Instructional technology professor Abbie Brown, recipient of the UNC Board of Governors Award for Teaching Excellence, will deliver the commencement address at ECU's fall 2014 commencement on Dec. 19. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Distance-education professor to speak at 2014 fall commencement

Dec. 10, 2014

By Jeannine Manning Hutson
ECU News Services

A distance-education professor recognized by the University of North Carolina system for teaching excellence will deliver the commencement address at East Carolina University on Dec. 19.

Abbie Brown, a professor of instructional technology in the ECU College of Education, received the University of North Carolina Board of Governors Award for Teaching Excellence earlier this year. Brown teaches exclusively online; he is the first online-only professor at ECU to receive the award and possibly the first such recipient in the UNC system.

The commencement ceremony is scheduled to begin with a band concert at 9:30 a.m. in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum. The commencement processional will begin at 10 a.m.

During the event, more than 2,270 students are expected to receive their degrees, including approximately 1,565 bachelor degree candidates, 45 doctoral degree candidates and more than 660 graduate degree candidates.

Brown teaches graduate-level courses to current or aspiring educators aiming to improve their ability to teach and create instructional materials. “This means I have to model the best teaching practices for a sophisticated and critical group,” he said. “And since my courses are delivered entirely online I have to find ways to effectively deliver content,” he said.

A New York City native, Brown’s undergraduate degree is in communication and theater arts from Temple University in Philadelphia. He worked in the entertainment industry for several years before becoming an elementary and middle school teacher. Using his theater background, he would create computerized instructional vignettes for his students. That’s what started him on the path of instructional technology.

“I have developed very strong relationships with students that have lasted many years,” he said. “There has been laughing and crying. Many times, I meet my students for the first time face-to-face at graduation.

Brown also has a master’s degree from Columbia University in New York and a doctorate in instructional systems technology from Indiana University. Before coming to ECU in 2006, he taught at Washington State University and California State University, Fullerton. He has taught online since 1997 and for three years was the editor-in-chief of the journal TechTrends. He has received several other awards for teaching and scholarship from organizations such as California State University and the New Jersey Department of Education.

Many colleges, schools and departments will hold unit recognition ceremonies on Dec. 19 and 20. A schedule of those events is available at

Individuals with disabilities requesting accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act should contact the Department for Disability Support Services at (252) 328-6799 (V) or (252) 328-0899 (TTY).