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Left to right, UNC Board of Governors Chairman Peter Hans, ECU Provost Marilyn Sheerer and ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard applaud during the University Awards Day celebration May 1. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)


Annual University Awards day highlights excellence, service

May 1, 2013

By Jeannine Manning Hutson
ECU News Services

The fourth annual Founders Day and University Awards Celebration recognized “the best of East Carolina University” on May 1 in Hendrix Theatre.

Provost Marilyn Sheerer welcomed those nominated. “Today we recognize these important aspects of ECU and the recognize the best of ECU. You are the heart of this university,” she said.

UNC Board of Governors Chairman Peter Hans recognized Dr. Sam Sears, who was announced April 12 as the O. Max Gardner Award recipient. The award is the highest UNC-system honor and is given to a faculty member, who during the current scholastic year has made the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race.

“I’m proud that a member of the ECU faculty is receiving this award for the eighth time and the third time since 2003,” said Hans.

Sears, who is director of ECU’s doctoral program in health psychology, is the world’s leading expert and most prolific author on the psychological implications for patients living with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD. “Your research reaches more than 1,000 patients each year as they learn to cope with the life-saving technology that gives high voltage shocks when it detects arrthymias,” Hans said.

Sears said of receiving the award, “This is the biggest honor of my academic life. And like the Heisman, it’s an individual award for a team sport. Science, health care, and universities are team sports.”

Sears holds faculty appointments in the Department of Psychology and Department of Cardiovascular Sciences.
Dr. Sam Sears, winner of the 2013 O. Max Gardner Award, speaks at ECU's University Awards Day.

“The recognition of this award helps us to magnify the modern challenges for medicine, psychology and technology. Living through chronic diseases, not dying from them but living with them, means that patients will have to learn how to cope,” he said.

Sudden cardiac arrest is the No. 1 killer of American adults, Sears said. If the technology is there without the patient knowing how to live confidently, then the device is only “a widget,” he said.

Integration of medicine, psychology, nursing and allied professions are essential in treating these patients, and why East Carolina University is an exceptional place for the future, he said.

“This is a place that can respond to modern challenges,” Sears said. “This is not a stodgy medical school or stodgy campus. This is a place that says what are the new challenges and how can we address them. How can we come up with novel solutions to address novel problems? That’s academia. Industry can’t do it the way academia can.”

Read more about Sears at

Hans also recognized the recipient of the UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching, Dr. John W. Stiller in the Department of Biology.

In his comments, Stiller talked about the recent renovation of Howell Science Building Room 102 – specifically designed for student-centered, hands-on learning. In the fall, four sections of students in the introduction to biology classes will sit in groups of eight around a table with white boards, free to move about the room, and minimum lecturing. “Working together, the students will learn the high-level concepts and methodology,” he said.

Read more about Stiller’s approach to teaching at

Other awards presented during the ceremony were the following:

The UNC Board of Governors Distinguished Professor for Teaching Award recognizes and supports excellent teaching at each of the 16 constituent universities in the UNC system. Six ECU recipients were selected:
  • Dr. Sviatoslav Archava, Department of Mathematics
  • Dr. Keith Holmes, Department of Chemistry
  • Dr. Peng Li, Department of Technology Systems
  • Dr. Jeff Popke, Department of Geography
  • Dr. Deborah Thomson, School of Communication
  • Dr. Richard Williams, Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies

The 2012-13 recipients of the Scholar-Teacher Award, which is now in its 17th year, were recognized during Research and Creative Achievement Week. Recipients are as follows:

  • Dr. Paige Averett, School of Social Work
  • Patricia “Patch” Clark, School of Theatre and Dance
  • Dr. Qin Ding, Department of Computer Science
  • Dr. Kylie P. Dotson-Blake, Department of Higher, Adult & Counselor Education
  • Dr. Carol Goodwillie, Department of Biology
  • Dr. Andrew O. Herdman, Department of Management
  • Dr. Charles P. Humphrey, Department of Health Education and Promotion
  • Dr. Kim Larson, Department of Undergraduate Nursing Science, Senior Division
  • Dr. Philip A. Rothman, Department of Economics
  • Dr. Thad Wasklewicz, Department of Geography.

The East Carolina Alumni Association Awards for Outstanding Teaching went to Dr. Elizabeth A. Fogarty of the Department of Elementary Education and Middle Grades Education and Dr. Sharilyn C. Steadman, Department of Literacy Studies, English Education and History Education. Dr. Christy Ashley, Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, received the association’s Robert L. Jones Award for Outstanding Teaching.

ECU biology professor Dr. John W. Stiller received the UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.
The Max Ray Joyner Award for Faculty Service through Distance Education honors a faculty member who has shown commitment and enthusiasm in teaching and mentoring off-campus students and who has demonstrated excellence in the delivery of courses through distance education. The recipient was Dr. Elizabeth Hodge, Department of Business Information Technology Education.

