

“I think I’m doing a little bit of that myself, which I guess is good in a way.”

Varner is just one year separated from life on the tour, which he describes as having a more collegial and inclusive atmosphere. After graduating from East Carolina in 2012, Varner spent three years in golf’s minor leagues before earning his Tour card last fall.

I just like his attitude. That’s his strength.

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III, on Harold Varner III

His rookie season has been, as he puts it, “a little bit up and down.”

In his fourth start, he finished tied for fifth in the OHL Classic in Mayakoba (Mexico). The downs came during a stretch in which he missed four consecutive cuts. But over the past two weeks, he’s been impressive, finishing tied for ninth at the Valero Texas Open and tied for eighth in the Zurich Classic.

“It’s still golf, in my eyes,” said Varner. “When you’re out there for four weeks, you have to rely on yourself. My caddie tells me you’ve got to back yourself, which is something I think everyone should do, but I don’t do a great job of it all the time.”

Varner has played well enough and shown enough promise to catch the eye of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III, who played with Varner recently at Hilton Head. Love didn’t say that Varner is ready to be considered for this year’s team, but he likes what he has seen.

“He’s on the radar,” said Love. “There are a bunch of these guys that you’re interested to see if they can get some points. (Varner) hits it solid; he’s a good putter. I just like his attitude. That’s his strength.”

Varner grew up in Gastonia and played at East Carolina.

This is the second appearance in the Wells Fargo Championship for Varner, who missed the cut in 2014. That was a one-off for Varner during his days and he admits he didn’t handle the experience well.

“The last time I was here, I was like, ‘Oh, I’ll be fine,’ nonchalantly,” he said. “Then when the week came and I got out on the first tee, I knew I was in way over my head. I think (with experience) I’ll do a lot better this week, and then if something crazy happens, next year I’ll come back and I’ll figure out how to avoid that.”

With Tiger Woods not playing, Varner is, for the time being, the only African-American player on tour.

“I don’t really think about it much,” said Varner. “I’m not sure if the players do. They treat me as I was any color. I think that’s how everyone should be treated.”

[READ MORE: Eagle named after Rory McIlroy released at Quail Hollow]

Varner said he will have plenty of friends and family at Quail Hollow pulling for him. Again, that might have been a problem two years ago.

“I hope I’ll do a better job of ignoring them,” he said. “I have a few friends that like to have a little fun, and I paid them a lot of attention. That’s something that’s not good.

“If I want to go accomplish what I want to accomplish, just quiet the noise and take care of business. We’ll have fun afterward.”


‘Can’t Have It All’ writer to speak at UNC Commencement | The News & Observer

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May 042016

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UNC News Services
May 4, 2016

Anne-Marie Slaughter, who made waves with her groundbreaking 2012 article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” will deliver the commencement address at UNC on Sunday, May 8.

A provocative speaker, Slaughter is also a foreign policy expert and public commentator. “Why Women Can’t Have it All,” which was published in The Atlantic, became the most read piece in the history of the magazine. It sparked a renewed national debate about the continued obstacles to genuine full male-female equality, ultimately spawning her 2015 book “Unfinished Business.”

Slaughter is currently the President and CEO of New America, a non-partisan think tank committed to the solution of public problems and enabling those working on solutions to drive stages of change, from inspiration to implementation. She is also the Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University.

“Carolina is incredibly fortunate to welcome an exceptional thinker and leader like Anne-Marie Slaughter to share her wit, wisdom and experience,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “She is a dedicated public servant devoted to solving real life challenges related to work, family and leadership – issues especially relevant to our graduating seniors. I was lucky enough to hear Anne-Marie speak several years ago and found her absolutely magnetic. She greatly inspired me and I know students will be moved and motivated by her message.”

From 2009-2011, Slaughter served as the director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State, the first woman to hold that position. Prior to her government service, she was the Dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs from 2002–2009 and the J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign and Comparative Law at Harvard Law School from 1994-2002.

She has written or edited six books, including “A New World Order” and “The Idea That Is America: Keeping Faith with Our Values in a Dangerous World,” and is a frequent contributor to a number of publications, including The Atlantic and Project Syndicate.

Slaughter also provides frequent commentary for both mainstream and new media and curates foreign policy news for over 80,000 followers on Twitter. Foreign Policy magazine has named her to its annual list of the Top 100 Global Thinkers multiple times.

She received a B.A. from Princeton, an M.Phil and D.Phil in international relations from Oxford, and a J.D. from Harvard. Slaughter is married to Andrew Moravcsik, a professor at Princeton University, and lives in Princeton, New Jersey, with their two sons.

“I am so honored to be the Commencement speaker,” said Slaughter. “I come from 200 years of North Carolinians and my great-grandfather William Alexander Hoke’s papers are stored at the University.”

Folt chose Slaughter in consultation with faculty and staff on the University’s Commencement Speaker Selection Committee. Her commitment to public service, a hallmark she shares with Carolina, makes her a particularly appealing speaker for the University. Additionally, her productive exploration of social issues, like work-life balance and work place equality, offers valuable perspective to Carolina students entering the working world.

Spring Commencement will be held at 9 a.m. in Kenan Memorial Stadium. Folt will preside over the ceremony. For more information, visit


NC Central student found dead in residence hall | The News & Observer

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May 042016

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May 3, 2016


An N.C. Central University student was found dead Tuesday morning in a residence hall on campus, school officials said.

Kewanne Malik Lee, 22, a Durham native, was a junior health education major at the school. It’s not clear how he died.

“A death investigation is currently underway regarding Mr. Lee’s untimely passing,” the university said in a news release. “As is university protocol, Durham Police Department is the lead agency with support being provided by the NCCU Police Department.”

Lee was an active student on campus, university officials said in the release. He served as Mr. ASFABA 2015-2016 (Association of Students for A Better Africa) and was a member of the Hope Mime Ministry.

Counselors from Student Health and Counseling Services were onsite at Ben Ruffin Residence Hall and will continue to be available in the Student Health Building. Leaders from the Office of Spiritual Development and Dialogue are also there to assist with grief counseling.


School crime rates down in most every category — except sex crimes at colleges | The Washington Post

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May 042016

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By Emma Brown
May 4, 2016

Overall crime rates have fallen over the past decade on the nation’s college campuses, but the number of reported forcible sex crimes on campus has substantially increased, according to federal data released Wednesday.

Postsecondary institutions reported a 34 percent decline in crimes between 2001 and 2013, with decreases in every category except forcible sex crimes, which rose 120 percent over the same period.

