ECU Wins National Award for Dedication to the Military


The Department of Defense has announced that East Carolina University will receive the 2010 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest recognition given by the United States government to employers for their outstanding support of their employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve.

"We believe strongly in our partnership with the military, and it is one of our most important contributions to eastern North Carolina," said Chancellor Dr. Steve Ballard. "Our faculty and staff make a positive difference in educational programs, research, and clinical services for the military. Perhaps more importantly, we are proud of the positive climate of support that exists throughout ECU towards those who serve our country."

ECU is one of only 15 employers selected to receive the honor from nearly 2,500 nominations submitted nationwide. The university was nominated for the award by Dr. Paul J. Schenarts, director of the general surgery residency program and associate professor of surgery at the Brody School of Medicine. He also serves as a lieutenant colonel in the US Army Reserve as a field trauma surgeon.

The nomination package


"East Carolina University and this year’s other recipients are among the top U.S. employers that provide outstanding support for Guard and Reserve employees," said James G. Rebholz, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) National Chairman. "Their superior and unselfish initiatives to support their Guard and Reserve employees make them indispensable partners in the defense efforts of this country."

Guard and Reserve members, or their family members, from across the country nominated employers for the Freedom Award based on exceptional support that includes providing full salary, continuation of benefits, care packages, and even family support to employees fulfilling their military obligation. On behalf of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, a National Selection Board including senior defense officials, business leaders, and prior Freedom Award recipients selected the 2010 honorees.

The announcement from the ESGR, a Department of Defense agency whose mission is to develop and promote employer support for Guard and Reserve service, noted some highlights of ECU’s service to these employees. The university was named a “2010 Military-Friendly School” by GI Jobs Magazine and maintains an office at Fort Bragg to educate service members about academic programs available to enrich their careers and service experience. ECU employees also support their deployed coworkers by sending care packages and checking in on the families left behind during deployments. To further support their military students and employees, ECU has established “Essential Life Skills for Military Families,” a series of one-day workshops that equip Guard and Reserve service members and their families with family–readiness tools to use during deployment.

East Carolina University also has received several Patriot Awards and the ESGR Pro Patria Award.

"ECU is serious about its motto ‘to serve,’ and we take special care to support those who serve in the defense of this nation," said Dr. Steve Duncan, director of military programs at ECU. "We are especially proud that ECU carries the banner for North Carolina higher education in regard to supporting the military, since North Carolina is home to the third-largest concentration of service members in the nation."

Since the award’s introduction in 1996, only 130 companies have been presented the Freedom Award. ECU is the only university in North Carolina and the second higher-education institution in the country to win the honor.

The Freedom Award will be presented to East Carolina University during a formal ceremony Thursday, September 23, 2010, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.