Jenkins Society inductees’ faithful support boosts ECU’s future

Jack Jenkins, Jeff Jenkins and Sallie Jenkins attended the Leo Jenkins Society luncheon honoring their father, Chancellor Leo Jenkins’ legacy at ECU. (Photos by Rhett Butler)

Former Chancellor Leo Jenkins’ belief in the future of East Carolina University was unwavering and magnified by the dedication to the institution he saw in others.

Jenkins once said, “there are magnificent achievements which will yet be realized because of the faith and support held for East Carolina University.” Thirty-six donors were honored Dec. 6 for holding such faith in the university’s future through their planned gifts and were inducted into the society bearing Jenkins’ name.

Jenkins, the university’s sixth president and first chancellor, is celebrated as a visionary who oversaw exceptional growth during his tenure. Society inductees continue to move the mission forward with their commitments to numerous ECU purposes.

“Your gifts not only make an impact with the wonderful projects and funds you support across all of ECU, but also have a compounding effect that encourages others to give and believe in the future,” Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Development Greg Abeyounis ’06 told the honorees. “Please know we are honored and grateful, and what you have done matters.”

During the Pursue Gold campaign, charitable gift planning donors contributed more than $172 million dollars in future gifts through 306 total donors. Scholarships represent 45% of that total, with another 23% designated to discretionary, programmatic or faculty support.

“I thought about us not being an institution of exclusivity that separates based on differences, but one of social mobility collectively taking our students from where they arrive to a much different place when they graduate,” Abeyounis said. “I believe, and I think you do as well based on your visionary support, that at ECU, we build things. It is in our very institutional fabric and is that special intangible that changes the lives of our students and, most often, their entire families and communities.”

Student impact

Abby Ulffers ’23 described how her journey at ECU has been shaped by society members.

The Greenville native was a Brinkley-Lane Scholar in the College of Health and Human Performance. She has a Bachelor of Science in public health and is a first-year Brody Scholar at the Brody School of Medicine. Ulffers said when she thinks of ECU’s mission and vision, she sees herself and her journey.

“Selection Sunday was when I recognized that I was being called to attend ECU,” Ulffers said. “Looking back, the decision to become a Pirate was a huge turning point in my life. My future is where I can see ECU’s mission and vision truly come to life.”

She described the university’s strategic plan, Future focused. Innovation driven., as ECU’s commitment to its mission of student success, public service and regional transformation. The plan highlights the intersection of ECU’s mission with a set of vision priorities — social and economic mobility, workforce success, and rural health and well-being, Ulffers said.

“ECU has continuously supported me as a student, individual and now future physician,” she said. “For me, attending ECU means knowing I will be prepared with the knowledge and relevant experience necessary to address the health needs of our communities by providing access to medical care, medical education and circumstantial empathy.”

Scholarships have provided support for Ulffers’ journey. She said ECU donors stand apart in their desire to build relationships with students, support student success, and their long-term focus on university growth and development.

“As I grow into a Pirate alumna, I hope to contribute to the kindness, generosity, and legacy of donor support you all have established in supporting future Pirate students in the decades to come,” Ulffers said. “Your investment in the future direction of our university gives me hope and excitement for the wonderful things to come.”

The place we love

Keith Beatty receives his Leo Jenkins Society medallion from Greg Abeyonis. (Photo by Randy Yiu)

Inductee Keith Beatty ’73 came to ECU from Charlotte on a football scholarship. His appreciation for the role ECU played in his life and his support for his alma mater have grown over the years. ECU offered Beatty a roster spot on what was then the freshman football team, he said. Beatty earned a Bachelor of Science in education and became a teacher.

“I had a wonderful, wonderful experience here, academically and growing up. I met many lifelong friends, many people who became my mentors,” Beatty said. “I was a school teacher who became a businessman. And they had a big influence on that.”

Beatty has been a resident of Wilmington since the 1980s and began a career as a business owner before joining Intracoastal Realty in 1993. He has been Intracoastal Realty’s top agent for homes sold for 20 consecutive years.

