First Monday AN UPDATE FROM THE PROVOST | January 2024


Robin N. Coger, PhD

Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Welcome to the Spring 2024 semester and a very Happy New Year to all. With the start of a new semester comes an opportunity to refocus our collective and individual priorities. While there are multiple dimensions to the positive impact that ECU strives to make on lives within the University, across North Carolina and throughout the nation and the world, the success of our students is certainly a key reason why we are all here. Hearing our graduates share glimpses of their Pirate Nation journeys and the positive effects many of you had on their degree persistence, personal development and preparedness for the future is why I enjoy reading the graduate profiles produced by ECU News Services. If you haven’t had a chance to read the Fall 2023 Grad Profiles, I hope you will take a few moments now. There are famous quotes attributed to Maya Angelou and others that remind us to pay attention to how we interact with others, since those effects are lasting. As we launch the spring semester, thank you for the patience and thoughtfulness you extend to visitors and to each other as you leverage your knowledge, expertise and hard work to achieve great things at ECU. The actions of the great people of East Carolina University make the difference in what Pirate Nation will accomplish together in 2024. Thank you for the essential part you play in ensuring that this is the Pirate Nation’s best year yet.

There continue to be rapid changes in society whose ripple effects affect the ECU community. Because of their complexities, multiple conversations and collaborations are necessary to inform the University’s actions forward. For brevity, I will limit my comments here to two areas that could not have been accomplished without the efforts of multiple contributors:

  • This morning, all ECU employees received a message regarding required training toward ensuring the safety of the University community in a changing landscape. Thank you to the University Police Department, Faculty Senate leadership, the Student Government Association and to the faculty and staff who engaged in front of the camera and behind the scenes to further improve ECU’s training materials.
  • The year of 2023 also included changes to UNC policies and state & federal laws that impact our University. ECU remains committed to creating and maintaining an academic environment where all learners, faculty and staff can thrive. As a resource to our ECU community, guidance on institutional neutrality and institutional speech, academic freedom, and compelled speech has been provided on the university’s Free Speech website.

We all hope you enjoy this January issue of First Monday. Thank you to everyone who contributed to its content and I wish the entire University community a great Spring 2024 Semester.

Go Pirates!




Faculty Forums lead Starfish in a new direction Spring 2024

Insights from Faculty forums are guiding Starfish in a fresh direction. Now identified as ECU CONNECT, the early success platform continues to serve as a tool for faculty to facilitate student academic success by offering praise or expressing concern about their students' academic performance. Highlighting the significance of thematic surveys and a specialized success response team as essential components for fostering student retention and success at ECU, faculty members can anticipate notable changes in the upcoming spring semester.

Thematic Surveys

In Spring 2024, faculty members will be provided four surveys tailored to specific themes that align with the progression of the semester. Progress Surveys empower instructors to offer feedback at crucial intervals throughout the semester. Each survey comprises tracking items (Flags, Kudos, To-Do's, and Referrals) that instructors can choose and provide comments on for students in each of their course sections.

Widening Success Team Response

Two pilot projects are underway in the spring semester. A chosen group of Academic Advisors and COAD 1000 instructors will work collaboratively with the Student Academic Success Services team to establish best practices for intervention processes. By promptly identifying and addressing academic, behavioral, or personal challenges faced by students, success team members can intervene early to provide support. This proactive approach fosters a supportive environment that encourages student persistence, engagement, and ultimately, success.

ECU CONNECT Data Access and Training

Academic departments of all disciplines can request usage data, HERE. Additionally, training opportunities are open to departments and individual faculty and staff members. To inquire about training, please get in touch with ECU CONNECT Administrator, Dylan Moore.


This spring ECU will run short-term study abroad programs to six countries, in addition to operating our ECU Tuscany campus in Certaldo Alto, Italy. In total, 102 students will participate in study abroad this spring. Locations include:

  • Argentina (Educational Leadership, College of Education)
  • Belize (Communication Sciences and Disorders, College of Allied Health Sciences)
  • Chile (College of Business)
  • Costa Rica (Biology, Harriot College of Arts and Sciences)
  • Czech Republic (College of Business)
  • Italy (ECU Tuscany!)
  • Mexico (Mathematics Education, Science Education, and Instructional Technology, College of Education)
“I can think of no better joy than to look across this campus on this warm day than to see over 70 flags representing the great depth of diversity on our campus across many nations in our world coming to East Carolina University and adding tremendous value to campus life and the culture of this institution.” - Chancellor Rogers

In November, the Office of Global Affairs held a Parade of Flags during International Education Week and Drs. Philip and Rebekah Rogers also hosted a traditional American Thanksgiving at their home for international students.

The Office of Global Affairs is pleased to welcome for the Spring 2024 semester Marcos Andres Acevedo Pavez, a visiting scholar from Universidad Mayor, Chile. With expertise in the field of Teaching English as a Second Language and years of experience partnering with ECU to teach Global Understanding courses, Marcos will be primarily engaged with providing instruction in the ECU Language Academy as well as conducting independent research in the field of ESL.


The Office of University Scholarships and the Office of Student Financial Aid are working together regarding the delayed launch of the 2024-2025 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is now available as of December 31st. The launch is a soft launch with intermittent site maintenance, so the FAFSA may be unavailable at times. The FAFSA data should be made available to ECU in late January.

The ECUAWard scholarship portal will be accepting applications for most existing student opportunities until 11:59PM, January 15, 2024. Students can access the ECUAWard portal from their PiratePort and use their single sign on (PirateID and Passphrase).

For incoming student opportunities that require demonstrated financial need, the deadline for applications will be pushed back to allow students time to complete the FAFSA and ECU to receive and process the information.

