ECU News

Scott Hall

A renovated Scott Hall on College Hill will reopen
this fall with 613 beds, the largest on campus.

No longer a
'residential campus'?

s East Carolina’s undergraduate enrollment continues to grow, the university is in danger of losing its identity as a “residential” campus, a distinction that applies to schools where at least 25 percent of undergraduates live on campus. That’s one reason the Board of Trustees is considering partnering with private developers to build more dormitories.

There were 4,656 beds available in Main Campus dorms fall semester, which meant that only about 22 percent of the 21,424 undergrads were living on campus then. Although higher admissions requirements instituted last fall held total enrollment to 27,659, the campus needs more beds to climb back above the 25 percent threshold.

“We are headed to becoming a commuter campus with a lot of apartments around the campus,” said trustee David Redwine ’72, chair of the facilities and resources committee. “Personally, that is not what I want to see.” Redwine’s committee held a special meeting to discuss partnering with private developers to erect more dorms on campus. “ECU has grown faster than its facilities,” said trustees Chair David Brody.

“Public-private partnerships have been around for a while,” Redwine added. “It is something that the university needs to continue to look at and get a handle on.”

The General Assembly pays for construction of academic buildings at all UNC system schools, but each campus can work with private companies to build dorms and other types of buildings. Campuses use the revenue from renting the dorm rooms to pay for construction. Twelve of the 16 UNC campuses have built dorms this way.

The Board of Trustees also is considering the purchase of Campus Towers, a privately owned housing unit that abuts the campus. Campus Towers would add 343 beds to the campus. But the building is 25 years old and may not offer what students and parents have come to expect from quality student housing, officials said.

The expectation for more amenities and more space for each student should be a driving factor in the board’s future decisions, Chancellor Steve Ballard told trustees. Ballard wants ECU facilities to remain competitive with similar universities to continue attracting good students.

“A high percentage of our housing stock is not competitive,” Ballard said. “We have to decide if we want to keep renovating or build brand new, which is what I want to do.”

Trustees decided to devote time at future meetings for a closer look at how housing fits into the ECU master plan, how any new buildings will be paid for and operated and the potential purchase of Campus Towers.
Greenville Daily Reflector

ECU’s now number two
ast Carolina now has passed UNC Chapel Hill in undergraduate enrollment—and so has UNC Charlotte. Figures from all 16 campuses for the fall semester put ECU’s undergraduate enrollment at 21,424, Charlotte’s at 19,419 and Carolina’s at 17,981. N.C. State is the biggest, at 25,255. But Carolina’s much larger graduate school enrollment, at 10,935, keeps it in overall second place, about a thousand students ahead of East Carolina. A campus task force is examining plans to increase ECU’s current graduate enrollment of 6,196. East Carolina’s fall enrollment actually fell by 23 students in a planned move by the university to raise its admission standards as a way of attracting brighter students and lowering its dropout rate. The move obviously paid off; the average SAT score of incoming freshmen shot up 21 points, to 1046, the biggest point gain in the system. Enrollment in all UNC campuses grew to 222,322 in 2009, up about 3,400 students.

News Briefs

Engineering program accredited: The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has accredited ECU’s fledgling engineering program. ABET is the recognized accreditor of college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering and technology. East Carolina’s bachelor of science in engineering program accepted its first freshman class in 2004 and had its first graduates in May 2008. The program now has more than 300 students.

Sleep center accredited: The Sleep Disorders and Research Center of the Brody School of Medicine received program accreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The accreditation process involved detailed inspection of the center’s facility and staff, including an evaluation of testing procedures, patient contacts and physician training.

Rebel wins award: The university’s student-run literary magazine, Rebel, won the Associated Collegiate Press Magazine Pacemaker award at the 88th annual ACP/College Media Advisers National College Media Convention held in Austin, Texas. Rebel won for general excellence in the category of four-year literary magazine. The winning issue was Rebel’s 51st edition, produced and published in fall and spring 2008–09. Chris Schwing was the edition’s editor. Paul Isom, director of the ECU Office of Student Media, and graphic design faculty member Craig Malmrose served as advisors. This is the ninth time ECU’s Rebel has won the Pacemaker award. It was the only finalist from North Carolina. “Being named one of the three best literary magazines in the nation is an amazing honor,” Isom said.

