Dear Alumni...

Some of you more recent alumni may remember me from a few years ago. Following my retirement from UNC-Greensboro in the summer of 2003, I served as interim head of ECU’s Office of International Affairs from October 2003 to June 2005. The experience was so enjoyable that when Provost Marilyn Sheerer asked if I might be available for another short-term assignment at ECU, I jumped at the chance. I began work on January 2, 2008 and will be here until June 30, 2008.

Marilyn has given me three assignments. The first of these is to oversee, with the help of OIA’s talented professionals, the daily office operations. My second assignment, with the assistance of ECU’s faculty and staff, is to update and then begin to implement the Five Year Plan for the Internationalization of ECU that was approved in 2005. Finally, in conjunction with a soon-to-be-appointed Search Committee, I will help in the recruitment efforts for a permanent head of the Office of International Affairs. The goal is to have someone recruited and on board by June 1, 2008.

I have a hidden agenda as well—and that is to keep up the fine OIA tradition of having as many social events for students as we can cram in. We’ve already had a welcome party for our new international students, held a Chinese New Year’s Celebration, an African Students Association Party, and planning a Holi Festival with our Indian students, and of course our annual International Festival held in conjunction with the City of Greenville. (See our web site for a full listing of social events.) If by any chance you’re in the area for any of our social activities, come on by. The pizza’s hot, the drinks cold, and the company always scintillating!

I look forward to seeing or hearing from you all before I once again slip back into retirement. Drop me an e-mail, or call, or even better come on by and say hello!


Charles Lyons
Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for International Affairs

ECU's global initiatives honored

East Carolina University’s efforts to globalize student education have been recognized by the Institute of International Education.

ECU’s Global Academic Initiatives project received honorable mention in the 2008 IIE Andrew Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education. ECU will be among eight American universities honored March 13 at the United Nations in New York City.

Launched in 2003, the global classroom in the Science and Technology building has enabled more than 600 ECU students to become exposed to their academic counterparts in countries that include Angola, Turkey, Venezuela and China. In the past five years, the Internet-based course has expanded to 21 partners in 18 countries, using web technology to provide a relatively inexpensive way for students–and faculty members–to go global. ECU’s Rosina Chia, assistant vice chancellor for global academic initiatives, and Elmer Poe, associate vice chancellor for academic outreach, created the program in response to a need for ECU students to have more opportunities for international exposure.

“Using technology, we came up with a low-cost but effective strategy to do it,” Poe said. “We can bring researchers, students and faculty together.”

Partnering institutions need only an Internet connection and a web camera in order to make a connection, although setting up programs that match both their technological capabilities and their academic aims does take some assistance and coordination.

Because it is not feasible for many ECU students to travel abroad–the percentage of those that do each year is still in the single digits, but climbing–Chia said the global classroom setting can serve as a ‘bridge’ to bring together students of different backgrounds and perspectives; it enables them to convene as classmates and friends.

“If we can get students exposed to their peers from different cultures–American, Pakistani, Chinese–they may realize we dress differently, we eat differently, our religions might be different. But they learn that they also want stability, they want to be more educated; they want better lives for themselves and their children,” she said. “They can talk to each other about that. The connection helps to overcome that initial apprehension.”

The number of sections taught each semester has grown from one to six, with ECU Anthropology professor Jami Leibowitz coordinating three other faculty members. Poe and Chia have traveled to India and Malaysia, Moldova and Angola, gaining partners for ECU’s Global Understanding courses and for research and lecture alliances among faculty members. They have also worked with more than a dozen American universities to develop their own global outreach programs.

ECU’s Global Academic Initiative also enables faculty members to “guest” lecture for partnering institutions, as well as collaborate on research endeavors. Poe and Chia hope the recognition from the IIE will provide even more opportunities for people to learn about the project, and that it will bolster interest in the Global Partners in Education meeting ECU will host May 19-22.

The Heiskell awards were established in 2001 with the aim of promoting the most outstanding initiatives being conducted in international higher education.

Source: ECU News Bureau
 Meet an International Faculty Member

Baohong Zhang, Ph.D., joined the Department of Biology as an Assistant Professor in fall 2007. He came to the US from China in 2003 and joins us from Texas Tech where he earned his PhD. He has been involved in the field of agricultural biotechnology and genetics and has received awards including the Excellence in Science (Science magazine and AAAS) and the Syngenta Outstanding Doctoral Student in Environmental Toxicology. His current research focuses on microRNA-mediated gene regulation, molecular mechanism of environmental pollutant-induced disease. He is using this knowledge to develop new biomarkers and technology to improve our health and the environment. Dr. Zhang has summarized his experience at ECU by stating, “In the past several months, I have been exploring the wonderful environment, the friendly people, the advanced facilities, and the diversity of life at ECU.”

Meet an International Student

After graduating from high school in my homeland, Bangladesh, I came to East Carolina University in the fall of 2004 to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in the sciences. Soon I became involved in research, starting with organic chemistry and then moving on to biology, which I presented in symposiums at the local and state level.

One of the strengths of ECU is certainly research and dedicated faculty who show a personal stake in students’ achievements. I was amazed by the wealth of opportunity available here ECU to pursue my dreams. I also enjoyed getting involved and holding leadership positions in different student organizations and campus activities, which helped me grow.

I graduated with a BS in biology and a minor in chemistry in the fall of 2006; but I could not stay out of school too long, so I came back for my Master’s in molecular biology in the fall of 2007. I hope to graduate this spring and pursue a career in medicine.

I know that ECU has armed me with the power to explore the endless possibilities that lie before me. Along the way, the International House has always been a great place for any support that I needed. I love the atmosphere here at ECU. The campus radiates with energy and diversity. I know that wherever I go from here, I am sure to miss ECU—the students, faculty, and staff. My name is Somaira Nowsheen, and this is my story.