ECU CONnection Newsletter – September 2023

The Message From The Dean

Dean Bim and Dr. Linda Bolin pose with the Dr. Annette Peery, Becky Jordan and Dr. Robin Webb Corbett Varnell during their retirement celebration.

Dean Bim and Dr. Linda Bolin pose with the Dr. Annette Peery, Becky Jordan and Dr. Robin Webb Corbett Varnell during their retirement celebration.


It’s been a busy month.

We are in full swing with the first full month of the 2023-24 school year and it’s been wonderful to have the lobbies and hallways full of students.

The faculty and staff here at the CON are the gravity that holds our College together and they are at the foundation of what we do. It’s fitting then that we recognize the immense impact the retirements of Dr. Annette Peery, Dr. Robin Webb Corbett Varnell and Becky Jordan will have on Pirate Nursing. We will miss them and wish them well in the adventures that lay ahead.

This month, Dr. Mark Hand was recognized by the North Carolina Nurses Association as the Education Nurse of the Year and we are happy to see him recognized across the state for his hard work.

Our students are doing incredible things as well. Classes are in full tilt with online coursework, practical laboratory work and presentation of research at conferences across the state. We also had a fun visit from the newest cohort of nursing-intended freshmen in the Nursing Living Learning Community residing in Ballard Hall for Dinner with Faculty and the Dean. The questions they had for our faculty during a panel discussion were insightful and proved that the next generation of nurses is going to be outstanding!

A critical aspect of the nursing profession is advocacy. Next month, our Beta Nu chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing will lead the nursing support for the 2023 American Heart Association Heart Walk, which will take place at the Main Campus Student Center Oct. 28. The walk starts at 10 am and you can sign up to support it here. We hope to see you there.

A highlight of the month was hosting the annual mixer for the university’s Organization of Black Staff (OBS) and the Black Faculty Organization (BFO) here at the CON. We had the good fortune of having the provost, Dr. Robin Coger, as our guest speaker. There were so many familiar faces, and new friends, on hand that afternoon and we valued having the opportunity to showcase the Health Sciences building as the jewel of the Health Sciences campus.

Don’t forget to join us for Homecoming the weekend of October 20-22. Our director of Alumni Affairs, Katy Locke, has some fun events planned for fellowship. Register here to be part of our celebration of ECU and Pirate Nurse Nation.

Our students are again in the thick of the semester- studying and showing up in clinical spaces to learn leadership and hands-on skills for the next steps in their journey as nursing professionals. Their success is our success. This is also our focus from the faculty and staff to our alumni, donors, and supporters across the globe.

Thanks for all you do to make this this best college of nursing in the nation.


Dean Bim



Dr. Mark Hand receives the NCNA Education Nurse of the Year award.

Dr. Mark Hand was named the Education Nurse of the Year by the North Carolina Nurses Association at a gala event Sept. 14 in Winston-Salem.

Hand started out as a clinical nursing instructor in 2000, after completing his master’s degree at the University of New Hampshire near his home. He said he didn’t enter the nursing profession to be a teacher, but to care for his patients, but loved being in the classroom when asked.

“I said, ‘Sure, why not try it?’” Hand remembered. Something clicked for him while leading those first few classes. He spent three years as a faculty member at Rivier University before moving to Durham, where he taught for five years as a faculty member at Durham Technical Community College in the associate’s-level nursing program.

In 2008, he began teaching clinical nursing and health assessment at the ECU College of Nursing. After six years of teaching future Pirate Nurses, he was offered a position as the assistant director of the nursing program back at Durham Tech, his first role as a program administrator, but not his last.

Well done, Dr. Hand. We are very proud of you.

Dr. Kim Larson with her Polish colleagues.

Earlier this year The Fulbright Program confirmed that Dr. Kim Larson would have her research and outreach project fully funded – she and her team will provide nurses across the world tools to help provide medical care to Ukrainian refugees.

We just got our first dispatch from Dr. Larson, who is innovating the way that Pirate Nation helps those in need across the globe:

Hello from Kraków, Poland, a beautiful medieval city of 750,000 people located in Lesser Poland. My Fulbright award with the School of Nursing at Jagiellonian University began in August 2023 and I have used these past three weeks to immerse myself in Polish culture and meet new colleagues.

Jagiellonian University is the oldest university in Poland and where Nicolaus Copernicus studied. The city celebrated the 550th anniversary of his birth last week with the Copernicus Procession, where “Copernicus” paraded through the streets to cheering crowds. Getting to know the culture is not hard as the city has dozens of small and large museums. The Ethnographic Museum has been a favorite.

