Legacy Picnic is August 18

The Pirate Alumni Legacy Picnic will be Thursday, August 18, hosted by the East Carolina Alumni Association. Families of current students with two or more generations of Pirates are invited to this event recognizing tradition and loyalty to East Carolina. This event is part of move-in week before classes begin on Monday, August 22.

From 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the Club Level of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, attendees will enjoy picnic fare like hotdogs, hamburgers, potato salad, coleslaw, rolls, and desserts. Current students will take a legacy oath and be pinned by their legacy family members with a provided keepsake pin.

This is an inclusive event; legacies are not limited to parent-child, and may include aunts, uncles, grandparents, step-parents, guardians, etc. Others who did not attend ECU but are in the student’s immediate family may also attend the picnic.

Attire is casual; be sure to wear purple and gold! Registration is $20 for members of the alumni association and $25 for non-members. Click here to register.

To find out more, contact Assistant Director of Alumni Programs Megan Howard ’07 at 252-328-5557 or howardme14@ecu.edu.



Alumnus Flies ECU Fraternity Flag at Iwo Jima

At the site of perhaps the most famous flag-raising in modern history, an East Carolina University alumnus got to fly a flag of his own.

When Navy Petty Officer First Class William Beamer ’06 learned he would be visiting Iwo Jima on Memorial Day as part of his duties, he saw it as a chance to reflect on everything that had brought him to that point, from the sacrifices of those who served before him to his own education at ECU.


Bearing a purple and gold flag with the letters of his fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Beamer reached the summit of Mount Suribachi, where Marines raised the U.S. flag on February 23, 1945 while taking the island from Japan in one of the bloodiest and most significant battles of World War II.

“Saving the details of the mission that took me there, I will say it was awe-inspiring,” said Beamer, who works as an aviation electronics technician with Strike Fighter Squadron 115, based in Atsugi, Japan, near Tokyo. “Unfortunately, I did not have my favorite ECU flag (the No Quarter Flag), so I made do with my treasured SAE flag. Walking Invasion Beach 70 years after this historic battle leaves you feeling small, but enormous at the same time. There are certainly members of our esteemed alumni network who fought in that battle and I hope the freedoms our university enjoys are seen as a result of these colleagues’ sacrifices.”


Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima  http://www.archives.gov

This tiny island, just eight square miles and located around 760 miles south-southeast of Tokyo, was of immense strategic and symbolic importance to the allies. It was a vital refueling and repair stop for planes crossing the vast expanse of the Pacific. It was also the first part of Japan itself  to fall to the allies and represented a major turning point in the war. The iconic flag raising was captured by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal, whose shot went on to win a Pulitzer prize and become the most reproduced photo in history.

Bringing his fraternity flag to this historic site was natural for Beamer, who attributes his  success in the military to lessons learned in SAE at ECU. “I can credit SAE with honing leadership skills I use today,” he said. “SAE teaches 18-year-olds how to manage programs within the fraternity that sailors with 15 years active duty manage in the fleet. I enjoyed being involved with SAE immensely. Ten years later and my first thought when told I was going to Iwo Jima was to pack my flag.”

The island was returned to Japan in 1968 and its original name of Iwo To or Ioto, depending on the translation, was reinstated in 2007. Now a Japanese military base closed to outsiders, the otherwise uninhabited island is only open to veterans and their families on one day a year.

When Beamer came back to his base in Atsugi, he met a new sailor who also graduated from ECU.

“Some would call ECU a regional school, but to have two out of 12 people in a workshop on a small Navy base both be ECU alumni — that shows our broad reach,” he said.

Beamer is able to bond with young sailors from all over the world thanks to his experience at ECU.

“When I was student body treasurer I worked underneath a president who was intent on bringing to light the need for increased diversity efforts,” he said. “I probably did not know it at the time, but this prepared me for the role I currently play.”

Beamer will be returning stateside in a couple weeks and transferring to Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, IL to be a recruit division commander (equivalent to a drill sergeant).

“I look forward to my return stateside in July, after three years abroad in Japan, and hope we have even further successes as a Pirate Nation in the year to come. With a hearty ARRRRRRGH and Hooyah from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, I wanted to say GO PIRATES!!!”

By Jackie Drake


Linking up on the Links

Making connections is par for the course at the ECU Alumni Scholarship Classic golf tournament. Register now for the 2016 event on Friday, September 9!

By Jackie Drake

For Brian Edgerton and his teammates, golfing is not just a way to relax, but a way to get actively involved with East Carolina University.

Edgerton and fellow Pirate Stephen Latham ’13 are two members of the “Old Pros,” the team that won the 2015 ECU Alumni Scholarship Classic golf tournament. Hosted by the East Carolina Alumni Association at Ironwood Golf and Country Club each fall, this event raises funds for the Alumni Scholarship program at ECU and gives alumni an opportunity to network and bond over their support for their alma mater.