Questions about the ECU Scholarship process can be directed to the Office of University Scholarships, HERE.

The Office of Student Financial Aid will be co-hosting a FAFSA Day event with Pitt Community College on January 27 from 9:00AM - 12:00PM in Joyner Library.

The Office of Student Financial Aid will be posting updates to their website as more information becomes available during the launch of the 2024-2025 FAFSA. Questions can be directed to the office, HERE.


Approaching deadlines for internal funding opportunities:

Faculty-mentored research opportunities for students and postdocs:

Important Reminder: Sponsored Programs and Human Research Compliance

East Carolina University’s research compliance program is a critical resource to help researchers implement and adhere to federal, state, local and institutional regulations, rules and polices in the conduct of sponsored programs and human research.

To support the impactful work of our researchers, ECU developed internal control systems that assure the university community meets its compliance obligations, manages risk, and promotes the highest ethical standards in the conduct of sponsored programs and research activities. ECU’s support system includes:

  • Office of Research Administration (ORA)
  • University and Medical Center Institutional Review Board (UMCIRB)
  • Office of Research Integrity and Compliance (ORIC)
  • Office of Compliance Monitoring (OCM)

The OCM conducts routine monitoring of sponsored programs and human research. If your project or research is selected for monitoring, please remember it is a routine process that is meant to support your efforts, protect the people who take part in your research or project, and identify and mitigate areas of potential risk.

As the new year begins, you are encouraged to consider your role in compliance and take advantage of the resources available through our offices.

ECU Receives Innovation & Economic Prosperity Redesignation

The Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities has renewed ECU’s designation as an Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) university. Only 15 other universities were granted the 5-year extension.

REDE’s Office of Economic & Community Engagement showcased numerous examples of collaborative successes between faculty, staff, students, and community partners in eastern North Carolina to prepare the application that secured this recognition. The IEP Designation Program aims to help higher education institutions recognize their economic and community development impact through demonstrated and sustained institutional commitment to regional economic engagement, growth, and opportunity.

Through this designation, ECU continues to be nationally recognized for promoting community and institutional partnerships that impact our region.

Student Engagement and Outreach Scholars Academy (SEOSA) Presentations

The Office of Engaged Research wrapped up 2023 with five SEOSA (student team) presentations reflecting their great work through the Engagement and Outreach Scholars Academy (EOSA). Community partners and ECU faculty and staff joined the event to hear about the exciting and impactful work of Pirates that has been taking place this fall throughout eastern North Carolina. SEOSA is made up of Brinkley-Lane Scholars Program and ECU Honors College undergraduates who join EOSA projects as part of the research team for a transformative experience that aids in student success in and out of the classroom. The faculty-led teams work with community partners on projects that address a community need.

2024-25 Engagement and Outreach Scholars Academy (EOSA) Cohort Selected

The Office of Engaged Research has selected the 2024-2025 EOSA cohort from an inspiring pool of candidates who embody a commitment to community engaged research; collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger local, regional, state, national and global communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.

  • Mr. Michael Daniels, School of Social Work
  • Dr. Edu Leorri Soriano, Department of Geological Sciences
  • Dr. Kaylyn Levine, Department of Geography
  • Dr. Sarah Maness, Department of Health Education & Promotion
  • Dr. Lindsey Oakes, Department of Recreation Sciences

I-Corps@ECU: Three options for your convenience

The Office of Licensing and Commercialization is here to help transform your ideas into real world solutions. Funded by the National Science Foundation, I-Corps@ECU guides participants in moving their idea, innovation and/or research forward to commercialization. I-Corps@ECU is open to faculty, students, staff, and friends of ECU. $5,000 in funding is available for eligible teams to support proof of concept studies and/or travel.

Have an idea or innovation? Ready for the next steps? Consider one of these I-Corps@ECU options:

  • General cohort – Virtual, February 8-March 28 – This option is open to all fields of innovation. Registration deadline: February 1
  • Blue Economy cohort – Virtual, February 6-March 26 – This is a business development program and pitch competition for those that have innovations related to the Blue Economy. Registration deadline: February 1
  • Self-Paced cohort – Complete the step-by-step program within three months. Sessions are presented online. Register and start the program when you are ready.

Innovative ECU Spotlight: Nancy Dias

Dr. Nancy Dias with ECU’s College of Nursing is developing a digital dashboard to enhance the care of grieving parents through a machine learning approach to grief support and mental health wellness. ADAPT aims to deliver targeted therapy to individual bereavement experiences through the creation of unique grief personas according to the patient’s culture, support structure, and socioeconomic characteristics. Development of ADAPT has been funded by a NC Biotechnology Center Flash Grant.

NCBiotech Venture Challenge Returns in March

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center will hold its second life sciences-based, innovation-focused statewide Venture Challenge to raise the profile, increase the volume, and enhance the success of life science commercialization, innovators, entrepreneurs, and companies across North Carolina. Applications will be accepted February 1-29. Visit the NC Biotech website for more information.

ECU’s Office of Licensing and Commercialization and the Small Business and Technology Development Center will once again help facilitate the event. Three startups with ECU-patented inventions won prize money during the 2022 Challenge. Inventors of these patented technologies include Dr. Jitka Virag (Physiology), Dr. Stefan Clemens (Physiology), Dr. Kori Brewer (Emergency Medicine), and Dr. Lok Pokhrel (Public Health).

SECU Public Fellows Internship Applications Open January 10

Applications for the SECU Public Fellows Internship (PFI) program will be available Wednesday, January 10. PFI is a paid summer internship opportunity for undergraduate students that focuses on strengthening eastern North Carolina communities by bringing talented students to work in professional environments. This program combines a traditional internship experience with the community-engaged mission of the university by partnering students with local government and nonprofit organizations to address identified priorities.

