Chief Officers

Sharon Paynter

Sharon Paynter, Chief Innovation and Engagement Officer / Acting Chief Research Officer

In July 2022, Sharon Paynter was appointed Acting Chief Research and Engagement Officer for Research, Economic Development and Engagement (REDE) at ECU. In June 2024, with restructuring of the REDE office, Paynter became the Chief Innovation and Engagement Officer and the Acting Chief Research Officer.

Dr. Paynter joined the Department of Political Science at ECU in 2009 and currently holds positions as associate professor of Political Science with tenure and adjunct professor in the Miller School of Entrepreneurship. She served as interim director of the Office of Public Service and Community Engagement from 2014 to 2016, assistant vice chancellor for Community Engagement and Research from 2016 to 2019, and assistant vice chancellor for Economic and Community Engagement from 2019 to 2022.

Dr. Paynter received a BS in Biology and MPA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, MS in Legal Administration from the University of Denver, PhD in Public Administration from North Carolina State University, and completed postdoctoral training at Brown University.

Dr. Paynter’s scholarly activities and publications span across the disciplines of public policy, public administration, innovation, entrepreneurship, and community-engaged scholarship. She has received over $4.4 million in grants and contracts from diverse sources, including federal, state, and private sponsors. The funding has supported more than 250 assistantships for undergraduate and graduate students at ECU.

As assistant vice chancellor for community engagement and research, Dr. Paynter implemented faculty development programs to build interdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships. Programs such as the Engagement and Outreach Scholars Academy, institution-wide symposia on innovation, faculty writing retreats, an annual bus tour of eastern North Carolina, and workshops on topics including grant writing and publishing engaged scholarship have connected faculty with community partners and extramural sponsors. Since 2016, grants and contracts to ECU for community engaged research and creative activities have grown from $7 million a year to nearly $40 million in 2021.

Dr. Paynter has been a strong advocate for ECU at the national level. Under her leadership, the university was designated as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), maintained its Carnegie elective classification for Community Engagement, and received recognition as a national finalist for the C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement award in 2016, 2017, and in 2021 as exemplar university for community engagement scholarship by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Fewer than 50 campuses nationwide hold both the APLU and Carnegie designations, which signals the depth of structure, focus, strategic direction, and scholarly work anchored in mutually beneficial partnerships with industry and the public sector. Dr. Paynter currently serves as the vice chair for the Council on Economic and Community Engagement and serves on the Board of Directors for APLU.

About the Office

On July 1, 2022, Research, Economic Development, and Engagement (REDE) moved into the Division of Academic Affairs.

On May 13, 2024, the Provost Robin Coger announced that in order for ECU to accelerate the pace of its research, innovation and engagement journey, REDE would become two separate teams with two leaders: (1) The Office of Research, led by a chief research officer, will house the research administration, compliance, and development teams; and (2) The Office of Innovation and Engagement, led by a chief innovation and engagement officer, will house the teams that lead continuing and professional education, commercialization, economic development, community engagement, and national security and industry initiatives.

Sharon Paynter
Chief Innovation and Engagement Officer / Acting Chief Research Officer

Margaret Macready

Margaret Macready
Executive Assistant

Office Mailing Information
Research, Economic Development and Engagement
Uptown 209
209 East Fifth Street, Mail Stop 157
East Carolina University
Greenville, NC 27858-4353
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