Honoring Pirates who serve

With service at the heart of East Carolina University, it’s only natural the faculty and staff members, along with the student body, share a commitment to helping others.

The University Awards for Service in the Main Campus Student Center ballrooms April 8 recognized 151 ECU faculty, staff and students.

“The individuals honored tonight embody the spirit of ECU’s motto, Servire,” said ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers. “They serve our students, our university, our region and our state with steadfast and selfless dedication by placing people at the center of their work every single step of the way. They represent the very best of ECU as they utilize their unique skills and talents to transform the world around them.”

ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers presents Dr. Sharon Paynter with the James R. Talton Jr. Leadership Award.

ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers presents Dr. Sharon Paynter with the James R. Talton Jr. Leadership Award.

Rogers presented the first award to Dr. Sharon Paynter, acting chief research and engagement officer. Named in honor of the former Board of Trustees chairman, the James R. Talton Jr. Leadership Award is presented to a faculty member, staff member or administrator in recognition of their demonstration of outstanding servant leadership.

During a video that announced Paynter as the award recipient, her colleagues praised her dedication to others as a servant leader who always finds time for others. Paynter received a standing ovation as she walked to the stage to accept the award.

“Dr. Paynter, we are grateful for your leadership and dedication to the ideals of ECU,” said Rogers. “You lead with a servant’s heart – colleagues, students, the community, region and state are better, and lives are richer because of you.”

“It’s humbling to be recognized from such a list of fellow Pirates who contribute in such meaningful ways to the university and region every day,” said Paynter after the event. “This award is a representation of all the amazing team members I work with, the community members, our industry partners, students, faculty and staff who do remarkable work. It’s special to be at a university that values service so much and has public service as a core to our identity, to our mission, and to who and what we do. I see this award as an embodiment of the importance and recognition of this work.”

Other nominees for the award included Stacey Altman, College of Health and Human Performance; Alice Arnold, School of Art and Design; Monisha Worsley Atkinson, College of Education; Melanie Sartore-Baldwin, Department of Kinesiology; Kiya Bolds, University Studies; John Cavanagh, biochemistry and molecular biology; Karlene Cunningham, psychiatry and behavioral medicine; Randolph Daniel, anthropology; Lou Anna Hardee, College of Education; Elizabeth Hodge, Department of Educational Leadership; Toya Jacobs, Office for Equity and Diversity; Angela Kallis, psychiatry; Ruth Gaskins Little, Department of Public Health; Amanda Murer, University Advancement; Robert O’Halloran, College of Business; Wayne Poole, Office of Internal Audit and Management Advisory Services; William Staub, School of Music; Elizabeth Swaggerty, College of Education; Mary Catherine Turner, ECU Health; and Heather Wright, College of Allied Health Sciences.

Also recognized in the ceremony were 83 inductees to ECU’s Servire Society. The society recognizes individuals who contribute a minimum of 100 hours of service beyond their job responsibilities in a year. Servire Society members receive a certificate, medal and pin with the induction year.

Jordyn Strupp receives the North Carolina Campus Engagement Community Impact Award from Dr. Dennis McCunney.

Jordyn Strupp receives the North Carolina Campus Engagement Community Impact Award from Dr. Dennis McCunney.

North Carolina Campus Engagement, Community Impact Award

The North Carolina Campus Engagement is a network of colleges and universities committed to community engagement. The Community Impact Award recognizes a student with a commitment to partner with others to address community issues and engage with other students. Jordyn Strupp, a junior political science and business management double major from Asheville, received the award for her work to increase involvement and support for events by using her network. Strupp is passionate about voter and civic engagement along with helping others develop their leadership skills, according to award presenter Dr. Dennis McCunney.

“I really appreciate the recognition,” said Strupp. “I feel like everyone should be working towards a better community together. The ECU Center for Leadership helped me get the word out about different things that are going on and help people realize how important their voice is with voting.”

Excellence in Student Leadership Award

The Truist Leadership Excellence in Student Leadership Award is presented to individuals who exhibit exemplary skills or achievement in campus leadership, made a positive community impact, or helped to address a significant North Carolina problem. This year, five students were recognized.

Hannah Blackburn, a junior Honors College student majoring in engineering with minors in mathematics and composite natural science, established ECU’s chapter of the Helping Hand Project. The Helping Hand Project is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to serving children with limb deficiency and their families.

Victor Ihuka, a graduate student majoring in geography, leads the International Student Association and is a volunteer student intern with the Pitt County Board of Commissioners. Ihuka also co-hosts the Pitt Perspectives podcast.

Ben Juhl, a senior Honors College student majoring in biology with a pre-med concentration, has played a pivotal role with the Railcare Health program, a nonprofit mobile health clinic operated by undergraduate students.

Kasey Perkins, a senior Honors College student majoring in health services management, has roles in several student organizations including serving as the Honors College Student Council president, working with the Medical Food Pantry, and is a lead Pirate navigator. Working with the Medical Food Pantry, she was able to make an impact on over 900 people living in several eastern North Carolina counties.

Jaelyn Woods, a junior accounting major, has worked with the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement through the Williams-Ross Purple Pantry and alternative break experiences. Woods also serves as a resident assistant and Pirate navigator.

Public Fellows Internship Program

Supported by funding from the State Employees’ Credit Union Foundation, the SECU Public Fellows Internship program connects undergraduate students with local leadership so they can obtain meaningful on-the-job experience with a local agency or organization, providing a unique learning opportunity and avenue to give back to the community. This year’s SECU Public Fellow Interns are Alana Boyer, Ashton Burgess, Hayden Clark, Sydney Cook, Katie Council, Dietrich Downing, Emily Findling, DaNisha Harris, Tanner Hayslette, Jennifer Heath, Fabian Hector, Jasmine Johnson, Braxton Kilby, Victoria Koors, Stephanie Lizardo, Brenna Miller, Madison Perzel, Markell Rawls, Alexandra Simpson, Tamia Siye and Emily Walden.

Staff Emeritus Recognition

The ECU Staff Senate established the recognition of emeritus status to retired staff members who have made significant contributions to the university through a long and distinguished record of service, dedication, leadership, and innovation. Those receiving staff emeritus status this year are as follows:

Maha Banning, University Advancement

Wendy Beachum, College of Health and Human Performance

Dee Bowling, Financial Services

Paula Daughtry, Health Sciences

Brenda Doss, Department of Physics

Stephen Gray, Student Affairs

DJ Gregory, ECU Police

Gwen Joyner, College of Education

Charlene Lee, Academic Affairs

Aaron Lucier, Campus Living

Denise Miller, College of Arts and Sciences

Brenda Smith, College of Nursing

Dr. Lathan Turner, Office of Student Transitions

Beth Watkins, ECU Police

Centennial Awards for Excellence

These honors recognize staff, faculty, administrators and teams who are nominated by their colleagues for “going the extra mile every day to make a difference” on campus in the areas of leadership, service and spirit.


Jennifer Sisk, Department of English

Dr. Margaret Wilson, School of Dental Medicine

Dr. Sharon Ballard, Department of Human Development and Family Science


Dr. James deVente, ECU Health

John Barwick, Facilities Services

Bob Morphet, Center for Counseling and Student Development

Team ECU Save-a-Life: Dr. LaNika Wright, Student Health Services; Ellen Goldberg, Student Health Services; Amy Welsh, Student Health Services; Dr. Lynn Roeder, Dean of Students; Chris Sutton, ECU Police


Dr. Donna Kain, Department of English

Rita Rogers, Facilities Services

Alyssa Arnold, Brody School of Medicine

ECU/Project Kitty Hawk Integration Team