Fulbright Scholar fulfills dream of studying abroad

Fulbright Scholar Farisal Bagsit had dreamed of studying abroad for years but turned down opportunities in the past due to personal obligations. When she was selected as a Fulbright Scholar in 2016, Bagsit knew she had to take the opportunity to leave her native Philippines to travel to the United States.

“It’s a bit far, but I was told if you really want rigid training you go to the U.S.,” said Bagsit.

Bagsit came to East Carolina University’s coastal resource management program to pursue her Ph.D. in social science and coastal policy through the Fulbright Scholar Program awarded through the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. According to the Fulbright website, it is the U.S.’s flagship international educational exchange program that sponsors student exchanges in approximately 160 countries worldwide. Students are chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential.

Before coming to the U.S., Bagsit worked for seven years as a researcher at the University of the Philippines Visayas, where she received her undergraduate degree in marine fisheries and master’s degree in marine affairs. After completing her studies at ECU, she she hopes to return to the to the same university as a faculty member.

Fulbright Scholar Farisal Bagsit (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Fulbright Scholar Farisal Bagsit (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Bagsit’s research centers around small-scale fisheries. She is also interested in studying the ripple effect of fishery closures in her home country.

Dr. David Griffith, interim director for the Institute for Coastal Science and Policy, is Bagsit’s adviser. He said she is very motivated and has already fleshed out her doctoral dissertation. The topic of choice involves the social and economic impacts of closures in the Filipino sardine fishery.

“By the end of her first year she had a full proposal drafted with the flexibility to respond to political developments in the Philippines,” said Griffith.

Bagsit said the fishery closures began in 2011 but the effects are just now being realized in parts of her country.

“I want to see how the closures effect people’s livelihoods and economics in the community,” said Bagsit.

Her first year in the program has been demanding and Bagsit admits she didn’t have much time to explore Greenville. After completing the first summer session of classes, she took a trip to the beach and returned home for a few weeks to visit her husband and three children before returning to complete her second year. She hopes to attend her first ECU football game this fall.

“This is a good opportunity to experience American culture,” said Bagsit.

For more information about study abroad opportunities at ECU visit www.ecu.edu/cs-acad/intlaffairs. Details regarding the Fulbright Scholar Program can be found at www.cies.org/



-by Jamie Smith

ECU to host international media and gender conference

East Carolina University will host the 2017 Console-ing Passions: International Conference on Television, Video, Audio, New Media and Feminism July 27-29. Registration will be held in the Bate Building at 8 a.m. each day.

Console-ing Passions was founded in 1989 by a group of feminist media scholars and artists looking to create a space to present work and foster scholarship on issues of television, culture and identity with an emphasis on gender and sexuality. Console-ing Passions is comprised of a board of scholars whose interests converge around the study of media. The first CP conference was held at the University of Iowa in 1992.

The conference promotes the discussion and awareness of issues of gender identity and expressions, among other topics. More than 200 people — undergraduate students, graduate students, professors, independent scholars and artists — will be presenting scholarly and creative work at the conference.

In support of its mission to rally the community towards a more productive dialogue about gender identity and representation, civil rights and public policy, the conference will feature two lunchtime roundtables devoted to discussing LGBT-related legislation in North Carolina. The conference will also host a fundraiser for ECU’s LGBT Resource Office on Friday, July 28 at Crave Restaurant, with music by Greenville’s Nuclear Twins. Funds raised will support student scholarships.

The conference’s opening session will take place at 6 p.m. July 27 in the Faulkner Gallery in Joyner Library.

Console-ing Passions is celebrating 25 years of international feminist media studies scholarship, and the CP@ECU plenary will be a celebration of the conference’s origins and founders. Two of the conference’s original founders — Mary Beth Haralovich of the University of Arizona and Lauren Rabinovitz or the University of Iowa — will reflect on Console-ing Passions’ origins, history and future. Board member Brenda Weber of Indiana University will also speak about how the organization has grown and changed over time and about the future of feminist media studies.

The conference keynote will begin at 6 p.m. in Fletcher Hall on July 29. Keynote speaker Michelle Lanier is the director of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission and senior program director of Traditions & Heritage at the N.C. Arts Council. After a welcome by ECU Provost Ron Michelson, Lanier will deliver her talk, “Pine Straw, Tobacco Fund & the Secret/Sacred ‘Beading Bees’: Making Place and Meaning on these Afro-Carolina Landscapes.”

For more information, please visit http://www.console-ingpassions.org.