If you have a student in mind for this paid summer internship, direct them HERE. Applications will be due March 1.

Continuing & Professional Education (CPE) Opportunities

CPE provides continuing education programming through innovative training, certification, and professional development opportunities for adult learners. Join us for these upcoming opportunities:

Lifelong Learning Program (LLP) Spring Kickoff Event

The Lifelong Learning Program will host a registration kick-off event on January 26 at the Willis Building, 1:00 - 4:00PM. You are invited to engage with community members and sign up to participate in our special trips and events.

LLP is accepting proposals for the Fall 2024 program! If you would like to offer your expertise as an instructor or propose an experiential trip or event, click HERE to submit a proposal.


2023 - 2024 Faculty Senate meeting dates are as follows:

  • January 30, 2024
  • February 27, 2024
  • March 26, 2024
  • April 23, 2024
  • April 30, 2024 (Organizational Meeting for 2024-2025)

For more about ECU Faculty Senate, click HERE.




Student Success

Occupational Therapy Class of 2023 graduates gather for the program’s traditional post-ceremony photograph.

Allied Health Sciences celebrated its 110 newest alumni at the College Recognition Ceremony on December 15. Dean Bob Orlikoff welcomed graduates, guests, and faculty to the fall event. Nutrition Science alumna and local business owner, Christie Nicholson, served as guest speaker, and Ayoola Ajani of Occupational Therapy delivered the graduate farewell.

Physical Therapy students learned about devices to assist oxygen delivery and airway clearance from guest lecturer, Danielle Hardy - Adult Respiratory Clinical Specialist at ECU Health.

The Department of Physician Assistant Studies hosted a Harry Potter-themed Clinical Rotation Reveal in its skills lab organized by Carey McDonald, Clinical Coordinator, and McKezion Williams, Administrative Support Associate. Students in the Class of 2024 learned where they will be placed for the 12-month clinical phase of their education consisting of 10 rotations.

The college’s Office of Educational Technology oversaw scheduled recordings for 85 courses and more than 50 ad hoc meetings in Panopto this fall. Kym Jefferson, Technology Support Analyst, facilitates this crucial resource alongside her student worker, Emily Platt of the Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies, with more than 1 million minutes of content delivered to students between August and December 2023.

Public Service

Left: SHIIMA Advisor – Dr. Katelyn Rouse with Aliah Spencer, Jr., Abby Hunt – SHIIMA President, and Morgan Chastain – SHIIMA Vice-President a few days before the end of the collection drive. Right: Dr. Leigh Atherton (far left, middle) with members of Engage ENC at the program’s wrapping event.

Students, staff, faculty, and community members collected toys for two holiday drives. The Student Health Informatics and Information Management Association (SHIIMA) partnered with Hugs for Harrison again this year, gifting 125 toys to those receiving treatment at the ECU Health Maynard Children’s Hospital. Engage ENC hosted its inaugural wrapping event, having collected 207 toys to give as part of the program’s outreach activities.

Regional Transformation

The Department of Nutrition Science unveiled the newest phase of its Farm to Clinic (F2C) initiative, a mobile teaching kitchen and pantry, made possible through partnership with Food Lion. Dr. Lauren Sastre, Assistant Professor, founded and directs F2C alongside Brandon Stroud, the program’s Assistant Director, and a team of student volunteers. Read more, HERE.

The ECU Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic welcomed distinguished guests from the Scottish Rite Masonic Foundation to campus - D.C. Heilman, 33° Orient of NC and Foundation Secretary, and Ranjan Varghese. The Scottish Rite Masonic Foundation helps support clinic services including specialty language and literacy evaluations as well as summer camps.


Harriot College proudly welcomed actor, director, producer, triathlete and mental health advocate Sean Astin to campus on Nov. 16 for the Voyages of Discovery Series. Astin’s visit was true to the theme of this year’s Voyages season of “Inspiring Hope and Healing,” as he took the evening’s events in stride with charm and charisma, making multiple one-on-one connections with faculty, staff, students and community guests during his visit. Read about Astin’s visit HERE and come hear Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Laurie Hernandez on Jan. 18.

After 30 years of service, Dr. Cindy Putnam-Evans, Professor in the Department of Biology and Associate Dean for Research in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, retired from ECU at the end of December. Harriot College is grateful for her many years of service; read more on the college website about her career, successes, and impact along the way.

Nelson Adeniji, doctoral student in the Integrated Coastal Sciences program and advised by Dr. Meghan Millea, Professor in the Department of Economics, has received a Bill Anderson Fund fellowship based on his National Science Foundation-funded research that examines economics and equity issues of community recovery from hurricanes in Eastern North Carolina. The mission of the Bill Anderson Fund is to invest in the next generation of historically underrepresented professionals in the fields of hazard and disaster research and practice. The program focuses on training, mentoring and peer support.

Dr. Tisha Emerson, James E. and Constance Paul Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics, led a panel discussion at the Eastern Carolina Transportation Summit, organized by the Eastern Carolina Council of Government. Approximately 140 individuals attended the event. During the panel discussion on “Economic Impacts of Investments in Transportation Infrastructure,” Emerson provided introductory remarks and led the panelist discussion with audience members.

Dr. Karen Zipf, Professor in the Department of History, has been awarded a two-week writer’s residency at the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities. Located in Southern Pines, the center is “a place to exchange ideas, to broaden perspectives, and to discover new possibilities.” The Writers-in-Residence Program is open to North Carolina-published writers and poets.

