Association Honors Faculty with Alumni Awards for Teaching

Faculty play a vital role in shaping students’ college experiences and maintaining bonds after students graduate from East Carolina University.

To this end, the East Carolina Alumni Association sponsors the University Alumni Awards for Outstanding Teaching and the Robert L. Jones ’58 Award for Teaching Excellence.

These awards were among several given at the seventh annual Founders Day and University Awards Celebration on April 27 in Hendrix Theatre.

The 2016 University Alumni Awards for Outstanding Teaching went to Dr. Cody Chullen, assistant professor of management in the College of Business, and Dr. Sandra Lookabaugh, associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science in the College of Health and Human Performance. The 2016 Robert L. Jones ’58 Award for Teaching Excellence went to Dr. Laura Levi Altstaedter, assistant professor of Hispanic studies education in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Since coming to ECU in 2011, Chullen has taught classes in managerial negotiation, human resource management, and principles of management both face-to-face and online. Additionally, he is a Chancellor’s Leadership Fellow and a Teaching with Technology Fellow of the university. He works closely and consults with an array of businesses in the manufacturing, mental health services, and healthcare industries.

“I believe it is my mission as a management educator to develop students as a whole person rather than a learner of a singular subject,” Chullen wrote in his teaching statement. “I believe students should be equipped with skills that are applicable beyond simple subjects. These skills – those not considered content knowledge – include communication, problem solving, networking, discussion, debate, information gathering, resource finding, expression and reflection. The development of these skills makes serious inquiry possible by giving intellectual exploration a vehicle in which to move forward.”

Alumnus DaJuan Lucas ’13, ’15 named Chullen one of his most influential professors in a Pirate Profile posted at when he was a student.

Lookabaugh, who focuses on children’s use of transitional objects and human-animal relations, says, “As I reflect over the past 25 years of university teaching, I have maintained the core belief that, ‘Before you can teach them, you have to reach them.’ Building relationships with my students is the foundation of my teaching philosophy and the basis for all learning. I model the caring, compassionate, kind attitudes and behaviors I expect them to utilize with me, classmates, colleagues, and the families they serve. My goal in all courses, introductory-level to graduate-level, is to foster knowledge and build skills that can be applied to a myriad of contexts that promote optimal human functioning.”

“I will never forget the day that Dr. Lookabaugh met with me as an undergraduate student and sparked my passion for teaching,” said alumna Ashley Norris ’06, ’08, now an instructor in the same department as her former teacher. “I see firsthand, on a daily basis, that Dr. Lookabaugh is as committed to each of her students as she was to me 10 years ago.”

Levi Altstaedter’s research focuses primarily on second language writing at the college level. She is particularly interested in peer feedback and how it impacts students’ writing proficiency. She is also interested in researching the effects of technology-enhanced language instruction on students’ perceptions and language proficiency.

“It is my goal as an educator of 21st century students and future teachers to facilitate my students’ knowledge acquisition process by providing multiple opportunities for student-driven learning and by bringing the world to the classroom,” she says. “I aim to accomplish this by helping students create and understand their own knowledge-construction processes, adopt global perspectives, develop collaborative skills and multicultural awareness, and ultimately become intellectually empowered individuals and action-driven practitioners.”

“Dr. A is the best teacher that I have ever had,” says alumna Mariah Richards ’14. “During my time as her student, she continually challenged me to push the limits of my potential and to think critically in the target language and about the target culture. If it were not for her support and recommendation, I would not have become the lead Spanish tutor at ECU’s Pirate Tutoring Center or have been accepted into graduate school through New York University to pursue my MA in Spanish Linguistics at their campus in Madrid, Spain.”

The East Carolina Alumni Association is proud to recognize these faculty members for their dedication in preparing students to become successful alumni.

The portfolios of winners of the Robert L. Jones Award for Outstanding Teaching and the Alumni Association Awards for Outstanding Teaching, along with those for the Board of Governors Awards and the Max Ray Joyner Award for Outstanding Teaching in Distance Education are kept in the Office for Faculty Excellence in Joyner 1001 where they serve as resources on excellent teaching.

The Office for Faculty Excellence coordinates the University Teaching Awards Program with the Faculty Senate Awards Committee and the University Academic Council.

By Jackie Drake

Introducing the ECU Military Alumni Chapter


Retired Colonel Tom Shubert ’74, center

East Carolina University is known for its support of military students, and now it hopes to become just as well known for its support of military alumni.

The East Carolina Alumni Association is partnering with units across campus to form a chapter for those who have studied at ECU and served or continue to serve in the military. The association is working with both the Army and Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps units and Student Veteran Services.

The chapter will serve a variety of populations, including veterans who came to ECU after serving, and graduates who entered the military after college, either through ROTC or independently.

The first step is to gather data and build a master list of military alumni. While any existing military alumni outreach has been fragmented, this effort would update information across the entire central alumni database.

“We’ve got to figure out a good way to make sure we’re getting to everyone,” said Nicole Jablonski, assistant director of Student Veteran Services. “We’re so close to so many military bases, there’s a big population we can pull from, we just have to find them.”

