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Celebrating 50 years of nursing education at ECU

Students enjoy birthday cake during the first of many events planned this academic year for the 50th anniversary of nursing. Photo by Cliff Hollis.
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Aug. 27, 2010)   —   College of Nursing students ushered in the first week of classes and kicked off an academic yearlong celebration of 50 years of nursing education at East Carolina University on Thursday.

Nursing’s back lobby in the Health Sciences Building was transformed with purple and gold balloons, sheet cake and the traditional melody of “Happy Birthday to You.” In the front lobby, students picked up Pirate Nurse buttons, pins and viewed a display showcasing the history of the college since 1960.

Dean Sylvia Brown and Vice Chancellor Phyllis Horns, PeeDee the Pirate and ECU nursing student cheerleaders Courtney Evans and Kate Writtenberry welcomed guests.

“It’s hard to believe about this time 50 years ago, we were just starting,” Brown said. The story goes that state leaders at the time had been debating whether to buy an airplane or start a nursing school. “To our good fortune, they decided to start a nursing program.”

Horns brought greetings and best wishes for another 50 years from Chancellor Steve Ballard, who recognizes the leadership of students, staff and faculty within the college, said Horns, former dean of nursing.

“When we graduate students from this college, they go out and take on leadership roles worldwide,” Horns said. “It’s remarkable the work and growth that has gone on in this college.”

The College of Nursing, ECU’s oldest professional school, provides the state with more nurses than any other institution in North Carolina. The college, a National League for Nursing designated Center of Excellence, has more than 1,100 students enrolled in baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral programs. There are more than 6,500 ECU nursing alumni “making a difference in the lives of people, and that’s what being a Pirate nurse is all about,” Brown said.

Nykeshia Boone, a senior nursing student from Raleigh, said she chose ECU because “it is one of the best nursing programs in North Carolina.” She wants to be a neonatal nurse practitioner with plans to attend graduate school in the future. She said the 50th anniversary has brought “a lot of good attention to the school.” 

Brown thanked the 50th anniversary planning committee: Dr. Frances R. Eason, chair, Mark Alexander, Dr. Alta Andrews, Jane Boardman, Laurie Evans, Bob Green, Belinda Lee, Ryan Lewis, Rick McDaniel, Donna Roberson and Gina Woody.

Other celebratory events will include lectures, homecoming, the induction of the Nurses’ Hall of Fame and a 50th springtime gala. Events can be found at


Contact: Crystal Baity | 252-744-3764