Author Archives: Morgan Tilton

ECU hosts 3-day symposium on central-eastern European politics

East Carolina University students and the local community recently had the opportunity to broaden their knowledge of foreign affairs and contribute to the international exchange of ideas and perceptions during a three-day symposium on central and eastern European politics.

The event, “Visegrad in the 21st Century,” sponsored by a grant from the International Visegrad Fund, was hosted Nov. 13-15 by the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Department of Political Science and the Office of Undergraduate Research.

Dr. Adam Eberhardt visited ECU through a grant awarded to professors in the THCAS Department of Political Science to increase student and public awareness about foreign affairs.<br /> (Contributed photos.)

Dr. Adam Eberhardt visited ECU through a grant awarded to professors in the THCAS Department of Political Science to increase student and public awareness about foreign affairs.
(Contributed photos.)

Two guest speakers from Poland and Czechia – two of the four central European states that make up the Visegrád group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia), or Visegrád Four as they are also known – visited campus during the event.

The researchers presented on topics ranging from Polish-Russian relations and Russia’s foreign policy towards central-eastern Europe, to the Visegrád States in a broader context and the Czech people’s exile during the Cold War.

“Our overall goal was for ECU students to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and transformations the east-central European states have experienced in the last 25 years of democratic transitions, European Union and NATO membership, as well as these states’ changing foreign relations with Russia,” said Dr. Magda Giurcanu, teaching assistant professor of political science, who helped organize the event.

On Monday, Dr. Adam Eberhardt, director of the Center for Eastern Studies, a Polish think tank that undertakes independent research on the political, economic and social situation in central and eastern Europe, predominantly discussed Russia’s economy and foreign policy as well as Polish-Russian relations.

Eberhardt argued that Russia perceives the western European countries to be weak. However, Russia challenges the security of neighboring countries by asking for concessions without offering anything in return.

He also said there is little to no modernization because of the “law of the ruler,” and after 17 years in power, President Putin has no desire to tackle the challenges to the Russian state.

Dr. Martin Nekola visited ECU.

Dr. Martin Nekola visited ECU.

“Russia is not the Soviet Union of the Cold War,” said Eberhardt.

A roundtable discussion was held Tuesday afternoon with Eberhardt; ECU political science faculty Drs. Armin Krishnan and Giurcanu; and Dr. Martin Nekola, an independent scholar from Prague, whose research focuses on non-democratic regimes, the era of Communism, Czech communities abroad and the east-European, anti-communist exiles to the United States during the Cold War.

On Wednesday, Nekola gave a presentation on his research pertaining to the Czech migration, which began Feb. 20, 1948 and lasted until 1989. Many researchers disagree on the total number of Czech citizens who fled Czechia, but Nekola said 250,000 seems to be a realistic number. Many of the citizens traveled to refugee camps in Germany, Austria, Italy and France.

“The atmosphere was tense,” said Nekola, referring to the fear and frustration felt immediately following WWII.

As time passed, the people also began emigrating to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and the United States. Nekola’s research has traced a number of Czechian descendants to cities in the U.S. that have strong Czech communities, including Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, New York, St. Louis, and possibly Charlotte and New Salem, North Carolina.

Closing out the three-day symposium, students in the course presented research posters on topics that were covered throughout the semester. Attendees voted on the two best posters. First place and a $100 award went to Josiah Thornton, India Peele and Dwayne Lewis Jr. for “The Transition of Central Europe: The Fate of Visegrad,” and the second place award of $50 went to Natalie Best, Kaitlyn Rose and Josh Ziegler for “Slovakia and Hungary’s Case brought to the European Court of Justice: Legality of the Challenge.”

Drs. Nekola, Giurcanu, Eberhardt and Krishnan

Drs. Nekola, Giurcanu, Eberhardt and Krishnan.

One more guest lecturer associated with the International Visegrad Fund grant will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28, in Howell, room N107. The presentation will feature Dr. Bartosz Rydlinski of Poland.