“I have somewhat of a name recognition in Wilmington,” he said. “All the time, people come up to me and say, ‘Keith, I was at parent orientation (at ECU) and I had no idea what a place that is.’ That makes you proud to have come here.”

Beatty said hearing those sentiments over and over have made an impact on him. ECU’s construction management program consistently receives praise from builders who have come through the program or hired ECU graduates in their companies.

“Over time, I realized that one of the most important things that ever happened to me was coming here (to ECU),” Beatty said. “It was a process over a number of years to give back to the place we all love.”

Beatty set up a scholarship in the College of Health and Human Performance. Two years ago, he established an Access Scholarship and designated the recipient be from his high school alma mater. This year, Beatty created a trust and made an endowment within the trust for a gift that will support the Pirate Club after his death.

Investments improve student-athlete experience

Junior Merritt Woodson shared her experience as a student-athlete and the positive impact investment has in the classroom and on the court. Woodson and her teammates on the ECU volleyball team had a 20-win season and competed in post-season play for the first time in program history. ECU hosted first-round matches at Minges on Dec. 1-2.

“This was such an amazing opportunity for the whole team because we were able to see our hard work get recognized by others in volleyball and by our community here in Greenville,” Woodson said.

Woodson said improvements made to Minges through the Pirates Unite campaign helps the team.

“Upgrades to Minges, such as the lighting, sound and new seats, have impacted the gameday atmosphere and turned it into something I hadn’t seen yet in my three years at ECU. This truly helps our recruitment and shows investment in the program from donors and the athletic department.”

Woodson said donor investments also have improved the learning experience through improvements in the labs and classroom where she studies biology.

“I’m very appreciative of the opportunities I’ve had here at ECU. Developments in facilities have shown me and my peers as students and athletes that ECU is committed to continuing to establish itself as a top institution in North Carolina,” Woodson said. “Being a part of ECU as a student-athlete has shown me that I am a part of something much bigger than myself, and I want to say how truly grateful I am for that.”

Growing ECU’s health care footprint

Leo Jenkins coin

In 2021, the State of North Carolina approved a multi-year investment in a new medical education building, which will enhance Brody School of Medicine’s ability to serve the region’s residents. Dr. Herb Garrison, professor and associate dean for graduate medical education at Brody, described the new facility and expected class size expansion as following in the footsteps of Leo Jenkins.

Garrison shared the origins of Jenkins’ interest in addressing the medical needs. According to Wayne Williams, writing on the beginning of the School of Medicine, Jenkins was challenged by Dr. Ernest Furgurson, a physician from Plymouth, for East Carolina to live up to its motto, to serve, and accept responsibility to address eastern North Carolina’s health care record.

“The result of Dr. Furgurson’s plea to Chancellor Jenkins is that ECU now has one of the top medical schools and largest medical centers in the country with 340 medical students and 400 resident physicians and fellows receiving their training here in Greenville,” Garrison said.

“Because of what Chancellor Jenkins and others started, the statistics have improved such that we’re on par with the rest of our great state.”

Garrison said form follows function, and this expansion will allow ECU to continue to do great things for health care.

The new medical education building is a $265 million project and will bring a living-learning environment to Brody with 200,000 square feet of medical education programming space, high-end technology, versatile classrooms, and collaborative training spaces as well as a state-of-the-art simulation facility and a 500-car parking deck. The building is expected to be completed in 2027. With the new building will come an expansion of the student body. Class sizes are expected to grow from 85 to 120 students in 2027.


Vice Chancellor for Advancement Chris Dyba and Abeyounis presented Leo W. Jenkins Society medallions to the 2023 class members in attendance.

“The gifts you have made to ECU are exemplars of what it takes for our students, faculty, researchers, and health care providers to Pursue Gold,” Dyba said. “Your legacy and your generosity will sustain the value of East Carolina University for generations of Pirates to come. And for that, we are forever grateful.”