It is not clear whether sex crimes are occurring more frequently or whether victims have become more willing to report them as advocates have helped raise public awareness about sexual assault and colleges’ duty to combat it.

The data is part of a wide-ranging report on safety in the nation’s K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions, covering issues including drug use, bullying, discipline and security measures.

The report, compiled from multiple federal data sources by the U.S. Education and Justice departments, shows improvements on many measures since the early 1990s.

Adolescents were 82 percent less likely to be the victim of crimes at school in 2014 than they were in 1992, for example. And amid intensifying concern about classroom bullying, the proportion of public schools reporting regular bullying fell from 29 percent in 2000 to 16 percent in 2014.

That mirrors previously released data showing that, over time, fewer students are reporting that they have been bullied.

“The data show that we have made progress — bullying is down, crime is down, but it’s not enough,” said Peggy Carr, acting commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics. “There is still much policymakers should be concerned about. Incident levels are still much too high.”

The report also shows that the number of juvenile offenders housed in residential facilities fell by nearly 50 percent between 1997 and 2013. There are stark differences among racial groups: In 2013, black youths were 4.6 times as likely as white youths to be housed in such facilities.

The report shows falling levels of alcohol use among high school students: In 2013, 35 percent of them said they’d had a drink within the previous 30 days, down from 48 percent in 1993.

But marijuana use has risen over the same period: In 2013, 23 percent of high school students said they had used pot at least one time in the previous 30 days, up from 18 percent in 1993.


Georgia Governor Vetoes Campus Gun Law | The Wall Street Journal

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May 042016

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By Jon Kamp and Cameron McWhirter
May 3, 2016

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a bill Tuesday that would allow concealed handguns on public college campuses, marking the second time this spring the Republican rejected a high-profile measure sought by the GOP-dominated state Legislature.

Proponents including the gun-rights organization had promoted versions of the bill for years, arguing it would make campuses safer by allowing responsible gun owners to protect themselves and others.

Such laws are spreading in states around the U.S. in the wake of campus shootings, including the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech that left 33 dead.

A campus-guns bill passed into law in Tennessee on Monday, and Texas approved such a law last year. Georgia would have become the 11th state with such a law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Mr. Deal’s rejection of the bill followed his March 28 veto of legislation lawmakers passed to provide religious exemptions for opponents of same-sex marriage. The Legislature that same day sent Mr. Deal a bill that would allow anyone 21 or over, including students, to carry weapons on campuses. It had passed both chambers with significant support.

But Gov. Deal rejected the argument that guns would make colleges safer. To improve security on state campuses, he ordered the University System of Georgia and the state’s technical-college system to submit reports by this summer on what improvements are needed.

“From the early days of our nation and state, colleges have been treated as sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed,” Mr. Deal said in a statement. “To depart from such time-honored protections should require overwhelming justification. I do not find that such justification exists.”

Jerry Henry, executive director of, said gun supporters would introduce similar legislation in the next session. “We don’t quit. We are here for the long run to make sure the Second Amendment does what it says,” he said.

Republican state Rep. Rick Jasperse, a leading sponsor of the bill, said he was disappointed by the veto, but felt the bill’s supporters “made our case with facts” to the Legislature. He also said he would revisit the issue next session.

The bill included several exemptions: It didn’t apply to athletic or sporting events, student housing, fraternities or sororities. But the governor had pushed for more exclusions, saying he also wanted exemptions for on-campus day care centers, administrative offices and disciplinary hearings.

The University System of Georgia opposed the bill. “The vast majority of our faculty, staff, parents and students are concerned about firearms on campus,” the system, which includes the University of Georgia and 28 other institutions, said in a statement. “As leaders of the University System of Georgia, we must provide the highest levels of safety and security to the 318,000 students we serve.”

The Tennessee law specifically expands on-campus gun rights for full-time employees of state public colleges and universities who have hand-gun permits, but not for students. Employees must notify local law enforcement before bringing a gun on campus.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam chose to let the measure become law on Monday without his signature. The Republican said in a statement that the legislation doesn’t go far enough to let campuses make their own security decisions, but also said the final version did reflect some school concerns.

The gun bills are the latest in a series of polarizing issues cropping up in Republican-led legislatures this spring.


Four arrested after robbery at student complex | The Daily Reflector

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May 032016

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May 3, 2016

Four individuals were apprehended after a strong-arm robbery reportedly occurred at an off-campus student apartment complex, according to an East Carolina University alert.

According to the alert, the incident was reported about midnight to the Greenville Police Department and occurred at the University Suites Apartments, 2200 University Suites Drive.

The individuals fled in a vehicle and stopped at the Province Apartment complex located at 504 Boxelder Way, where they jumped out and ran toward campus. All four individuals were apprehended at the Rivers building shortly thereafter.

Information about the incident can be provided anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 252-758-7777.


ECU ALERT: Strong armed robbery at University Suites Apartments | WNCT

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May 032016

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WNCT Staff
May 3, 2016

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A strong armed robbery was reported to Greenville PD Tuesday morning around midnight.

It happened at the University Suites Apartments.

The suspects fled in a vehicle and were stopped at the Province Apartment complex. The 4 suspects then jumped out and ran toward Campus.

All four were apprehended at the Rivers Bldg. shortly thereafter.

If you have any information about the incident, contact Crime Stoppers at 252-758-7777.


New law means cuts at ECU | WITN

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May 032016


May 02, 2016
Dave Jordan/Ariel Plasencia

To view the news video on WITN, click here.

A new state law means some jobs at ECU are being eliminated.

The law says UNC System schools cannot spend more than $1 million in state funds on fundraising-related programs starting on July 1.

ECU officials say that under this cut, they have to reduce $3.7 million down to $1 million, which is a cut of almost 73 percent.

To do this, they say 15 to 18 positions are going to be eliminated as of June 30th.

ECU officials say this is a substantial cut that’s been imposed on them, but they’re doing everything in their power to transfer their employees to other positions.

In the past, officials said the positions were more school based — like business and education — but now they’ve created a handful of new positions that deal with more regional coverage.

These jobs will fall under “The ECU Foundation” and “The ECU Medical and Health Sciences Foundation,” which officials say have their own budgets.

Christopher Dyba is President of the ECU Foundation and says, “People who are being told that on June 30 their position goes away have an opportunity to become foundation employees, so it is not a mass layoff, it’s really a reorganization.”

Dyba says current employees are encouraged to apply for these jobs, which are already posted online.