My work here centers around developing intercultural care guidelines for nurses caring for refugees from Ukraine. My apartment overlooks a pediatric hospital where refugee children from Ukraine go for care and two blocks away is the university’s Department of Surgery, where refugee families sheltered in the initial months of the war. Nursing colleague, Dr. Lucyna Plaszewska-Zywko, and I have spoken with many people with interest in our study including the Ukrainian-Polish Justice Foundation, and nursing faculty at Jagiellonian University and Krosno State University. We have meetings with nursing faculty in Warsaw and Gdansk in the coming weeks.

In the Kraków train station, there is a map showing the five million refugees who fled Ukraine the cities in Poland where they can receive assistance. We will begin recruiting Polish and Ukrainian nurses next week to elicit their perspectives on intercultural care of refugees.

Dr. Jennifer Perry

Dr. Jennifer Perry graduated from the 2022-2023 North Carolina Nurses Association Leadership Academy and was honored at the NCNA Awards Ceremony on September 14th. We're proud of her dedication to leadership in the classroom and more widely as a member of the nursing profession.

East Carolina University understands that healthcare and nursing are global and as such, our activities in educating future nurses, is global.

Three of our faculty members - Dr. Michael L. Jones, Associate Dean for Culture, Engagement, and Professional Development; Dr. Renee Spain, Clinical Associate Professor; and Dr. Jennifer Perry, Clinical Assistant Professor - will visit the Institut Universitaire Des Grandes Ecoles Des Tropiques (IUGET) located in the central African country of Cameroon from Oct. 6-11. The tour of the nursing school will help to determine ways in which both schools can partner to provide graduate nursing education to the graduates of IUGET’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)


Susan Bailey

Please join us in welcoming Susan Bailey who started working last week as an administrative support specialist with the associate dean for the Office of Academic Affairs.

Susan is graduate of ECU with a bachelor’s degree in urban planning, with a coastal and environmental planning minor. She previously worked at ECU in the Office of the Provost, East Carolina Heart Institute and the Brody School of Medicine.

This month we had an opportunity to showcase the CON to staff members from across the university. The 3rd annual welcome back mixer was hosted by the Organization of Black Staff (OBS) and the Black Faculty Organization (BFO). Our guest speaker this year was Provost Robin Coger.

OBS and BFO are employee resource groups that are housed under the Office for Equity and Diversity and has been around for more than 20 years. The organizations provide members opportunities for service, personal growth and development, and help with fostering a sense of belonging and connections for ECU employees.


Dr. Jeanne Martin

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Jeanne Martin on the successful defense of her dissertation entitled: “Comparing Clinical Judgment Competency between Accelerated and Traditional Bachelor’s of Science Nursing Students during High-fidelity Simulation.”

Dr. Martin is a clinical assistant professor in the College of Nursing. She will conduct her public dissertation defense on October 31st, 2023.

Nursing students with clothes they are donating to an elementary school in Nash County.

Some of our 4th semester BSN students - Ashton Batchelor, Lauren Brown, Christian Watson, Ivan Martinez and Bryanna Inness – donated clothes to Bailey Elementary in Nash County where they are doing their Community Clinicals. Two other students are also in schools in Nash County.

A big thank you to our clinical partners in Nash County and across the state for making sure our students are ready to take care of their patients after passing their NCLEX exams.

CNS students giving presentations.

Earlier this month at the North Carolina affiliate of the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists annual conference in Concord four of our Clinical Nurse Specialist students – Megan Dobbs, Pamela Di Mattina, Tyler Burd and Beth Cesaro - presented posters about their student projects.

Well done representing Pirate Nurse Nation!

Dean Akintade speaking with members of the Living Learning community.

On Thursday, September 19 the College of Nursing hosted 28 freshmen intended nursing majors in the Future Pirate Nurse Living Learning Village. The purpose of the event was to give students an opportunity to interact with their college dean, faculty and lab staff.

Students were given an extensive tour of all the simulation labs and attended an info session about nursing opportunities in the US Army. The evening finished with students dialoging with a panel of faculty and the dean about their experiences in the nursing profession and their advice for their success as future Pirate Nurses. A delicious Italian dinner concluded the evening.

Special thanks to Dr. Akintade, Dr. Alex Hodges, Misti Phillips, Dr. Mark Hand, Dr. Lesha Rouse, Melinda Walker and the CILs team, and to William Johnson from ECU’s Army ROTC program for a wonderful event.

Culture, Engagement and Professional Development

Drs. Nancy Dias and Michael Jones

Dr. Nancy Dias, Associate Professor in the ECU CON Department of Nursing Science, and Dr. Michael Jones, Associate Dean for Culture, Engagement and Professional Development, were recently accepted as a participants in the 2024 American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Diversity Leadership Institute. The Diversity Leadership Institute provides an overview of the current state of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in academic nursing and the role of Diversity Officers in nursing education and practice.