Dr. Calvin Mercer, Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, and Dr. Lester Zeager, Professor in the Department of Economics, were two of several ECU colleagues to be recognized at the annual International Awards Ceremony near the end of 2023. Dr. Mercer received an International Research and Creative Activity Award for his work on the social and religious implications of using artificial intelligence and other breakthrough technologies to radically enhance human beings. Dr. Zeager earned the Achievement in International Service and Engagement Award for his work as a teacher, researcher, and leader in building ECU’s national and international reputation.


The 2024 recipients of the Brody Brothers Endowment Research Grant include Dr. Karlene Cunningham, psychiatry and behavioral medicine; Dr. Brandon Garcia, microbiology and immunology; Dr. Mark Mannie, microbiology and immunology; Dr. Lorita Rebellato, pathology and laboratory medicine; Dr. Stephanie Pitts, public health; Dr. Qiang Wu, public health; Dr. Tracey Woodlief, pharmacology and toxicology and Dr. Jessica Ellis, physiology. The award was established to supplement research funding for projects being conducted by Brody researchers in areas including the most prevalent health problems in eastern North Carolina.

Dr. Carl Haisch was named a Mission Champion awardee during a Brody full faculty meeting near the end of last year. Mission Champion recipients are Brody employees who are recognized for their daily contributions and dedication to our mission. Mission Champions have consistently demonstrated their commitment and dedication to education, clinical care, research, service, administration and/or culture/relationship-building. Dr. Haisch was also recently inducted as a full member of the American College of Surgeons Academy of Master Surgeon Educators.

Dr. Yaolin Zhou, associate professor and head of molecular pathology in the Brody Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, has been named to the 2023 Becker’s Healthcare “Emerging Leaders: Provider Organization Leaders Under 40” list. According to the accompanying article from Becker’s Healthcare, “In 2020, she partnered with clinical colleagues to establish a health-system-wide initiative to reduce daily repeat lab tests, achieving a 15- to 25-percent reduction in unnecessary repeat daily testing throughout the system.” In 2023, Zhou received a $250,000 industry-funded quality improvement grant to expand her molecular consultation services across practice in the 29-county North Carolina eastern region. She is using the grant to identify and address health care disparities in cancer care.

Dr. Radhika Dhingra, a researcher and Brody student, is the lead author on a recently published study which found evidence that wildfire smoke exposure in the six months after birth causes a longer term effects on the respiratory health of children. A surprising twist in the findings of Dhingra’s study is that the upper respiratory system – from the nose down to the larynx – was primarily impacted by the smoke, which presents a particular challenge for babies.


The fall 2023 James H. Bearden Induction Ceremony of the ECU Chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS) was on Nov. 16, 2023, in Harvey Hall on the campus of East Carolina University. The College of Business inducted more than 40 new members into BGS, the honor society serving business programs accredited by AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The BGS tapping ceremonies – the presentation of BGS invitations during class time – took place earlier during the spring semester.

The Isley Innovation Hub was established to be the place on campus to make things happen, whether it be for ideation collaborations or on/off-campus events. Based on the numbers below, its goal is being met. For the Fall ’23 term, the Isley Hub hosted almost 15,000 visitors. Almost 500 3D printing jobs were executed, and more than 100 students participated in the Wornom Makerspace training. Numerous events turned to the Isley Hub as its host. From faculty/department gatherings, student team meetings, and recruiting events to student organization meetings, faculty workshops and industry tours, the Isley Hub is becoming a significant, one-stop-shop where all can thrive and produce.

COB students Summer Davis and Evan Lambert, both majoring in supply chain management, recently attended the 5th WISE (Women Impacting Supply Chain Excellence) Future Leaders Symposium with Dr. Ying Liao in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Gathering with students and faculty from 25-plus supply chain programs, students took advantage of the networking and mentoring opportunities with amazing, high-level female industry leaders in the field of supply chain management. Students gained valuable career-based and leadership development advice and insight on the industry and from the perspective of female executives from well-known corporations, including J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Sam’s Club, Deloitte, Proctor & Gamble, and Sysco.

As part of the $3.2M NC-STeP Peds program, COB's Dr. Lucky Xue officially launched a 3D community house, which was designed by children. The purpose of the virtual 3-D community house, or “Healthy Mind for NC Kids Community House,” is threefold: (1) introduce mental health basic knowledge and resources to children, (2) encourage them to speak out about their mental health problems, and (3) motivate them to actively seek help when needed. Within this virtual community house, children can find a diverse array of mental health activities, providing them with options to engage in sports, dance, reading, drawing, dining, music, yoga and more. In addition, we've integrated educational elements, such as mental health prompt posters and activities focused on promoting movement and relaxation.

On Nov. 14, AmWins sponsored the COB’s Risk Management and Insurance Fall 2023 Etiquette Dinner. Five ECU alumni represented AmWins, and COB’s Dr. Kathryn Carroll provided everyone with outstanding etiquette instruction. “We always appreciate our partnership with AmWins, and they really came through for us by providing us with such a lovely meal and a fun experience,” said Finance and Insurance Department Chair Dr. Brenda Wells.

The students in the COB’s Advanced Topics in Risk Management and Insurance Class researched, wrote, edited and produced a webinar available to the public on Nov. 29, 2023. The webinar was called “Gen Z Spills the Tea on Mental Health.” It featured five students in the Risk Management and Insurance Program. Dr. Wells said, “These five students picked their own topic, and took it very seriously as they researched it and wrote the webinar. I’m so proud of all of them!”

The College of Business recognized and celebrated the more than 300 students, graduate and undergraduate, who graduated in Fall of ’23. As part of that celebration, the COB invited Matt Slate ’96 to serve as keynote at the COB graduate recognition ceremonies. His messages were impactful: be a sponge, have patience, own your mistakes, never burn a bridge, be kind, and give back to your community.