Researchers say more shark bites are possible this year | WNCN

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May 032016

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By Bob Townsend
May 3, 2016

OAK ISLAND, N.C. (WECT) – In a typical season, only two or three people will have an encounter with a shark along the Carolina coast, but 2015 was anything but typical.

In mid-June, two teenagers were bitten within 90 minutes of each other by a shark in shallow water at Oak Island. Both survived, but each lost limbs.

Related: 2015 sets record for most shark attacks, with 98 worldwide

In addition to the injuries Kiersten Yow and Hunter Treschl suffered, eight other people were attacked by sharks last year along coasts of North and South Carolina.

This spring, shark researchers are already looking closely at how conditions are shaping up for the upcoming warm weather months along the Carolina coast.

Researcher Chuck Bangley says the conditions are present for another historic year for shark bites, saying that some sharks off the coast of Florida are already migrating towards the coastal water of North Carolina.

“There has been a general increasing trend in the in shore and near shore waters, in terms of temperature and that will certainly affect the species that are in those waters,” Bangley explained. “In terms of migration, I think it depends on how rapidly the temperature rises, going from spring into summer. This year should be pretty interesting, because it never really ever got that cold this winter. We are already seeing evidence of some of our winter migrants not moving, like we expect them to.”

Doctor Roger Rulifson has been doing shark research at his East Carolina University lab since the early ’90s and is certain that a “perfect storm” was created last season by several weather factors and the increased number of people in the water, looking to find relief from an early heat wave.

“It was so hot in the early part of the summertime that we think those waves of fish migrating up the coast were more dense,” Rulifson explained. “It probably happened in a shorter period of time than we would normally see in the springtime when the temperature slowly warm up, so the consequence is you get more prey, more sharks preying on them as they all move together up the coast.”

Experts say humans are not targets for sharks, they intend to bite fish instead. The bites in 2015 were unfortunate accidents, and it should not come as a surprise that humans occasionally get in the way.

“When your hands and feet are splashing, it looks like fish bellies to them. They realize they made a mistake and spit us back out again,” said Christian Panko, a noted shark researcher.

“There is a tremendous amount of bait fish in the water at this point, and these typical hit and run attacks are generally a case of mistaken identity,” said Paul Barrington of the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

Both Rulifson and Bangley say you can still enjoy spending time in the ocean, but be aware of your surroundings.

After all, you have a 1 in about 3.7 million chances of being bitten by a shark, compared to 1 in 84 of being killed in a car accident, and 1 in almost 80,000 chances of being struck by lightning.

Still, you should avoid swimming near an inlet or under a fishing pier. Also watch for large amounts of menhaden and other bait fish, which usually look like dark spots on the water.

If you see bluefish splashing around in your area, or birds diving on the water, it is a sign those bait fish are under attack, and you do not want to find out the hard way what they are under attack by.


Snake bites on the rise in Pitt County | WCTI

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May 032016


By Nicole Ford
May 02 2016

To view news video on WCTI, click here.

That’s because a 2010 research study estimates the rate of snake bites in North Carolina is nearly five times higher than the national average.

Snakes typically stay hidden until the warmer summer months. But Vidant Medical Center has been treating more snake bites this year than normal, both venomous and non-venomous. From January to the end of April last year, there were three bites in Pitt County. And so far this year, there have already been nine.

“Almost across the United States, southern United States there tends to be a spike of snake bites in May. It’s when the weather is definitely warm enough for the snakes to move for food to look for mates,” Dr. Sean Bush said.

Bush is a snake specialist at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine. He says he’s not exactly sure why there are more snake bites this year. But he says it could have something to do with warmer weather patterns. Our StormTrack 12 meteorologists say April was about six degrees higher than normal.

Bush says the best thing to do if bittne is to call 9-1-1 and go to the hospital. He says medicine has evolved over the years and 99 percent of people bit by venomous snakes do survive if they get proper treatment.


Three Cumberland County students win Gates Millennium scholarships | The Fayetteville Observer

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May 032016


Catherine Pritchard
May 3, 2016

Nijal Morgan knows how hard it can be to pay for college.

His mother, a high school teacher, is still paying off her student loans.

So Morgan, a senior at South View High School, was ecstatic when he learned recently he’d won a Gates Millennium Scholarship, which will cover all of his college-related costs over four years and perhaps beyond after other scholarships are financial aid are exhausted.

“That’s huge,” he said. “I was incredibly excited.”

He still is. So are two other graduating seniors from Cumberland County – Nakaya Melvin from Howard Health & Life Sciences High School and Nate Brown from Terry Sanford High School, who also won Gates scholarships.

“That’s a huge accomplishment, not just for the students, but for our county,” said Kristy Curran, the counselor coordinator for Cumberland County Schools. Curran and others in the school system said they weren’t aware of any Gates scholarship recipients in the county in recent years.

“When you come out of college debt-free, it’s an incredible thing,” Curran said.

The scholarship program was established in 1999 and is funded by a grant from Bill and Melinda Gates. It awards Gates Millennium Scholarships each year to 1,000 high-achieving minority students from low-income families. The aim is to remove financial barriers to their higher education. Besides the financial aid, recipients can also participate in mentorship and leadership development programs.

The scholarships provide funding to recipients for up to 10 years of study, including a bachelor’s degree in any discipline and graduate degrees in seven areas: computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health and science.

They kick in only when other financial aid is exhausted. Between 2001 and 2014, the average Gates Scholarship Millennium award was $12,492.

The three Cumberland County students, all top students who have been active in their schools and communities, had applied for numerous scholarships.

Brown said he applied for upward of 30. He got only two back – but they were the two to get, if any. Besides the Gates, he also won a Park Scholarship, which will cover all of his college costs over four years at N.C. State University.

Brown, who plans to study engineering at State, heard about the Park Scholarship first. When he got word that he’d also won the Gates scholarship, he worried that he couldn’t accept it. Then the Gates people told him he could use that money when he goes to grad school which he’ll have to do to reach his goal of becoming an aerospace engineer. Ultimately, he said, he wants to become an astronaut.

purplearrowMelvin, who plans to study chemistry at East Carolina University with the aim of going on to medical school there, said that before she learned about the Gates scholarship, she figured she’d have to borrow $3,000 to $4,000 to cover her college costs after other scholarships and financial aid was applied.

Now she doesn’t have to worry about that.

“I feel like a lot of stress is relieved already,” she said.

