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Gift enables Vidant Health, ECU to partner in creating senior faculty positions in hematology/oncology

June 04, 2018 posted by Beth Anne Atkins

GREENVILLE, N.C. – ECU and Vidant Health are partnering to create two senior faculty positions in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine. The positions are being funded by a generous gift to the Vidant Cancer Care campaign by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Barnhill Jr. of Tarboro.

“We are passionate about giving back to the community within which we work and live,” said Robert Barnhill. “It is our hope that we can continue to support medical research and health care initiatives in eastern North Carolina with this gift.”

Barnhill, a native of Edgecombe County, graduated from ECU in 1970 with a degree in business administration. His family’s company, Barnhill Contracting, was founded in 1949 and is headquartered in Rocky Mount. The company does work across the southeastern United States in site infrastructure, highway and commercial building construction. Barnhill and his wife, Penny, have two sons who work with the family business and a daughter who resides in Charlotte.

“The Brody School of Medicine and Vidant are leaders in providing skilled doctors and essential care to eastern North Carolinians. That commitment to health and service continues with these professorships made possible by the generosity of the Barnhills. It is a gift that will inspire faculty to push the frontiers of their scholarship and research as well as prepare thousands of students to follow their path as successful physicians,” said ECU Chancellor Cecil P. Staton.

Vidant is excited about the opportunity to continue to build and enhance Vidant Cancer Care through this partnership with the Barnhills and ECU.

“We are honored and thrilled that the Barnhills chose to support the Vidant Cancer Care campaign in this manner,” said Dr. Michael Waldrum, CEO of Vidant Health. “Vidant Health has dedicated significant resources to build a premier cancer program, focusing on developing a sustainable, regionally-connected system-of-care that will require effective physician leadership on all levels.”

Dr. Mark Stacy, dean of Brody, expressed his gratitude for the Barnhills’ gift and the impact it will have on eastern North Carolina. “We’ve all been touched by cancer in one way or another. We’re grateful to the Barnhills for their generous contribution to battling this disease that creates an especially heavy burden on our part of the state. This gift creates new opportunities to explore and advance the way we deliver oncology care here,” said Stacy.

The two professorships will be named the “Barnhill Family Distinguished Professorship” and the “Robert and Penny Barnhill Distinguished Professorship.” Vidant and ECU will work together to determine the timing of the creation of the positions, as well as tenure status, compensation, responsibilities and candidate selection. This partnership is just one of the many ways Vidant and ECU are working together to support patient care, physician engagement, education and research.

Vidant Cancer Care at the Eddie and Jo Allison Smith Tower in Greenville opened to patients on March 25. The estimated cost of construction and equipping the cancer center and bed tower is $174 million. Approximately $50 million is being funded through philanthropy. 

Media contact: Beth Anne Atkins, Vidant Health Foundation, or 252-847-7695

About ECU

East Carolina University, or ECU as it’s best known, offers more than 85 bachelor’s, 72 master’s and 19 doctoral degrees to nearly 29,000 students on its Greenville, North Carolina, campus and through an acclaimed online learning program. The university’s school of medicine is recognized nationally for producing primary care physicians, cardiovascular research, advanced robotic surgery as well as obesity and diabetes breakthroughs. ECU also boasts the largest business school enrollment and largest number of new nurses and education professionals produced by a four-year North Carolina university, in addition to the largest studio art program in the state.

Located near Atlantic coast harbors where pirates once roamed, ECU adopted the “Pirates” mascot in 1934 for its athletics program and competes in NCAA Division 1. The university has a globally recognized academic underwater archaeology program and enjoys a supportive relationship with the U.S. military services.

About Vidant Health

Vidant Health is a mission-driven, 1,512-bed health system that annually serves more than 1.4 million people in 29 eastern North Carolina counties. The not-for-profit system is made up of more than 12,500 employees, eight hospitals, home health, hospice, wellness centers, and Vidant Medical Group, a multi-specialty physician and provider group with more than 500 providers in more than 90 locations in eastern North Carolina. Vidant is affiliated with The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. As a major resource for health services and education, Vidant has a mission to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina. For more information, visit

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