“Of all the things I have done, being involved with the ECU Foundation and seeing the impact that we have on students … it has really opened my eyes to how an organization can make an impact for good.” - Matt Slate ('96), Chairman, ECU Foundation


School of Dental Medicine

Dr. Lakshmi Senkumar, left and Dr. Roopsi Kaur were selected as coaters for the upcoming White Coat Ceremony.

Dr. Roopwant “Roopsi” Kaur has been named Assistant Dean for Engagement at the School of Dental Medicine. In this position, she will collaborate with senior leadership, department chairs, faculty, students, staff and others to lead, oversee and coordinate community building within the school. Her duties include developing initiatives that enhance our school’s commitment to a welcoming environment for all and creating programming that supports the mission and vision while sustaining a community that represents the people of North Carolina. Dr. Kaur will divide her time between her new role as Assistant Dean for Engagement while continuing to serve as Clinical Associate Professor of Operative Dentistry in the Department of General Dentistry.

Dr. Kaur and colleague Dr. Lakshmi Senkumar were also recently selected as coaters for the Class of 2026’s upcoming White Coat Ceremony.

Dr. Acela Martinez-Luna was a featured speaker during the North Carolina Dental Society’s First District Meeting in November. Dr. Martinez-Luna serves as division director of clinical implantology and clinical associate professor. Her professional interests include implant dentistry, digital dentistry, 3D printing, periodontal plastic surgery and periodontal and guided bone regeneration. She is a frequent presenter at national and international dental meetings. Dr. Martinez Luna is the recipient of the Straumann New Periodontist Award, Straumann SUPER Grant, the North Carolina AADR Section Derek T. Turner Student Research Award and the UNC-CH Elsie and Baxter Sapp Fellowship Award. Prior to her joining ECU, Dr. Martinez-Luna practiced periodontics and implant dentistry in Queretaro, Mexico.

Second-year dental student Brooklyn Schlarb, wellness chair for the school’s chapter of the American Student Dental Association, and Phylicia Bridgers, director of counseling and student development, accepted a 2023 Chapter Wellness Grant from ASDA. The school is one of only five chapters across the nation to receive the grant, which funds wellness-related events and activities. ASDA is a national student-run organization that protects and advances the rights, interests and welfare of dental students.

Last month, students, residents, faculty and staff cared for 18 veterans during the annual ECU Smiles for Veterans event at the community service learning center in Sylva. Fourth-year dental student Sameera Eleidy helped provide care for Army veteran Mike S., whose smile was transformed over the course of his treatment. Mike said the care he received has improved his quality of life and allowed him to return to activities he enjoys.


Counselor education faculty member Allison Fears was featured in a story by Spectrum News on counselors and keeping schools safe in North Carolina and beyond.

Dean André Green and COE faculty and staff held a celebration at the ECU Community School for the scholars to celebrate winter break and give each scholar their own purple ECUCS sweatshirt.

Literacy studies faculty Dr. Marjorie Rowe & Dr. Christiana Kfouri presented at the Literacy Research Association Conference in Atlanta on curriculum inquiry and supporting multilingual learners.

Dr. Matt Militello was featured as a faculty profile for the university. One of his greatest moments of pride is seeing the accomplishments and successes of his students, including placing the traditional academic hood on each of the doctoral graduates he works with. Read his faculty profile, HERE.

Dr. Rachelle Savitz led a book talk focusing on her book “Trauma-sensitive literacy instruction: Building student resilience in English language arts classrooms.” During the talk, Savitz focused on several pillars, including investigating biases, providing academic choice, fostering peer-to-peer relationships, building from who students are and what they know, and sharing vulnerabilities. Read more about the book talk, HERE.

Ainsley VanBuskirk, a COE alumna and teacher at Pactolus Global School, was surprised during a school assembly with the National Milken Educator Award, which includes a $25,000 prize. Learn more about VanBuskirk and the award, HERE.

Elementary education major Charley Edmondson was drawn to ECU’s sense of community. Now as a mentor for the education living-learning community, she helps foster that community for first year students. Learn more about her passion for education, including her chosen concentration of reading, HERE.


The College of Engineering and Technology celebrated 278 fall graduates during its Graduate Recognition Ceremony, including the first to graduate thanks to a partnership between ECU and Wake Technical Community College. Jaylon Martin (right) earned his ECU Bachelor of Science in industrial technology degree by taking classes at Wake Tech through the partnership that started in 2022. Read more HERE.

Dr. Natalie Aman, teaching instructor in industrial distribution and logistics, walked stride for stride with some of her students during commencement as she received her Ph.D. in technology management with a concentration in quality systems. Read more about her story HERE.

The fall Department of Engineering Capstone Symposium featured 22 projects that are helping to make the world a better and safer place. The symposium included innovative projects designed to help small businesses, improve occupational safety and support accessibility for all athletes. Read more HERE.

Two ECU professors are helping the N.C. Department of Transportation prepare for the future as part of the University Transportation Center of Excellence. Dr. Amin K. Akhnoukh, associate professor in the Department of Construction Management, and Dr. Gregory Howard, associate professor in the Department of Economics, are part of the three-year, $1 million effort. Read more HERE.

A team of ECU students placed in the top 5% of the country during the National Cyber League cybersecurity competition. The event features more than 1,000 teams and 4,200 competitors, with ECU coming home in 61st place. Read more HERE.