Morgan, who is heading to UNC Chapel Hill to study political science and public policy, said he almost didn’t apply for the Gates. He’d applied for the Park and UNC’s full-ride Morehead-Cain scholarship and didn’t get past the first round with either. He figured the same would happen with the Gates.

Then he said he figured he might as well try, and two weeks before the deadline he put together the packet, including writing eight to nine essays.

Morgan, who wants to become a lawyer, then go into politics, also had received one scholarship before he heard about the Gates. It was a good one – UNC’s prestigious Pogue Scholarship, which provides $9,000 a year in help – but he was thinking he’d need loans, his savings and family help to cover the rest of his costs.

Then the Gates notification came and it was like a weight lifted off.

“The next day, I went to Cold Stone,” said Morgan, who’d been avoiding making frivolous purchases thinking he’d need every penny he could save for college.

This time, he ordered a scoop of peanut butter cup perfection, dug in his pocket and paid for it without worrying.

“It was delicious,” he said.


Law enforcement, justice system, churches working to combat heroin epidemic | WNCT

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May 032016


By Josh Birch
May 2, 2016

To view news video on WNCT, click here.

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – As the heroin epidemic continues to grow in the East, various groups are coming together to fight the deadly problem.

Heroin is blamed for at least one death in the last few weeks in Sneads Ferry alone. Onslow County District Attorney Ernie Lee said the drug cycle has to stop.

“I am now prosecuting the grandchildren of some of the people I started prosecuting in 1987 for drugs,” Lee said.

One way to help combat the problem is to have a distinction between sellers and users. Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller wants to see a three strike system put in place for sellers, where plea deals aren’t made and sentences are lengthened.

“A lot of times, when people are given probation, they go back out on the street, they do what they do,” Miller said.

Jacksonville Police have tried to work more with the federal court system for drug cases, as sentences are usually harsher. A spokeswoman with the department said they hope to send a clear message to sellers.

However, Miller said unlike sellers, users should be treated in a differently.

“When someone is addicted, that is a disease,” he said. “That needs treatment, so lets not just put them away in jail.”

Those dealing with mental health patients in the East agree. Dr. Vivek Anand with ECU Psychiatry said there is a strong correlation with mental health and drug abuse.

Anand said there is also a clear connection between pain killers and opiod abuse, and heroin.

“They work on a similar receptor system in the brain,” Anand said. “When you take heroin, heroin is actually converted into morphine, and morphine is a commonly prescribed medication.”

The CDC has now handed down new guidelines to physicians who prescribe opiods to find a more effective way to treat pain. An estimated four in five new heroin users started with prescription drugs.

In Sneads Ferry, Salem Baptist Church Pastor Tommy Yopp was addicted to pain killers for years. He said the reason he quit was so he could see his two girls grow up.

Since coming out to his congregation, Yopp said his life has changed.

“It was a breath of fresh air and light when I actually did open up and admit that I had an addiction,” Yopp said.

Yopp has now been sober for five years, and started a program at his church called H2O, which is a Christ based ministry aimed at helping addicts and their loved ones.

He said the main reason he started the program was because there was no place to turn for help in the area, which is a troubling reality in cities and towns in the East.

In Jacksonville, the number of heroin incidents this year is dramatically up. So far from just January until March 2016, there were 33 incidents, almost matching the totals of 59 in 2015, and 56 in 2014.

In Greenville, the number of overdoses nearly doubled in 2015, with 124. That is compared to 73 overdoses in 2014, and 86 overdoses in 2013.


How high school seniors really pick the colleges they attend — new report | The Washington Post

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May 032016

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By Valerie Strauss
May 2, 2016

May 1 is otherwise known as Decision Day, when high school seniors around the country who are planning to attend college in the fall are expected to finally commit to one. A new report details exactly how students actually make the decision, as explained in this post by Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and vice president of strategy of An expert on student financial aid, scholarships and student loans, he is the author of four bestselling books about planning and paying for college. The findings in this report are based on the more than 1 million students who register annually at the website, which Kantrowitz says are well distributed around the country and are a significant subset of college-bound students.

By Mark Kantrowitz

College Decision Day (also known more formally as the National Candidates Reply Date) has arrived, and high school seniors nationwide must decide which offer of college admissions they will accept.

A new report sheds some light on the factors that influence college choice., a free web site that connects students with colleges and scholarships, analyzed college search behavior by class year and geographic location. More than one million students use Cappex to search for colleges each year. Cappex found some interesting patterns in how students’ college considerations change over the four years of high school.

During the freshman year in high school, name recognition seems to drive the list of the most popular schools. All of the Ivy League colleges except for Dartmouth are among the top 20 most popular colleges nationwide for high school freshmen.

As students approach the senior year in high school, the most selective institutions drop in popularity, perhaps because students become more realistic about their chances of admission.

Students also seem to prefer colleges that are closer to home when they reach the senior year in high school. The percentage of the top 20 colleges nationally that are in-state shifted from about a third (34 percent) as high school freshmen to almost half (47 percent) as high school seniors.

Public colleges become more prevalent than private non-profit colleges in the senior year. This trend appears not just in national college preference data, but also in regional data. Nationwide, Harvard University dropped from second to fifth and Yale University from fourth to sixteenth, while Princeton University no longer appears in the top 20.

The influence of college rankings on college preferences decreases in the junior and senior years in high school. For example, the number of top ten most popular colleges that also appear in the U.S. News & World Report national university rankings decreases by four or five from the freshman year to the senior year in high school.

Geography also seems to play a role. California enrolls about 13 percent of the nation’s college-going population, so it is not surprising that several of the top twenty colleges for high school seniors would be located in California. But, at seven colleges in the top 20, California is over-represented, perhaps due to a combination of quality and affordability. New York, Texas, Massachusetts and North Carolina are also over-represented, but not to the same extent as California.

The top 20 lists by region were also heavily influenced by location. For example, high school seniors in the far west (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington) overwhelmingly preferred California colleges and universities, with just four of the top 20 colleges from outside California and only two colleges from outside the region. Similarly, students in other regions prefer colleges from within the region for 17 or 18 of the top 20 colleges. The main exception is the Plains states, where only 13 of the top 20 are from the region. The colleges that are from outside the region tend to be colleges with a national reputation, such as Harvard University, Stanford University and New York University.

