Chancellor’s Roadshow visits the Queen City

The East Carolina University Chancellor Roadshow pulled into Charlotte Oct. 18 to visit alumni and university supporters. About 50 people came out to the Duke Energy Center to meet Dr. Cecil Staton and hear firsthand his vision for ECU’s future.


“I loved the opportunity to be able to hear what he had to say, his new vision for the university, the boldness of his statements – which I think pirate pride can match,” said ECU alumna Michaelina Antahades.

“We need for every pirate to make an investment in this institution. It’s only when we can come together and do this as a team that we’re going to be able to make sure East Carolina University can be all that I believe it can be in the days ahead,” Staton said.


Chancellor Staton shares his vision of ECU with those gathered for his roadshow.

During his remarks, the chancellor noted that he believes East Carolina is on the cusp of becoming America’s next great university. His plans include increasing the university’s national profile, increasing research, expanding international studies and preparing for a comprehensive campaign.

“The chancellor talks about increasing research, and we have philanthropic partnerships with corporations that help further research,” said Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Chris Dyba. “Duke Energy is a great example of that. They’ve given hundreds of thousands of dollars to our engineering program and other programs at ECU to advance our research and do collective work for the citizens of North Carolina.”

Linda Thomas, Chancellor Staton, Wanda Montano, Jon DeFriese, and David Fisher

Linda Thomas, Chancellor Staton, Wanda Montano, Jon DeFriese, and David Fisher

The view from the 46th floor of the Duke Energy Center where the Chancellor’s Roadshow was held.

The view from the 46th floor of the Duke Energy Center where the event was held.

A big focus of the night was the importance of corporate support for the university. While corporate funding can help the university increase its national footprint in research and scholarships, it also helps students prepare for the future through internships and job placement.

“Anytime you talk about a true partnership, it goes beyond the financial commitment,” said ECU alumnus Mike Hughes who is also the vice president of community relations for Duke Energy in North Carolina. “You’ve got to develop opportunities for young people to get integrated into your workforce. I think we can find things that we need at Duke Energy and that East Carolina can absolutely deliver on and provide those kind of opportunities for students.”

These roadshows also give alumni and supporters a unique opportunity to speak with the Chancellor in one-on-one conversations.

“I definitely want to hear his ideas about these challenging times, but exciting times, and celebrating diversity and where we go from here,” said Steven Carmichael, a 2000 ECU graduate and co-founder of the Black Student Union at ECU.

Ronald Ellis, Chancellor Staton, and Roni Ellis

Ronald Ellis, Chancellor Staton, and Roni Ellis

Staton began his roadshow in August at the Murphy Center on ECU’s campus and plans to visit nearly a dozen locations in North Carolina and along the East Coast. The chancellor’s next roadshow event is planned for New York City in early December. For more information, contact ECU Advancement at 252-328-9550 or visit

–Rich Klindworth

Chancellor Staton takes a selfie with a guest.

Chancellor Staton takes a selfie with a guest.

ECU department chair honored as outstanding educator

Dr. Sharon Ballard, associate professor and chair of East Carolina University’s Department of Human Development and Family Science in the College of Health and Human Performance has been recognized nationally for her work in family life education.

Sharon Ballard


Ballard is the 2016 Margaret E. Arcus Outstanding Family Life Educator Award recipient. The award recognizes her significant contributions to the field of family life education through research, theory, publication, practice, program development and training.

“We congratulate Sharon on this prestigious award and are grateful for her leadership in this field,” said Dr. Glen Gilbert, dean of the College of Health and Human Performance.

Ballard has helped shaped family life education for decades joining the ECU faculty in 2000. She served as interim chair for the department before being named chair in 2013 and has taught courses at The University of Tennessee – Knoxville and Western Carolina University. She also taught family and consumer sciences in the public schools for six years.  Ballard has been a certified family life educator since 1998.

Ballard’s research interests include family life education programming, parent education, and sexuality education.  She has published more than 40 journal articles and book chapters, including her co-edited book Family Life Education with Diverse Populations.

In 2012, she received the Certified Family Life Education Service Award and is the past chair of the Certified Family Life Educator Advisory Committee with the National Council on Family Relations.