 

-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications

Harriot College Collecting Items for Pitt County Angel Closet

Harriot College’s Staff Council is holding a donation drive for the Pitt County Angel Closet. Each department and the dean’s office has a box where contributions may be dropped off before Dec. 8. (contributed photo)

Harriot College’s Staff Council is holding a donation drive for the Pitt County Angel Closet. Each department and the dean’s office has a box where contributions may be dropped off before Dec. 8 (contributed photo)

In this season of thanks and giving, East Carolina University’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences is dedicated to helping the community’s youngest citizens. The THCAS Staff Council is hosting a donation drive, Nov. 13 – Dec. 8, with proceeds going to the Pitt County Angel Closet.

Each of the 16 departments in the college was given a box to decorate and place near their office, where individuals can donate new bibs, baby bottles, pacifiers, diapers, wipes, pull-ups, underwear, socks and winter clothes for children of all ages.

“We thought a donation drive would be a great way to get people involved with a local organization,” said Amelia Thompson, chair of the council’s planning subcommittee. “The Angel Closet was in need of several items, and we thought that we could really make a difference for them this year.”

The goal of the council is to collect 500 items for the organization.

Dr. William M. Downs, dean of Harriot College, is particularly drawn to helping children.

On Nov. 28, at the half-way point for donations, Downs and members of the staff council will walk around to the departments and collect the items donated up to that point. Then, they will deliver those items to the Pitt County Angel Closet, with the final collection and drop-off occuring on Dec. 8.

 

-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications

ECU administrator recognized by state and nation

Ellen Hilgoe, associate director of the N.C. Early Mathematics Placement Testing Program (N.C. EMPT) housed at East Carolina University, is receiving local and national attention for her work in preparing high school students for college-level mathematics courses.

“N.C. EMPT helps strengthen ECU’s mission to reach out and offer early intervention to not only the high school students in the eastern part of the state, but statewide and across state lines,” said Hilgoe.

•Ellen Hilgoe, pictured here with ECU Mathematics Chair Johannes Hattingh, is the 2017 recipient of the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics Innovator Award. (contributed photos.)

Ellen Hilgoe, pictured here with ECU Mathematics Chair Johannes Hattingh, is the 2017 recipient of the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics Innovator Award. (contributed photos.)

In October, Hilgoe received national recognition for the program, when she was selected to present a session on “N.C. Early Mathematics Placement Testing Program: A Looking Glass into College Math Readiness,” at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference held in Orlando, Florida.

Organizers of the conference mentioned in opening sessions that they received hundreds of applications to present.

•Hilgoe presented information about the N.C. EMPT Program during the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference in Orlando, Florida, in October.

Hilgoe presented information about the N.C. EMPT Program during the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference in Orlando, Florida, in October.

“I was so fortunate to be chosen,” said Hilgoe. “Spreading the word about N.C. EMPT in my presentation to mathematics educators from more than 10 southern states, as well as others across our nation, was an opportunity to share N.C. EMPT’s accomplishments, highlight ECU’s name, emphasize North Carolina’s dedication to mathematically preparing its youth for their futures and to proudly assert that N.C. EMPT is the largest EMPT program in the nation.”

Since the conference, Hilgoe also has received local acknowledgement and honors.

On Nov. 2, she was presented with the 2017 North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics Innovator Award. Hilgoe received the award at the council’s 47th annual conference celebration in Greensboro.

During the event, the council stated, “North Carolina mathematics education is fortunate to call this innovator one of our own.”

“It was wonderful to be recognized at the state level by the N.C. Council of Teachers of Mathematics,” said Hilgoe. “With more than three-quarters of a million students served, we continue to strive to provide each participant with a reality check of readiness for college-level math and the motivation to maintain strong math skills.”

The N.C. EMPT Program recently completed its 20th year of service to all North Carolina public and non-public high schools. For more information visit http://www.ncempt.org.