Too many Northern accents: East Carolina will have to pay a $260,000 penalty for admitting too many out-of-state freshmen. According to a January report to the UNC Board of Governors, nonresident residents made up 18.7 percent of this year’s freshmen class, or 738 out-of-state residents compared to the 3,218 in-state freshmen. That’s 26 too many. The fine was imposed because this was the second year in a row that ECU has exceeded the 18 percent threshold imposed on all UNC campuses. The money will be transferred to a state financial aid program. The top three states sending students to ECU are Virginia, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Financial aid needs soar
inancial aid needs for East Carolina’s in-state undergraduate students soared from $98 million in 2008 to $135 million in 2009 and will worsen next year when a state scholarship program ends, a victim of the recession. But new data also show that the cost of attending a UNC campus remains low for a family living at the poverty line.

ECU, like most UNC campuses, reports seeing greater numbers of students needing financial aid since the recession began, and those students are qualifying for larger amounts of loans. Congress raised Pell grants this year from $4,731 to $5,300, which helped some, but the General Assembly’s decision to end the Educational Access Rewards North Carolina (EARN) Scholars initiative, which gave $4,000 grants to students in families with incomes up to twice the poverty level, operated for only one year. The program, championed by former Gov. Mike Easley to make college debt-free for the neediest students, gave 13,798 students $48 million in grants, according to N.C. State Education Assistance Authority data.

“It was a really good idea and a really good program (because) you didn’t have to take on a ton of debt,” said Julie Poorman, financial aid director at East Carolina, which had 575 EARN recipients last year. “Your parents could afford to send you to college.” All EARN grants end next year.

The federal stimulus package approved last year raised the maximum Pell Grant for low-income students by 17 percent to $5,550 next year, and the Obama administration is considering federal loan changes. The legislature also appropriated an additional $23 million to provide need-based aid to UNC-system students.

After all grants and other aid currently available, a student from a family of four with an adjusted gross income of $37,000 a year would need just $3,125 in loans to attend a typical UNC campus, according to a January report from the UNC Board of Governors. That cost rises to $5,341 a year for a student from a family with an adjusted gross annual income of $51,000 and to $12,441 a year for a student from a family earning $75,000 a year.

Year at ECU to cost $8,900
he $90 increase in tuition and $70 increase in student fees that East Carolina has proposed for next year would raise the cost of a year of college here to about $8,900, up 3.7 percent from this year. That’s below the UNC system average of a 5 percent increase and within the legislatively mandated figure of $200 or 8 percent, whichever is less.
However, UNC President Erskine Bowles is asking the General Assembly to consider an alternative plan that would give the 16 campuses more latitude in setting tuition rates. That plan would raise about the same amount of money over the next four years but would see tuition go up less for in-state undergraduates and more for out-of-state students.

Swiss foundation aids ECU

ast Carolina’s Second Century Campaign has raised more than $160 million of its $200 million goal, thanks to the generous support of individuals, corporations and charitable organizations. One such donor is the Oak Foundation, based in Geneva, Switzerland, which in November announced a two-year grant of $304,699 to the College of Education’s Project STEPP (Supporting Transition and Education through Planning and Partnerships). STEPP offers academic, social and life-skills support to students with learning disabilities who have shown the potential to succeed in college, students who traditionally may not have access to college.

“Project STEPP is groundbreaking in its comprehensive approach to supporting students with learning differences to earn a college degree, beginning with identifying these students in high school and supporting them from the application process through graduation,” said Stacy Parker-Fisher, program officer of the Oak Foundation’s Learning Differences Programme. “Ultimately, these students are a critical resource to the NC economy as 21st century thinkers and problem solvers.”

Students who are accepted into Project STEPP receive guidance in their transition from high school to college and participate in courses such as self-advocacy, time management, study skills and note taking, in addition to their regular course work. STEPP participants receive support from a network of advisors, assistive technology specialists, tutors, counselors, instructors and other experts whose services are customized for each student.

