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Pieces of Eight

James Bearden, director of the BB&T Center for Leadership Development, leads the academic procession at ECU’s May 6 commencement ceremony. As senior faculty member in years of service, Bearden carries the university mace, one of three official symbols of the university. Approximately 43 inches long and weighing nearly 14 pounds, the mace is constructed of sterling silver. It features a unique purple flourite crystal cluster within a gold-plated cage. In two ceremonies, ECU recognized approximately 3,000 graduates. (Photo by Marc J. Kawanishi)

Sen. Basnight, Best Honored

Sen. Mark Basnight urged the graduates of East Carolina University, at theMay 6 commencement ceremony, to use their degrees to serve their communities.

“You are our stars; you are our future. Give all the energy you have to make life rich for other people,” Basnight said to a full house at Minges Coliseum. “You have to give to others; do not be takers.”

Basnight was awarded an honorary doctorate of letters at the 10 a.m. commencement service. ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard congratulated Basnight on his lifetime of service to the region.

“East Carolina University salutes you for your focus on improving the lives of all North Carolinians, for your stewardship of the environment, your support for education, and your understanding of the importance of economic development,” Ballard said.

Chair of the Faculty Catherine Rigsby urged graduates to make their worlds more vibrant and whole.

“We need to focus on actions that will bring us closer to the truth of who we are,” she said. “We hope you’ll never forget to focus on who you are.”

At the 2 p.m. ceremony, ECU awarded its highest service honor, the Jarvis Medal, to Dr. Andrew Best, a pioneering Greenville physician. Dr. Best, who died in December, practiced in Greenville from 1954 to 2004 and served in a variety of leadership roles in the city and state. He was the first African American member of the ECU Board of Trustees and one of the first African Americans to serve on the UNC Board of Governors.

“Dr. Best’s tireless efforts are a model for the ideal of service. He left an important legacy for all of us,” said Julius Mallette, assistant vice chancellor of telehealth medicine at the Brody School of Medicine, who received the honor on behalf of the Best family.

About 3,000 students were eligible to receive degrees. The morning ceremony recognized graduates from the Brody School of Medicine, the School of Allied Health Sciences, the Graduate School, the School of Nursing, the College of Education, the College of Health and Human Performance, the College of Human Ecology and the College of Technology and Computer Science.

Graduates from the Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business and the College of Fine Arts, the Graduate School and Communication were recognized at the afternoon ceremony.

This page originally appeared in the May 19, 2006 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at