 

-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications

ECU student receives Fulbright scholarship

East Carolina University School of Communication senior Emory Saia is one of 14 young professional journalists and students to receive a Fulbright scholarship for the Berlin Capital Program in Germany.

The Berlin Capital Program gives journalists and students the opportunity to better understand the media’s role in the political, economic and cultural landscape of Germany and Europe. The weeklong program, Nov. 12-19, includes seminars and discussions with media experts as well as visits to political, cultural and media institutions.

ECU senior Emory Saia

ECU senior Emory Saia

Saia, a journalism student from Pennsylvania, learned about the program from ECU communication professor Dr. Cindy Elmore, who thought she would be a great candidate. Saia spent most of the summer compiling her 19-page program application with encouragement from Elmore, who was “patient, kind and so willing to help and motivate me to continue,” Saia said.

The youngest of five children with parents who are professors, Saia credits her family for the desire to seek new learning experiences. Her brother, Taylor, also received a Fulbright scholarship and traveled to Indonesia to teach English and music for six months. Saia’s sister, Maggie, an ECU alumna, and Taylor guided and supported her application process. “They reminded me that it’s not about the end result, but the journey,” she said.

Saia plans to embrace the opportunity although anxious “to take this leap, literally on a plane across the world by myself.” She encourages other students to challenge themselves. “Push yourself out of your comfort zone and accept new experiences and adventures as they are around you. You just have to be willing,” she said.

Saia serves as an intern in the ECU School of Communication, where she maintains the social media accounts, creates promotional material, plans events and assists as a director in Dr. Mary Tucker-McLaughlin’s Producing the News class. Saia will take over the School of Communication Instagram account to document her experience. Follow her journey at https://www.instagram.com/ecu_soc/.

-by Brittany Thompson, School of Communication 

 

 

After minor league debut, Tanner Duncan returns to his roots

It’s a cool October evening at Guy Smith Park in Greenville. The defending national champion East Carolina University Club Baseball team is warming up before their intrasquad scrimmage. The star of that championship team last year, Tanner Duncan, pulls up in his pickup truck to watch practice.

“I knew I was going to miss this place when I left, but I didn’t realize I’d miss it quite this much,” said Duncan, a 2017 kinesiology graduate who’s now playing professionally in the Houston Astros organization.

Although he’s a professional ballplayer now in the Astros organization, Duncan continues to show off his pride for the ECU Club Baseball team. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Although he’s a professional ballplayer now in the Astros organization, Duncan continues to show off his pride for the ECU Club Baseball team. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Duncan is wearing his ECU Club Baseball hat and T-shirt – not his Astros gear. Following his National Club Baseball World Series MVP-winning performance last spring, Duncan was signed by the Astros and spent last summer pitching for them in the Gulf Coast League. He is the first ECU club player to play professional baseball, so one might think that he would be showing off his accomplishment by wearing navy and orange – especially since the Astros just won the World Series.

“I want to wear (ECU Club Baseball attire) with pride and I want to give club baseball a good name. I feel like there is a stereotype that’s surrounding club baseball – a stigma attached to it (that it’s not good baseball),” Duncan said. “There’s a lot of talent out here, a lot of good players that participate in this, and I hope people recognize that now.”

“It (Duncan turning pro) brings a lot more credibility to our program,” says ECU Club Baseball head coach Ben Fox. “Being able to put a guy in the league that has never played JUCO (junior college) baseball or D1 baseball, it says a lot about what we demand from guys every day.”

Duncan’s former ECU teammates see the dedication that’s required to play professional baseball.

“I knew as hard as he worked, he was going to get an opportunity to play after. He was just one of those special athletes coming out working every day,” said senior outfielder Jordan Maye. “He’d be the first one here and one of the last ones to leave. That’s just what his mentality is – he’s always working.” 

 

Duncan and his former teammates look on as the ECU Club Baseball team scrimmages.

Duncan and his former teammates look on as the ECU Club Baseball team scrimmages.