During their time as a participants in the AACN Diversity Leadership Institute, Dias and Jones will work alongside AACN DEI leadership and other participants from organizations across the country to develop a DEI-focused project, which will be implemented here at ECU. The 2024 Diversity Leadership Institute is set to begin in January 2024.

CON Green Team logo

Big things are spouting. We’re launching the College of Nursing Green Team with a mission that we hope everyone will be excited to support – reducing our impact on the enviroment while continuing the important work of eductating the next generation of Pirate Nurses.

The Green Team’s mission is:

- Support ECU’s Sustainability efforts
- Help our CON be more efficient and less wasteful
- Promote environmental health for citizens of eastern NC and beyond

If you are interested in helping in these efforts, please contact Drs. Liz Mizelle ( and Alex Hodges (, or Conley Evans (


College of Nursing Homecoming Events. Homecoming Reception on Oct 20, 2023 at CON Atrium and Parade Breakfast at Career Services Lawn on Oct 21, 2023

We're gearing up for our upcoming Homecoming festivities. As the new Director of Alumni Affairs, I am thrilled to create these opportunities for our faculty, staff, and alumni to connect and celebrate the amazing accomplishments of the College of Nursing.

The festivities will include a reception held on Friday, October 20th from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the College of Nursing building. Bites and beverages will be provided as we celebrate our special guests of the class of 1973. We will also hear updates from Dean Akintade and representatives from the Hall of Fame. Alumni and guest(s) are welcome to attend along with members of the faculty and staff.

Those that want to watch the Homecoming Parade can join us Saturday, October 21st at 9 a.m. as we watch from the lawn of the Career Services house on 5th street. We will have a front row view- pastries and beverages provided but bring your own lawn chair!

Those that want to attend the Alumni Association tailgate and/or Homecoming football game can purchase tickets here.

We understand that your time is valuable, and your presence would greatly enhance the vibrancy of this event. Using this link, kindly RSVP by October 6th to ensure we can accommodate your attendance and plan accordingly. The link will open a survey, please click through, and answer all parts- you will receive a confirmation email with your details.

For more information, please do not hesitate to reach out to and I will gladly assist any way that I can.

Visit the CON Alumni site

Hall of Fame

Dr. Sylvia Brown

We’re grateful for the opportunity to introduce Pirate Nurse Nation to the members of the Hall of Fame Board of Directors.

Dr. Sylvia T. Brown, EdD, RN, CNE, ANEF is Dean and Professor Emeritus at the College of Nursing at East Carolina University. She received her BSN and MSN from ECU and a doctorate in education at NC State University. She began her nursing career as a nurse at Pitt County Memorial Hospital then transitioned to a faculty role at ECU.

Dr. Brown spent most of her professional career at ECU, having served more than 40 years in a variety of roles from faculty member, associate dean, to dean of the ECU College of Nursing from 2009 to 2022. In addition, she taught at University of South Florida for two years.

A widely published scholar, Dr. Brown’s research interests include development of contemporary pedagogical strategies for nursing education and pain management. She retired in June 2022 and was awarded Dean and Professor Emeritus and honored with The Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Hall of Fame nomination images

The ECU College of Nursing Hall of Fame Board of Directors is soliciting nominations for the next group of inductees to the Hall of Fame. Nominators can be nurses, other healthcare professionals, members of health care organizations, current Hall of Fame members or any person who wants to recognize lasting excellence in Pirate Nursing.

The Hall of Fame recognizes the accomplishments of exemplary Pirate Nursing graduates and faculty members. Induction into the Hall of Fame is a way for the College of Nursing to publicly acknowledge and express thanks to our alumni and to our present or former faculty members who have reflected great credit upon our college. Membership in the Hall of Fame is one of the highest honors bestowed by the ECU College of Nursing.

Criteria for inclusion in the College of Nursing Hall of Fame:

- Have a history of exceptional accomplishments in nursing practice, education, research and/or administration
- Be a College of Nursing alumni and/or be a present or former College of Nursing faculty member
- Have practiced as a registered nurse for a minimum of ten years

Details about the nomination process are available here

Nominate here


During a recent trip to London, Elizabeth Maxwell connected with Meghan Boop BSN ’16. Here they are pictured at the Holland Park Gardens. Meghan is completing her masters at King’s College, London.

In addition to their support of ECU’s College of Nursing, both women have masters in Bioethics. Meghan and her husband return to the states in Oct.

Everyone’s gift to the College of Nursing supports its mission. Please contact Elizabeth,, if you have questions regarding how to give to the fund you seek.

Thank you to all our many donors!!