ECU’s ceremonial symbol, the Trustees Mace, is made of sterling silver, measures 43 inches in height, and weighs about 14 pounds. When the sky is clear, sunlight will flash from its silver flanges. Even if the day is cloudy, the mace’s focal point—a purple fluorite crystal—will emit a soft fluorescent glow. It was commissioned by the ECU Board of Trustees in 1978 for the installation of Chancellor Thomas Brewer, and Professor John Satterfield, a faculty member in the School of Art and Design, designed and created the mace.

After years in service for the official ceremonies at ECU, the mace accumulated damages, wear and tear. School of Art and Design Professor Tim Lazure was commissioned for the repair, a year-long project, and the Trustees Mace is now restored to its original brilliance.

A joint effort by ECU Advancement and School of Music, a six-week crowdfunding campaign to raise $20,000 concluded on December 15 to help fulfill the vision for the new music therapy clinic in East Carolina University’s School of Music. Thanks to all, the project was a great success and raised 150% of the amount set as the original goal! The campaign received a generous matching gift from a local benefactor by achieving this goal. Funding raised through this project will cover the operational expenses of the clinic and support the purchase of instruments used in the program.

Spearheaded by Drs. Adrienne Steiner-Brett and Virginia Driscoll, the Music Therapy Clinic at ECU (MTC@ECU) is a hands-on learning and therapeutic environment for young children through older adults and all ages in between. MTC@ECU is directly tied to the music therapy program within the School of Music and has been providing academic and practicum training for music therapists for more than 30 years. Our students are employed around the world in hospitals, assisted living centers, clinics, schools, community treatment, and private practice.


Graduate School Councils and Committees

Happy New Year from the Graduate School! We wanted to remind everyone about the Graduate Council and various committees that support graduate education to help encourage faculty and staff participation when needed.

On the Graduate School website, the Council & Committees page has the information you need to learn more about the Graduate Council, the Graduate Curriculum Committee, the Graduate Council Executive Committee, and the Graduate Program Directors & Coordinators meeting. All of these meetings are open and faculty and staff are welcome to attend.

For Spring 2024, all meetings are virtual and the link for participation can be requested from Tania Alvarez, Executive Assistant to the Dean of the Graduate School or on the University’s Event Calendar. We expect that Graduate Council and Graduate Council Executive Committee meetings will return to in-person meetings in Fall 2024 or Spring 2025 pending a Graduate School move to the refurbished Mendenhall building.

It is during these meetings that faculty and staff can learn the policies and practices that support graduate education across our campus and all are welcome. We encourage graduate faculty to get involved by serving as an elected Graduate Council member in their college/school to help shape the future of graduate education at ECU!

RCAW 2024 will be held April 1-5 in the Main Campus Student Center.

Abstract submissions for RCAW 2024 will be accepted through 5:00PM on February 15, 2024. To submit, log into PiratePort and find the Student Abstract Submission Card to begin.

**Abstract submissions will close on February 15, 2024. Be aware that this deadline includes official mentor-approvals/final submission.**

Attention mentors and students: In accordance with our support of open access and sharing of knowledge, the RCAW program, including abstracts, will be published and available online.

Thesis-Dissertation Award Update

Nominations are well underway and will continue being accepted through February 2, 2024. This is a great time to exemplify the research of our graduate students. These awards are given each year in coordination with the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools and the Council of Graduate Schools. Each year, Colleges are asked to submit nominations for their best master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation to the Graduate School for review by the Thesis and Dissertation Award Committee. Faculty are invited to serve on this committee. The disciplines considered for the award change each year on a rotating basis. For more information please click HERE. Questions can be directed to Dr. Michelle Eble.

Mentor Award Update

Just a friendly reminder that the deadline to nominate a faculty mentor for the Distinguished Graduate Faculty Mentor Award is February 2, 2024.

The Faculty Mentor Awards are awarded each Spring at the Research & Creative Achievement Week award ceremony. Two faculty are chosen from student or peer nominations which undergo a robust application and review process. The faculty mentor award committee includes the winners from the previous year. Questions can be directed to Dr. Michelle Eble.

Graduate Admissions & Enrollment Management

The Office of Graduate Admissions ended the year with a coffee breakfast meeting at Awaken Coffee. We recapped the year the fall semester and discussed ways to continue to improve our processes.

In January, the Graduate School Enrollment Management (GSEM) meetings will continue with meetings by college. These meetings help to share strategies for recruitment throughout the enrollment funnel and for programs to share their efforts to date. These meetings are open to any Graduate Program Director who may be interested in enrollment goals and benchmarks. Please contact Dr. James L. Coker for additional information.

The Office of Graduate Admissions will also be hosting our second ETS Partnership series presentation:

Developing Admissions Rubrics Workshop: Tuesday, January 23 from 3:30 – 5:00PM.

A comprehensive workshop on holistic graduate admissions rubrics for faculty and staff. Learn to evaluate applicants' potential from multiple sources to gauge applicants' knowledge, skills, experiences, and personal attributes. Discover the art of holistic assessment, encompassing diverse qualities and experiences. This interactive session equips you with practical tools and strategies for fair, inclusive, and effective admissions processes. Elevate your graduate program's selection procedures to identify the ideal candidates.

Please email the Graduate School for the webinar information.


Michael Daniels and Drs. Lindsey Oakes and Sarah Maness were selected to ECU’s 2024-25 cohort of the Engagement and Outreach Scholars Academy. Daniels is a senior teaching instructor in the School of Social Work, Oakes an assistant professor in the Department of Recreation Sciences and Maness an assistant professor in the Department of Health Education and Promotion.