“As a family life educator, I am passionate about programming that strengthens and empowers families and I am thrilled to be recognized for my work,” said Sharon Ballard, associate professor and department chair. “In particular, to be the recipient for an award that bears the name of Margaret Arcus, who has long been a leader in family life education, is humbling and a great honor.”

She earned a bachelor’s degree in home economics education from the University of Maine.  She received both a master’s degree and doctorate in child and family studies from The University of Tennessee – Knoxville. Ballard is a Certified Family Life Educator, a trained provider of the Triple P Parenting Program and a licensed K-12 family and consumer sciences teacher.

Ballard will be honored for her achievements at the 2016 NCFR annual conference Nov. 2-5 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

–Kathy Muse

“All Hands on Deck” in Response to Hurricane Matthew

As the ECU family continues to come together in communities across the region in the wake of Hurricane Matthew and the resulting floods, many of you have been asking how you can help.

Matthew Flooding

The East Carolina Alumni Association has partnered with the ECU Students’ Treasure Chest and the American Red Cross to provide information on how you can volunteer, give, or donate toward their efforts to help thousands of people affected by the recent storms in our area. Whether you live in eastern North Carolina or on the other side of the country, you can do your part to pitch in and help our neighbors and fellow Pirates.

“Hurricane Matthew has devastated our communities and recovery will be a group effort. Volunteers, partner organizations, and state and local officials will work together day and night until every need is met,” said Barry Porter, regional chief executive officer of the Red Cross in Eastern NC. “And while the storm has passed, we’re not out of the woods yet. We expect most of the rivers to crest mid-week and cause additional flooding. Red Cross will be on the ground for weeks to come.”

Here is how you can help, Pirate Nation!

  • Volunteer.
    Red Cross is also seeking nurses and disaster mental health volunteers to assist in shelters. Volunteering is easy. To sign up to assist, visit and click on “volunteer” to start your application.
  • Give.
    In parts of the country unaffected by the storm, the Red Cross needs eligible individuals to please give blood or platelets now to help ensure we have a readily available blood supply for patients in need. Even before the threat of Hurricane Matthew, there was an urgent need for donors of all blood types, especially type O. Appointments can be made by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.
  • Donate to help support ECU students in need.
    The Students’ Treasure Chest at ECU helps support students who may be facing difficulties, including those caused by Hurricane Matthew. You can give online at – selecting our “Students’ Treasure Chest Assistance Fund” or email to get in touch with someone who can take your gift over the phone.
  • Donate to the Red Cross.
    The Red Cross depends on donations to provide immediate relief. You can donate by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or texting the word MATTHEW to 90999 to make a $10 donation.


Do you need shelter? Download the Red Cross Emergency App on your smartphone, or call 1-800-768-8048 to find a shelter near you.

Matthew Flooding

Gantt named Journal of Emergency Nursing Reviewer of the Year

Dr. Laura Gantt, associate dean for nursing support services in the East Carolina University College of Nursing, has been awarded the Journal of Emergency Nursing Reviewer of the Year Award. The first-ever award recognizes Gantt for more than ten years of service that has included work both as a manuscript reviewer and a member of the journal’s editorial board.

Journal of Emergency Nursing is the peer-reviewed publication of the Emergency Nurses Association, which has more than 40,000 members representing over 35 countries. Gantt’s selection was the result of a multi-stage process, the journal’s editorial board said, and was based on the quality and quantity of her manuscript reviews.



“The editorial board appreciates Laura’s willingness to participate in the review process, her timeliness in completing reviews, and the expertise consistently demonstrated in her thorough, insightful and helpful feedback to authors and editors,” the group stated when presenting the award at an Emergency Nurses Association awards gala on Sept. 17 in Los Angeles.

Gantt’s own referred articles include three papers in Journal of Emergency Nursing on emergency department administrative issues and in publications such as Clinical Simulation in Nursing Education and Journal of Nursing Education.

