STADIUM RENOVATIONS

ECU and Pirate Club leaders and donors gathered on a drizzly Thursday afternoon to celebrate construction at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and other athletic facilities that will improve experiences for student-athletes and fans alike.

“Is it a great day to be a Pirate or what?” said Kieran Shanahan, chairman of the East Carolina University Board of Trustees, as construction crews with welding torches worked on the stadium a few yards away. Other speakers thanked the work of the Pirate Club and ECU supporters for their work to raise $30 million toward the project so far.

Kieran Shanahan, chairman of the ECU Board of Trustees, talks about the importance of investing in student athletes.

Kieran Shanahan, chairman of the ECU Board of Trustees, talks about the importance of investing in student athletes at the event celebrating the construction of a $60 million renovation and construction project at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and other athletic facilities Thursday, Jan. 11. (Photos by Rhett Butler)

“What you’re really investing in is the future of this great university, and you’re investing in your student-athletes, and for that I am truly grateful,” said ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton.

At Dowdy-Ficklen, the $60 million project (up from the original estimate of $55 million) will create 1,000 premium seats in a four-story structure that will house a new club level, suites and loge boxes. The fourth level will house a new press box and game-day operations center. The structure will span the top of the south-side seats between the 15-yard lines and should be complete by the 2019 football season. Overall stadium capacity will remain at approximately 50,000.

In the Ward Sports Medicine Building, the football locker room and team meeting areas, athletics training headquarters and the equipment room will be modernized and expanded, and a football team lounge is being built. Those improvements are expected to be completed by August, said Jeff Compher, ECU director of athletics.

The ECU Athletics Ticket Office will be moved and team locker rooms added to Scales Field House. A new indoor hitting facility beside Clark-LeClair Stadium will benefit the baseball and softball teams.

An 8,000-square-foot open area is also planned between the west end zone and the Murphy Center to provide close-up viewing of on-field action.

ECU alumnus and longtime media personality Henry Hinton said the new press box is much-needed. The previous one opened in 1977.

“When it first went up there, we thought we were working in the Taj Mahal because what we were working in before was like a high school press box,” Hinton said Thursday. “You had to take a spiral staircase to get up there.”

While the 1977 press box has served well, the demands of television coverage have made an upgrade necessary, Hinton said.

“As time has gone on, there’s no doubt we needed something better,” said Hinton, a former member of the University of North Carolina system Board of Governors. “We need people to leave here and say, ‘That’s a first-class university and first-class operation.’”

Another benefit of the renovation is it will bring money to athletic department coffers, Compher said. Those dollars will help fund other projects, such as an indoor practice facility for football, he said.

“This generates revenue that will allow us to do some of those things along the way,” Compher said. “That’s something I’m excited about.”

And the improvement in the fan and student-athlete experience, and the possible further improvements the renovations will make possible, are vital, Shanahan said.

“The Pirate nation’s biggest challenge is the financial disconnect we have with the other schools in our system,” he said, referring to schools in the UNC system. “We’re outspent by other schools in our conference by an average of $17 million per school. This stadium is going to rank with the best, and the experience inside is going to be great.”

LS3P of Wilmington is the design firm on the project. Goldsboro-based T.A. Loving Co. and Winston-Salem-based Frank L. Blum Construction Co. are the construction managers at risk for the project.

For information about the project, contact the ECU Pirate Club at 252-737-4540 or ecupirateclub@ecu.edu.

Video Link: Watch the Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium renovations live

ECU football coach Scottie Montgomery, ECU board chairman Kieran Shanahan, ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton, Athletic Director Jeff Compher, Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance Rick Niswander and others ceremonially shovel dirt during a celebration of a $60 million renovation and construction project at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

ECU football coach Scottie Montgomery, ECU board chairman Kieran Shanahan, ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton, Athletic Director Jeff Compher, Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance Rick Niswander and others ceremonially shovel dirt during a celebration of a $60 million renovation and construction project at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and other athletic facilities Thursday, Jan. 11.

NEW POLICE CHIEF

Friday’s swearing-in ceremony was a bit like a homecoming for East Carolina University Police Chief Jon Barnwell.

His wife and two sons were there, along with present and former co-workers from previous posts he’s held. Not to mention that he and his wife, who came to ECU from Tulane University in New Orleans, are from North Carolina

“This was a unique opportunity to allow my family to come home to North Carolina and to allow me to continue to serve the public in a law enforcement capacity,” Barnwell said Friday after taking the official oath of office at the student center on ECU’s Health Sciences Campus.

Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman, left, congratulates ECU Police Chief Jon Barnwell following Barnwell’s swearing-in ceremony Friday, Dec. 15.

Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman, left, congratulates ECU Police Chief Jon Barnwell following Barnwell’s swearing-in ceremony Friday, Dec. 15.

Since beginning at ECU on Sept. 1, Barnwell has overseen the implementation of body cameras on ECU Police officers and is working with the Student Government Association to establish a student safety council. He’s also leading the effort to widen the use of technology for police work. An example is monitoring video footage to alert officers of potential problems rather than just using the footage to investigate after an incident has occurred.

“He’s where we want to be as far as thinking about better uses of technology,” said Bill Koch, associate vice chancellor for environmental health and campus safety at ECU.

A Hendersonville native, Barnwell has 19 years of experience in campus law enforcement. Before coming to ECU, he worked as superintendent of police at Tulane. His wife, Brandy, is from Morganton. They have five children.

Barnwell began his law enforcement career at North Carolina State University, working his way up from patrol officer to deputy chief of field operations. At NCSU, Barnwell worked for Tom Younce, a former assistant police chief at ECU.

“He just has a world of expertise to bring here,” said Younce, now a consultant and who was at Friday’s swearing-in ceremony. “He’s got the personality for eastern North Carolina. If I had the chance to hire him, I’d hire him today.”

Barnwell has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Mount Olive and is a graduate of the West Point Military Leadership Institute. He said the welcome he’s received at ECU has been appreciated.

“It validates my decision to come here,” he said.

The ECU Police Department employs approximately 60 sworn officers and a civilian staff. It is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Law Enforcement Agencies and the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.

ECU Police Chief Jon Barnwell and his son Grayson slide down the slide at the ECU Health Sciences Student Center following Barnwell’s swearing-in ceremony.

ECU Police Chief Jon Barnwell and his son Grayson slide down the slide at the ECU Health Sciences Student Center following Barnwell’s swearing-in ceremony.

LOW and SLOW

It’s hot.

It’s saucy.

And come September, it’s a match made in heaven – hog heaven, that is.

ECU and BBQ.

“Any game that’s three or later, we’re going to have a pig on the grill,” said Mark Alexander of Greenville, a 2004 East Carolina University graduate and part of the “Pirates of Elmhurst” tailgating group. “For us, it’s a family thing. We have our kids come out here. It’s a great social environment.”

They don’t always do a whole pig; sometimes, it’s Boston butts. But it’s always something good.

“Cook with care,” said fellow tailgater and 1990 ECU graduate Scott Snead of Greenville. “You have to constantly monitor your temperature, and we have a sauce people love.”

Unfortunately, the components of the sauce remain a secret. But the prime cooking method is well-known.

“Low and slow,” said Pete Balent of Winterville, a 1999 graduate and member of the “Pork-N-Pirates” tailgating crew. He’s missed only one home game since 1994: the 1999 “Hurricane Floyd game” against Miami that was played in Raleigh. About 10-12 hours on the grill is what his group aims for.

Even though she lives in Georgia now, ECU alumna Mary Lindsey is secretary of the N.C. Barbecue Society, an organization founded by her father, Jim Early. Its mission is “to preserve North Carolina’s barbecue history and culture and to secure North Carolina’s rightful place as the Barbecue Capital of the World.”

“I don’t get back nearly as much as I would like, but when I am able to attend an ECU game, barbecue HAS to be part of the tailgating experience because Greenville has some of the best around, and you definitely can’t get that kind of barbecue in Georgia,” Lindsey said.

Diana Saum, a dietitian and teaching instructor in the ECU nutrition science department, said barbecue can be a healthy way to tailgate.

“The number one thing I would have to say … is it’s healthier if you make it yourself and don’t have to buy it,” Saum said. “It’s going to be lower in salt. You can control things if you make it yourself.”

She also said the vinegar-based eastern North Carolina sauce has less sugar than red sauces and less salt than mustard-based sauces.

And she suggests sides of vegetable trays and fruits to help fill up.

Watch portion sizes, and drink plenty of water. “Drinking your calories … is something you really have to be careful about,” Saum said.

But most of all make it fun.

“Our tailgate’s a 10,” Snead said.