This chart shows the top college preference for high school seniors by state:
State Most Popular College
Alabama Auburn University
Alaska University of Alaska Anchorage
Arizona Arizona State University – Tempe
Arkansas University of Arkansas
California UCLA
Colorado University of Colorado Boulder
Connecticut University of Connecticut
Delaware University of Delaware
District of Columbia University of Maryland – College Park
Florida University of Central Florida
Georgia University of Georgia
Hawaii University of Hawaii at Manoa
Idaho Boise State University
Illinois University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
Indiana Indiana University – Bloomington
Iowa University of Iowa
Kansas Kansas State University
Kentucky University of Kentucky
Louisiana Louisiana State University
Maine University of Maine
Maryland University of Maryland – College Park
Massachusetts University of Massachusetts – Amherst
Michigan University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
Minnesota University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
Mississippi Mississippi State University
Missouri University of Missouri
Montana Montana State University
Nebraska University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Nevada University of Nevada – Las Vegas
New Hampshire University of New Hampshire
New Jersey Rutgers University – New Brunswick
New Mexico University of New Mexico
New York New York University
North Carolina North Carolina State University
North Dakota North Dakota State University
Ohio Ohio State University
Oklahoma University of Oklahoma – Norman
Oregon Oregon State University
Pennsylvania Penn State University
Rhode Island University of Rhode Island
South Carolina University of South Carolina – Columbia
South Dakota South Dakota State University
Tennessee The University of Tennessee – Knoxville
Texas University of Texas at Austin
Utah University of Utah
Vermont University of Vermont
Virginia University of Virginia
Washington University of Washington – Seattle
West Virginia West Virginia University
Wisconsin University of Wisconsin-Madison
Wyoming University of Wyoming


Graduating from college this year? Employers are hiring … well, sort of | The Washington Post

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May 032016

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By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel
May 2, 2016

Job prospects for college seniors about to graduate are looking up this year following an overall hiring boom, but lackluster wages and the burden of student debt might make new hires feel like they are still at a disadvantage.

The nation has more job openings and higher demand for college graduates than in years past, and students are certainly motivated to work, especially if they are saddled with thousands of dollars — or tens of thousands of dollars — in school loans. Nearly 75 percent of employers surveyed by CareerBuilder, a job search engine, say they plan to hire graduates fresh out of college this year, the highest it has been in nearly a decade.

“Most industries, outside of energy, are really doing quite well, and that makes the environment much more receptive than in times of higher unemployment or in times of recession,” said John Challenger, chief executive of consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “The market is generally strong, companies are filling their pipeline with new grads and they have strong recruiting programs out there.”

Job vacancies are at near historic highs, hovering around 5.4 million at the end of February, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Openings are on the rise in educational services and the federal government, though positions in health care, finance and insurance have started to contract.

“There are still pretty promising opportunities for the graduating Class of 2016,” said Nicole Smith, a research professor and chief economist at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. “But they need to be concerned about their majors because the market is very picky about competencies,” she said, noting that employers “want students to demonstrate what they know above and beyond the credential they earned.”

Many companies are favoring graduates with internships under their belts, she said. Researchers at the Georgetown center found that 63 percent of college graduates who completed a paid internship received a job offer, compared to 35 percent who never interned during their time in school. Those graduates with paid internships also scored an average starting salary of $52,000, 28 percent higher than their peers without internship experience.

Colby Bender, 22, did not pursue internships as a student, pouring all of his free time at Virginia’s Radford University into student government and campus activism. The political science major figured that all of his trips to the state capital to advocate for students and his interactions with local politicians would impress potential employers. But of the 65 jobs for which he’s applied, just five have resulted in interviews, and none of those have proved fruitful.

“While they say entry-level, if you don’t have internships, they don’t end up choosing you. It’s frustrating because if it’s entry level, it’s entry level,” said Bender, who graduates May 7. “I’m looking for any possible job I can get. I’m not too good for anything. I’m willing to do whatever I can to try and get some income.”

Bender said many of the politicians and advocates with whom he’s worked are helping in his job search, but few local lawmakers are hiring, and the ones who are want students who have interned for them in the past. Though Bender is studying to take the LSAT in June and hopes to enter law school, he feels pressure to find work before he has to start repaying his $60,000 in student loans this fall.

Looming loan repayments also are making Guadalupe Triana, 21, uneasy about her job prospects. Finishing up a semester abroad in Paris, she has perused a few listings, but wants to wait until she gets back to Lewis and Clark College in Portland to really dive into the search. As much as she wants to enjoy her last few weeks studying overseas, Triana said it’s hard not to worry about how she’s going to repay $30,000 in school loans.

“Student debt got scary after I hit $20,000,” said Triana, who is majoring in rhetoric and media studies. “I just want to pay it off as quickly as possible. I won’t be able to do that with any job I get now, which is why I started thinking about the military. The military helps you pay back student loans.”

If the last few years are any indication, the average Class of 2016 graduate will leave school with five-figure debt. That albatross likely will force graduates to accept jobs without long-term prospects for career or wage growth, according to a new study from the Economic Policy Institute. Analysts at the think tank say that despite the rosy overall employment picture, graduates actually face a tougher labor market than they would have before the 2008 recession. Degree-holders, they say, still contend with elevated levels of unemployment and underemployment, and a large share are neither employed nor pursuing advanced degrees — in other words, they are idling.

“Although there have been small improvements, there is still a lot that’s problematic about this economy for young college grads,” said Teresa Kroeger, a research assistant at EPI who co-authored the study. “Wages are still performing poorly. And we see still disparities between genders and racial groups.”

While there is only a tenth of a percentage point difference in the unemployment rate for college grads these days than before the recession — 5.6 percent now compared with 5.5 percent in 2007 — the number of degree-holders in low-paying jobs is much higher. Nearly 13 percent of young college graduates are currently underemployed, compared to 9.6 percent nine years ago.

“This recovery is unlike any other we’ve seen,” said Smith, of Georgetown. “It has taken such a long time for us to get back on track. But you have to bear in mind that the initial recession was so deep. The number of jobs lost, we’ve regained that and more in terms of totals.”

Of the 11.6 million jobs gained in the economy in this recovery, she said 8.4 million have been for workers with at least a bachelors degree.

Analysts at EPI say unemployment for young black college graduates hovers at 9.4 percent, higher than the peak unemployment rate for young white college grads during the recession. And gender wage inequality has grown, with male college grads earning 8 percent more this year than in 2000, while young women with degrees earned 6.8 percent less than in 2000.

Perhaps the most troubling prediction from the institute posits that newly minted grads as a whole likely will earn less and have more spells of unemployment during the next 10 to 15 years than if they had graduated before the downturn.