Accurate numbers for military alumni at ECU are hard to come by. Prospective students applying to ECU have an option to self-identify as military, which doesn’t always happen, and wasn’t always an option in the past. “It’s hard to identify all military students, and alumni numbers are even harder to get,” Jablonski said.

There are roughly 1,500 graduates of the ROTC program at ECU, around 1,200 from the Air Force detachment and more than 300 from the Army detachment.

“There’s a huge untapped potential there,” says Tom Shubert, who graduated from the Air Force ROTC program at ECU in 1974. He retired as a colonel after 30 years of service and now works with the Civil Air Patrol, a civilian auxiliary of the Air Force. “What are these alumni doing now and what can they do to help current students?”

Shubert helped the Civil Air Patrol organize incentive flights for Air Force cadets at the Pitt-Greenville Airport in November. Many of the pilots were ECU alumni who showed students what it’s like to fly military aircraft. Shubert hopes the group will foster more experiences like this.

“I think military alumni would like to be more involved,” Shubert said. “I think they’d enjoy meeting other alumni, but I think they really want to engage with cadets and help them along their careers.”

Military alumni can provide valuable insight and guidance to students.

“A big thing when you leave the military is that you’ve lost your social network, and going to college and getting a degree can seem like an unattainable goal,” Jablonski said. “It can be helpful and motivating for students to see alumni who were once in their situation who have now gotten jobs or started businesses.”

One of the goals for the chapter is to host a military event as part of homecoming, as well as other events where alumni could mingle with students and network.

“This group could help alumni make connections with potential employers,” Jablonski said. “A lot of companies are interested with working with military alumni. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

“We need to put the call out, and when military alumni respond, we need to follow up,” Shubert said.

To find out more or get involved with the military alumni chapter, contact Assistant Director for Alumni Programs Lindsay Raymond-Weston at 252-328-1958 or or visit

By Jackie Drake



Alumni Directory Project Begins

160500alumnidirectoryproject-300w.pngThe East Carolina Alumni Association is partnering with Harris Connect to produce a printed and digital alumni directory called “ECU Alumni Today” later this year.

The goal is to compile a comprehensive updated record of alumni so that they can connect no matter where they are living and working. The alumni association prints directories approximately every five years. The last one was printed in 2010.

Alumni are encouraged to update their information when prompted between May and July. Harris Connect will be mailing letters and/or postcards, e-mailing and calling alumni. They’ll be asking for name, mailing address, e-mail address, phone number, place of work, job title, etc. Alumni may choose not to list some of these items or opt out of the directory if they wish.

The directory can be purchased at the same time contact information is updated. The directory will be released in late November. Alumni can purchase the full directory in either paperback, hardback, and/or on CD. Alumni will also have the option of purchasing a CD with only their classmates from five surrounding class years. With the purchase of any form of the directory, alumni are also able to purchase an alumni association membership.

If you have any questions, please visit or contact the Alumni Center at 800-ECU-GRAD (252-328-4723) or

Coming Home: Alumni to Speak to Graduates


Rick Atkinson ’74

Several alumni will return to campus to address graduates during commencement and other graduate recognition ceremonies May 6-7 at East Carolina University. For many, the visit marks a return to the origins of their careers and lives.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and military historian Rick Atkinson ’74 will deliver the main commencement address on Friday, May 6. After earning his English degree at ECU, Atkinson worked for 25 years with The Washington Post as a reporter, foreign correspondent and senior editor.

“It will be both an honor and a pleasure to return to Greenville as the 2016 commencement speaker. I arrived at ECU as a boy in 1970 and left as a scholar in 1974, and I’ll always be grateful for the role the university played in that transition,” said Atkinson.

Click here to read more about Atkinson via ECU News Services.

In addition, several alumni will be speaking at graduate recognition ceremonies hosted by units across campus both Friday and Saturday. These alumni say coming back to ECU is like coming home.

“Every time I return to ECU, a flood of memories come to me of all the great times that I had here both as a student and as an alumnus. It always feels like I’m going home,” says Brandon Ives ’03, who will be speaking at the School of Communication graduate recognition ceremony.

Ives is the co-founder and managing partner of Brasco Marketing and CEO at

“ECU taught me many things, most importantly how to communicate effectively on both an individual and group level,” Ives says.

He’ll be talking to the graduates about the importance of time. “I plan to touch on that point because learning time management and being aware of your time is critical to success,” he said.

Mary Carroll-Hackett ’98, ’99 will be speaking at the Department of English graduate recognition ceremony. She earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and anthropology and a master’s degree in creative writing. She is an associate professor of English and creative writing at Longwood University in Farmville, VA. She is the author of multiple books and hundreds of literary journal articles, and the founding editor of SPACES literary/art online magazine.

“My time at ECU provided me the tools to succeed both creatively and professionally,” she said. “I learned discipline, how to think deeply and critically, how to take and use criticism, how to take on difficult material–reading it or writing it–and make it relevant to not only my life, but to the lives of others.”