The self-named Pirates of Elmhurst

The self-named Pirates of Elmhurst pose for a photo before the Sept. 2 Pirate home-opener against James Madison University.

Crock-pot BBQ

Don’t have a pig-cooker or the time to spend next to it preparing pork? ECU dietitian Diana Saum recommends this crock-pot BBQ recipe from allrecipes.com. She adds that she has used pork loin, which is leaner than pork shoulder.


Ingredients

1 5-pound bone-in pork shoulder roast
1 tablespoon salt
Ground black pepper
1-1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes


Directions

Place the pork shoulder into a slow cooker and season with salt and pepper. Pour the vinegar around the pork. Cover and cook on low for 12 hours. Pork should easily pull apart into strands.

Remove the pork from the slow cooker, and discard any bones. Strain out the liquid, and save 2 cups. Discard any extra. Shred the pork using tongs or two forks, and return to the slow cooker. Stir the brown sugar, hot pepper sauce, cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes into the reserved sauce. Mix into the pork in the slow cooker. Cover and keep on low setting until serving.

ECU leads in developing health and science programs

East Carolina University’s FoodMASTER program has received a $1.18 million federal grant to help six universities create teaching models that pair health-promotion programs with science education.

The Science Education Partnership Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences went to Melani Duffrin, professor of nutrition science, director of special projects for the ECU Center for STEM Education and creator of the FoodMASTER program; Dan Dickerson, associate professor of science education and ECU’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Collaborative for Research in Education director; and Shawn Moore, interim director of the Center for STEM Education at ECU.

Their project team is called the Deep South Network. Other universities participating are the University of South Carolina, Georgia State University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Auburn University and the University of Mississippi.

ECU student Alexis Pinto mixes ingredients in Melani Duffrin’s food science laboratory in this April 2016 photo.

University partners will begin the work this fall by attending the “Bridging the Gap” conference supported by the North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research.

NCABR has partnered with FoodMASTER for more than seven years. FoodMASTER stands for “food, math and science teaching enhancement resource.”

The funding will also continue to support local summer science activities in partnership with the Love A Sea Turtle Foundation, River Park North and the Boys and Girls Club of the Coastal Plains.

For example, more than 200 youth from Pitt County Boys and Girls Club units participated in STEM camps at River Park North this summer.

In addition, the project will develop new FoodMASTER learning materials for informal science learning environments such as afterschool programs and museums.

Sylvia Escott-Stump, former president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and an ECU faculty member, will educate dietitians about the FoodMASTER Initiative approach and the NIH SEPA program.

“Our goal is to have every dietitian in the United States knowledgeable about how to leverage partnerships with science teachers to improve nutrition science knowledge. We already have strong interest from dietitians in other countries as well.” said Escott-Stump.

Developers of FoodMASTER say people are exposed to math and science concepts each time they use food, making it an exceptional teaching tool.

The food-based curriculum is designed for students in third grade through college. The program uses hands-on, inquiry-based learning activities to help students learn science, math and nutrition concepts.

Sebastián Díaz, external evaluator for the project, sees this as a unique advantage of the Deep South Network. “This model for research not only integrates science education and health promotion, it also leverages big data to investigate how this approach can be expanded to K-12 systems regionally and nationally,” he said.

Early research efforts for the FoodMASTER Initiative approach included formative feedback from teachers in developing activities and activity observations. Data collected produced well-designed, teacher-friendly instructional materials.

Later FoodMASTER studies measured student knowledge and attitudes toward science before and after experiencing the FoodMASTER approach. These studies indicated students were making gains in knowledge and attitudes toward science when compared to other students.

Teacher efficacy to engage in science related to food and nutrition is also another important consideration for the FoodMASTER Initiative approach, especially in light of increasing obesity rates, said Duffrin.

Duffrin developed the FoodMASTER program at Ohio University in 1999 with elementary school teacher Sharon Phillips. Since 2005, Duffrin’s SEPA-funded FoodMASTER Initiative at ECU has produced local impacts and serves as a national model for improving public understanding of science in the context of healthy living.

Duffrin has received $3.8 million in grant funding with 95 percent of those dollars originating from the Science Education Partnership Award. Continuous research has justified the effectiveness of the FoodMASTER approach.

ECU student Jared Lowe and Makayla Kean mix ingredients

ECU student Jared Lowe and Makayla Kean mix ingredients in Melani Duffrin’s food science laboratory in this April 2016 photo.