Dickens echoed Alphin’s thoughts about the variety of skills the College of Business provided him with.

“You learn a little bit about all aspects of business, then concentrate on what you are best at,” said Dickens. “By using this approach, the College of Business has helped us become well-rounded businessmen. We would not have been able to start our business without having that background and without learning about mission statements and having goals. Those goals have helped us achieve our dreams.”

Exemplars of success

When he was dean, Bearden taught a salesmanship class that Ken Chalk, Board of Trustee member at ECU and retired chief credit office at BB&T, took as a student. Chalk, who earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from ECU, said that he will never forget the beneficial lessons he learned in that class.

“I remember one specific lesson Dr. Bearden taught us about communication. He had a student hold an illustration and stand up in front of the room, with his back to the class. We had to draw that illustration based on our verbal understanding of what the student was seeing. We couldn’t see facial expressions or hand gestures; all we could hear was his voice,” said Chalk. “Of course, when we compared our illustrations, everyone’s was different. For our next exercise, the student turned around and we could see his facial expressions and hand gestures. When we compared our illustrations that time, they were much closer to the original. That day I really learned that you can’t be a good salesman without having stellar communication skills.”

Bearden also reminisced about his experiences at the College of Business and how it felt to teach a student who has been as successful as Chalk.

“It’s terrific to see the success that any of your students have had and will have. It has been a great part of my life to witness all of these young people to see their successes,” said Bearden. “Mr. Chalk is certainly one of the exemplars of success.”


Neelam Patel, area sales manager for Summit Hospitality Group, Ltd. and Dr. Jim Westmoreland, associate dean of external affairs at the College of Business

Guiding student organizations

Neelam Patel, 2008 graduate and area sales manager for Summit Hospitality Group Ltd., and Dr. Jim Westmoreland, associate dean for external affairs at the college, both agree that being involved with organizations within the College of Business have created some of their best times at ECU.

“My best memories are all about the people. During my time at ECU, I have had the chance to work with all nine student organizations within the College of Business,” said Westmoreland. “It has been so special to see how the students have grown and developed into leaders within their organizations and have learned from each other. I feel honored to have had the chance to work with all of them.”

From a student’s standpoint, Patel agreed that involvement in the student organizations within the College of Business really helped her become the competent professional she is today.

“Growing up, I was a very shy girl, but while I was at ECU, I made it a point to get involved with the different organizations within the college,” she said. “The other day, my boss told me she admires the fact that I can go and talk to various people whenever, wherever. My interaction with others through the organizations I was part of in the College of Business taught me that confidence.”

Westmoreland added that by offering students a support system through mentoring them in student organizations, he hopes that they will all see how important they are.

“I want my students to know that they are not just a number. They are not just someone in a classroom,” said Westmoreland. “Each and every student has the potential to do great things in their lives.”


Mark Copeland, partner at Ernst & Young LLP and Bob Ward, former executive vice president and chief financial officer for Unifi, Inc.

The right place at the right time

For Mark Copeland, 1996 graduate of the College of Business and partner at Ernst & Young LLP, a phone call from Bob Ward, 1962 graduate and former executive vice president and chief financial officer of Unifi Inc., changed his life and helped jumpstart his career.

“When I was a senior accounting major at ECU, Mr. Ward, the then CFO of Unifi Inc., reached out to the local audit team in Greensboro and said he wanted somebody from ECU to be on his annual audit team,” said Copeland. “I was lucky enough to get that opportunity. Because of that opportunity, I received a job offer from Ernst & Young, eventually made partner, and now I serve as our office managing partner for the Charlotte office, which has over 500 people.”

According to Ward, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the College of Business really gives him an opportunity to reflect on its success and that of excellent students like Copeland.

“It’s meant a lot to me to watch the College of Business grow and prosper, and I am very proud of the graduates,” said Ward. “Mark is a good example of this success. It makes me proud to know we are celebrating this anniversary because it means we have accomplished a lot in 75 years.”

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