L-R: Stephen Latham ’13, Eric Miller, and Brian Edgerton of the “Old Pros,” winners of the 2015 ECU Alumni Scholarship Classic golf tournament. Photo by Cliff Hollis.

“Last year was my fifth time playing in the alumni golf tournament and it has been a great time each year,” said Edgerton, who recently returned to school and is scheduled to complete his degree at ECU in 2019. “I love to play golf and have met some truly great people that have become close friends because of the game, so I play as much as I can.”

Latham got involved with the alumni golf tournament when he met Edgerton at Ironwood in 2014. The “Old Pros” team has included various members over the years, including two former Lady Pirate golfers, since Edgerton started it in 2011.

“I love to play golf and it’s a wonderful way to network with a variety of people,” Latham said. “It’s a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of life and just enjoy the fellowship and environment of the golf course!”

In addition to connecting alumni, the ECU Alumni Scholarship Classic also provides a direct link for alumni to help students. The 2015 event raised $25,000 for the Alumni Scholarship program. Since its establishment in 2005, the program has awarded 252 scholarships totaling nearly $350,000.

“It is very important for those of us that can help to be as involved as possible with helping others follow their academic dreams,” said Edgerton, who works in information services at Vidant Health. He also volunteers as a strength coach for ECU Coed Cheer, and as a volunteer coach with Barton College Golf.

“I feel like it is very important for alumni to support ECU in any kind of way possible. I’m all about giving back and supporting my alma mater,” said Latham, who earned his degree in public health studies in 2013. He is currently a senior account manager for American Red Cross Blood Services.

As winners of the 2015 tournament, Edgerton, Latham, and their teammates Eric Miller and David Watkins were proud to represent ECU in the Acura College Alumni Team Championship at legendary Pinehurst last fall. They placed sixth among teams from across the nation, but they’re hoping to do better next time. The “Old Pros” are looking forward to playing again in the 2016 ECU Alumni Scholarship Classic on September 9.

This event is also open to any member of the community who wants to support ECU.

Edgerton said, “The golf course is a great equalizer as you can play with the president of a company and someone in an entry level position all in the same group and everyone is equal out there.”


2016 ECU Alumni Scholarship Classic
Presented by Hilton Greenville and PotashCorp Aurora
Affiliated with the Liberty Mutual Alumni Cup

  • September 9 at Ironwood Golf and Country Club
  • Register by September 1
  • Two flights: 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • $145 per player
  • $20 add-on package includes one mulligan & one tee buster

Fore more information or to register, visit PirateAlumni.com/2016golf or contact Director of Scholarships and Signature Programs Shawn Moore ’91, ’98 at 252-328-5775 or mooresh@ecu.edu.

Applications Due June 17 for New Trip for Combat Wounded Veterans

NoBoundariesAre you a combat wounded veteran and an ECU student or alumnus? You’re invited to apply for a special all expenses paid expedition in August, brought to you by the East Carolina Alumni Association Military Alumni Chapter and No Boundaries.

No Boundaries is a non-profit organization that allows combat wounded military veterans to experience adaptive sports activities the National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) in Winter Park, CO.

The No Boundaries program promotes self-esteem, pride and a sense of accomplishment for combat wounded service men and women as they expand their independence and overcome challenges once thought insurmountable. Living together under one roof for six days, these heroes also benefit from group socialization, camaraderie, teamwork and new life-long friendships with fellow veterans who are in the same situation and experience the same challenges in life.

noboundaries-200w.pngThis trip, offered twice a year, is full of exciting summer or winter activities. All adaptive sporting activities at the NSCD are tailored specifically for veterans’ needs and are supervised by trained staff. Typical sport activities in the summer include adaptive white water kayaking on the Colorado river, zip lining, ropes courses, rock climbing, downhill mountain biking and fly fishing. Winter trips include adaptive skiing, snowmobiling, ski biking, and tubing. Participants are chosen by application. There is no cost to participants, since the No Boundaries program is completely covered by donations. Flights, transportation, lodging, meals, and activities are included.

Applications are due by the end of the day June 17, 2016.

Selected participants will be notified by June 25, 2016.

The trip will be August 9-14, 2016.

Click here to apply.



ECU Alumnus Nominated for Tony Award for “Hamilton”


Lighting designer and ECU alumnus Howell Binkley joins the cast and crew on stage for a curtain call after a production of “Hamilton.” (contributed photo)



Binkley’s Tony nomination photo

An East Carolina University alumnus will be honored at the 2016 Tony Awards this Sunday for his work on the Broadway smash hit “Hamilton.”

Howell Binkley is nominated for best lighting design for a musical. The show, which received a record-breaking 16 Tony nominations, has become one of Broadway’s biggest critical and commercial successes in its ten-month run.