“We are very grateful for the Oak Foundation’s support that recognizes the great work of Project STEPP,” said ECU Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Mickey Dowdy. “The Oak Foundation’s very generous investment will help Project STEPP to further develop its integrated and collaborative system of support, research short-term and long-term outcomes, and create a program that is not only successful at ECU but ultimately at other universities.”
The Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. The foundation’s Learning Differences program supports programs, research and activities that contribute to the body of knowledge and strategies available to students with learning differences.

The Oak Foundation has a special interest in programs that can be replicated in public school settings; use research- and evidence-based programs and strategies; support parent/guardian advocacy; provide services to students regardless of ability to pay; extend the knowledge and research base on the use of assistive technologies to support students with learning differences; provide information such as materials and web sites accessible to users with learning differences; extend the research to address learning needs not addressed by current programs and approaches; and provide strong methods for measuring outcomes.

Through its Second Century Campaign, East Carolina University seeks to raise critical resources necessary for many aspects of the university, including the success of programs such as Project STEPP. In these difficult economic times, private support for programs is more important than ever. Please consider supporting East Carolina—our university—through the Second Century Campaign.

For more information about Project STEPP, contact Project STEPP Director Dr. Sarah Williams at 252-328-1101 or by e-mail at For more information about how you can contribute to the Second Century Campaign, visit or call 252-328-9550.

Ruffin's raring to go

uffin McNeill ’80, who grew up in Lumberton and starred at East Carolina as a four-year letterman, was named the university’s new head football coach, succeeding Skip Holtz, who resigned to take over the football program at the University of South Florida. McNeill, 51, comes to Greenville from Texas Tech, where he was an assistant coach for the last 10 seasons. He will earn a reported $5 million over five years.

McNeill began assembling a staff by hiring Texas Tech’s wide receivers coach, 26-year-old Lincoln Riley, as offensive coordinator, a clear sign the Pirates will be employing the same high-scoring offense as the Red Raiders. He also named Texas Tech cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell as his defensive coordinator, putting former Tech assistants in all the top jobs.

“I’m honored, humbled, and excited to become your next football coach,” McNeill said when introduced at a Jan. 21 press conference. “This is a dream come true for an East Carolina boy. This is a my alma mater.”

“Coach McNeill’s interview revealed his strong commitment to doing things the right way and his love of coaching young men to grow in every part of their lives,” athletic director Terry Holland said.

McNeill vowed to make sure his players graduate. “Again, I’m witness to graduating while playing football,” he said. “It will be done. It will be expected here. If I can do it, everyone can do it.”

McNeill concluded his 24th overall season at the collegiate level as Texas Tech’s interim head coach by rallying the No. 21 Red Raiders to a 41-31 victory over Michigan State at the Valero Alamo Bowl Jan. 2 after the dismissal of Mike Leach. Seen as a father figure by Texas Tech players, McNeill was credited with promoting a family-type atmosphere and disciplined instruction on the field. He said he wants to assure ECU parents that he will treat “their most prized possessions” as he would treat his own.

McNeill began his coaching career as a defensive coach at Lumberton High School from 1980–84, before entering graduate school at Clemson University in 1985 and becoming a linebackers coach there. He got his master’s in counseling from Clemson in 1987. McNeill later spent three seasons on the staff at Appalachian State and returned to Boone after a year as defensive line coach here in 1992. He was defensive coordinator at Appalachian from 1993–96.

At ECU, McNeill was a three-year starter at defensive back and was the team captain for two seasons. He helped lead ECU to the Southern Conference Championship in 1976 and an Independence Bowl berth in. McNeill and his wife, Erlene, have two daughters, Renata and Olivia, the latter of whom is a sophomore at Appalachian State.


Fewer freshmen dropping out


ast Carolina came international student chartwithin an eyelash of meeting its 2009 goal of raising its freshman-to-sophomore retention rate to 79 percent, ending the year with a 78.8 percent retention rate. That’s up from 75.9 percent in 2008. ECU will have to make a similar dramatic improvement to achieve its retention rate goal for 2010 of 81 percent, which is about the level that the UNC system now expects all campuses to achieve.