Contact: Dr. Amanda Klein, ECU Department of English, kleina@ecu.edu

Task Force Dagger and ECU team up to explore underwater WWII sites

Task Force Dagger, a nonprofit organization that supports all U.S. Special Operations Command service members and their families, is joining forces with the East Carolina University Department of History’s maritime studies program to explore and research WWII underwater archaeological sites in the western Pacific.

The maritime studies program has several faculty and staff that work on military-related and WWII archaeological sites all over the world.

Dr. Jennifer McKinnon investigates a Kawanishi H8K Japanese seaplane. (Photo by Jon Carpenter)

Dr. Jennifer McKinnon investigates a Kawanishi H8K Japanese seaplane. (Photo by Jon Carpenter)

Associate professor Dr. Jennifer McKinnon has been working on military sites in the Pacific for nearly 10 years. In partnership with Ships of Exploration and Discovery and the local community of Saipan, McKinnon developed the WWII Maritime Heritage Trail: Battle of Saipan in 2009. The heritage trail consists of nine underwater U.S. and Japanese sites in Saipan’s crystal-clear, tropical lagoons. The sites include amphibious vehicles such as landing vehicles and tanks, aircraft, and shipwrecks, all lost in the 1944 Battle of Saipan.

McKinnon said that the partnership with Task Force Dagger is a boon for continuing to research these sites. “Active military and veterans have an incredible firsthand knowledge of warfare, tactics and military material,” she said. “Their knowledge and experience has the potential to contribute so much to the research we are conducting in the Pacific. It really is a reciprocal relationship.”

Charles “Keith” David, managing director of Task Force Dagger and retired U.S. Army Special Forces, said the organization is looking forward to solidifying the collaboration through a memorandum of agreement and seeking grant funding for the project.

The Task Force Dagger Foundation will join McKinnon and the maritime studies program next summer in a special recreational therapy adaptive event that trains special operations command service members in scuba diving and underwater archaeology. The team will then travel to Saipan to continue locating and recording WWII underwater archaeological sites.

For more information about Task Force Dagger visit https://www.taskforcedagger.org/. For more information about the WWII Maritime Heritage Trail visit http://www.pacificmaritimeheritagetrail.com/.


Contact: Dr. Jennifer McKinnon, mckinnonje@ecu.edu, 252-328-6788

ECU dean elected American Board of Family Medicine board chair

A dean of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University has been elected chair of the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) Board of Directors.

Dr. Elizabeth Baxley, senior associate dean for academic affairs and professor of family medicine at the Brody School of Medicine, will lead the second-largest medical specialty board in the country for a one-year term.

The ABFM works to improve the health of the public by certifying family physicians; setting training standards; funding, conducting and publishing research; and collaborating with other specialty boards and organizations.

Dr. Elizabeth Baxley (contributed photo)

Dr. Elizabeth Baxley (contributed photo)

As chair, Baxley said she plans to emphasize the ABFM’s ongoing improvements in the process of continuous certification and work to optimize communication about these processes with family physicians and the public.

“Our challenge is to continue to evolve and innovate in a way that assures the public of the quality and competence that accompanies board certification, while at the same time reducing burden on front-line family physicians,” she said. “I love this work. It reminds me that at every level, medical education has a public trust to uphold. We need to take that commitment to our students, our residents and the patients they will serve very seriously.”

As senior associate dean for academic affairs at Brody, Baxley has oversight of critical areas of the school of medicine, including admissions, student affairs and academic support, medical student curriculum and evaluation, simulation programs, development of faculty, and diversity and inclusion efforts. Shortly after joining ECU in 2012, Baxley led efforts that resulted in a $1 million American Medical Association grant for the school to help accelerate change in medical education by incorporating training in patient safety, quality improvement, interprofessional care and population health into the medical student curriculum.

Prior to joining ECU, Baxley spent 18 years as a faculty member at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, where she served as chair of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. Additionally, she was a faculty member at AnMed Family Residency for five years after her training and subsequently was an associate professor of family medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine. She received her Doctor of Medicine from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, completed a family medicine residency at AnMed Family Medicine in Anderson, South Carolina, and a faculty development fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. Baxley earned her bachelor’s at Clemson University.


-by Angela Todd, University Communications

Alumni Association announces new board members

The East Carolina University Alumni Association announced the addition of six new members to its 28-member board of directors.

