Assistant Vice Chancellor Named to APLU Commission Executive Council

An East Carolina University assistant vice chancellor has been appointed to a leadership role in a prestigious new Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities panel.

Sharon Paynter, who oversees ECU’s Office of Community Engagement and Research, has been named a member the APLU’s Commission on Economic and Community Engagement executive committee.

The commission, led by Pennsylvania State University President Eric J. Barron, was created to lead the APLU’s mission of expanding economic development and community engagement. The CECE focuses on broadening engagement through three areas including talent and workforce development; innovation, entrepreneurship and tech-based economic development; and place development through public service, outreach, extension and engagement.


During her three-year term, Paynter will assist the APLU in promoting professional development, leadership and peer exchange programs, as well as contributing to federal policy issues and developing best practices for community engagement projects.

“ECU has long been recognized for its strengths in economic and community engagement,” Paynter said. “This opportunity allows us to continue to contribute to the policies, research, peer exchange and professional development initiatives that shape the ways that universities impact communities around them.”

Since 2014, Paynter has led ECU’s mission to enrich and prepare its students, faculty and staff to support a thriving future for eastern North Carolina and the world through community-engaged public service and regional transformation.

While many ECU researchers participate in traditional, knowledge-building research, community-engaged research adds an additional step by asking them to work in partnership with community members to solve local and regional problems. Paynter’s office brings together students and faculty alongside community partners to develop research questions, determine methods to investigate an identified problem, collect and analyze data, interpret the data and share the results with others.

Paynter’s office coordinates vital ECU programs including the Engagement and Outreach Scholars Academy, the SECU Public Fellows Internship program, and the recently developed Rural Innovations to Strengthen Eastern North Carolina-29 Counties program.

During her tenure at ECU, the university was redesignated as a Carnegie Foundation Community Engaged Institution and has been recognized as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the APLU.

“Sharon’s appointment reflects the recognition by our peers of the progress being made at ECU on economic and community engagement,” said Jay Golden, vice chancellor for research, economic development and engagement. “Her work is made possible because of our deans, faculty and staff. We’re continuing to work across campus in a unified effort to improve the economic conditions of eastern North Carolina communities in conjunction with community leaders and partners.”

ECU and the Division of Research, Economic Development and Engagement recently announced the university’s latest economic development initiative – ECU’s Economic Growth Collaboratory. The collaboratory harnesses big data and data visualization to find meaningful pathways to economic growth in the region. It officially launches in March with an initial focus on value-added agriculture.

Learn more about Paynter and the Office of Community Engagement and Research online.