East Carolina also boosted its four-year graduation rate to 32.5 percent, up from 31 percent a year ago. Across all UNC campuses, 35.2 percent of students who enrolled in 2005 had graduated by 2009. UNC Chapel Hill is tops at 75.2 percent; UNC Wilmington has the second-best rate, at 42 percent.

The more typical way of evaluating graduation rates is after six years. ECU’s goal was to raise its six-year rate to 56.5 percent in 2009 and beat that by a fraction. The system-wide six-year graduation rate is 58.8 percent. By 2013 East Carolina hopes to graduate 60 percent of students within six years.

Increasing retention and graduation rates is a priority for UNC President Erskine Bowles. ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard is serving on a committee of six chancellors to recommend ways to do that. That panel is expected to issue its recommendations in March.

One of Bowles’ policies to improve both rates is to push more high school seniors toward community college, and then to transfer to a UNC campus after two years. At ECU, 68 percent of such students graduated two years after transferring. Most other campuses saw such high graduation rates among community college transfers.

A new corner for medicine rises in Greenville

cofamily medicine buildingnstruction boom continues to reshape the Health Sciences Campus, where the newest project, the Family Medicine Center (right), is becoming visible as its steel skeleton rises on Arlington Boulevard near West Fifth Street. The site is adjacent to both the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU, which opened last year, and the construction site for the new ECU dental school, which is scheduled to open in 2011. Those three buildings, along with the four-year-old Health Sciences Building behind them, form the northwest quadrant of the Health Sciences Campus near the Pitt County Memorial Hospital complex.

The Health Sciences Campus will have grown by more than 800,000 square feet by the time all the planned projects are finished next year—or well over one million square feet if you include the new six-story cardiac bed tower at nearby Pitt County Memorial Hospital. That’s about the same size as the entire Main Campus three miles away. The growth is triggering a lot of private development in the West Fifth Street corridor, with a new hotel and some restaurants and apartment complexes popping up there.

There’s more construction across Moye Boulevard at the eastern edge of the medical complex, where work progresses on Moye Medical II, a new three-story practice site also expected to open this fall as the new home of, among other specialties, bariatric surgery. The new facility will offer a first for the medical school—its own drive-through pharmacy. It’s the second of three planned leased buildings to consolidate ECU Physicians, the medical faculty practice plan, into modern facilities. Moye Boulevard itself had to be rerouted to make way for the facilities and a new steam plant.

West Fifth Street, the northern boundary of the Health Sciences Campus that becomes Highway 43, is being widened by the state Department of Transportation to improve access to the expanding list of medical facilities available there. The $3.9 million project is adding turn lanes and sidewalks to the thoroughfare. Separate projects will add a turn lane onto Arlington from Stantonsburg, with sidewalks along Arlington between Stantonsburg and West Fifth. State and city officials agreed to local demands that the highway improvement projects not disturb B’s Barbeque, which sits just west of the Health Sciences Campus on West Fifth. The medical campus expansion began in earnest in 2006 with the opening of the Health Sciences Building, the home of the colleges of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences and the Laupus Medical Library. Beside it quickly rose the East Carolina Heart Institute, which spans two buildings and two institutions, ECU and its teaching hospital, PCMH.

The East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU is a four-story, 206,000-square-foot, $60 million building housing offices and research labs for cardiologists, surgeons and scientists as well as outpatient and educational facilities. Many patients who go there had or will have their surgeries and hospitalizations at the new 375,000-square-foot, $160 million heart hospital a long block away at PCMH, which now faces the former location of Moye Boulevard, which was rerouted to make room for it.

The heart institute’s approach—bringing together medical specialties that are often separate—distinguishes it from other centers nationwide. The entire heart institute, including the hospital as well as ECU’s patient, research and education center, is under the direction of Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood Jr., senior associate vice chancellor for health sciences.

The next phase of the expansion of the Health Sciences Campus includes the new Family Medicine Center, which will serve 29 counties in eastern North Carolina that have some of the worst health indicators in the nation. When it opens this fall it will become a focal point of the university’s efforts to reverse those statistics. The existing Family Medical Center is more than 40 years old and has less than 30,000 square feet of space. Its 32 crowded exam rooms see 46,000 patients a year. The new center is four times bigger, has 60 exam rooms, a pharmacy, laboratory, geriatric center and more parking.