Also an associate professor of nursing at ECU, Gantt joined the College of Nursing in 2006 to run its simulation and skills labs. She has helped shape the College of Nursing’s simulation labs — in which students practice real-world scenarios using manikins and other lifelike technology — into a cornerstone of the ECU nursing education. In 2015, she published the book “Healthcare Simulation: A Guide for Operations Specialists.” As associate dean, she oversees the simulation labs, instructional technology, student services, and student development and counseling.

Gantt has been a member of the Emergency Nurses Association since 1995. Her extensive experience with emergency nursing has included work as flight nurse and an administrator overseeing emergency and transport services. She continues to practice nursing in the Vidant Health Minor Emergency Department.

–Elizabeth Willy 

Alumna celebrates 104th birthday

Lillie Hammond ’36 has seen 18 U.S. presidents in her lifetime, and all 14 leaders of her alma mater, East Carolina University.

Lillie recently celebrated her 104th birthday at Cypress Glen Retirement Community, where she is now the oldest resident ever to have lived, according to staff. She is not the oldest living alumnus of East Carolina, but she is one of the top five.

She was born Lillie Dare Brown on September 13, 1912, just outside Bethel. She celebrated with friends and family on September 18 at Cypress Glen.

Lillie Hammond

Lillie Hammond

Lillie’s fellow resident and “care buddy” Doris Reed interviewed her for the occasion and shared her story with the East Carolina Alumni Association.

After graduating from East Carolina Teachers College in 1936, Lillie began teaching school in Bethel. She married Carey Edward Hammond in 1939. He fought in Normandy in WWII but returned home safely. He worked as a hardware store manager. She took a few years off to raise their two children, a boy and a girl. She went on to teach for a total of 31 years in Bethel and Williamston.

“I don’t know why I was singled out to be 104; I am just an ordinary person,” Lillie told Doris. “I have always believed that life is a journey, and I am content to follow this journey as long as the Lord plans.”

Lillie moved to Cypress Glen in 2006 shortly after her eyesight began to fail due to glaucoma. She lost her sight completely in 2011, but remains alert and active.

She said, “I have always tried never to complain and just deal with whatever life sends me, so I searched for retirement communities and found Cypress Glen. I wanted to enter in time to memorize my apartment and thus stay independent.”

“She just has such a positive outlook on life,” said her daughter-in-law Jana Hammond ’84. “Her new goal is to make it into the Guinness Book of World records. Even at this age, it’s like starting over new. It’s so fun to see this new spark in her.”

Lillie Hammond

Lillie has fond memories of her life in Bethel. She recalls a bustling downtown, and gas being 15-25 cents a gallon. Her teaching salary was $100 a month. While she was not active in politics, she was active in her community, including Bethel Methodist Church and Bethel Book Club. As a young teacher, she was friends with a fellow teacher, Edith Warren, who went on to enter the NC Legislature. The two are friends to this day. Lillie has six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

“We’re an ECU family,” said Jana, who got a teaching degree from ECU like Lillie. “My husband Edward didn’t go to ECU but he is a big Pirate football fan.”

Two of Lillie’s grandchildren are current students at ECU.

“I knew ECU was a great school because not only did my grandma (I call her Memaw) go there, but so did my mom and two of my older siblings,” said Jana’s daughter Jackie Hammond, a senior communication major.

“My grandmother Lillie is a very strong, kindhearted lady, and even in her old age is not afraid to speak her mind,” says Jackie’s younger brother Jordan Hammond, who is a freshman. “Having lived so long, she has been through a lot and therefore has a lot of wisdom. It’s crazy to think how long ago 1936 was and all that has happened since then. From her stories it’s also really interesting to hear how different this university was when she was attending it.”

“It’s an incredible feeling knowing that I have someone so special in my life that has been through so much and seen so much change in her life,” said Jackie. “I love to hear stories from her life, including her time at ECTC. Just to hear about the changes that ECU has undergone from someone who was there back in the 1930s is such a special experience. I feel very blessed to still have my Memaw in my life and I never take for granted the stories she has to tell.”

–Jackie Drake

Update (Monday, Oct. 10): Lillie and Doris are safe at Cypress Glen. They have moved up to the third floor while the first floor is being evacuated due to anticipated flooding from Hurricane Matthew. Family members, friends, and volunteers are assisting. Doris says Lillie is adjusting to her new room pretty well.

