Well-attended auditions helped
improve the institute's budget
Institute thrives here
The curtains came down in October on another season of outdoor drama in North Carolina, long the nation’s hot spot for live community theatre. Horn in the West in Boone celebrated its 60th year; The Lost Colony again entertained large crowds in Manteo and is gearing up for next year’s historic season, its 75th. Extreme weather held down attendance at most of the 13 theatre sites, from persistent rains in the mountains to hurricanes on the coast.
Many enthusiasts worried that budget cuts would curtail the outdoor dramas this year, and concerns worsened when the Institute for Outdoor Drama (IOD), which provides management and talent support for the 13 outdoor dramas in North Carolina and many more in 29 other states and Canada, lost its state funding and its home of nearly 48 years at UNC Chapel Hill. The IOD, with one remaining employee, Susan Phillips, moved to East Carolina with a mandate from the state to find its own financial way. It’s been a part of the College of Fine Arts and Communication for the past year now and reviews so far are positive.
In a memo sent to IOD supporters and member companies, Dean of Fine Arts and Communication Michael Dorsey said, “By all accounts it was a very successful year.” The IOD came to ECU with only $36,000 in its endowment, he noted, but has raised $59,000 in nonstate funds since its arrival and is becoming financially sound. “These efforts plus an increase in national consultantships and the best year ever in national auditions are due to the heroic efforts of one individual and her loyal supporters,” Dorsey added. “We are lucky to have Susan Phillips.”
Phillips has done double duty since coming to ECU, as the IOD’s manager and director. Phillips has spent more that 30 years performing on stage, including four summers with outdoor drama. She’s also a veteran of the Children’s Television Workshop, producers of Sesame Street.
Michael Hardy, a former ECU faculty member and current general manager of The Lost Colony, was named IOD director effective Jan. 30. Joining Phillips on staff and responsible for the day-to-day operation of the institute, Hardy also will teach one course per semester in the School of Theatre and Dance.
Over a 40-year career, Hardy has served as CEO of performing arts centers in Illinois, New York City, Louisville and Miami and was executive director of the International Society for the Performing Arts. Hardy was born in Durham and studied at Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill before earning his Ph.D. in theater at the University of Michigan. He was general manager for the drama department at East Carolina for two years before pursuing a career in arts management.
The IOD’s year got off to a successful start when it held national auditions on campus for roles in dozens of dramas around the country, with aspiring Daniel Boones and Sir Walter Raleighs coming from as far as Scotland. It provided paying consulting services to companies in Arkansas and South Dakota as well as the 13 here in North Carolina.
What’s next? Dorsey said the IOD is partnering with Theatre and Dance to establish a regional Shakespeare Festival in New Bern. “The arts at ECU now have a national voice which will serve us well in the future,” he said.
He’s also proud that ECU was able to save the IOD, which was founded by the playwright Paul Green in 1937 and which had grown to become a pillar of the state’s artistic landscape.
$10.4 million grant for
Wounded Warriors program
East Carolina will receive $10.4 million from the Department of Defense over the next five years to support the Operation Re-Entry North Carolina (ORNC) program to assist wounded soldiers returning from combat overseas, and their families. The program partners with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command center at Fort Detrick, Md. The cooperative agreement gives ECU $2.1 million this year with an additional $8.4 million in subsequent years.
“We are honored to participate in this vitally important work, which will advance the quality of health care and family support for those who put their lives and well-being on the line for our nation,” said Dr. David P. Cistola, a professor and associate dean for research in the College of Allied Health Sciences who is the principal investigator of the program.
The ORNC began three years ago and has progressed to an externally funded, university-wide, multi-institutional research partnership in support of wounded soldiers and their families, as well as military and Veterans Administration providers who care for them.
Cistola credited the grant to the leadership of Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies Deirdre Mageean. “She walked the halls of Congress in the early stages and established the traction that ultimately led to a Department of Defense appropriation for ORNC, which in turn led to a successful peer-reviewed grant proposal,” Cistola said. Mageean hired retired Colonel Michael DeYoung to champion ORNC in Washington, which was instrumental in Department of Defense and congressional support.
ECU Physicians in the black
For the first time in five years, ECU Physicians earned a profit. Operating revenues last fiscal year were $158.8 million for the medical faculty practice plan, which exceeded expenses by $17.5 million. The bottom line was boosted by a $17.9 million payment from Pitt County Memorial Hospital as the university’s share of revenues from the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center, which PCMH now operates under a joint agreement. Another $9 million to revenue came from accounting shifts related to the Healthspan electronic medical record implementation.
Brian Jowers, executive director of ECU Physicians, reported to the ECU Board of Trustees that although operating revenues continue to fall short of expenses of providing direct patient care, the medical practice is close to balancing its budget. He said the practice is seeing more patients, improving its charging and bill collecting, and using better business practices.
State approval of Medicaid upper payment limits closer to what commercial insurers pay will help revenues in coming years, Jowers said. Once approved, ECU will be reimbursed for services delivered after July 1, 2010, and higher reimbursement rates will continue. The upper payment limit reimburses the state’s two medical school practice plans, at ECU and UNC Chapel Hill, which treat significant numbers of Medicaid patients at rates closer to what commercial insurers pay. —Doug Boyd
Two join board of trustees
Edwin Clark ’79 of Greenville (right), executive vice president of WillcoHess LLC, and Robert “Bobby” Owens of Manteo (left), a Dare County political leader and former member of the N.C. Utilities Commission, were appointed to the ECU Board of Trustees by Gov. Beverly Perdue. They will serve four-year terms and took their seats at the board’s September meeting, as did two other new trustees, Raleigh attorney Keiran Shanahan ’79 and Deborah Davis ’79 ’83 of Richmond, COO of the Medical College of Virginia. Shanahan and Davis were appointed by the UNC Board of Governors.
Clark founded Trade Oil Co. with his father-in-law, Walter Williams ’51 ’51, in 1984. The chain of gas and convenience stores eventually grew to form WilcoHess. Owens, who attended East Carolina but didn’t graduate, is chairman of the board of Outer Banks Hospital and a past board member of University Health Systems. He is a brother-in-law of former Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight.