On Deck with Student Affairs December 2020 Edition

Table of Contents

  • Message from Vice Chancellor Hardy
  • Return of Pirate Nation 2.0 and other COVID-19 Updates
  • Virtual Programming:
  • >>Fall Commencement
  • >>Battle of the Bands
  • >>Pirate Media 1 Fall Awards
  • >>First Gen College Celebration
  • SAARP: E-Sports Assessment, Chancellors Student Leadership Academy
  • Turkeypalooza
  • Student Affairs Making Headlines: Publications, Awards and NC Cultural Center Consortium
  • SGA Recaps Fall 2020
  • Financial Wellness Hub Director
  • Needed: Volunteer Staffing for Spring 2021 Drop-Off
  • Just the Facts: Purple Pantry
  • Sleighing Self-Care

From the Desk of Vice Chancellor Virginia Hardy

Every December, it's common to reflect on our challenges and accomplishments for the year. Last year we looked forward to the beginning of a new decade and all the possibilities of personal and professional growth that awaited us. The end of 2020 also has us reflective, but our challenges and achievements are uniquely different from other years. I think it’s fair to say, even though 2021 is no guarantee of immediate improvement, we would all be happy if we never experienced a year like 2020 again!

To put a positive spin on it, this year taught us a lot! In fact, 2020 taught us to confidently make decisions on the fly, how to work remotely and make sure our microphone is on or off during a Microsoft Teams, Zoom or WebEx meeting. Many departments improvised their operations, such as Purple Pantry, which provided food packs for students. Campus Living, quickly and seamlessly arranged to move students out of the residence halls or into new halls on College Hill. And our herculean team in Student Health Services tested what seemed like an infinite number of students. Most importantly, 2020 taught us how to lean on each other for support, and ultimately, how to adapt our skills while providing the best service and care to our students.

Spending time with the family will look different this year; I am thankful that modern technology helps us visit safely. Not being able to see loved ones in person will continue to be hard because it deprives us of that personal interaction that we crave, especially during the holidays. But we have a hope for a light at the end of the tunnel. We don’t know how long the tunnel actually is, but there is a light.

During this break ahead I hope you will take full advantage of getting some time away to re-charge the batteries (I know I will be checking out for a bit). But I also ask the you to please heed the warnings and protect yourself and your friends/family. Wear a mask. Avoid any large gatherings. Wash your hands. We must do our part to keep others safe and healthy and do our part to keep our campus open and functioning as the calendar flips in January.

The simple truth is that in 2021 we still can’t do this alone. We will need to support each other to forge a path forward. Our resilience will sustain us, and we’ll emerge stronger than ever.

I hope everyone stays healthy and safe and I wish you and your families a wonderful and blessed holiday season!

Return of Pirate Nation 2.0 and other COVID-19 Updates

Message from Interim Chancellor, Ron Mitchelson

Serving East Carolina University as interim chancellor is a humbling experience. A pandemic was not in the picture when I accepted the position more than a year ago, and I am grateful for the help and support I have received from Pirate Nation during these difficult months.

After 42 years in higher education, I plan to retire at the end of June. After the naming of our new chancellor I will help with the transition, teach another intro to geography class this spring, and move into retirement.

The mission of ECU to serve this region is what brought me here more than 20 years ago and I could have never dreamed that I would finish my career leading this great university. It is an opportunity experienced by few people. I am grateful and appreciative for the chance to serve.

During my tenure at ECU, I’ve been a professor and department chair then provost before becoming the interim chancellor. I worked alongside and taught very talented and brilliant people through the years which made me a better teacher and leader.

The support of my family has been crucial to my success, so I am very happy to devote more time to my wife, children and grandchildren.

As we move forward, remember to be good to one another. No matter where the future takes me, I will always be a Pirate!

Green Holiday

Green Holiday is an observed extended break which serves to boost employee morale by providing a well-deserved break, as well as reduce campus utility consumption through minimizing heating, cooling and electrical loads during the holiday.

The University will shut down most buildings and operations for the 11 days when staff will not be on campus. You can visit the University holiday website to view the schedule: https://humanresources.ecu.edu/benefits/leave/holidays/

When leaving for break, occupants are asked to turn off and reduce electrical loads as much as possible. In addition, certain building temperature set points will be reduced to further extend the conservation opportunities. As a result of everyone's combined efforts, the University conserve both electricity and natural gas; thereby helping the University reach its required 40% energy reduction by 2025 and reduce the associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as net impact on the environment.

Those who choose to be on campus during the break can expect to find many buildings with decreased lighting and cooler temperatures. In accordance with the defined holiday schedule, buildings will not be returned to normal occupied conditions until the end of the break.

Navigating Spring 2021

Click the link below to find out what ECU has learned so far and several important items for the spring semester.

IMPORTANT: All students living in the residence halls in Spring 2021 will be required to submit a negative COVID molecular test prior to move-in. Click here to learn more about additional testing for the spring semester!

Additional COVID Communications and Resources

Virtual Programming

Fall Commencement

East Carolina University celebrated the accomplishments of more than 2,000 graduates with its 112th fall commencement on Friday, delivering a virtual ceremony because of coronavirus pandemic restrictions against large, in-person events. Watch the full ceremony below and/or click on the button to read more about the Class of 2020 including messages from Parents.

Battle of the Bands

After so many different virtual events, SAB ended the semester by hosting a Battle of the Bands with the programming boards at NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill. Emily Reynolds, Assistant Director of Programming, chaired the planning team and Lilah El-Halabi, SAB President, led the student discussions and hosted the show! To get to the final performers each school held a competition where students submitted videos of their musical talents to represent their individual school and then each school chose one act from the submissions to perform at the Battle of the Bands. This event was held via Zoom and included a 15-minute performance from each artist. After the performances, they opened up text-in voting to determine who would be crowned the winner of Battle of the Bands. The event had over 100 live viewers with many watching later and awesome engagement with voting.

Not only was this a fun collaboration, but ECU’s top act WON! Emily and Lilah are looking forward to further collaborations with these other universities, including a Spring virtual concert, as they continue to develop innovative program ideas.

To see the performances, click on the video/links below:


UNC-Chapel Hill

NC State

Pirate Media 1

Pirate Media 1 held its virtual fall awards program in November. Here’s a brief video of the students’ success in spite of all the challenges of the semester.

First Generation College Celebration

The National First Generation College Celebration is held each November 8 to bring awareness to and celebrate first-generation students, faculty, and staff. The year ECU celebrated November 9-13 by sharing videos from current faculty, staff, and students via social media.

Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson, a first-gen himself, kicked off the week. The student organization “I’m the First” was highlighted and founding member Skylar Wheeler, a current senior, shared some reflection of her time at ECU. Faculty and staff members Dr. Africa Hands (Assistant Professor, College of Education), Kiya Bolds (Assistant Director, University Studies), and Nichelle Shuck (Director, AmeriCorps Programs) shared advice and encouragement for students. We wrapped up the week with Kevin Carmona-Salinas, current ECU freshman, reflecting on his first semester and what being a first-generation student means to him and his family. If you were a first-generation student, join our faculty and staff directory by filling out your information here. Thanks to all who helped us #CelebrateFirstGen.

Student Affairs Assessment, Research, and Planning

E-Sports Assessment submitted by Greg Corack, Ed.D.

Recreational Sports programs are focused for the most part on in-person engagement especially those occurring on college campuses throughout the country. Within the last three years, E-Sports offerings were mostly for niche groups with little appeal to the broader campus community. March 2020 brought a pandemic and a renewed emphasis on attracting participants virtually. Campus Recreation and Wellness took this opportunity to launch a small program with a few offerings in April 2020 to moderate success. The interest in CRW Esports Programming has been significant as the ECU Intramural Program has the highest participation rates of Intramural Sports professionals in North Carolina, as noted by an informal survey.

The ECU Intramural Sports program pivoted to offering a full slate of E-Sports competitions in August launching a semester-long program with 54 total events and 281 participants. In October the program administered a comprehensive survey to participants with questions ranging from satisfaction to engagement and suggestions for improvement. The survey, modeled off instruments from UC-Irvine and Duke University, measured participant feelings of engagement with campus, engagement with others, satisfaction with program administration, and sought to identify improvements for future offerings and variety of games.

Early results gleaned from the survey indicated some significant changes planned for the spring semester including:

  • Computer-based offerings instead of only traditional consoles (Switch, Xbox, Playstation)
  • Saturday and Sunday tournament offerings
  • New tournament structure including more team and dual elimination modes
“Esports assessment allowed our program to expand future offerings to appeal to a broader student base in Spring 2021.” - Jordan Richardson Coordinator of Intramural Sports

Chancellors Student Leadership Academy submitted by Katy Locke

While transitioning to virtual programming has been demanding, I found a lot of conveniences along the process. Chancellor’s Student Leadership Academy, a cohort-based leadership development program, was one that I was apprehensive about transitioning online. Having to make the abrupt switch mid-semester in Spring, I was anxious about whether the cohort would continue, with all the other demands that the pandemic placed on their lives. Thankfully, all but one of the original twelve cohort members remained active. With that success, I was a lot less nervous about moving Fall 2020 completely virtual and found a few conveniences about the virtual space.

Our office (CLCE) found Microsoft Teams to be the best platform for our programming. The files function of Teams allowed scholars quick access to pre-readings, leadership journal prompts, and presentation slides. The sessions could be easily recorded and stored in our Team, in case scholars had prior obligations or had to miss part of a session. The chat function allowed scholars to give each other feedback, ask questions, and participate without having to disrupt presenters. It was also very easy to incorporate presenters into our sessions with little technological hassle.

Although curriculum and assessment remained mostly the same from in-person to virtual, the switch to virtually gathering reflections after every session yielded much more detailed responses than the hand-written reflections from in-person. It was beneficial at the end of the 10 weeks, too, when scholars were able to look back at their responses prior to creating their virtual leadership vision boards, a culminating presentation that documents their experience and vision for applying their knowledge. The virtual vision boards provided scholars with a creative and flexible way to reflect and share at the end of the experience. Responses from the weekly reflections indicated that our sessions helped them understand leadership in a new way and the cumulative post-survey showed that despite the virtual platform, the cohort members were satisfied with the experience. Moving forward, the possibility of hosting a virtual cohort for remote learning students or non-traditional students, in addition to our traditional in-person cohort, is much more feasible.

Vision Boards: Top Left (Amrina Rangar), Bottom Left (Ashley Brooks), Right (Iyaira Williams)


Student volunteers with Campus Kitchen at ECU (CKECU) and staff from the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement (CLCE) served special Thanksgiving meals for their community partners as part of the annual Turkeypalooza.

As a result of fall semester changes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, CKECU paused weekly cooking operations, nutrition lessons and volunteer opportunities at four community partner sites. Turkeypalooza provided an opportunity to support and impact the Greenville community with a record 40 sponsors for turkeys, 35 complete meal boxes that include holiday side items, and over 20 hours of service.

Student Affairs Making Headlines

Journal of American College Health Publication

Student Health Services was recently featured in the Journal of American College Health which is the only scholarly publication devoted entirely to college students’ health.

Published bi-monthly by Taylor & Francis Group in cooperation with ACHA, this prize-winning journal covers developments and research in this broad field, including clinical and preventive medicine, health promotion, environmental health and safety, nursing assessment, interventions, management, pharmacy, and sports medicine. The journal regularly publishes major articles on student behaviors, mental health, and health care policies and includes a section for discussion of controversial issues.

Schools can be considered for cover photo selection by submitting a high quality color photograph and writing a description about the center, services, history, etc. SHS applied in January 2020 and were selected for the October 2020 cover.

Campus Rec Magazine

Campus Recreation & Wellness was named by Campus Rec Magazine as Rec of the Month for December 2020. In addition, CRW will be featured in the print edition of the Jan/Feb 2021 issue. Each month the magazine highlights and recognizes a campus recreation and wellness department who is serving as the benchmark and setting trends in the industry.

Campus Rec Magazine is the premier business resource for college and university recreation centers, Campus Rec’s platforms are the ideal way to connect with the most prestigious and influential minds in the fitness industry. In coordination with their mission to educate and empower college and university recreation center decision makers, it is also their purpose to ensure that these leaders are equipped with the best possible services and products to outfit their facilities.

Community Impact Student Award

ECU student Seth Lemon has been selected for outstanding leadership and service by North Carolina Campus Compact. Lemon is a recipient of the Community Impact Student Award, which recognizes one student leader at each member school that demonstrates a deep commitment to community involvement and the ability to inspire peers. Campus Compact honored the recipients during a virtual awards ceremony on November 13, 2020.

Lemon, a junior majoring in Political Science & Security Studies, is passionate about campus involvement, including environmental issues, sustainability, and civic engagement. He has served as a Student Leadership Assistant in the Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement for three years working with the Citizen U program. He also serves as a member of the Pirates Vote team, as one of the Andrew Goodman Foundation Ambassadors, to further the work of ECU’s democratic and voter engagement initiatives. Lemon was an Alternative Break Experience (ABE) Student Lead for the Spring 2020 ABE to Raleigh, NC focusing on democratic engagement. He is a member of the Pirates Give organization that coordinates national days of service on campus, volunteering for multiple days of service throughout the last three years. He also serves as Vice President for the student organization ECU Esports, a casual and competitive video gaming club.

In his nomination of Lemon, Alex Dennis, Assistant Director, Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement, said, “Seth is hardworking, professional, caring, and a dependable team player. I have no doubt he will go far in life.”

To learn more about the award and North Carolina Campus Compact click here!

Newly formed North Carolina Cultural Center Consortium led by LWCC staff

In the fall of 2020, the North Carolina Cultural Center Consortium (NC3) was founded on the principle of collaboration among the UNC System cultural center community. The first meeting was initiated by Shaun Simon of ECU to create a space for cultural center leaders to talk and share information. From this initial meeting, the NC3 was born. The purpose of the consortium is to promote social justice education and identity development for students while providing a space for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practitioners to collaborate on professional development and best practices.

The first initiative that the consortium has undertaken is the virtual MLK speaker for the 2021 year; the speaker for this year will be Michael Eric Dyson, author, preacher, radio host, and professor at Georgetown University. The initiative will invite all 17 higher education institutions within the UNC System to participate, with several institutions (including ECU) taking the lead on planning the program. We are excited about this collaborative program and the opportunity to share resources across the state. Mark your calendars for the virtual MLK speaker on January 26th at 6pm!

SGA Recaps Fall 2020

While this semester wasn’t picture perfect, the Student Government Association made the best of it and continued to carry out the mission of student government here at ECU. A few highlights from the semesters initiatives included funding to the Counseling Center for after-hours crisis hotline and to CRW to establish the BetterYou app. They also established a Police Liaison with the Greenville Police Department to enhance the relationship among students and the police department.

In addition, they hosted “Tips for Success” events in coordination with the Pirate Academic Success Center to aid students in their transition to online courses. As a member of the Association of Student Government they advocated for expansion to student emergency funds and financial aid.

"This is just a brief highlight of the Fall 2020 accomplishments, but our work is not done. SGA has some ongoing initiatives and ideas that I think will play out perfectly for next semester and I look forward to the ongoing work we will endure together." ~ Tucker Robbins, Student Body President

Financial Wellness Hub Director

The Division of Student Affairs is pleased to announce Rachel Anthony is the new Director of the Financial Wellness Hub. The Financial Wellness Hub (FWH) is part of the Student Centers within ECU Student Involvement and Leadership.

Rachel is a native of eastern North Carolina, and a proud graduate of East Carolina University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science. She also earned a master’s degree from Armstrong State University with a concentration in Human Resource Development.

She most recently served as the Director of Financial Planning and Education for the ECU School of Dental Medicine. In this new role, Rachel will provide our students with educational programs on a variety of subjects as it relates to financial literacy with the goal of promoting financial wellness. As one of the few financial wellness hubs in higher education in the country, we are proud to continue the tradition of our department’s and institution’s dedication to student development both inside and outside of the classroom.

She will work collaboratively with various campus partners to design, implement, and assess financial literacy programs and financial planning services for current ECU students. Through advising, outreach, and on-campus programming, Rachel will raise awareness of financial literacy, student aid programs, scholarships, career paths, and long-term financial obligations. The FWH will also collaborate with faculty to develop, implement and assess leadership and experiential learning opportunities as well as encourage partnerships for events and programs sponsored by other student groups or university departments and promote FWH by providing leadership, visibility, and program sponsorships.

Rachel’s office is in the Main Campus Student Center in Office 136 (first floor). Her email address is anthonyr19@ecu.edu and her office number is (252) 737-5996. If you are interested in learning more about the ECU Financial Wellness Hub, please contact Rachel Anthony or Dr. Dean Smith, Director of ECU Student Centers at smithh@ecu.edu or (252) 328-4703.

Spring 2021 Drop-Off Volunteers Needed

Like the university, Campus Living is facing challenging times with their staff facing furloughs and hardships. Campus Living is asking for your help. In fact, they need your help to continue to serve our students as they return to campus for the Spring semester.

ECU is hoping to have about 1,900 students living in Residence Halls during the Spring 2021 semester with about 1,100 of those being students that didn’t live on campus during Fall 2020. Early Drop-Off will be available to students from January 7 - January 10; this process will be very similar to the Summer Drop-Off days we organized in preparation for Fall move-in.

Here is where we need your help. Campus Living will need volunteers to help our students and families as they arrive for their Drop-Off day. Each volunteer would be asked to work a four-hour shift on at least one day (though we are open to you volunteering for more than one shift) and those shifts would be from 9am - 1pm or 1pm - 5pm. Volunteers will not be expected to carry boxes/furniture, or walk people up to their rooms. Responsibilities/details for Drop-Off volunteers include:

  1. Work a complete 4-hour shift from 9am - 1pm or 1pm - 5pm
  2. You will be assigned to a specific Residence Hall for your shift
  3. Greet students and families in the lobby of your assigned hall (or out front depending on weather)
  4. Answer general questions (we will have a Hall fact sheet for each volunteer)
  5. Monitor hand truck and cart usage and make sure they available for the next student/family
  6. Remind students/families to wear masks while on campus (We will have hand sanitizers and sprays on-site too)

If you have any questions, please contact Madeline O’Connor, Administrative Associate for Residence Life at oconnorm18@ecu.edu.

Just the Facts – Purple Pantry

Just the Facts is a regular communication from the Division of Student Affairs Office of the Vice Chancellor highlighting some of the amazing things happening in our area in a quick, simple, and easy-to-read manner. What we do as SA educators and staff members demonstrates our commitment to student success, public service and regional transformation.

Has something exciting happened in your area within the past few weeks? Send the fact to VCSA@ecu.edu, subject line: Just the Facts and we will include in the next edition.

Sleighing Self-Care

Written by Steven A. Trotter, MS, Campus Recreation and Wellness

Believe it or not, it’s December. This year has somehow seemed as if it lasted forever and flew by quickly all at the same time. In a season where we may be running on empty, or perhaps already on the side of the road waiting for AAA, self-care is, perhaps, more important now than ever before. Self-care is the gift that you didn’t know you needed and is a gift that keeps on giving. As we bring 2020 to a close, I’d like to share three of my top tips to prioritize self-care over the upcoming winter break and holiday season.


Our bodies are a lot like electronics, they both work better if you unplug them, let them sit for a while, then plug them back in again. Unplugging can mean something different to each of us. Some of my favorite ways to unplug are:

Practice Mindfulness

  • You can practice mindfulness through many different methods, examples include mindful eating or mindful walking. One of the best ways to start your day is by practicing mindfulness first thing in the morning after you wake up. Perhaps you can get to the kitchen before anyone else in your household and sit in silence as you drink your favorite cup of tea or coffee. Another way is to lay in silence after you wake and practice deep breathing. This will make your morning feel less rushed rather than jumping straight out of bed after your alarm wakes you. If you are unsure of how to start mindfulness practices, I recommend turning to apps. Headspace and Calm are excellent mindfulness and meditation apps that will guide you through the experience. The Calm app leads a daily calm by providing you with a 10-minute guided meditation with a topic specific to each day.