College of Nursing celebrates donors, scholarship recipients

Like many East Carolina University College of Nursing graduate students, Tikia Yelverton works full-time in addition to taking courses. So when Yelverton, a nurse at the Vidant Medical Center Ambulatory Surgery Unit, earned a scholarship, it made it that much easier to continue her studies.

“It meant a little bit of the financial burden lifted,” said Yelverton, who is expected to graduate from the doctor of nursing practice program in 2018.

Yelverton was one of 93 students who received $283,350 in scholarship support from the College of Nursing for this academic year. The college honored this year’s awardees — along with the donors who made their scholarships possible — at a Sept. 30 event held at Rock Springs Center. The merit and need-based awards range from $500 to $6,500 and were open to undergraduate and graduate nursing students through a competitive application process.

Speaking at the event, Dean Sylvia Brown highlighted the College of Nursing’s 56-year tradition of excellence in education, research and practice. The college prepares students who pass licensure and certification exams at rates well above the national average. In order to continue this legacy, Brown said, the college must enable students to focus on their educational goals and worry less about financial constraints.

Dean Sylvia Brown, Tikia Yelverton, and Laura Lloyd (contributed photo)

Dean Sylvia Brown, Tikia Yelverton, and Laura Lloyd (contributed photo)

“Your gifts enable many of our students to pursue their dreams of becoming nurses or continuing their education in nursing,” she said.

Many of the scholarships given were created to honor individuals who have or had exceptional dedication to the field of nursing. The event represented a unique opportunity for donors and the students who benefit from their generosity to meet and learn about each other.

Donors like Hal Pierce, who consistently attends the annual ceremony, said it’s a way to stay connected with the college and honor a loved one. He established the Hal and Eldean Pierce Beta Nu Scholarship in memory of his late wife, former ECU faculty member and alumna Eldean Pierce.

“I always enjoy meeting the person that gets it,” he said. “I like knowing what their goals are, what direction they’re going in.”

–Elizabeth Willy

Chancellor’s Roadshow excites ECU supporters

East Carolina University’s reach extends well beyond North Carolina which is why Chancellor Cecil Staton took his roadshow across the state’s northern border. The third round of his meet and greets was in Norfolk, Virginia.

“I think it is fantastic. It makes me feel that he [Staton] understands how important we are as a body of alumni,” said ECU supporter Gail Englert.

“We appreciate you, we appreciate your loyalty to ECU,” Staton said as he addressed the crowd of about 60 people who came out to the Norfolk Yacht and Country Club.

The alumni and supporters heard firsthand Staton’s vision for ECU’s future. That vision includes increasing the university’s national profile, increasing research, expanding international studies and preparing for a comprehensive campaign. However, one of the main points of focus on this trip centered on the power of the Pirate alumni.

Shirley Byrd Slaughter, Chancellor Staton

ECU supporter Shirley Byrd Slaughter speaks with Chancellor Staton at the Norfolk Yacht Club.

“[Staton] being able to reach out and ask for our opinions and suggestions – we all love East Carolina, we all want to make it better – and it means so much to us for him to come up here for this visit,” said Class of 1985 graduate Neal Crawford.

“We want them [alumni] to be involved. Of course financial support is always welcomed but it’s the day in and day out, life-long relationships that are so very important as well,” said ECU Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Chris Dyba.

The Pirate alumni and supporters who came out said they are proud to be ambassadors of the university and will continue to spread the word as to all that ECU has to offer.

“I think it’s an obligation of ours to let people know [about ECU],” Englert said.

Bill Burnette, Joe Covington, Michelle Burnette, Neal Crawford

Bill Burnette, Joe Covington, Michelle Burnette, Neal Crawford

“We’re going to need our alumni to stand up and say ‘yes, we believe in the future of our university and we’re going to support it,’” Staton said. “I know a lot of you have already done that and I want to thank you very, very much for your investment in East Carolina University.”