Karla Jones ’00, ’02 of Charlotte is an adjunct professor at Queens University and an instructor in health and human services at Central Piedmont Community College; Ron Hinton ’14 of Raleigh is an internal sourcing acquisition specialist talent acquisition at TEKsystems; Melissa Adamson ’02 of Greenville is the communications director for United Way of Pitt County and Dr. Shannon Holcomb ’07, ’11, ’15 of Greenville is an associate dentist at Smiles by Shaw.

Other new members include Richard Spain ’10 of Houston, Texas, an assistant director of Rice University’s annual fund and Thomas Robinson ’73 of Casselberry, Florida who served as vice president of national accounts at S&D Coffee and Tea.

The new board members will play an active role in guiding the efforts and initiatives of the association, which reaches more than 170,000 ECU alumni worldwide.

“I love all that ECU stands for and am excited to be back,” Jones said. “This is a great opportunity for me to remain engaged and be able to use my community service knowledge to help make a difference.”

The board plan to engage students and young alumni, along with expanding regional chapters and affinity groups.

“I plan to bring my business experience and talent building relationships to better understand the mission of the association and find my place to provide helpful guidance and practical support,” said Robinson.

Heath Bowman, associate vice chancellor for alumni relations, said the board of directors is critical to meeting the alumni association’s mission to inform, involve and serve members of the ECU family.

“I am honored and excited to welcome a very talented and accomplished group of Pirate alumni in this year’s board. I am confident that each and every one of these alumni leaders will leave their mark on our university and its alumni association throughout their tenure at East Carolina,” said Bowman.

Board members serve three-year terms and meet four times a year. The board strives to maintain a diverse and inclusive membership made up of graduates from the many colleges at the university. The board will help provide leadership through advocacy and education and ensure an environment which is open, inclusive and sensitive to the university’s diverse alumni base.


-by Jamie Smith

ECU named national finalist for community engagement award

In recognition of its engagement and scholarship initiatives, East Carolina University is one of four universities selected to compete for a national award this fall.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities announced Monday the selection of ECU as a regional winner of the 2017 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award. The award recognizes programs that demonstrate how colleges and universities have redesigned their learning, discovery, and engagement missions to become even more involved with their communities.

As a regional winner, ECU will compete for the national C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award, which will be announced during the APLU’s annual meeting Nov. 12-14 in Washington, D.C. Other regional winners are the University of New Hampshire, Oklahoma State University and Purdue University.

ECU has been recognized for its MATCH Wellness program, an interdisciplinary, community-university partnership created a decade ago to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity.

Since 2007, the MATCH Wellness partnership has grown from one middle school teacher and one ECU faculty member to include faculty and students from the ECU Pediatric Healthy Weight Research and Treatment Center and public school staff from 15 communities at 35 public schools across three states. Since inception, nearly 13,000 students have participated in the MATCH curriculum, preventing an estimated 1,300 cases of adult obesity.

Physical education teacher Allen Harrell works with Krysta Styons in the MATCH Wellness program at Chowan Middle School in Tyner. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Physical education teacher Allen Harrell works with Krysta Styons in the MATCH Wellness program at Chowan Middle School in Tyner. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Dr. Sharon Paynter, assistant vice chancellor for public service and community relations, said she was pleased to learn of the national recognition for MATCH Wellness partnership.

“The MATCH-ECU partnership is exemplary for many reasons, most importantly for the impact it has on helping adolescents establish healthy habits that last a lifetime. It is a great honor for East Carolina University to be selected as the 2017 W.K. Kellogg winner for the Southern Region,” she said.

MATCH landed the university in the national finals for the Magrath Award last year, as well. ECU won the Magrath Award in 2012 for its work with the Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Community Center in west Greenville.

The 2017 C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award includes a sculpture and $20,000 prize. Regional winners will each receive a cash prize of $5,000.

Since 2007, APLU and the Engagement Scholarship Consortium, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, have honored the engagement, scholarship and partnerships of four-year public universities. The national award is named for C. Peter Magrath, APLU president from 1992 to 2005.

The community engagement awards also include a class of exemplary designees. In addition to the regional winners, the five exemplary designees are recognized for their outstanding efforts. Those institutions — Michigan State University, Texas Tech University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Louisville, and the University of South Carolina — will be showcased at the 2017 Engagement Scholarship Consortium’s annual conference in September.

“This year’s Magrath Awards have demonstrated exceptional cultural, civic and economic contributions to their communities, states and regions,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “They’re tackling some of the most urgent challenges facing our country by elevating the importance of student and faculty service, deepening connections to their communities, and reorienting their engagement work to ensure it employs a comprehensive approach that address every angle of these challenges.”