Meanwhile, at the Brody School of Medicine 78 students make up the class of 2013, up from 70 a few years ago. A state plan to expand Brody to 120 students, along with a concurrent expansion of the medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is on hold for now, awaiting better financial times in the state budget.

The Brody building, which opened in 1982, is bursting at the seams and a replacement is badly needed, says BSOM Dean Paul Cunningham. Estimated to cost $150 million, a new med school building would have enough classrooms, labs and student areas to accommodate anticipated enrollment spurt. “The rough estimate is that (North Carolina is) about 1,000 physicians short,” Cunningham says, adding that the doctor deficit likely will grow in the years ahead, given a growing but aging population and epidemic-level incidences of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

If ECU is to dramatically increase its annual crop of family doctors, it also will need many more partnerships with local hospitals, doctors offices and county health clinics where all the additional med students can intern during their third- and fourth-year rotations. Such sites are in short supply but there are possibilities for new ones, including the idea of co-locating them with dental students in the 10 remote clinics the dental school will operate. Another possibility often mentioned is a Brody presence in Wilmington in partnership with a local hospital or UNC Wilmington.

“There are potential sites where there is a patient population, a medical center or hospital and a willingness to be part of the education process,” Cunningham says. “It will require a model that will distribute students throughout the region during the last two years of their training.”

Dr. Phyllis Horns ’69, vice chancellor for health sciences, agrees there is an urgent need for more of the physicians that ECU specializes in. “Here at the Brody School of Medicine, we are recognized for preparing primary care physicians,” Horns says. “We have made that commitment and are working with our colleagues at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine to expand medical education throughout North Carolina.” ECU is also working with PCMH to expand residency-training slots, she says.

Even with all the growth, no plans are in the works for the medical school to claim college status. In 2007, Nursing and Allied Health Sciences became colleges, but medical school administrators have not made a similar request. For Cunningham, holding on to the traditional title means staying in touch with the medical school mission of service.

“We have an iconic name,” he says. “It is attractive to people, because of its uniqueness. It’s the Brody School of Medicine, which includes the name of an incredible philanthropic family. What is most visible is the fact that we educate—and education takes place in a school. We are admired across the country in the way that we educate doctors, and retain them in our region.”

Marion Blackburn with contributions by John Durham and Doug Boyd

Soccer player to cancer survivor
Taylor Bell


n high school, Taylor Bell (right) was considered one of the best soccer players in the state. She made East Carolina’s soccer team as a freshman, but her coaches were puzzled by her dwindling stamina. She couldn’t complete a fitness test of ten 120-yard runs in less than 18 seconds each. By Christmas, she was in too much pain to play anymore, but doctors couldn’t pinpoint a cause.

Then she came down with pneumonia. She had a chest X-ray at Student Health Services and a physician’s assistant found a spot on her lung that was attributed to the pneumonia. Later, she was struck with pain so severe she thought she had appendicitis or a cracked rib. A CT scan showed her left lung was collapsed and doctors found a tumor there.

Bell, who had never smoked a cigarette in her life, had lung cancer. She underwent surgery to remove a portion of her lung, and now she’s cancer-free. “I’m good to go. There’s an 85 percent chance it won’t return.”

After interning fall semester in the office of Rep. Walter Jones, she will graduate in May with a degree in political science and wants to be a lobbyist, a line of work that she already has had some success with.

Last fall she walked into the Washington office of Sen. Kay Hagan and left with Hagan’s promise to co-sponsor legislation Bell is supporting called the Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act of 2009. Among other provisions, it would expand research and prevention programs with the goal of cutting very high mortality rates by 50 percent by 2016. She got a commitment from her local congressman, Rep. Mike McIntyre, to champion the bill in the House of Representatives.