Duncan’s presence at practice during his offseason is a big deal to the guys on the field.

“It brings up that ‘what-if’ factor – you could potentially be in the same position that he is,” said senior catcher Jake Merzigian, who caught for Duncan in last season’s national championship game. 

“If they are looking to play at the next level, they see now that it’s possible and all it takes is hard work and dedication,” Fox said. “If you want anything out of this game, if you work for it, you can get it.”

Duncan pitched 10 scoreless innings in the championship game and was named the MVP of the tournament.

Duncan, right, shares a laugh with his former catcher Jake Merzigian.

Duncan, right, shares a laugh with his former catcher Jake Merzigian.

“Catching for him was unbelievable. Just seeing him work so hard and seeing him pitch in that national championship game. It was by far one of the best baseball games I’ll ever be a part of,” Merzigan said. “That’s definitely on my wall of fame.”

Duncan was hoping his performance would lead to the major league draft, but that didn’t happen. However he was invited to Virginia for a tryout with the Astros. Shortly after throwing for scouts, the team signed him, and the next day he headed to Florida to play for the Astros minor league affiliate.

“It was awesome, I think, just getting there to the facility,” he said. “You go into the locker room, and they have a locker for you with your name on it, the Astros symbol and everything. It’s surreal, man, it’s something I wanted for a long time, and so I’m very happy and very grateful for it.”

“It’s hard to put into words,” Fox said. “Tanner’s been so good for us for so long and I truly believe that he should have been playing at another level the whole time, but we were lucky enough to have him.”

After what he calls a successful season in the GCL, where he had a 2.17 ERA in 11 appearances, Duncan is resting his arm and working out. He expects to go to extended spring training with the Astros at the end of March or beginning of April. He’s hoping to get a shot with a full-season team or play for the short-season single-A affiliate in New York.

“It’s good to see him come out here and continue to be around the guys. He was one of our leaders last year, and to have him come back out here has been huge for us,” Maye said.

“I’m living the dream; couldn’t be happier,” Duncan said.

 

 

-by Rich Klindworth, ECU News Services

Trash cinema class to screen ‘worst movie ever made’

It’s not very often that a movie’s appeal is in how dreadful it is. But that’s exactly how an East Carolina University film class is advertising its upcoming screening of “The Room.”

Often called “the worst movie ever made” or “the Citizen Kane of bad movies,” “The Room” is about a successful banker named Johnny, his deceptive fiancé Lisa and his best friend Mark. There’s also terrible dialogue, ridiculous subplots and unexplained framed photos of spoons.

The class will host a free screening of “The Room” at 7 p.m. Thursday in Hendrix Theatre as part of their coursework.

“The director sort of had no idea what he was doing,” said Dr. Amanda Klein, an associate professor who teaches FILM 4980, also known as Topics in Film Aesthetics: Trash Cinema and Taste.

“He made it in a way that made no sense, like someone learning a new language and misusing the words and terms,” she said.

Director, producer and star Tommy Wiseau gained a cult following because of the movie’s captivatingly odd elements. Most see “The Room” as his misguided, so-bad-it’s-good passion project. It also inspired an upcoming movie about its making directed by James Franco.

“It’s not about analyzing the film as a good film,” FILM 4980 student Susie Hedley said. “It’s about analyzing why it’s not, and appreciating the world that these bad qualities bring you into. And ‘The Room’ brings you into one hell of a world.”

Hedley said she was drawn to the Trash Cinema class in part because it gives credit to films that often aren’t deemed worthy of serious examination.

“Examining trash movies through an academic lens is like reading ‘Twilight’ in a literature course or studying Dothraki as a foreign language. It seems wrong somehow, because we’re taught to see these topics as lowbrow or lacking substance.”

But, as Klein pointed out, “It’s much easier to see film construction when you look at one that isn’t made too well.”