Digital Detox

  • If you are like me, you’ve been attached to your electronic devices more than ever this year. We stare at computer screens, then we stare at our phones, then we stare at the television. I had to upgrade my home office monitor to a higher resolution and purchase blue light glasses this year to combat the screen fatigue my eyes were experiencing. If you can give yourself the gift of a digital detox this holiday season, it will be one you will truly remember (and better yet it costs nothing). But as with any behavior change you are implementing, it’s not a good idea to quit cold turkey. Use the apps already built into your phone to monitor and set goals around screen time. Schedule when you are going to watch TV or scroll through those latest TikTok videos. You can also turn it into a game and complete projects around your house, go for a walk, or read a chapter in a book between your digital sessions. And don’t forget to reward yourself when you meet your goals!

Sleep Habits

  • Now is also a great time to increase your sleep health. Even if you aren’t able to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night, start by adding 30 minutes to your existing sleep schedule. The quality of sleep is just as important as the quantity. For strategies for successful sleep, check out this article I wrote for the American Council on Exercise last year.


When it comes to exercise and the holiday season, your mind may go straight to those dreaded New Year's resolutions. That doesn’t have to be the case and it shouldn’t be that way. Movement is meant to boost your mood not to serve as punishment.

Find movement you enjoy

  • A critical step in the self-care journey is movement. Most importantly, you should find movement opportunities you enjoy. It always amazes me when I hear people say they hate running but yet they run for exercise. If you do not like what you are doing, then you won’t do it very long. Use this time to try out new activities that you might like; it’s a trial and error period. If you try something and don’t like it, don’t do it again. It’s as simple as that. If you can do it safely, go for a midday walk in your neighborhood. Take laps around the house during the commercial breaks of your favorite shows. If you want to try out more structured movement opportunities that you can do from the comfort of wherever you are, sign up for Les Mills OnDemand. There are over 1,000 workouts that you can access on the app and with our ECU partnership you get a FREE 60 Day Trial. It’s also 20% off if you continue after that.

Move together

  • If you can blend movement with social opportunities, then you are more likely to continue the behavior and you are enhancing your social well-being. It’s a win-win! If competition is important to you, create activity challenges with your friends and family. If you can maintain your safety and well-being, get some of your neighbors to join you on your midday walks through your neighborhood.

Express Gratitude

Expressing gratitude is something that we should strive to do all the time. Gratitude can bring a sense of calm and appreciation to you and those around you. Gratitude can be expressed in many ways. Here are a few of my favorites.

Gratitude Journal

  • Starting a gratitude journal is one of the most common ways that folks begin their gratitude practices. You can take a notebook or perhaps just type into a note taking application on your phone. Start by writing down three things you are grateful for each day. These things can be small or large, tangible or not. It’s just as simple as three things you are grateful for. On days when the clouds are darker, it’s helpful to reflect back to read through your journal and find the sunshine.

Write Letters

  • Writing letters can be another way to express gratitude. Hand write some letters to friends, family, or colleagues and tell them what you appreciate about them. You can also write letters to yourself. Include what you appreciate about yourself, what you are proud of, and give yourself words of affirmation. You can even seal these letters in an envelope and, depending on how many you write, you can space out how often you open them throughout 2021.

Receive Notes from the Universe

  • One method that I’ve stood by since 2010 when I first started receiving them is Notes from the Universe. Created by author Mike Dooley, Notes from the Universe are daily messages that show up in your inbox each morning, customized to you, based on a profile and goals you complete on the website. These messages are filled with affirmations, gratitude, and positive thoughts. After all, thoughts become things and the Universe has a way of always having your back

I hope you found these tips helpful. It’s no secret that 2020 was a challenging time for us all. The waters were rough but as Ginger Zee, chief meteorologist for ABC, says in her book Natural Disasters: I cover them. I am one “No matter your storm, it never rains forever. It can’t and it won’t.”

Created By
ECU InnerPirate


Created with images from Creative Services, CLCE, SHS, University Photographers Cliff Hollis and Rhett Butler and by Daria-Yakovleva - "christmas new year's eve postcard" • foturo - "slide snow winter".