Recreation sciences faculty members Drs. Cari Autry (recreational therapy) and Edwin Gomez (recreation and park management) represented ECU and presented research at the World Leisure Congress in New Zealand, put on by the World Leisure Organization. WLO is the oldest international leisure organization and an affiliate member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization. Autry is a board member of WLO and Gomez is the associate editor of quantitative methods for the World Leisure Journal.

Elizabeth “Liz” Taylor, a physical education student in the Department of Kinesiology, earned statewide accolades in winning the NC Shape outstanding future professional of the year award. In-state colleges and universities are requested to nominate students who represent their institution by demonstrating outstanding student leadership and future professional involvement.

Mack Keenan and the College of Health and Human Performance hosted members of the University Advancement staff for a tour of some of HHP’s labs. This included a student research presentation in the Visual Motor Lab in Minges Coliseum and question-and-answer opportunities in the Carol Belk Building.

Dr. Angela Lamson, a Nancy W. Darden Distinguished Professor in human development and family science and ECU’s interim assistant vice chancellor for economic and community engagement, represented ECU and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy on a national podcast. The episode focused on the importance of White Ribbon VA in the action to eliminate sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence, and was hosted by the National Association of Social Workers.

Birth-kindergarten teacher education faculty Susannah Berry and Ashley Norris, from the Department of Human Development and Family Science, presented at the National Association for the Education of Young Children annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee. They presented about establishing university drop-off childcare.


Several Honors College students presented at the recent ECU Board of Trustees meeting. Quaid Lawler and Sydney Cook shared the importance of relationships to being successful in college. Tete Narh-Mensah and Abby Ulffers talked about the impact of leadership programs on their college experiences. Read the Board of Trustees wrap-up story, HERE.

The Honors College living-learning community has been named in honor of Lynn and Pat Lane, staunch supporters of the college. Read the naming story for more information about the Lanes and the living-learning community.

Two Honors College students were part of the ECU team that took second place at a national undergraduate health services case competition at The Medical University of South Carolina. Read more about their project, HERE.

Jordan Anderson was selected as one of the fall 2023 graduate profiles. This Honors College student can sum up her ECU experience with one word — opportunity. Read Jordan’s profile to learn more about the experiences that have shaped her including study abroad, research and more.

Honors student Blair Beaulieu won the Office of Global Affairs’ study abroad photo contest in the service category. Blair participated in the Jamaica Serve & Learn with the Honors College and the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement.


Drs. Sid Narayan and Nadine Heck (Coastal Studies) attended the 28th UN Climate conference, held in the U.A.E, in December 2023. Dr. Narayan represented ECU and the American Society of Civil Engineers as a panelist on an event on Nature-based Solutions for Resilience, organized by the American Society of Landscape Architects. This official side-event drew >60 audience members from around the world, and from diverse professions together in a stimulating conversation on the role of nature in helping coastal communities adapt to, and mitigate the effects of, global climate change.

Drs. Heck and Narayan also participated in a mangrove planting field trip in the U.A.E. and had several meetings with other experts in coastal conservation and restoration, adaptation, and nature-based solutions during the COP 28 conference.

Matthew Stengrim, Jeff Foeller, and Teresa Ryan (Engineering) presented new results from Dr. Ryan's ongoing Office of Naval Research sponsored program on long range atmospheric acoustics at the joint meeting of the Acoustical Society of America and the Acoustical Society of Australia in Sydney in December. Stengrim, a first-year master's student studying Mechanical Engineering, presented "High Spatial Resolution Long-Term Temperature Profiling to Inform Near-Shore Atmospheric Sound Propagation." Ryan presented "Influence of Mesoscale Meteorological Observations on Near Shore Excess Attenuation Prediction,” summarizing key results from the Summer 2023 field studies conducted at the CSI campus. Ryan and Foeller each presented works summarizing key takeaways from the seven years of ONR support from an educational perspective (Foeller's "Undergraduate Engineering Education with Hands-On Experimental Acoustic Field Work”) and from an experimental perspective (Ryan's "Measuring Excess Attenuation in Littoral Environment Evolution of A Measurement System").

Members of the Coastal Studies Institute were recently featured on the PBS North Carolina show Sci NC. The research conducted by James Morley (Assistant Professor Biology, Associate Scientist CSI) and Andrew McMains (PhD student IDPBBC) on the ecological impacts of oyster farms was described. The episode also featured camera and drone footage from John McCord (Assistant Director for Engagement & Outreach at CSI). Watch the episode HERE.


The 16th annual School of Art and Design Graduate Student Art Exhibition opened in the Janice Hardison Faulkner Gallery on the second floor of the library. A reception and awards ceremony is planned for Feb. 22, 2024. The participating artists are: Tracey Lagomasino-Bell, Emily Booker, Katelyn Davis, Paul Edwards, Michael Gaines, Joogab Kim, Haley McElroy, Lori Scalamoni, Chase Shotton, Haleigh Lennox Brewer, Katelyn Lux Brewer, Lee Turner and Chris Zidec.

Academic Library Services produced a 2023 Year in Review. This provided an opportunity to reflect on the many ways the library’s resources, collections, exhibits, study spaces, events and more benefit students, faculty and staff, while contributing to a Future focused. Innovation driven. mindset at ECU.

Jennifer Daugherty, head of N.C. Collection, provided a book review of “The Special Collections Handbook.” Daugherty’s review was published and made available online via Taylor & Francis.

Staff in our Teaching Resources Center hosted children from the Nancy Darden Child Development Center for a fun day in December. They read a story and enjoyed doing crafts.


The Country Doctor Museum celebrated its 55th anniversary in December, as well as 20 years under ECU stewardship. Congratulations to museum curator Annie Anderson for her 2024 appointment to the Board of the Federation of North Carolina Historical Societies.