“If your wages are starting lower than they would have been in the past, the potential for growth moving forward is diminished,” said Tanyell Cooke, a research assistant at EPI who co-authored the report. “What’s happening now could effect these young workers into the future because they’re starting at a point of weakness.”

Wages have crept up during the past year, with average hourly earnings rising 7 cents to $25.43 in March, according to the Labor Department. There also are promising signs that employers are ready to set aside a few more dollars for entry-level positions. More than a third of employers told CareerBuilder that they plan to offer newly minted grads higher pay than last year’s class, with 27 percent saying they will pay a starting salary of $50,000 or more.

Demand, according to the survey, is highest for students with business and technical degrees, something to which James Madison University senior Jessica Reed can attest. Practically all of the job listings advertised on campus are for business majors, she said.

“I don’t want to be a burden on my parents by living at home, but I’m not financially sound without them,” said Reed, 22, who is studying French and International Affairs and graduates May 6. “I’d really like to be able to provide for myself.”

Reed said she has spent most of the semester looking for full-time work and applied for approximately 30 different jobs. She hasn’t yet landed an interview, but Reed has secured a summer internship at a French academy. It’s not what she wants to do full time, but at least it will keep her working on her French language skills. Reed is studying for the foreign service exam, but was hoping to get some work experience first.

“It’s always tough coming out of school to get your first job because you don’t have too much experience,” Challenger said. “Companies are more careful than other periods of time, they don’t want to over do it, so they keep a tighter control. There are concerns about a global slowdown, but most companies focus not on what might happen two years from now, but more on what their needs are right now, and right now the job market is relatively hot.”


Editorial: Entire region relies on wisdom, strength of ECU leadership | The Daily Reflector

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May 022016

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May 1, 2016

Welcome to Cecil P. Staton, elected Wednesday by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors as the next chancellor of East Carolina University. Staton will assume his new duties July 1, succeeding Steve Ballard, who will return to the faculty.

The university family and alumni, Greenville and eastern North Carolina place their trust in Staton to protect their decades-long investment in the educational and economic development of the entire region.

With billions of dollars tied into ECU’s economic role in the region, and with so much riding on decisions made in the N.C. Legislature that directly affect the Brody School of Medicine’s vital role in preparing doctors for rural health care in partnership with Vidant Health, Staton’s business, political and academic experience can all be assets.

Despite the clear political controversies that will be attached to this selection, Staton deserves — and needs — the opportunity to show he can act independently of political influence and in the best interests of the university and the people it serves.

“Let me be clear, I was elected chancellor of East Carolina University… not to the N.C. General Assembly,” Staton said. His sincerity cannot be fairly questioned before he acts.

In fact, no one can say at this time that Staton’s clear conservative background is not just what ECU needs to deal with the persistent political challenges it faces in Raleigh. It might motivate legislators to listen more closely to eastern concerns from the perspective of one of their own, which Staton clearly is.

In light of the extreme secrecy of the selection process, however, concerns about Staton’s political affiliations are understandable and valid. From this perspective, the board of governors and ECU leadership could only have harmed Staton’s ability to start fresh. They, not he, should be held accountable for that.

Faculty Chairman John Stiller told reporters Wednesday that a confidentiality agreement signed by all search committee members prohibited him from saying, even after the election, why Staton was the best candidate for the job.

No argument about the sensitivity of the process and the realities of today’s competitive environment can supercede ECU’s values of transparency and the public’s right to know. Any candidate not willing to participate in such an open process is unworthy of those values. In that sense, the secret process placed an unfair burden on Staton, who was not allowed the opportunity to demonstrate his belief in those values at the onset.

But the new chancellor soon will have that opportunity. There are now, and sure to be ahead, issues that connect directly to university and community values, including but not limited to openness. Chancellor-Elect Staton will be provided ample opportunity to show his mettle and the selection committee’s wisdom in choosing him.


ECU dental clinic opens in Brunswick County | WECT

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May 022016


Friday, April 29th 2016
WECT Staff


East Carolina University held a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday for a new dental learning center in Brunswick County.

ECU School of Dental Medicine community learning centers are facilities that combine clinical education and patient care. It’s open to serve area residents and provide students with hands-on training.

Fourth-year dental students work at the center under ECU dental faculty members to spend clinical rotations to hone their skills.

The clinic is open to all members of the community and offers comprehensive general dentist services for adults, children and special needs patients. Dental insurance, including Medicaid, is accepted.

The 7,700 square foot facility is located near Novant Hospital in Bolivia. The center opened to patients in February.

This is the eighth ECU dental center to open in rural or undeserved areas across North Carolina. Centers also deliver care to patients in Ahoskie, Elizabeth City, Davidson County, Lillington, Robeson County, Spruce Pine and Sylva.


Triple the fun: Event celebrates multiple births | The Daily Reflector

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May 022016

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Shannon Keith
May 1, 2016

People passing by the Brody School of Medicine on Saturday might have thought they were seeing triple. Actually, they were.

Six families, each with a set of triplets, gathered at an informal event hosted by ECU Physicians.

The mothers — Jennifer Pigg, who had two fraternal boys and one girl on Aug. 25, 2014; Amanda Smathers, who had three identical boys on April 25, 2015; Lauren Faul, who had three fraternal boys on Oct. 8; Tracy Rouse, who had two fraternal girls and one boy on Nov. 3; Heather Purvis, who had two identical boys and one fraternal boy on April 13, 2015; and Elizabeth Ross, who had three identical girls on Nov. 19 — were all patients of ECU Physicians’ high-risk obstetrics clinic.

All were under the care of Dr. Christy Isler, an East Carolina University maternal-fetal medicine specialist.

“We are so fortunate,” Isler said. “These are high-risk pregnancies, and we have six sets of triplets here, and they are all healthy. That’s amazing … It’s really amazing.”

Isler said statistically, only one to two births in 1,000 result in triplets. About 90 percent of the children are born premature and often suffer complications due to low birth weight. The Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Brody School of Medicine sees patients from 29 counties in eastern North Carolina.

Isler, who has been with ECU Physicians for 15 years, said she could not guess how many twins and triplets she helped bring into the world.

“I couldn’t begin to calculate that number,” she said. “Pretty much at any time, we are taking care of multiples.”

Isler’s experience with multiples began long before medical school, she said.

“I’m a fraternal twin myself,” she said. “I have a twin brother, and we’ve stayed very close over the years.”

Lauren Faul’s husband, Adam, also is a twin.

“I don’t know if that had anything to do with it, but I’m blaming him,” she said, laughing.

The couple also have a 4-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter. Lauren said having previous parenting experience came in handy when Harrison, Sutton and Rowan were born.