A team of community engagement professionals judged this round of the award. A second team will pick the national winner following presentations at the 2017 National Engagement Scholarship Conference in September.

To learn more about the MATCH Wellness program, visit https://www.matchwellness.org/.


-by ECU News Services

The Pirate Alumni Network has a new platform

Think of it as the ECU Alumni Association’s version of LinkedIn and Facebook combined.

ECU Connect is a new way for alumni, students and ECU supporters to expand their career networks and provide career mentorship.

“We talk a lot about alumni networks and how important it is for Pirates to help Pirates, and this is really an online manifestation of that, the power of that network,” said Heath Bowman, president of the alumni association.

ECU Connect was launched after surveys over the years showed one of the biggest things alumni wanted from their association was career help, Bowman said. This online platform will do just that. The association estimates more than 170,000 Pirates will be able to use ECU Connect.

These alumni, students, faculty, staff and supporters will be able to link with each other in various ways such as mentoring, similar career fields, job postings and geographical regions. Those being mentored will be able to get resume help as well as practice their job interviewing skills.

ECU Connect also goes beyond jobs with university and alumni event postings.

“I feel like the partnership that it will bring to our campus and that we can help facilitate through this platform is really, really important,” Bowman said.

ECU Connect is free and easy to use. LinkedIn users can sign in without having to create a new profile because ECU Connect will use their LinkedIn information.

“I really wish my alma mater had something like this when I was coming into my career field,” Bowman added.

More information and a sign up link are at www.ecuconnect.com.



-by Rich Klindworth

Dr. Michael Piehler named interim executive director of UNC Coastal Studies Institute

Effective July 1, Dr. Michael Piehler assumed the role of interim executive director of the UNC Coastal Studies Institute (UNC CSI).

Piehler has been an integral part of the growth and success of UNC CSI, serving as the head of the estuarine ecology and human health research program since 2004. Piehler assumes the role following the retirement of Dr. Nancy White, who served 14 years as the founding executive director for UNC CSI.

Dr. Michael Poehler (Photos by Mary Lide Parker)

Dr. Michael Poehler (Photos by Mary Lide Parker)

The UNC Coastal Studies Institute is a multi-university institute located in Wanchese and administered through East Carolina University.

ECU Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Dr. Ron Mitchelson selected Piehler as the interim executive director.

“Mike is an accomplished scholar with impressive leadership qualities,” Mitchelson said. “Dr. Piehler has been part of the CSI team for many years and that experience will be crucial in the upcoming year. I look forward to working with Mike as we grow key coastal programs at CSI.”

Dr. Michael Piehler prepares samples in the lab.

Dr. Michael Piehler prepares samples in the lab.

Piehler received his Ph.D. in environmental science and engineering from UNC Chapel Hill, and since 1998 has been a member of the faculty at UNC Chapel Hill’s Institute of Marine Science. Piehler’s research occurs at the coastal land-water interface and is focused on quantifying the transport and transformation of nutrients. His research is funded by federal, state and regional sources and he serves on scientific advisory panels for governments, non-government organizations and industry.

Piehler is excited about this next stage in the growth and development of the institute. “I am honored to have been tapped by Provost Mitchelson to lead during this important period in the development of the Coastal Studies Institute.  We have remarkable people and facilities, and I look forward to helping us excel,” said Piehler.

For more information, visit www.coastalstudiesinstitute.org.



-by John McCord, Coastal Studies Institute 


Social work faculty member appointed to Pitt County board

Dr. Shelia Bunch, professor and director of the School of Social Work at East Carolina University, has been appointed to the Pitt County Board of Social Services.

Dr. Shelia Bunch (contributed photo)

Dr. Shelia Bunch (contributed photo)

Effective July 1, she will serve through June 30, 2020. Drew Pledger, chair of the North Carolina Social Services Commission, announced Bunch’s appointment on June 30. She was sworn in July 11.

“I am excited about the appointment,” Bunch said. “Our School of Social Work has a great working relationship with the local DSS agency, which employs many of our alumni and serves as a field internship site for our students.”

Bunch received her bachelor’s degree from ECU, a master’s in social work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a doctoral degree from North Carolina State University.

Her research interests include rural domestic violence, rural social work education, issues related to children and families and social inequality.

The Pitt County Department of Social Services is a human services organization that provides many programs including food and nutrition services, adult protective services, child services including child support enforcement, and emergency assistance to residents.


-by Crystal Baity

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