“It was an awesome experience,” Bell said of her meeting with the senator, which was arranged by the Lung Cancer Alliance. “Sen. Hagan immediately recognized me” because Bell and Hagan’s daughter, Carrie, had played soccer against each other on traveling teams as teenagers.
Dusty Donaldson of High Point, also a lung-cancer survivor, went with Bell to the meeting with Hagan. When Bell told her story, Donaldson said, Hagan “was moved by compassion. You could see a mother’s heart in Sen. Hagan, like ‘This could be my daughter.’”

When Bell asked Hagan to co-sponsor the bill, Donaldson added, the senator said, “‘Well, of course I will.’ It was really sweet. We all just hugged and thanked her.” Hagan recalled it as an emotional meeting. “I made sure I had a box of tissues out.”

“Taylor is an incredible spokesperson for lung-cancer survivors,” Hagan affirmed. “She can really articulate the need for research.”

Route chosen for campus gateway


fter more than 20 years of debate, an exact route has been chosen for Greenville’s 10th Street Connector, a $48.6 million roadway that will create an attractive new gateway to Main Campus for drivers coming into the city via US 264. The roadway will have the added benefit of linking Main Campus with the Health Sciences Campus, which now are separated by a couple miles of congested city streets. The four-lane roadway will have a planter median, sidewalks, bike lanes and a bridge over railroad tracks where trains often block all traffic.

A steering committee composed of city officials and representatives of ECU, Pitt County Memorial Hospital (PCMH) and the N.C. Department of Transportation selected the route in November at the conclusion of a series of community meetings. Final environmental impact studies should be completed this spring, with right-of-way acquisition beginning in May 2011. Construction is slated to begin in November 2013.

There now are essentially two ways to get to Main Campus from the west. The much longer but more attractive route is to exit US 264 at Greenville Boulevard and follow it, through many stoplights, to its intersection with Charles Boulevard near the football stadium. The shorter route is to continue on US 264 Business past PCMH, cross Memorial Boulevard and follow Farmville Road to its intersection with 14th Street, and from there down 14th Street to Charles Boulevard. While this route is much shorter, it can be confusing and takes drivers through one of Greenville’s most blighted areas.

The new roadway will start out following the latter route until the intersection of Farmville Road and 14th Street. There, a new corridor will arch southeast and connect with 10th Street near its intersection with Dickinson Avenue.

The chosen route will require the demolition of about 30 houses, 24 businesses, structures housing seven small non-profits and one church. The state will provide compensation and relocation assistance for displaced homeowners and renters. The Greenville City Council also allotted funds to compensate homeowners and is exploring similar compensation for affected business owners.

City and state officials have been considering ways to improve east-west traffic flow into the city since 1984. The project languished until a couple of years ago when the city, PCMH and ECU agreed to each contribute $2 million to a fund that would jumpstart work on the new roadway. William Bagnell, associate vice chancellor for campus operations and the ECU representative on the corridor task force, said he’s been impressed by the teamwork shown by the parties.

Besides improving access to Main Campus, the project also will significantly ease traffic around PCMH and shorten the commutes of many hospital workers who live in nearby Winterville and Ayden.

Primary logotype

ECU introduces new mark


ow that East Carolina has concluded its centennial celebration, the university is rolling out a new mark that will be used as a primary identifier on many kinds of ECU materials. Above is a look at that mark, which also is featured on a decal included in most mailed copies of this issue of East. (Those issues are being mailed in plastic bags to keep the decals from falling out.)

ECU’s centennial logo was introduced in 2007, and the plan adopted then directed that it be modified for permanent use at the conclusion of the celebration. That mark has seen widespread use throughout the university community during the past few years. It’s been prominent on Pepsi cans, busses, university publications and a host of other spots.

The new ECU logo is combined with a version of the existing university word mark to form what is officially referred to as the ECU primary logotype. This replaces the old arches logo.

“In one sense, it represents an important technical improvement for our mark. Unlike the old arches logo, the new primary logotype features a much stronger representation of the university name and can also be rendered in purple and gold, both important parts of our identity,” says Clint Bailey, assistant vice chancellor for university marketing. “But in another sense, the update to the mark is just another reflection of the growth and development of East Carolina. It reflects our history while still being new.”

Implementing the mark will be a gradual process incorporated into the normal replacement of materials and signs.