Privette meeting room a venue for exchanging ideas, positive interactions

Doug Privette ’72 came to East Carolina University in 1968 with a suitcase and a plan to focus exclusively on academics.

He found friends and his life’s purpose in ECU’s Department of Biology. With ECU printed on one side and Havelock on the other, the suitcase helped him hitch rides home and back to campus.

Privette’s sustaining support of the biology department was honored Dec. 9 by the naming of the Dr. and Mrs. Douglas C. Privette Meeting Room in ECU’s Life Sciences and Biotechnology Building. The meeting room is where faculty and students can come together to exchange ideas just as Privette did when he was studying at ECU.

Allison S. Danell presents Doug and Terry Privette a plaque commemorating the naming of the Dr. and Mrs. Douglas C. Privette Meeting Room at East Carolina University's Life Sciences and Biotechnology Building. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Allison S. Danell, right, presents Doug and Terry Privette a plaque commemorating the naming of the Dr. and Mrs. Douglas C. Privette Meeting Room at East Carolina University’s Life Sciences and Biotechnology Building. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

“Dr. Vince Bellis and his graduate students adopted me, and I met new friends in his classes and on field trips,” Privette said. “Dr. Everette Simpson allowed me to be his laboratory assistant in the dissection of the fetal pig, and that was a life-changing experience for me.”

Privette began to think about a medical career. His timing and undergraduate experiences allowed him to be one of 20 who stepped through the door that Leo Jenkins opened and join ECU’s first class of medical school students. He obtained his medical degree at UNC School of Medicine, completed his residency at N.C. Memorial Hospital along with a fellowship in cardiology at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, and then returned to Greenville to open his cardiology practice.

Strengthening educational advancement

Greg Abeyounis ’06, senior associate vice chancellor for development, described Privette and his wife Terry ’73 as the epitome of giving back to their alma mater and to those areas that have touched their lives. The Privettes are universal donors who have made strengthening the educational advancement of ECU their primary focus, Abeyounis said.

In addition to his substantial gift supporting the biology department, Privette has committed to three distinguished professorships with an impact of $1.5 million. The Dr. and Mrs. Douglas C. Privette Distinguished Professorships will benefit cardiovascular sciences, biology and anatomical sciences.

David Chalcraft, chair of the Department of Biology, said Privette’s gifts will allow the department to enhance the experience of its graduate students and apply innovation through learning seminars.

“Whether it is for student proposal defenses, study groups, journal clubs, labs or committee meetings, this room will serve as an important venue that allows our faculty and students to get together and build relationships and exchange ideas,” Chalcraft said. “Such interactions are a vital part of academic culture and helps to build lasting and positive memories for our students.”

Privette maintained a cardiology practice in Greenville until retiring from patient care in 2008. He worked as an administrator with the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU Health Medical Center — formerly Vidant Medical Center — and served as a member of the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation.

“It was time to come back to my roots and support the department that gave me my start,” Privette said. “It’s an honor and an inspiration to do this.”

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