Pictured at top of page, honorees at the 2015 Women of Distinction award ceremony enjoy a light moment during the event. (Photo by Jay Clark)
Women of Distinction


The ECU Women of Distinction Awards are given every two years to recognize the outstanding contributions by women of East Carolina University. Nominees for the awards may include ECU faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni. Ten women will be selected for this prestigious award, one of whom will be chosen to receive the Linda Allred Profiles in Leadership Award.

Dr. Linda J. Allred was an associate professor in ECU's Psychology Department who died in December of 2005.  She directed the Women's Studies Program from 1994-95 and was a strong advocate for women's rights and for Americans with Disabilities. She was in a wheelchair for the last several years of her life due to a debilitating condition, but she remained an enthusiastic mentor to many faculty and students. Because her death had been so recent when the leadership award was being established, Women's Studies and CCSW, who co-sponsored the first award, voted to honor Linda by naming it after her.

The awards are made to recognize women who have:

  • distinguished themselves in academic work, career, leadership, public service, or any combination thereof through commitment, determination, empowerment and generosity of spirit and time;
  • contributed to the personal growth and success of others, especially women, through education, research, or public or volunteer service, beyond their expected job responsibilities; and
  • created positive social change, increased equality and fairness for all, and built community.
Areas in which nominees demonstrate outstanding contributions may include, but are not limited to, academics/education; professions; research; health care/services; management/administration; politics; social services; volunteer, charity, community outreach organizations; and athletics.  


For more information contact:

Karen Traynor, Chair

Women of Distinction Jury




2017 Women of Distinction Award

WOD final 2017

Honored at the 2017 Women of Distinction Awards were, front row left to right, Dr. Marianne Montgomery, Dr. Liza Wieland, Dr. Nancy M. White, Dr. Brenda Wells; back row left to right, Dr. Vivian Martin Covington, Dr. Elizabeth Baxley, Dr. Crystal Chambers, Bianca Shoneman, Dr. Susan McGhee, Dr. Sharon Ballard.
(Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Linda Allred Award

Dr. Susan McGhee, Associate Dean for ECU’s College of Health and Human Performance embodies the University’s motto, servire. She is a willing and enthusiastic volunteer for important tasks that are often thankless and time consuming. Dr. McGhee was instrumental in the development and sustainability of the recreational therapy program at ECU and key to the growth of the profession because of her extensive knowledge of the field as evidenced by her numerous publications and presentations. She is committed to diversity and inclusion. In part due to her leadership,efforts to establish undergraduate diversity course requirements in both domestic and global content became reality. She was influential in the refinement of a faculty mentoring initiative and serves as a mentor and role model for her students, staff and faculty. Dr. McGhee has devoted years of service in a variety of leadership roles to state and national associations and boards and has received many awards and honors in recognition. She has been a long-time supporter of community organizations that provide services to people with illnesses and disabilities. She has exhibited tireless dedication to East Carolina University, students, colleagues, community, and her profession.

Women of Distinction Awards

Dr. Sharon M. Ballard

Dr. Elizabeth Baxley

Dr. Crystal Chambers

Dr. Vivian Martin Covington

Dr. Marianne Montgomery

Dr. Susan McGhee

Ms. Bianca Shoneman

Dr. Brenda Wells

Dr. Nancy M. White

Dr. Liza Wieland


wod1Dr. Holly F. Mathews, professor of Anthropology in ECU’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts & Sciences, embodies excellence in research, scholarship and service as an advocate of women’s and gender issues. She has taught 20 different courses in her 33 years at ECU and served on or chaired over 50 master’s thesis committees, including thesis and PhD committees at other universities.

A founding member of the Women’s Studies Program, Dr. Mathews has remained on that executive committee and has organized or participated in women’s issues groups, such as the Gender to a Tea Faculty Lecture Series. Dr. Mathews has made significant contributions to global health and human rights scholarship and to women, the elderly and others underserved by the health care system in eastern North Carolina. Her community service overlaps with her professional interests and includes work with the local shelter for homeless women and children, the Center for Family Violence Prevention, and she serves as a mentor for breast cancer survivor groups in the tri-county region.


Honored at the 2015 Women of Distinction awards celebration were, front row left to right, Dr. Rachel Roper, Dr. Mary Farwell, Dr. Alice Arnold, Bernita Demery and Rosie Thompson; back row left to right, Dr. Lorrie Basnight, Lori Lee, Dr. Holly Mathews, Mandee Lancaster and Dr. Sarah Wiliams. (Photo by Jay Clark)

Dr. Alice Arnold

Dr. Lorrie Basnight

Bernita Demery

Dr. Mary Farwell

Mandee Lancaster

Lori Lee

Dr. Rachel Roper

Rosie Thompson

Dr. Sarah Williams



Dr. Catherine Rigsby, professor of sedimentology, has made an impact not only at ECU but also across the region, state, and world. A professor, researcher, mentor, and scientist, she has received extensive federal funding for research, and is a visiting researcher in the Brazilian National Science Foundation's Science Without Borders program. With a worldly view of teaching, she is a scholar and educator who instills in her students the importance of a strong liberal arts foundation, no matter what a student's area of study. She is active on numerous committees and boards, and currently serves as chair of the UNC Faculty Assembly. In that position, she is an advocate for faculty across the UNC system, serving as their voice relating to policies and educational outcomes. At ECU, Dr. Rigsby is active on the Faculty Governance Committee, Agenda Committee, Committee on Committees, and the Faculty Senate. She has been a Fulbright Scholar to Brazil, has a large volume of scholarly peer-reviewed publications, and teaches geology courses and labs.


Recognized for their contributions at the Women of Distinction event were front row, left to right, Dr. Mary S. Jackson, Maria Theresa (Terry) Shank, Dr. Cindy Putnam-Evans, Dr. Kathryn M. Kolasa and back row, left to right, Julie Poorman, Holly Garriott, Dr. Beth Wall-Bassett, Dr. Kim Larson, Dr. Catherine Rigsby, and Dr. Kathryn Verbanac. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Holly Garriott

Dr. Mary S. Jackson

Dr. Kathryn M. Kolasa

Dr. Kim Larson

Julie Poorman

Dr. Cindy Putnam-Evans

Marie Theresa (Terry) Shank

Dr. Kathryn Verbanac

Dr. Beth Wall-Bassett

Honorees at the Women of Distinction event included, front row left to right, Beth Velde, Diane Campbell, Margie Gallagher, Kathleen Row and back row, left to right, Marianna Walker, Jamie Kruse and Diane Rodriguez Luterbach.

Dr. Diane Campbell


Margie Gallagher

Jamie Kruse

Elizabeth Layman

Deirdre Mageean

Linda Mooney

Diane Rodriguez-Luterbach

Kathleen Row

Beth Velde

Marianna Walker


Marie Farr


Karen Vail-Smith

Phyllis Horns

Bonnie Mani

Martha Raile Alligood

Patricia Anderson

Helen Diane Meelheim

Candace Pearce

Delores Lola Thompson


Sharon Knight


Margaret Bauer

Sheila Gant Bunch

Anne Dickerson

Pat Dunn

Deedee Glascoff

Virginia Hardy

Susan McCammon

Vivian Mott

Marilyn Sheerer

Delores Lola Thompson