John and Ann Laliotes will tell anyone who asks that ECU "gave them the world" both personally and professionally. After all, it was at ECU where they met and fell in love, providing the spark that led to a 49-year marriage. Ann Laliotes earned her bachelor's degree in Spanish in 1969 and a master's in library science in 1972. She later became a valued employee in the Division of University Advancement at ECU. John Laliotes graduated in 1969 with a bachelor's degree in political science- the newly renovated Political Science Library now bears his name. He is a first-generation college graduate of parents who emigrated from Ireland and Greece.
As they planned for the future, Ann and John decided to give widely across campus, and have multiple planned gifts that will support endowments in athletics, academics and the medical and health sciences. The couple felt ECU students would be the best recipients of their philanthropy. They were recently inducted into the Leo W. Jenkins Society, an esteemed group for philanthropic benefactors of the university.
"It is an honor and privilege to give back and to impact the future of ECU, its students and the community," Ann said. "We hope that students who receive scholarships or endowment funds will thrive at ECU academically, get a broad education and use the skills they learned here to succeed in the world.
"Their gifts include a Access and Honors College scholarships; a reading room in Joyner Library; endowments in political science, theater and study abroad; an endowment to support the S. Rudolph Alexander Performing Artist Series (SRAPAS) anda football scholarship for a tight end position.
The Lalioteses chose to spread their gifts across campus because each area has had a positive impact on their lives. John said Pirate athletics has been a constant enjoyment over the years, and
no matter where they lived, they always found a way to attend Pirate football games both home and away. The couple moved back to Greenville in 2004 so they
could enjoy "ECU, real barbecue and the Pirate way of life," Ann said.
Since retiring, John has experienced multiple medical challenges and has learned firsthand the wealth of expertise ECU physicians possess. Supporting the education of future physicians and other health professionals thus became a goal, John said. This led to an endowment in the physical rehabilitation and medicine residency program in addition to support for physical therapists, physician's assistants and medical librarians. While touring the departments, the Lalioteses were impressed by the new Student Physical Therapy Clinic and its mission and decided to endow it as well.
"When we started our planned giving process, planned giving officers Greg Abeyounis (University Advancement), Mark Hessert (Pirate Club) and Jeff McPherson (Medical Campus) expertly guided and encouraged discussions with various deans and department directors," Ann said. "This helped to clarify where we could provide the most assistance and at the same time satisfy our initial areas of interest.
"The Lalioteses said they hope sharing their story and appreciation for ECU will inspire others to consider giving back. It is an act that, large or small, can have a big impact. Ann and John are in turn inspired by one of their favorite quotes from Desmond Tutu: "Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world."