Staton began his roadshow in August at the Murphy Center in Greenville and plans to visit nearly a dozen locations in North Carolina and along the East Coast. The chancellor’s next roadshow event will be on Oct. 18 in Charlotte. For more information, contact ECU Advancement at 252-328-9550 or visit

–Rich Klindworth

White to step aside as Coastal Studies Institute director

Dr. Nancy White, founding executive director of the University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute, has announced that she will step aside from that role, effective June 30, 2017.

White said that it was her goal to bring CSI to a position of sustainability. With the help of a dedicated board of directors, collaborative partnerships and community support, she said she feels that goal has been accomplished, and that the time is right to bring in a leader with new ideas and energy. 

White will continue to work with CSI as an East Carolina University principal research scholar, reporting to provost Dr. Ron Mitchelson.

Nancy White (photo by Cliff Hollis)

Nancy White (photo by Cliff Hollis)

“I have always emphasized finding and hiring really good people and then doing my best to empower their ability to work,” White said. “People are the core strength of any organization, and we have some of the best people I have ever worked with here. … The people who came to start CSI are pioneers and have given all they have to make CSI what it is and where it is today. I am proud of having had the privilege of working with them.” 

ECU is the administrative campus for CSI, which was founded in 2003 and includes member institutions Elizabeth City State University, N.C. State University, UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC-Wilmington, as well as ECU. The CSI campus is located on Roanoke Island in Wanchese.

“Nancy White was the founding executive director of the UNC Coastal Studies Institute in 2003, and she has been a champion for coastal science and issues since that time,” Mitchelson said. “She has brought tremendous passion and expertise to that role, and her devotion to the region has yielded significant place-based research and educational opportunities.”

Mike Kelly, member and former chair of the CSI Board of Directors, said White played an invaluable role in transforming the vision for CSI into a reality and juggling a wide range of responsibilities along the way.

“We’re somewhat regretful that she’s leaving, but we’re glad that she’ll be here to pass on her knowledge so that the next person can build on the foundation she has laid down,” he said. 

A search committee will be appointed to interview and assess applicants for White’s successor as executive director, who will assume those duties on July 1, 2017.

CSI Foundation chair Bill Massey said White has been an outstanding advocate for CSI and its role in the community, focusing on science while balancing environmental and economic interests. 

“Her role has been not to divide and put stakes in the ground, but to help create a greater understanding of how the science we undertake can help to inform public policy,” he said. 

“ECU has embraced the multi-campus construct and has empowered it in ways that hadn’t been possible until it took on the leadership role,” said White. “Going forward, because of ECU’s leadership, CSI’s coastal programs and research will have impact potential of national merit. I can’t wait to see how it grows.”

–Jules Norwood

ECU physician honored by N.C. Pediatric Society 

An East Carolina University physician has been honored with the highest award in the state for an academic pediatrician.

The North Carolina Pediatric Society (NCPeds) recently presented the Denny, Katz, Simon, Tingelstad Academic Service Award to Dr. Charles Willson, a clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, for his outstanding efforts to improve the health and wellness of children in North Carolina.

Dr. Charles Willson, professor of pediatrics

Dr. Charles Willson, professor of pediatrics

Willson, who serves as vice chair for Brody’s pediatrics department, is a past president of the North Carolina Pediatric Society and the North Carolina Medical Society. He is also a fellow in the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Willson earned his medical degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine and completed a pediatric residency at North Carolina Memorial Hospital (now UNC Hospitals) in Chapel Hill. He worked in private practice 19 years before joining the Brody faculty 17 years ago.

“It’s wonderful to have Brody be recognized in this way,” Willson said. “Because I knew all four of these gentlemen [Drs. Denny, Katz, Simon and Tingelstad], it means so much to win an award in their names.” Denny, Katz, Simon and Tingelstad are all former chairmen of medical school pediatric departments across North Carolina.

“This well-deserved award for pediatric excellence recognizes the great leadership, spirit and commitment that Dr. Willson brings to his work daily,” said Dr. Nicholas Benson, vice dean for Brody and medical director for Brody’s faculty practice, ECU Physicians.

Founded in 1931, NCPeds is the state affiliate chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics with nearly 2,000 pediatrician and pediatric health professional members. Its mission is to empower pediatricians and its partners to foster the physical, social, and emotional wellbeing of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

–Amy Ellis

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