Nine inductees were recognized, including:

  • Keith Beatty ’73, whose bequest will support the Keith M. Beatty Access Scholarship Endowment Fund and the Pirate Club.
  • Dr. William Mance Bogey Jr. ’80 ’84 and JenniSue Kolczynski ’85, were celebrated for their gift establishing the Bogey Family, Jenni and Bill Access Scholarship Endowment.
  • Col. (Ret.) James Worth Carter ’77 ’81 and Dolores H. Carter, whose gift supports the College of Health and Human Performance through the Col. J. Worth Carter, Jr. Distinguished Military Service Society Scholarship Endowment Fund for Air Force ROTC and the College of Business through the Dolores and Worth Carter Service Scholarship Endowment.
  • Larry Eugene Cox ’82, whose bequest will establish the Larry E. Cox Business Scholarship Endowment Fund.
  • Garry Lee Dudley ’92 and Monica Reavis Dudley, whose bequest will support the ECU Alumni Association Scholarship Pool.
  • Beth Page LaNier ’91, whose bequest will create The Beth Page LaNier Access Scholarship Endowment.
  • Capt. (Ret.) James B. Newman Jr. ’68 ’74 and Judy Newman ’68, whose bequest provides support through the James and Judith Newman Access Scholarship for Education, the James and Judith Newman Access Scholarship for Business, and the Pirate Club.
  • Carl Eliot Swanson and Janet Grace Swanson ’89, whose gift will establish the Carl E. and Janet G. Swanson Scholarship Endowment Fund for students in the maritime studies program.
  • Joseph Lee Wood ’77 ’79 and Carolyn Staton Wood ’79, whose estate gift will establish the Joseph L. and Carolyn S. Wood MBA Scholarship Endowment.

Inductees not in attendance:

  • Dr. Emily L. Bray and Paul T. Bray, whose gift supports the Katherine Bray-Strickland Scholarship and diabetes research and education.
  • Kay B. Curtis ’74, whose gift supports the Curtis Family Scholarship Endowment and the Curtis Family Medical Student Recruitment Scholarship Endowment.
  • Robin Christine Graves ’86 ’90, whose gift supports ECU softball through the ECU Educational Foundation (Pirate Club).
  • Stephen Marshall Grice ’81, whose gift supports the ECU Foundation Priority Fund for university needs.
  • Randy Carlton Jones ’71 and Mrs. Deborah Jones, whose gift supports the Randolph and Deborah Jones Access Scholarship Endowment and the Purple Pantry.
  • Dr. Gerhard W. Kalmus, whose gift supports the Dr. Gerhard Kalmus Biology Scholarship Endowment.
  • Michael John Langer ’94 ’97, whose gift supports the Sociology Department.
  • Dr. Joseph G. L. Lee, whose gift supports Health Education and Promotion Priority Fund.
  • John Everett Oliver Jr. and Cheryl Oliver, whose gift supports the John and Cheryl Oliver Coastal Studies Institute Endowment.
  • Freddie Mayo Powell ’64, whose gift supports the Freddie Mayo Powell Scholarship Endowment.
  • Lawrence William Sarmiere and Theresa Tomazic Sarmiere ’00, whose gift supports the Physical Therapy Priority Fund.
  • Stephanie Shanewise Spivey ’05 ’19, whose gift supports the College of Nursing Scholarship Pool.
  • Jon Eric Strickland ’99 ’01 and Billie Cashwell Strickland ’04, whose gift supports the Jon and Billie Strickland Access Scholarship, ECU Foundation and ECU Educational Foundation (Pirate Club).
  • Dwain Posey Teague ’93 ’98, whose gift supports the Joyner Library Dean Fund for Excellence.
  • Sandra Jarman Whaley, whose gift supports the Courtney Whaley Memorial Scholarship
  • Jonathan Moore York ’78, whose gift supports the Jonathan M. York Study Abroad Scholarship Endowment and Jonathan M. York Music Scholarship Endowment.

Previous Jenkins Society inductees made additional gifts during 2023, including:

  • Robert Gentry Brinkley ’78 and Amy Woods Brinkley, supporting the Brinkley-Lane Scholars program.
  • Lewis Patrick Lane ’67 and Lynn Lewis Lane, supporting the Brinkley-Lane Scholars program.
  • Hayes Petteway ’71, supporting the Hayes ‘71 and Mary Anne Petteway Scholarship Endowment.