The recipient of the Lifetime Achievement for Research or Creative Activity was Dr. Roger A. Rulifson, Department of Biology. Dr. Thomas Herron, Department of English, and Dr. Baohong-Zhang, Department of Biology, received the Five-Year Achievement Award awards.

Dr. Rebecca J. Dumlao, School of Communication, received the Scholarship of Engagement Award, which recognizes a faculty member for achievement in scholarship of engagement and a sustained commitment to partnered scholarly endeavors with communities.

Read more about Rulifson, Herron, Zhang and Dumlao’s research at

Seven ECU faculty members received patents in the last year. They are Dr. Darrell Neufer, Department of Physiology; Dr. Ethan Anderson, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology; Dr. Rachel Roper, Department of Microbiology and Immunology; and Drs. Michael Rastatter, Joseph Kalinowski, Andrew Stuart and Gregg Givens, all of Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

The chancellor presented the James R. Talton Jr. Leadership Award to Dr. Ron Perkin, chairman of the Department of Pediatrics. The award recognizes a servant leader, who serves others in his or her work through collaboration, empathy, trust and the ethical use of authority.

The Centennial Awards for Excellence were presented recognizing four areas: service, leadership, ambition and spirit. Recipients in the area of service were Dr. Catherine Rigsby, Department of Geology; Angela Anderson, Office of the Registrar; and James Sutton, Moving Services.

Recipients in the area of leadership were Dr. Linner Ward Griffin, associate provost for academic program planning and development; Julie Poorman, Financial Aid office; and the Pediatric Surgery Team of the Brody School of Medicine – Dr. David Rodeberg and Dr. Danielle Walsh.

And in the ambition category were Dr. Kerry Littlewood, School of Social Work; Stephanie Bailey, College of Allied Health Sciences; and the Kiosk Project at Laupus Library. Kiosk project team members are Jamie Messenger, Family Medicine; Katherine Rickett, liaison to Brody School of Medicine; and from Laupus Library, Roger Russell, Matthew Ballengee, Teresa Tripp, Jason Cottle and Jeff Coghill.

ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard gives a hug to Servire Society inductee Dr. Kathryn Kolasa, a Brody School of Medicine faculty member who recently announced her upcoming retirement.
Recipients of the spirit award were Carolyn “Waz” Miller of University Housing, and Elaine Hughes, Department of Kinesiology.

Chancellor Steve Ballard congratulated all the nominees and award recipients and noted it was good to take time to recognize campus achievements. “I see their accomplishments every day, but it’s good to be reminded of the great work that the faculty and staff do every day. You have my great appreciation for all that you do,” Ballard said.

The 2013 Servire Society Inductees, which is the sixth class, are as follows:

For faculty and staff: Harry Adams, Curtis Anderson, Margaret Arnd-Caddigan, Robin Ashley, Andy Bates, David Batie, Ashley Bonner, Elizabeth Carroll, Haozhe Chen, William Clark, Paul Clifford, Jeffrey Coghill, Susan Copeland, Josh Copenhaver, Kathleen Cox, Leonard Darby, Larry Donley, Penney Doughtie, Cheryl Dudasik-Wiggs, Christopher Duffrin, Donna Lou Edwards, Sylvia Escott-Stump, Tina Foster, Amy Frank, William Gee, Brian Glober, Marsha Hall, Dave Hannon, Dawn Harrison, William Hodges, Jennifer Hodgson, Casey Holland, Pamela Hopkins, Bryce Jorgensen, Kathryn Kolasa, Theodore Koutlas, Angela Lamson, Mandee Foushee Lancaster, Kim Larson, Charles Lesko, Aaron Lucier, Susan McCammon, Marianne Montgomery, Catherine Morgan-Smith, Vivian Mott, Sandra Nobles, Amanda Pantelidis, Nicholaos Pantelidis, Roman Pawlak, Annette Peery, Mary Pollock, Nancy Ray, John Rose, Ronald Sessoms, Michelle Taylor Skipper, Rick Smiley, Kirk St. Amant, Chris Stallings, Alan Taylor, Linda Teel, Lynn Tuthill, Danielle Walsh, Sandra Warren, Bryan Wheeler and Tiffany Woodward.

And the student inductees: Ajay Ajmera, Arun Ajmera, Alex Bryan, Ian Bryan, Christin Carter, Karsin Landis, Paula Loftin, Diana Luckhardt, Sheena Neil, Cody Smith, Amanda Stroud, Vivek Thanawala, Caitlin Thys and Kelly Walsh.

The Servire Society members have contributed 100 or more hours of volunteer service – without compensation and outside their normal realm of duties – to the community at large within the previous year.