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Cardiac psychology expert to address graduates

By Jeannine Mannning Hutson
ECU News Services

Dr. Samuel Sears
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Dec. 6, 2013)   —   A faculty member recognized by the University of North Carolina system for his work in cardiac psychology will deliver the commencement address at East Carolina University on Dec. 13.

Dr. Samuel F. Sears, director of the doctoral program in health psychology at ECU, will deliver the address during ceremonies at Minges Coliseum. In April, Sears received the O. Max Gardner Award, the University of North Carolina system's highest faculty honor that recognizes contributions to the welfare of mankind.

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 2,300 students are expected to receive their degrees, including approximately 1,600 bachelor degree candidates and 723 graduate degree candidates.

Sears, also a professor in the Department of Psychology and the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at ECU, is a world authority on cardiac psychology as it relates to patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators and is the most prolific author on the topic.

The ICDs can deliver a shock as strong as a mule's kick when it detects potentially life-threatening heart arrhythmias. Sears works with patients to alleviate fear and anxiety in anticipation of shocks and to improve their overall quality of life.

Sears serves as a psychologist, patient advocate, researcher and professor. One day, he might be mentoring students in a lab at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU. The next, he could be jetting to Europe to address patients with recently placed ICDs. His ultimate goals are to provide the latest information on coping strategies and to prepare tomorrow's health psychologists to reach more patients.

"ICDs save lives," he said, "but it depends on patients being able to accept the technology and manage the disease. A little coaching along the way can be very helpful."

A native of Florida, Sears worked and taught for more than 12 years at the University of Florida, where he received his undergraduate and graduate degrees, before coming to Greenville in 2007.

Many colleges, schools and departments will hold unit recognition ceremonies on Dec. 13 and 14. 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).


Contact: Jeannine Manning Hutson | 252-328-1164