Laupus Health Sciences Library is proud to present the Fifth Annual Love Data Week. Love Data Week will be held on February 5-9, 2024, and will include presenters from across many ECU academic and administrative units who will be sharing their research and expertise:

  • Lee Cline, Brittany Clark, Scotty Stroup (ITCS): Data Governance at ECU
  • Hui Bian (OFE): Data Structure and Types of Measurement in Statistics
  • Erzebet Maria Szatmari (Physical Therapy, Allied Health): Animal Models of Molecular Neuroresilience against Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Reeve Kennedy (Social Work, HHP): Understanding National Trends in Bullying and Cyberbullying using Meta-analysis
  • Kerri Flinchbaugh (Health Sciences Writing Consultant): Plain Language Summaries
  • Ciprian Popoviciu (College of Engineering & Technology), Colby Sawyer (CET), Sinan Sousan (Public Health, BSOM), Randall Ethridge (CET), Rui Wu (CET): Data Pipeline: From Collection to Analysis to Modeling
  • Kerry Sewell (HHP): The Complex World of Data as Intellectual Property
  • Ramiro Murata (SODM): Oral Microbiome Quantum Leap: Moving Beyond Commensalism/Parasitism
  • Gary Wallace and Chris Motteler (ITCS) will also hold virtual training sessions for REDCAP Basic, REDCap Intermediate, and Qualtrics on February 8.

Look for location details and links for all other presentations in future emails.

Health sciences students take a break and enjoy VR activities, snacks and games as part of the library’s support of students during finals.

Laupus proudly supported health sciences students during finals in December. Library staff:

  • Fed 200 students for Pancake Breakfast
  • Fed over 100 students for Pizza and VR night
  • Distributed 75 stress relief kits.
  • Provided snacks, coffee, board games, bracelet making, coloring, and fidget toys all week.


The College of Nursing dean, Dr. Bim Akintade, has been invited to be a member of the North Carolina Nurses Association Board of Directors for 2024-25. NCNA is the state’s largest association of, and for, the nursing profession, advocating for nursing practice, policy and education.

In his new role, Dr. Akintade will have input into NCNA’s decisions about advocacy and policy, which will help to shape the work done at the CON, and the future of nursing across the Tarheel state.

The inaugural College of Nursing Research and Scholarship Day, held Dec. 5, was a huge success in supporting students to gain experience presenting their research activities. The students met with and engaged with faculty members from the CON. The People’s Choice Award winners for each of the three categories were:

  • Undergraduate People’s Choice Award winner: Sydney Wilkerson, with faculty support from Dr. Mark Hand, for her project ‘Using Film to Understand Nursing Students Perceptions Related to the Care of the LGBTQ Patient: A Pilot Study.’
  • Master’s/Clinical Doctorate People’s Choice Award winner: Jessica Shepherd for her project ‘Vein of Galen Malformation’.
  • Research Doctorate People’s Choice Award winner: Wanda Goodwyn, with faculty support from Drs. Courtney Caiola and Donna Roberson, for her project ‘An Integrative Review of the Literature Examining sexual relationship power (SRP), depressive symptoms, silencing the self, and HIV vulnerability for women in the United States.’

East Carolina University and ECU Health are launching an initiative to increase the number of adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioners serving as advanced practice health care professionals in ECU Health’s critical care settings. This effort builds on the collective commitment of both organizations to solve the rural health challenges in the region as well as the state.

The effort – conceived by nursing and education leaders from ECU’s College of Nursing and ECU Health – will benefit both the university and the health system, said Dr. Bim Akintade, the dean of ECU’s College of Nursing. An investment of nearly $1.5 million over five years from ECU Health will increase the College of Nursing’s capacity to graduate trained and qualified nurses who can meet the growing need for acute care practitioners to treat the hospital’s sickest patients.

Through the effort, ECU Health is helping fund the development of a new Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Post Graduate Certificate at the CON, which will train current nurse practitioners to treat acute care adult patients. The investment also provides funding for a program director who teaches and an additional part-time faculty member as well as administrative support and operational costs.

“Our plan is to take the next few months to work with our partners at ECU Health and find clinical placement sites in critical care environments for ECU Health employees who enroll in the program,” Akintade said. “They need nurses, and training nurses is our business and passion. This collaboration is a win-win and makes complete sense for the University, the Heath System, the region and the state.

The initiative isn’t limited to the current arrangement and both ECU and ECU Health will continue to explore ways to leverage this effort to design innovative solutions that benefit the people of eastern North Carolina.

Dr. Michael Jones, the College of Nursing’s inaugural associate dean for culture, engagement, and professional development, is making strides in getting the most underrepresented group of potential nurses to join the nursing profession. He currently has two funded grants to introduce black male middle and high school students to the benefits of a nursing career.

One project, “Recruitment of High School African American Males to the Nursing Profession” (Emerging Scholars Healthcare Scholars Leadership Institute), seeks to understand the perceptions of high school-aged black males, their parents and school related to choosing nursing as a profession. This program will also establish a pipeline program, focusing on the academic success and mentoring of male high school students. The CON will establish partnerships with D.H. Conley and J.H. Rose High Schools to carry out the proposed project.

The high school project will be implemented alongside a program funded by the American Association of Colleges of Nurses (AACN), which is targeted at middle school black males. Data from both programs will serve to inform both ECU CON and AACN on mechanisms by which to increase the number of black males into the nursing profession.

The grant will help fund efforts to reduce the tremendous gaps in representation of black men in nursing. Earlier this year Visible magazine reported that of 4.2 million registered nurses in the U.S., less than 10 percent are black, 6 percent are male and the number of black men in nursing is so small that “there’s no way to count it.”