ECU holds fall commencement

Dr. Thomas G. Irons, one of East Carolina University’s most respected teachers of medicine, will deliver the commencement address at ECU’s fall graduation program Dec. 11 in Ficklen Stadium. The ceremony will also include the presentation of an honorary degree. Dr. Irons, a senior associate dean and professor of pediatrics at the ECU School of Medicine, will speak to the 2,100 ECU graduates at 10 a.m.

Prior to the presentation portion of the ceremony, a School of Music orchestra will perform at 9:15 a.m. The academic procession will start at 9:45 a.m.
During the commencement program, ECU will also award an honorary doctorate degree to Gertrude B. Elion of the Research Triangle Park, N.C. Elion is a scientist with Burroughs Wellcome Co. and is the 1988 recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physiology of Medicine.

Special recognition will also go to three ECU recipients of doctoral degrees. Two of the degrees are in science and the other is in education. A faculty member and administrator at the ECU School of Medicine since 1981, Irons has distinguished himself through his concern for students, his contributions to the community and the medical profession, and his advocacy for children. He is well-known across the state for his leadership roles in addressing such issues as child abuse, adolescent medicine and autism.

In addition to teaching and performing administrative duties, Irons also directs the Generalist Physician Program. The program is at the forefront of ECU’s efforts to improve the practice environment for primary care physicians.

A Greenville native, Irons attended Davidson College. He completed his medical degree at UNC Chapel Hill. Elion is a scientist emeritus for Burroughs Wellcome. Prior to her retirement in 1983, she headed the company’s Department of Experimental Therapy. She is credited with the co-development of two of the first successful drugs for the treatment of leukemia, as well as a drug used to prevent the rejection of kidney transplants. She also play a major role in the development of drugs to treat gout and herpes virus infections. Elion attended Hunter College and New York University. She joined the Wellcome Research Laboratories in 1944.

In the event of unfavorable weather, the commencement ceremony will moved into Minges Coliseum. Because seating in the coliseum is limited, there will be two ceremonies at 10 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. Graduate students and undergraduates in the College of Arts and Sciences will attend the morning ceremony and undergraduates from the professional schools will attend the afternoon program.

ECU provides a Commencement Hotline for students and parents wanting information about the commencement program. The telephone number is (919) 757-4884.