Faculty Focus - Yajiong “Lucky” Xue

Yajiong “Lucky” Xue is on a mission to educate, empower and inspire children in rural North Carolina to care for their mental health. She is the Robert Dillard Teer Distinguished Professor in the College of Business.

Xue is an essential player in the recent $3.2 million partnership between East Carolina University and the United Health Foundation. This grant focuses on children and adolescents, and Xue and her students are working on a project involving a virtual reality video game and a knowledge-management system to aid collaboration among mental health professionals, family members and community partners in eastern North Carolina. It also offers students the opportunity to apply their coursework knowledge and skills in system development.

“We need to find innovative approaches to reach children,” Xue said. “So, we are building a virtual community house where they will be invited to enter as avatars, providing them with a sense of anonymity, making them more comfortable to speak out.”

This virtual community house offers a wide range of activities, from sports and dancing to peer-to-peer support, and incorporates mental health education into all its programs.

Mental health is a significant concern in North Carolina. Out of 100 counties, 92 are considered lacking in mental health care providers, said Xue.

This virtual setting will expand access to care for children and youth across the state. For Xue, her project has a threefold mission.

“First, we educate children about mental health care resources and knowledge. Second, we empower them with different capabilities and strategies to address their problems. Third, we inspire them to seek excellent resources when needed.”

It’s no small task, but Xue is passionate about the work. “It’s very exciting to see these kids enthusiastic about having a virtual space with no barriers. They can not only play but also help themselves, addressing their mental health issues while enjoying their playtime.”

– Reed Wolfley

André Green is the new dean of the ECU College of Education. He started July 19. Green comes to ECU from the University of South Alabama, where he served as professor of leadership and teacher education and associate vice president for academic affairs. Green has a bachelor’s degree from Alabama State University, a master’s in chemistry from Hampton University and education specialist and doctoral degrees from Virginia Tech. At South Alabama, he also served as chair of the Department of Leadership and Teacher Education, associate dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies and executive director of the Center for Integrative Studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Charles Ewen, a professor of anthropology, has been named a
distinguished professor in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and
Sciences at ECU. Ewen joined ECU’s faculty in 1994. In addition to
teaching popular courses such as Aliens, Atlantis and Archaeology:
Pseudoscience and Interpretations of the Past, Ewen has supported his
research with more than $500,000 in grant funding. He also has written
or co-written 10 books, more than two dozen peer-reviewed journal
articles or book chapters and has participated in more than a dozen
scholarly presentations and invited talks. Ewen has a master’s from
Florida State University and a doctorate from the University of Florida.

Dr. Greg Chadwick, dean of the ECU School of Dental Medicine, in September was installed as president of the FDI World Dental Federation during the organization’s 2023 World Dental Congress in Sydney, Australia. He had served as president-elect since 2021. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, FDI leads the world to optimal dental health through policy, education and advocacy. Its membership comprises nearly 200 national member associations and specialist groups in more than 130 countries, making it the premier representative body for more than 1 million dentists worldwide.

Mark Hand, a clinical nursing professor at ECU, was named the Education Nurse of the Year by the North Carolina Nurses Association at a gala event Sept. 14 in Winston-Salem. He has a doctorate in nursing from ECU and a master’s from the University of New Hampshire. In addition to teaching at ECU, he has been a faculty member at Rivier University in New Hampshire and Durham Technical Community College.