More than $8.4 million raised during Pirate Nation Gives

As East Carolina University marked its 115th year and celebrated the installation of Chancellor Philip Rogers last week, Pirate Nation rose to the occasion and pledged more than $8.4 million during the university’s annual day of giving.

Marius Morrison makes a sign thanking ECU donors. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

The sixth annual Pirate Nation Gives fundraising event surpassed last year’s record total of $6.5 million and this year’s goal. More than 1,500 individual donors contributed to the effort.

“Giving back to ECU is a way for every Pirate to be involved in the impact this university has on our students, our region and the world,” said Christopher Dyba, vice chancellor for university advancement. “Pirate Nation Gives is a time for us to connect with each other in support of ECU. Every gift, large or small, makes an impact, whether it helps enhance programs and facilities, supports our hard-working faculty or increases students’ access to a top-tier education.”

Dr. Diana Haytko, professor and chair of marketing and supply chain management, made her gifts in memory of her mother, who grew up in Germany during World War II and never had the opportunity to finish college.

“My parents both taught their three girls that education was the key to the American dream,” she said. “I am a first-generation college graduate from a lower income home. My mother pushed me to get a master’s degree and the Ph.D.”

After living with Haytko full time for 16 years, her mother passed away in April 2020.

“We were inseparable for 16 years. I wanted to honor her memory with something she would have agreed with,” Haytko said. Fundraising to reward faculty is often overlooked, she said, and she wanted to do something for those who go above and beyond year after year.

“They do the job because they love it,” she said. “They love teaching and working with students. … That is why I created (the Elizabeth Haytko Faculty Fellowship) to provide a $5,000 award for an MVP faculty member, as a thank you.”

Alyssa De Santis, director of alumni affairs at the College of Allied Health Sciences, helps a student with her donation during a Pirate Nation Gives event at the Health Sciences Student Center. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

In addition to funding the first five years of the faculty fellowship, Haytko has pledged $1 million in her will to establish two professorships — one focused on teaching, the other on research — and a study abroad scholarship program.

“Travel is the best way to teach empathy and gratefulness,” she said. “Opening one’s eyes to lift outside their daily world is an excellent education.”

ECU donors can specify where and how they would like their funds to be used, earmarking funds for scholarships, research, innovative programs and more. For Eileen Shokler, a longtime resident of Greenville who served as a guardian ad litem in Pitt County for eight years, it was important to support abused and neglected children in eastern North Carolina.

Her $100,000 gift will fund training programs for staff and volunteers at the TEDI BEAR Child Advocacy Center, a partnership between the Brody School of Medicine and the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital at Vidant Medical Center. It is the largest children’s advocacy center in North Carolina and provides critically important services to children who have been victims of child abuse or neglect.

Eileen and her husband Howard regularly deliver stuffed animals to the center, where she has been involved as an advocate and volunteer for decades.

Pat and Lynn Lane, who support ECU during Pirate Nation Gives each year, contributed to the Honors College, the College of Education, the STEPP program and ECU Athletics.

Across the board, Pirate Nation showed its support for student athletes, with gifts for specific teams, scholarships and other athletics initiatives totaling more than $260,000.

Among many notable gifts this year are:

  • Ms. Kathleen Adams ’92, ’97; Dr. Mary Chatman ’90, ’96, ’12; Mr. Jim ’63 and Mrs. Selba ’64 Harris; and Dr. Mary Raab for nursing scholarships.
  • Col. (Ret.) Worth ’77, ’81 and Mrs. Dolores Carter for College of Health and Human Performance, College of Business, and Air Force ROTC.
  • Mrs. Kay ’76 and Mr. Ken ’68, ’71 Chalk and Mr. Robert ’78 and Mrs. Amy Brinkley for Honors College travel.
  • Dr. Denise Dickins, ECU professor, for Students’ Treasure Chest.
  • Oak Foundation for University Priority Fund for Greatest Needs.
  • Dr. Mike ’76, ’78 and Mrs. Alice ’73, ’76 Taylor for Joyner Library.
  • The Wooten Family for the Wooten Family Initiative for Brain Health Research Endowment.

Chancellor Philip Rogers said the generosity of Pirate Nation is just one example of ECU’s importance throughout eastern North Carolina.

“These gifts show the impact ECU has had on those who have studied here and taught here, and so many others who support the university, that they would give so generously to pay that forward,” he said. “They enable us to create and continue important programs and initiatives aimed at transforming and uplifting the region we call home.”

For more information about the many ways to give to ECU, visit ECU University Advancement.

ECU is in the public phase of the Pursue Gold campaign to raise half a billion dollars. This ambitious effort will create new paths to success for Pirates on campus, across the country and around the world. Donor gifts during the campaign will keep us constantly leading and ready to advance what’s possible. Learn more at