(Aug. 16, 2011)
Dr. James R. Hupp, dean of the School of Dental Medicine at East Carolina University, has resigned from that position and plans to remain on the faculty of the school, ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard announced today.
"We will name an interim dean as soon as possible to make sure that the dental school does not lose any momentum," Ballard said. "Our first 52 dental students are on campus now for orientation, and classes will begin next week. The new dental school building is on schedule for completion next year, and we are tremendously excited about the new model for dental education that is under way at ECU.
"ECU's hallmark is service, and our new dental school will undoubtedly mean more and better care for the residents of North Carolina, especially those living in rural and underserved regions of the state. The community service learning centers that we will open throughout these underserved areas will mark a new era in dental care for many North Carolinians."
Ballard spoke today at a 3 p.m. news conference at the ECU student center. He noted that Hupp's resignation coincides with a state auditor's report that raises questions about travel by the dean. In addition, he said, there have been failures to comply with reporting requirements for income received by Hupp from a part-time teaching assignment at another university and from serving as the editor of a scholarly journal.
Ballard said an internal investigation began about three weeks ago and is ongoing.
While travel is essential to starting a new school, so is following proper procedures, Ballard said. "We absolutely must address these reporting issues," Ballard said. "While we do that, the mission, the facilities, and the plans for the School of Dental Medicine are all intact and robust, and the school remains one of our proudest and most important initiatives."
Hupp said in submitting his resignation that he did not want to be a distraction to the school, Ballard said. Hupp has repaid approximately $5,000 to the state, Ballard said.
Approximately 20 students attended the news conference but had little to say about the events. "As students, we stand by the leaders of our university," said Alex Crisp.
Ballard and Dr. Phyllis Horns, vice chancellor for health sciences at ECU, planned to meet with students later Tuesday.
Ballard also praised the remaining faculty and administration of the dental school and was optimistic they will provide strong leadership as the school begins its first year of classes.
Hupp joined ECU as the first dean of the dental school in November 2008 after serving six years as dean of the dental school at the University of Mississippi. Ballard said he is appreciative of Hupp's work in launching the dental school.
ECU dental students Christin Carter, left, and Shannon Holcomb listen during the Tuesday, Aug. 16, news conference. Photos by Cliff Hollis