A look back at East Carolina University’s most popular stories of the year

In 2023, East Carolina University celebrated its first University Day, recorded $85.6 million in sponsored awards and exceeded the $500 million goal of the Pursue Gold Comprehensive Campaign five months before the campaign was scheduled to end.

With hundreds of stories written each year about the amazing accomplishments of ECU’s faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters, there is always one story that rises to the top each month.

Innovative research, examples of resiliency and ECU’s unique mission of service are represented in the top 12, with a few honorable mentions.


International staff, student recall unconditional welcome to campus

Peter Ku ’68 describes his life as a series of miracles that brought him to the United States from Taiwan and eventually to East Carolina College, where he found the love of his life.


ECU will provide mental health services for youth with $3.2 million United Health Foundation grant

Children and adolescents with mental health care needs will benefit from a $3.2 million partnership between ECU and the United Health Foundation. The grant will expand the North Carolina Statewide Telepsychiatry Program (NC-STeP) within the ECU Center for Telepsychiatry and e-Behavioral Health. The investment is part of the United Health Foundation’s ongoing commitment to work with ECU to address mental health challenges in North Carolina.


ECU medical students learn where they will complete residency training

In a ceremony laced with excitement, anticipation and tradition, fourth-year medical students in the Brody School of Medicine at ECU learned where they will spend the next three to seven years completing residency training. Match Day is arguably the pinnacle of medical school, when students discover their next destination surrounded by friends, family, and Brody faculty and staff who have guided them over the years.


Graduates credit supportive friendship and success to Honors College

In Hollywood, college is pictured as a place where you’ll find yourself and — more importantly — where you’ll find your lifelong friends who support and encourage you to be successful. For four ECU Honors College graduates, that turned out to be the case. Among Teresa Hupp, Kaylee Warren, Wrenn Whitfield and Abby Ulffers, there are three Captain of the Ship finalists, two Robert H. Wright Leadership Award winners, countless internships, club founders, sorority executive board members and more.


EC Scholars renaming reflects donors’ $30 million investment

In a milestone moment for East Carolina University, Chancellor Philip Rogers announced a combined $30 million commitment to the institution from Robert Gentry Brinkley ’78 and Amy Woods Brinkley and Lewis Patrick Lane III ’67 and Lynn Lewis Lane. The EC Scholars program will now be known as the Brinkley-Lane Scholars program to honor their investment.


QAR lab partners with Waccamaw Siouan Tribe to conserve 930-year-old canoe

The Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Laboratory at ECU’s West Research Campus is home to thousands of artifacts from the 300-year-old wreck of Blackbeard’s ship. Now it’s also home to an even older piece of North Carolina history — a Native American canoe discovered in Lake Waccamaw. The canoe is about 30 feet long and about 930 years old and is made of a single tree.


ECU’s newest class of medical students receives white coats

Lifelong dreams came one step closer to reality for the newest class of students in the Brody School of Medicine as they were officially welcomed during the school’s annual White Coat Ceremony. The 90 members of the Class of 2027 — all North Carolina residents — received their white coats during the traditional celebration.


ECU faculty, students are studying the impact of erosion on Sugarloaf Island

Dr. Hannah Sirianni is leading a team of researchers and ECU graduate students in studying the erosion of Sugarloaf Island, a popular, undeveloped recreational beach off Morehead City’s downtown waterfront along the North Carolina coast. Since 2014, the island’s shoreline has eroded about 10 feet per year and lost nearly 10,000 cubic meters of sand. It would take 800 average-sized dump trucks to hold the amount of sand lost from the 47-acre island.


ECU celebrates new academic year, refreshed strategic plan

East Carolina University kicked off the new academic year with its first University Day celebration. The ceremony in the Main Campus Student Center ballrooms highlighted ECU’s refreshed strategic plan, Future focused. Innovation driven. The plan supports the university’s mission of student success, public service and regional transformation.


Pirates achieve historic sponsored activities funding

East Carolina University recorded $85.6 million in sponsored awards, its highest level on record, during fiscal year 2023. The funding will go to innovative and impactful projects that will serve eastern North Carolina and communities around the globe.


Voyages of Discovery: Sean Astin

East Carolina University welcomed actor, director, producer, triathlete and mental health advocate Sean Astin to campus on Nov. 16 for the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Voyages of Discovery Series. Nearly 1,000 people attended to hear Astin discuss mental health awareness and advocacy.


King encourages grads to plant seeds of hope

The East Carolina University fall Class of 2023 graduates turned their tassels on December 15 during a ceremony in Minges Coliseum in front of family, friends and well-wishers. The class totaled 2,090 graduates, including 1,415 undergraduate degrees, 450 master’s degrees, 38 certificate recipients and 45 doctoral degrees. The graduates represented 39 states and 96 of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

Honorable Mentions

  • Business Pirates hit NYC
    More than 20 ECU College of Business graduate and undergraduate students descended on the Big Apple to gain exposure to business environments found not only outside the conference room but outside the state of North Carolina. The students represent the Arthur School’s immersive MBA pathway and the COB’s undergraduate student leadership board. (Published Nov. 28, 2023)
  • ECU awarded top honor in campus internationalization
    ECU’s growing international program was one of four institutions nationwide to receive the Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization by NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The award recognizes overall excellence in internationalization efforts by an institution of higher education. According to Jon Rezek, assistant vice chancellor of global affairs, it’s like winning the national championship of internationalization. (Published Feb. 15, 2023)
  • ECU’s Pursue Gold campaign exceeds $500 million goal
    East Carolina University is painting the Pursue Gold campaign purple as gifts supporting the Jeff Charles Scholarship fund have taken the comprehensive campaign over its $500 million goal. Pirate Nation has raised $503.7 million and ECU will continue accepting contributions through December. (Published Aug. 9, 2023)

Students move into Ballard Hall in August.