Carroll-Hackett says she is very excited to return to ECU.

“I grew up in a little old trailer park out in the trees in eastern North Carolina. When I was a kid, ECU sat like the Emerald City from Oz in the distance, that place where my dreams could come true. And they have. So for me, coming back is literally coming home.”

Understanding the power of language is critical in any field or profession, she will tell the English degree graduates.

“I plan to tell them, as I do my own students here in Virginia, to remember, no matter your major, you will never possess a more powerful tool than the power of language. There is nothing more powerful than the power of words, and that is what those English majors have at their disposal, thanks to their faculty and the access they have to the fine education available at ECU.”

Alumni speakers at other units are as follows:

  • Department of Criminal Justice: Jeff Foster ’83, judge, Superior Court Judicial District 3A, alumni association board member
  • College of Business: Mark Copeland ’96, ECU trustee and executive at Ernst & Young
  • Department of Psychology: Dr. Garrett Hazleton ’11, clinical psychologist
  • Honors College: Linda Quick ’05, former EC Scholar, current professor of accounting at ECU

Visit for more information on the ceremonies.


By Jackie Drake



Pirate Alumni Road Race and Fun Run a Huge Success

Peedee Road Race

For ECU alumna and three time Road Race participant Missi Foster, this year’s edition of the Road Race was the best yet.

“I thought the event was very well organized and lots of fun!  The running route was great and easy to follow for everyone,” said Foster. “The location was perfect and the date and weather for the event made for a beautiful spring morning.”

Current ECU student Alice Fratoni echoed a similar response

“It was my first time participating and I really enjoyed the event,” she said. “The colors, refreshments, Pee Dee, and encouragement as I was running made it really fun.”

The Pirate Alumni Road Race and Fun Run, which is in its ninth year, is held every April and helps provide scholarships for ECU students by giving all of its proceeds to the ECU Alumni Association scholarship program. With the help of Potash, Wells Fargo, and Coke this year’s edition exceeded expectations; raising well over $12,000 and having 460 people registered for the event.

Though the Road Race itself provided many memorable moments, it’s who the participants shared the moments with that made the race so special. Foster, who is an instructional coach at Belvoir elementary, decided to share the experience with her schools running club.

“Running with them this year was the best part! These kids have been part of the Belvoir running club since January and we have been running together after school every Monday,” she said. “None of these kids have ever experienced a 5k race, so they were excited!

“We had one student who was only three seconds away from placing in the “15 and under” category, he finished in fourth place.”

The ECU Alumni Association will be celebrating 10 years of the Road Race and Fun Run next April.


By Michael Avila

Nursing Alumni Honored in Hall of Fame


Several East Carolina University alumni were honored at the College of Nursing Hall of Fame ceremony on Friday, April 15. In addition to ECU alumni, the 11 inductees also include ECU faculty and staff. The event honored outstanding contributors to nursing in the areas of education, administration, research and practice.

Among the honorees was 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Wendy Leutgens ’87. She is the president of Loyola University Health System, an 801-bed academic medical center and health system in Maywood, Illinois.

The 2016 inductees join a list of 79 Hall of Fame members representing nine states.

•    Mary Chatman ’90, ’96, ’12, Savannah, GA
•    Sue Edwards ’76, ’85, Ayden, NC
•    Ann King, Clayton, NC
•    Donna Lake, Goldsboro, NC
•    Wendy Leutgens ’87, Oak Park, IL
•    Janice Neil, Winterville, NC
•    Jane Pearson ’73, Forest, VA
•    Annette Peery ’96, Greenville, NC
•    Loretta Ritter ’85, Milford, PA
•    Sandra Smith ’80, Williamsburg, VA
•    Gina Woody, Winterville, NC

Click here to read more on the College of Nursing website.

Alumni Say Studying Abroad Benefited Their Careers

Hundreds of East Carolina University students will study abroad this summer, and alumni who did so while they were in school say it benefited their careers. They were recently featured in an article by ECU News Services.

A recent ECU graduate, Kaileigh Hubbard (’13), said her study abroad experience led to her career  working with students from around the world as an international admissions advisor at the University of Buffalo, The State University of New York.

Hubbard double majored in English and English education at ECU and planned to teach high school students. She studied in London in 2012 during the Olympics.”Now working in higher education, I still get to serve as a teacher, just in a different capacity,” she said.

Another ECU graduate, Vincent Meadows (’13) said his career also has been influenced by studying abroad. A graphic designer, he works for an international media company providing news in nine languages in Asia.

Meadows studied in Indonesia the second semester of his junior year through an exchange program, which helped save money while providing academic credit hours. “It was not only my first travel experience, but my first time ever on a plane,” he said. “Traveling was something I thought only rich kids did. At that point, I wanted to go somewhere I thought I would never go to again.”

He said he made lifelong friends and learned about graphic design on an international level. He credited ECU’s International House with helping him sort through options to make study abroad possible. He also believes his travel experiences have made him a well-rounded, more marketable employee.