It’s been a while, but the Business Leadership Conference organized by East Carolina University’s College of Business (COB) took place once again Sept. 13. COB juniors, seniors and graduates participated in the keynote presentation in the morning and almost 20 sessions throughout the day.

The annual conference theme is constructed around ethics, diversity, globalization and the environment. Diversity was a focus of this year’s event thanks to the keynote presentation by Ken Bouyer, EY Americas director of inclusiveness recruiting, and news surrounding a donor’s gift.

“Organizations such as ours are relying on universities to produce talent that will work and can work across the world without missing a beat,” said Bouyer. “It’s critically important that universities focus on DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) and that journey.”

In February 2020, the COB announced the new Copeland Diversity and Inclusion Fellowship program. The program is possible thanks to a generous commitment from COB alumni Mark and Tracy Copeland. This two-year fellowship is a comprehensive program that celebrates and encourages a culture of diversity and inclusion.

This year’s conference served as the backdrop to announce the Copeland Fellows, whom Mark Copeland met for the first time.

“I’m excited to see the energy they have,” said Copeland. “I think about their different majors, their backgrounds, where they come from, and their activities around the university, and I couldn’t be more excited by what this young generation is going to continue to deliver during their time here at ECU.”

The inaugural fellows are:

Aurora Shafer, entrepreneurship major

Paige DeMutis, marketing major (intended)

  • Grant Smith, marketing major (intended)
  • Evelyn Gonzalez, management major
  • Jonathan Coleman, management information systems major

The two-year Copeland fellowship was supposed to start in the fall of 2020 but was delayed due to COVID-19. Starting this term, the five fellows will participate in a comprehensive program that celebrates and encourages a culture of diversity and inclusion. They will immerse themselves in an extensive range of programming that includes multicultural experiences outside the classroom and a celebration of the diverse experiences that our student body brings to the COB.

The students will be required to participate in diversity and inclusion-related events for four semesters. Each will close out the experience by working on a project to demonstrate what they have learned while participating in the program. Twenty hours will be required for each semester.

“I’m hoping this fellowship allows for these students to come together and to make an impact across the COB’s student body,” said Mark Copeland.

Rising star of N.C. literature celebrated

ECU’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences will celebrate a rising star of North Carolina literature when it welcomes award-winning author Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle to campus Oct. 4. The evening will begin at 6 p.m. with a limited attendance reception and discussion on the third-floor outdoor deck of the Main Campus Student Center, followed at 7 p.m. by a reading from “Even As We Breathe,” an audience question-and-answer period, and a book signing in the center’s Black Box Theatre.

Clapsaddle is an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Her debut novel, “Even As We Breathe,” was named a finalist for the Weatherford Award and one of National Public Radio’s Best Books of 2020. It received a 2021 Independent Publisher Book Award bronze medal in the category of literary fiction.

The evening is hosted by Whichard Distinguished Professor Kirstin L. Squint and ECU’s North Carolina Literary Review editor Margaret Bauer. The event will raise funds in support of the NCLR, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Clapsaddle’s book will be available for purchase at the event.

The events are free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required for the reception, which is limited to 60 guests. RSVP for the reception by Monday to . No RSVP is necessary for the 7 p.m. event.

Series to feature real-life guardian of the galaxy

ECU’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences will launch the 15th season of its signature Voyages of Discovery Series at 7 p.m. Oct. 7 in the Main Campus Student Center ballrooms.

The in-person event features Dr. Moogega Cooper, planetary protection engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She will discuss “Diversity in STEAM from a Real-Life Guardian of the Galaxy.”

After graduating from high school at the age of 16, Cooper began studying physics and at age 24, she earned her doctorate in mechanical engineering with a dissertation on spacecraft materials.

As an engineer for NASA, Cooper helped make history with the landing of the Mars Perseverance Rover on Feb. 18.

Her work involves the ongoing mission to discern whether the red planet could be habitable for humans and to ensure that we do not harm what is already there. She keeps Mars safe from Earth’s contaminants.

Cooper shares her love of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) with others by discussing leadership lessons she has learned throughout her journey to the top of a male-dominated field; sharing insights on how perseverance pays off; and talking about how people from diverse backgrounds are becoming the next generation of leaders in the fields of science and technology.

For more information and updates on safety protocols, and to purchase tickets, visit the Voyages website.

Contact or 252-329-9587.