It can also be a lot of fun to watch. Similar to a “Rocky Horror Picture Show” screening, yelling and throwing things during “The Room” is not only acceptable, but encouraged. Viewers at the Thursday night screening will receive a goodie bag of projectiles including mini footballs, rose petals and spoons (the reasoning will make sense during the movie for the uninitiated).

“As for the audience, I can’t be sure whether or not they’ll love the experience, but I know it will get a strong reaction out of them,” Hedley said. “The first time I saw the film … mostly I was in shock the whole time.”

 

-by Erin Shaw, University Communications

ECU cellist Levine wins MTNA 2017 NC prize

East Carolina University sophomore cellist Scott Alex Levine won first place in the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Young Artist North Carolina strings competition on October 28 in Raleigh, NC. He advances to the MTNA Southern Division competition in Lynchburg, VA, on Jan. 12-15.

The MTNA National Student Competitions are the most successful and prestigious student competitions in the country. Each year, thousands of students compete for top prizes and national recognition.

Levine is a student of Emanuel Gruber.

Trick or Treat event brings children, families to Laupus Library

The William E. Laupus Health Sciences Library at East Carolina University held its third annual Health Sciences Trick or Treat event on Oct. 27 throughout the library.

Anne Anderson, curator for the Country Doctor Museum explains how surgical instruments were used long ago. (contributed photos)

Anne Anderson, curator for the Country Doctor Museum explains how surgical instruments were used long ago. (contributed photos)

Attended by over 400 ECU faculty, staff, students and their children, who enjoyed participating a variety of games, crafts and trick-or-treating.

Occupational Therapy Student, Lauren Selingo, enjoys the many creative costumes worn by attendees.

Occupational Therapy Student, Lauren Selingo, enjoys the many creative costumes worn by attendees.

“My four-year-old grandson had such a great time,” said Terrie Hamilton, instructor in the School of Hospitality Leadership. “The Laupus staff did a great job decorating their offices, dressing in costume and spending time with each of the trick-or-treating children. We even appreciated the dental students and their tooth brushes – it gave us a chance to incorporate health care into the experience.”

“This also provided an excellent opportunity for those of us on the main campus to visit the health sciences campus and explore some of what is offered there,” she added. “What a wonderful way to show my grandson that libraries are fun and exciting places.”

A costume contest was also held with the winners announced on Laupus Library’s Facebook page.

The Country Doctor Museum photo booth also offered families a chance to explore spooky archives and pose with some of the items from its collections.

Families pose for photos at the Halloween event.

Families pose for photos at the Halloween event.

To view photos from the event, costume contest and photo booth, visit the Laupus Health Sciences Library at ECU Facebook page at www.facebook.com/eculaupus/.

 

-by Kelly R. Dilda, University Communications

 

Joyner Library to host “Racism & Propaganda in Jim Crow Era Pop Culture: A Closer Look”

Joyner Library will host “Racism & Propaganda in Jim Crow Era Pop Culture: A Closer Look,” Nov. 9 from 3:30-5 p.m. in the Janice Hardison Faulker Gallery on the second floor of the library.

Led by associate professors Dr. David Dennard and Dr. Kennetta Perry from the Department of History in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, the program will feature a discussion about the role of propaganda in the history of United States race relations and modern popular culture. Portions of the film Ethnic Notions by California Newsreel will be screened, along with other examples that use images to portray racial stereotypes.

A behind-the-scenes exhibition viewing on the fourth floor of Joyner Library will follow. Guests will be invited to view items from the private collection of Dr. Walter King of Pinehurst. They will experience a self-guided exhibit tour that defines popular racist stereotypes of the Jim Crow era.

Additionally, supplementary items will be on display that demonstrate the ways in which these stereotypes were regularized and adopted by pop culture via the mainstream media, souvenirs, entertainment and advertising.

This is an ECU Wellness Passport Event and is also open to the public.

The program is sponsored by Joyner Library and the African and African American Studies Program.

For more information contact Heather White at 252-328-2870 or whiteh@ecu.edu.

 

-by Kelly R. Dilda, University Communications

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