“We have their sleep and feeding schedules pretty much in sync,” she said. “We learned the importance of setting a routine with our first two children, so we felt a little more prepared with these guys.”

However, Lauren said buying formula, clothes, toys and accessories for three small children can be difficult.

“People always say, ’You got three for the price of one,’” she said. ”I tell them, ’No, we got three for the price of three.’”

Koki and Heather Purvis had a hard time getting their triplets — Kameron, Karter and Kaleb — on the same schedule because they came home from the hospital on different dates.

“The first six months, my wife didn’t get any sleep,” Koki Purvis said. ”They were on different schedules. As soon as one would get to sleep, another would wake up. It took some time, but they pretty much stay on the same schedule now.”

Purvis said having triplets is exciting, but challenging.

“The most amazing thing is that we have three different personalities at the same age,” he said. ”They all bring something different to the table … and that’s a lot of fun to watch.

“However, sometimes it’s a three-to-four hour process to leave the house,” he said.

The couple also have 7-year-old and 4-year-old daughters, which makes Christmas a big event.

“Did someone say Christmas?” Heather Purvis said, laughing. ”Don’t say that word around here.”


Local moms of triplets meet at Vidant Medical Center Saturday | WNCT

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May 022016


Ali Weatherton
April 30, 2016

To view news video on WNCT, click here.

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Five mothers who recently gave birth to triplets got to meet and talk about their children Saturday. All of the moms were patients of ECU Physicians’ high-risk obstetrics clinic.

Lauren Faul said she never expected to have three more kids after already having two, but said it’s great to have other moms who know what she’s going through.

Faul said, “From the morning sickness all the way to the sleepless nights and the babies that grab your hair constantly. It’s great really great to have people that walk in your shoes.”

She said she keeps in touch with most of the parents through Facebook, adding the she’ll continue having a relationship with them as their kids get older.


Campaign stop focuses on student debt | The Daily Reflector

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May 022016

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Holly West
April 30, 2016

When Chris Hardee first attended East Carolina University, he got by on a summer job and a little help from his parents.

When he returned to complete his schooling 20 years later, things had changed. He said when he graduates with a bachelor’s degree in political science on Friday, he’ll leave campus with thousands of dollars in student loan debt.

Hardee was among several people who shared how student debt has affected them with U.S. Senate hopeful Deborah Ross and state House of Representatives candidate Brian Farkas during a roundtable hosted by ECU College Democrats.

It was part of a statewide tour Ross said was meant to hear students out about the impacts of increasing tuition and fees at public colleges and universities.

“As I’ve been going around the state and talking to people about what they care about, economic security comes first, and for your generation, student loan debt and college affordability are at the top of the list,” Ross told about a dozen students and faculty who met with her in the Brewster Building.

Hardee, who is now married with three children, said when he originally enrolled at ECU, it was assumed that getting a bachelor’s degree would get a person a good job. That’s not the case today, he said.

“That bachelor’s degree doesn’t hold the same weight it did before,” he said. “So the option for me is grad school, and the debt load that I will carry with that is a vicious cycle. I’ve got to take out a loan, to get a degree, to go to work, to pay back my loan. Something just isn’t right about that.”

It’s not just students who feel the increasing burden of higher education costs. There is often a gap between how much grant, scholarship or loan money students receive and the actual cost of attendance.

Junior Rayvon Walker, a political science and history double major, said his mother, like many other parents, has had to take out loans to fill that gap.

“She has to take out the parent plus loan,” he said. “I’ve got four other siblings, so when they go to school she’s going to have to take out even more loans.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid office, a student who is a dependent can take out no more than $27,000 in loans during the course of a four-year degree, with lower thresholds placed on the first and second years. Independent students can take out up to $45,000 during the course of a four-year degree.

For the spring 2016 semester at ECU, tuition and fees for a full-time, in-state undergraduate student costs $3,290. For a full-time, out-of-state undergraduate student, it’s $11,077. Those numbers don’t include housing, meals, textbooks or any other costs students might incur.

Walker transferred to ECU from Campbell University, a private school, which he said has allowed him to get more financial aid. Still, he worries about the future.

“It’s cheaper but the loans are still racking up,” he said. “This is an issue I think needs to be solved so when I graduate, it won’t crush me, paying all this debt.”

Many at the meeting said it’s the interest rates that bog students down more than anything. One recent graduate said she and her parents paid $30,000 just in interest on student loans in the past year.

Farkas, who is running for the District 9 seat to represent Pitt County in the state House, said legislators need to step in to help fix what he called a ”student loan debt crisis.”

“It’s absolutely wrong, some of the debt we’re seeing students leave college with,” he said. “The rates shouldn’t be so high and cost them so much more to pay them back over time. Our elected leaders in Raleigh and in Washington can do something about this, but the truth be told, Republicans who are currently running the show, including in the U.S. Senate, have showed a tendency to put student needs last, and that’s gotta stop.”

Hardee said he hopes things change before it’s time for his children to attend college. He and his wife had twins last August and set up their 529 college savings plans immediately.

“I don’t want them to have the debt load I see other young people having,” he said. “Even then, even though we’re starting at day one, the kids weren’t out of the hospital when we were doing our paperwork, I don’t know that it’s going to be enough if we continue on the same scale of cost of tuition and these other things.”


Why Harvard ‘encourages’ students to take a gap year. Just like Malia Obama is doing | The Washington Post

 News clippings compiled by ECU News Services  Comments Off on Why Harvard ‘encourages’ students to take a gap year. Just like Malia Obama is doing | The Washington Post
May 022016

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By Valerie Strauss
May 1, 2016

Now that Malia Obama is planning to take a gap year after high school and before starting college at Harvard University in 2017, some questions arise: What exactly do students do while on a gap year? What do colleges think of them?

The answers are: There are myriad options for students who have the resources to take a gap year — though they do not have to be expensive. And some colleges actually encourage admitted students to take a gap year — including Harvard.

What exactly is a gap year? Laura R. Hosid, an expert on gap years at the Vinik Educational Placement Services in Bethesda, told me in an interview some time ago that a “gap year typically describes a year off between high school and college.” They have long been popular in Britain and other countries, she said, but have been gaining popularity in this country, too, in recent years. They offer students with means “an opportunity to travel, explore different interests, and gain experience and maturity before beginning college.”

