Brinkley-Lane Scholars program commences with donor honors

The new school year also marked the beginning of a new era in the East Carolina University Honors College as Dean Dr. Todd Fraley introduced the newest class of Brinkley-Lane Scholars at the program’s Celebrating Excellence dinner.

“It feels great to say that name, Brinkley-Lane, as we thank two families for their transformational gift,” Fraley said. In May, Chancellor Dr. Philip Rogers announced a combined $30 million commitment to the institution from the Brinkley and Lane families and renamed the university’s most prestigious undergraduate award program in their honor.

Brinkley-Lane students — previously recognizable by their purple ties and scarves — will now wear an official program lapel pin.

Brinkley-Lane students — previously recognizable by their purple ties and scarves — will now wear an official program lapel pin. (ECU photo by George Crocker)


The Brinkley-Lane Scholars program is integral to the Honors College and the most prestigious undergraduate award program offered at ECU. The program was established in 1998 as a merit scholarship program for high-ability students who have the promise and capability to become scholars and leaders in eastern North Carolina and beyond.

Brinkley-Lane students are known for their leadership in the classroom, in campus programs and at university events. Program director Katherine Ford describes the students as the program’s best ambassadors. Previously recognizable by their purple ties and scarves, the new era of Brinkley-Lane Scholars wear an official program lapel pin. The scholars received their pins during the program’s Celebrating Excellence dinner at the start of the semester.

“It is an unbelievable honor and privilege to wear the official Brinkley-Lane pin,” Anjalee “AJ” Hou said. “Not only does the pin show the amazing potential of all future Brinkley-Lane Scholars, it also represents the commitment and community of scholars who came before us.”

Hou, a senior and president of the Brinkley-Lane roundtable, worked with Honors College staff on the pin’s design. She is proud to wear it and plans to incorporate it into her attire for future events.

Senior Rebekah Arensman said the pin is a reminder that others are invested in their success.

“The pin represents high achievement and academic excellence as well as leadership that is developed through the Brinkley-Lane Scholars program,” Arensman said. “It encourages the scholars to continue seeking new opportunities and grow in knowledge.”

For Hou, the pin represents the lifelong dedication and unyielding support for the program and honors the commitment of the Brinkleys and Lanes.

“The pin represents the community, opportunity, responsibility and exploration the program provides for us,” Hou said. “I am thankful to the Brinkleys and Lanes for their dedication to continuing leadership, outstanding engagement and the bountiful opportunities for the Brinkley-Lane Scholars.”

“We’re extremely grateful for your generosity, kindness, loyalty and leadership,” Fraley said. “It is only the most special and cherished relationships that we secure our names to. Thank you, Lynn and Pat Lane and Robert and Amy Brinkley, for trusting us with your names.”

Fraley acknowledged the long and storied relationships the Brinkleys and Lanes have with ECU and their vital importance to the success and growth of the scholars program.

Fraley, who holds the Bill and Emily Furr Honors College Distinguished Professorship, was named dean of the Honors College in April. The Aug. 19 dinner provided the first opportunity for Fraley, the scholars program staff and the 80 Brinkley-Lane scholars to honor the families.

Agne Shields, left, Toby Bryson, center, and Abby Ulfers, right, present Lynn and Pat Lane and Amy and Robert Brinkley with framed Brinkley-Lane medallions.

Agne Shields, left, Toby Bryson, center, and Abby Ulffers, right, present Lynn and Pat Lane and Amy and Robert Brinkley with framed Brinkley-Lane medallions. (ECU Photo by George Crocker)

Ford to lead program

The newly named program also has new leadership. Fraley announced the appointment of Dr. Katherine Ford as the director of the Brinkley-Lane Scholars program and associate dean of the Honors College.

Fraley said Ford is the “perfect person to lead this program at this exciting time.” Ford left her mark in the last year, serving as acting director of the Brinkley-Lane Scholars program and as associate dean of the Honors College.

“She continues to have a positive impact on many of us,” Fraley said. “When people around campus congratulate you on a hire, you know you have the right person joining your team.”

Ford was recently named the Linda McMahon Distinguished Professor of Foreign Languages and served as chair and professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.

In addition, she has taught classes in the Honors College, served as a senior faculty fellow, conducted research and study abroad trips with students, served as an interviewer for the scholars, and assisted with admissions and recruitment.

Ford said it was exciting to celebrate this milestone moment for the program. As director, she welcomed the new cohort of scholars and accompanied them on an annual retreat to Ocracoke before classes began. “It was a wonderful way to get to know one another,” she said.

Brinkley-Lane Scholars Abby Ulffers ’23, Toby Bryson and Agne Shields joined Ford to formally honor Robert ’78 and Amy Brinkley, and Pat ’67 and Lynn Lane for their dedication and generosity. Bryson and Shields presented each family with framed college graduation medallions. The Brinkleys and Lanes were the first to receive Brinkley-Lane medallions.

Ulffers said donor support — from the Brinkleys, Lanes and other families — makes the ECU experience unique for Brinkley-Lane Scholars.

“In this program, donor (relationships) begin as financial support, that we’re all extremely grateful for, and it turns into personal support and connection,” Ulffers said. “They genuinely care about what we are doing.”

She described how the Lanes were involved with her education beginning in her freshman year. They treated her to dinner, inquired about her studies and how she was doing, built a relationship with her parents, and even attended her white coat ceremony last month at the Brody School of Medicine.

“Having the support of donors has given me so many opportunities that have brought me joy and growth and have placed me where I am now as an M1 at Brody, and I think I speak for all of us when I say thank you,” Ulffers said.