“It’s an honor to be involved with such a hit show,” said Binkley, who has been a Broadway lighting designer since 1992. This is his seventh nomination; his last win was for “Jersey Boys” in 2006. “It’s still as exciting as the first one.”

Binkley has worked with “Hamilton” creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda and his team before, on a production called “In the Heights,” Miranda’s Broadway debut.

“We have a history of working together,” Binkley said. “It’s a very collaborative process.”

“Hamilton” uses rap and hip-hop music to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton and the founding fathers. This is just one of the many things that make the show unique, from the diversity of the cast to the non-stop pace. There are 50 songs that move immediately from one to the next, Binkley said, and his lighting helps keep the show moving. Instead of traditionally fading to black at the end of each scene, there’s only one blackout at the end of the first act for intermission.

“The show is continuous,” Binkley said. “We work to keep it seamless and keep it vibrant.”

Binkley has been with the show since its beginning, participating in weeks of technical rehearsals before the show premiered off-Broadway at The Public Theater in February 2015. Putting sets, costumes, music and lighting together is “a layered process” that takes about three weeks, Binkley said. “It’s like any other business or product; you have to perfect it before the audience sees it.”

Now, Binkley checks in on the show about once a month to make any needed adjustments, as the house staff at the Richard Rodgers Theater execute his lighting design in sold-out shows.

Growing up in Winston-Salem, Binkley participated in both high school and community theater. He wanted to pursue a degree in architecture, for which ECU accepted him. But once he got involved in the theater program, he never looked back. He studied theater at ECU until 1977, but left before graduating to work in New York. He started out doing lighting for rock ‘n roll concerts, until he met renowned director Harold Prince of “Phantom of the Opera.” His first Broadway show was “Kiss of the Spider Woman” in 1992.

“ECU totally prepared me for my career,” Binkley said. “It gave me a great foundation that took me to where I am now. I’m very proud I went to ECU, and more proud every year as I watch the school grow.”

For the last three years, Binkley has brought a senior theater student from ECU for a summer internship with him in New York.

“I’m happy to open new doors for them and see where they all go,” he said. “School was a new community for me. I introduce them to a new community just like ECU did for me. ECU absolutely contributed to my success. I love giving back.”

By Jackie Drake

Classes of 2016 and 1966 Celebrate Commencement

After more than 50 years, Bryant “Pete” Paris ’66 finally got a chance to participate in commencement at East Carolina University earlier this month.

Paris was one of 14 graduates of the class of 1966 who participated in the Golden Alumni Reunion hosted by the East Carolina Alumni Association on May 5-6, 2016. The 50th reunion class donned gold robes and led the class of 2016 into commencement ceremonies in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

“I didn’t get to walk in 1966, so I was thrilled to finally put on a cap and gown,” said Paris. He was supposed to complete his bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1965, but was just a few credits short. He started working full-time at the NC Medical Society while finishing his courses, and a travel assignment prevented him from participating in the next year’s ceremony.

In addition to commencement, about 25 total participants including family members participated in other activities like tours of campus and a special reception and champagne toast with the class of 2016, co-hosted by the Pirate Club. Paris, who lives in Raleigh, drove in for just the graduation ceremony.

“I loved being there,” said Paris. “It was a treat to see some faces I hadn’t seen in 50 years, and some I didn’t recognize. We told stories and had a wonderful time. I really enjoyed it.”

Paris also took pride in watching his niece, Kinsey “Palmer” Watson, graduate with the class of 2016.

“It was so special and neat knowing my uncle was a part of the commencement ceremony with me, as a 50 year graduate,” Watson said. “I know not many people share their graduation with a relative who is celebrating their 50th anniversary, so it made the day that much more special.”

Watson says she fell in love with the ECU campus the day she first visited. “The campus was so beautiful and homey feeling!” she commented. “Graduation was a very bittersweet feeling. I am not quite ready to leave behind the home away from home I have created during my time at ECU, but I am excited for what the future holds!”

Paris knows the feeling well. “I have a lot of fond memories there. I told Palmer [who had been considering UNC-Chapel Hill] that once you go to East Carolina, you won’t want to leave. You can’t help loving it.”

Originally from Alamance County, Paris came to ECU after serving four years in the Air Force, mostly at Langley Air Force Base. Paris said he chose ECU because “I wanted to focus on learning, but when I wasn’t learning, I wanted to have fun.”

Paris went on to work for the NC Medical Society for about seven years, and then spent more than 25 years with the NC Medical Board, a separate entity, before retiring in 1999. He says his experience at ECU prepared his well for his career.

“I believe I got an excellent education at East Carolina,” Paris said. “It fit me to a T.”

Click here for more photos from the Golden Alumni Reunion.

Click here for a video about Senior Celebration.

By Jackie Drake