There are no solid statistics on how many students take gap years in the United States, according to the American Gap Association, but anecdotal evidence shows that students benefit significantly from taking time off. A study by the dean of admissions at Middlebury College found that the average GPA for Middlebury students who had taken a gap year was consistently higher than those who had not.

In 2012, Harvard’s website noted that 50 to 70 students take gap years before entering as freshman. The website today says:

Harvard College encourages admitted students to defer enrollment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way — provided they do not enroll in a degree-granting program at another college. Deferrals for two-year obligatory military service are also granted. Each year, between 80 and 110 students defer their matriculation to the College.

Also on the website is an article titled, “Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation,” describes how pressured K-12 schooling has become, noting that ” training for college scholarships — or professional contracts — begins early, even in grammar school.” It says:

Faced with the fast pace of growing up today, some students are clearly distressed, engaging in binge drinking and other self-destructive behaviors. Counseling services of secondary schools and colleges have expanded in response to greatly increased demand. It is common to encounter even the most successful students, who have won all the “prizes,” stepping back and wondering if it was all worth it. Professionals in their thirties and forties – physicians, lawyers, academics, business people and others – sometimes give the impression that they are dazed survivors of some bewildering life-long boot-camp. Some say they ended up in their profession because of someone else’s expectations, or that they simply drifted into it without pausing to think whether they really loved their work. Often they say they missed their youth entirely, never living in the present, always pursuing some ill-defined future goal.

Some early remedies

What can we do to help? Fortunately this young fast-track generation itself offers ideas that can reduce stress and prevent burnout. In college application essays and interviews, in conversations and counseling sessions with current college students, and in discussions with alumni/ae, many current students perceive the value of taking time out. Such a “time out” can take many forms. It can be very brief or last for a year or more. It can be structured or unstructured, and directed toward career, academic or purely personal pursuits. Most fundamentally, it is a time to step back and reflect, to gain perspective on personal values and goals, or to gain needed life experience in a setting separate from and independent of one’s accustomed pressures and expectations.

Other schools encourage gap years, as well. For example, Princeton University offers the Bridge Year Program, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has Global Gap Year Fellowship Program.

President Obama and his daughter Malia leave Air Force One upon their arrival at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago in April. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Students who wish to take a gap year are supposed to apply to college and, once accepted, present a plan to the university for why they want to defer. Many colleges will be happy to comply.

For those students who don’t apply to college, hoping that activities undertaken during a gap year will enhance their admissions profile, Hosid said a gap year can’t “compensate for deficiencies in your high school record.”

She also said in the earlier interview:

Q) What kinds of things do students do on their gap years?

Many students choose to spend their gap year in structured programs volunteering abroad or in the United States. There are also many opportunities to explore interests in the environment, arts, and other cultures. Taking courses to improve academic skills is another option. Within these broad categories, there are a myriad of options, ranging from studying at the International Culinary Center in New York, to performing musical stage performances in multiple countries while living with host families with Up With People, to building trails in state parks with the Student Conservation Association.

One thing to keep in mind is that gap years need not be expensive or involve international travel. City Year, part of AmeriCorps, provides a stipend and scholarship for 10 months of service in inner-city schools. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms offers meals and housing in exchange for farming work.

A gap year also does not need to be one full-year program. Students often piece together different options to explore a range of interests or can work for a few months to fund a shorter opportunity. Short-term options can range from three weeks at a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa with BroadReach to a month studying French at Concordia Language Villages in Minnesota.

Q) How do families get help planning one?

There are several good books available, including “The Complete Guide to the Gap Year” by Kristin M. White and “The Gap-Year Advantage” by Karl Haigler and Rae Nelson. Websites such as Teen Life offer listings of gap-year programs by type — many private high schools and colleges also have lists available online. In addition, USA Gap Year Fairs offer over 30 different fairs throughout the country. Finally, there are a small number of educational consultants who focus on gap-year advising and can help students figure out what they want to do and help identify specific programs that would be a good match.


Montgomery makes a good early impression at ECU | The News & Observer

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Apr 292016

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By Joe Giglio
April 28, 2016


New East Carolina football coach Scottie Montgomery was in his element on Thursday night.

Joined by more than 200 ECU fans in City Market in downtown Raleigh at the Pirate Club Armada, Montgomery pressed the flesh and roused the rabble.

There’s little else to do in college football’s version of campaign season, the months between the end of spring practice and start of the actual season.

Montgomery, a former NFL receiver and Duke assistant, wore a dark suit and bright smile on Thursday. His first game as a head coach is still 18 weeks away but he was hitting the right notes.

“This is the premier football culture in the state and I’m so happy to be here,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery was asked the difference between ECU fans, where football is a priority, and the following for Duke football, where he played before working as an assistant for seven years.

Montgomery, who’ll turn 38 next month, quickly pivoted around the potential landmine.

“I’m not answering trap questions,” he joked. “It’s a different type of passion.”

And it’s different challenge for Montgomery, who was Duke’s offensive coordinator the past two years and had previously worked as a position coach in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He has already handled the first challenge, soothing over any lingering angst over the ouster of former heach coach Ruffin McNeill. McNeill, former ECU player, is a respected coach nationally among his peers and shortly after his dismissal in December landed an assistant job at Virginia.

ECU athletic director Jeff Compher understands there was an element of surprise, even a shock as Compher put it, to the coaching change after McNeill went 42-34 in six seasons but 5-7 in 2015. But those feelings have dissipated once the fans have met Montgomery.

“I think they’ve seen the future for our program is very bright under his leadership,” Compher said.

Compher said the staff Montgomery hired and his first recruiting class were good first steps for a first-time coach. Compher’s also thinks the $55 million project to upgrade of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium will be an integral tool in the program’s progress.

“I was very confident he would be the right hire and he’s exceeded all of my expectations thus far,” Compher said.

Everything since he was hired on Dec. 14 has been “a first” for Montgomery. The first recruiting class, the first spring practice, the first spring game and now the first summer.

Montgomery said he loves this part of the job, interacting with fans and building support for the program.

“We have so much energy right now, so much excitement,” he said.

Even the decision this weeky by quarterback Kurt Benkert to graduate and transfer didn’t really seem to phase Montgomery. Benkert was penciled in to be the starter last year before a knee injury cost him the entire season. He had been competing with Minnesota transfer Philip Nelson for the starting job in spring practice before his decision to play his final season of college football elsewhere.

“It was suprising but we’re going to spend most of our time concentrating on Pirates who want to be in Greenville,” Montgomery said.

There were plenty of Pirates in Raleigh on Thursday stoked for the future and what Montgomery can do with the proud program.