East Carolina University’s lead attorney recently moved to a similar post at a private college in New York, and the university announced Monday that an interim has been named to carry out her duties.

Donna Gooden Payne, university counsel and vice chancellor for legal affairs at ECU since 2012, has been named university vice president and general counsel at Rochester University, a school with 5,600 undergraduates and 4,600 graduate students in Rochester, New York. RU announced the hire Aug. 15. It is effective Oct. 21 and follows a national search.

“I am thrilled to welcome Donna to the university,” RU President Sarah Mangelsdorf said in a news release on the university’s website. “Her leadership and experience as chief legal counsel at a large and multifaceted research university, as well as her understanding of the complex laws and regulations affecting higher education and how they are evolving will be immensely beneficial to our institution.”

Payne will have oversight for all RU’s institutional legal matters, inclusive of the medical center, and leads the attorneys and day-to-day operations of the University’s Office of Counsel. She will be the key legal adviser to the president, board of trustees and leadership throughout the university.

Payne served as university attorney at ECU since July 2008 and was named university counsel and vice chancellor for legal affairs in November 2012. She led a team of six attorneys and four support staff who provide counsel on policies, federal and state laws, administrative regulations, contracts, employment proceedings, student disciplinary appeals, health care regulations and transactions involving real, personal and intellectual property interests.

“The University of Rochester has a stellar academic reputation and the medical center’s mission of service to the region resonates with my own life’s work,” Payne said in the RU release. “I am honored to have this opportunity to join President Mangelsdorf’s team as she builds on the university’s tradition of excellence.”

Payne told an online legal news site, Corporate Counsel, she was attracted to the RU post by its outstanding academic reputation; its “strong and growing health care enterprise, including the hospital system that offers a fascinating area of practice;” and the vision of Mangelsdorf, a new president who has “brought an excitement to the campus.”

ECU announced Monday that Paul Zigas has been appointed to fill the post on an interim basis effective Sept. 16, pending approval by the UNC Board of Governors.

Zigas has worked in the Office of University Counsel since 2004, when he joined ECU as assistant university attorney.

He served as interim university attorney (former title for university counsel) in 2007-2008 and has served as senior associate university attorney since 2010. He received bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and history from N.C. State University in 1998 and his Juris Doctor degree from the UNC School of Law in 2002. Zigas also earned a master of toxicology degree at N.C. State in 2003.

He said in an ECU news release that he was honored to be chosen. “I truly believe in ECU’s mission of public service, student success and regional transformation, and I will ensure that the Office of University Counsel continues to provide high-quality legal services to the university community in support of that mission,” he said.

ECU Interim Chancellor Dan Gerlach said in the release that ECU was “extraordinarily well served” by Payne.

“Donna provided broad legal expertise, work ethic and commitment to mission at all times, and the University of Rochester is fortunate to have her services,” Gerlach said.

“I am also pleased that Paul Zigas, one of our most experienced staff attorneys, has agreed to serve as interim university counsel. The office will certainly maintain its high level of assistance to the university under his leadership.”