'All-in 100 percent': Dixon ready for role at ECSU

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Karrie Dixon, who will serve as interim chancellor at Elizabeth City State University following Chancellor Thomas Conway's retirement on May 31, addresses members of ECSU's New Directions: Phase 2 Operational Team during a meetnig at the campus's administrative building, Wednesday.


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The veteran University of North Carolina administrator tapped to serve as interim chancellor at Elizabeth City State University following Chancellor Thomas Conway’s retirement said Wednesday she is “all-in 100 percent” for her upcoming role at ECSU.

Karrie Dixon, vice president for academic and student affairs at the UNC System Office, will begin her role as interim ECSU chancellor on June 1.

Dixon, 42, has worked in the UNC System Office for 10 years. During that time, she has worked with ECSU and other UNC institutions, typically on enrollment issues. Since last fall Dixon has been co-leader, along with Conway, of the ECSU New Directions: Phase 2 Operational Team.

UNC President Margaret Spellings, who picked the operational team’s members, formed the group last year to help prepare ECSU for this fall’s implementation of NC Promise, the tuition-discount program expected to boost enrollment at ECSU and two other UNC campuses also chosen for the program. It was also Spellings who named Dixon to serve as ECSU’s interim chancellor upon Conway’s retirement at the end of May.  

In her first interview since being named Conway’s interim successor, Dixon said Wednesday that ECSU has made great progress under Conway's leadership — progress she wants to continue.

"We have momentum and I want to keep that momentum going," Dixon said.

She said her immediate focus once she takes over the reins will be on making sure preparations for ECSU’s 2018-19 academic year — with all the opportunities and challenges presented by the NC Promise program and the projected enrollment increase — continue in the positive direction they’re headed in now.

"My focus is going to be on carrying out the work that we have started," Dixon said. "I want to see this institution reach excellence. I'm all-in 100 percent right now."

Dixon said she doesn’t yet know what her “all-in right now” will mean as far as her having a long-term relationship with ECSU. But one thing she does know is that she doesn't want to walk away until ECSU has a stable, strong operational foundation.

"My focus is on the institution," Dixon said.

Within that context, Dixon acknowledged she is open to the possibility of staying on as ECSU’s permanent chancellor.

"If that means the long haul then that means the long haul," Dixon said.

Dixon noted that whether her role as interim chancellor turns into the permanent chancellor’s position depends on what the leadership at ECSU and UNC want. She said she has advised those leaders that she is "all in, 100 percent" in pursuing excellence at ECSU.

Dixon holds a bachelor’s degree from N.C. State University, a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a doctorate from N.C. State.

Throughout her time with the UNC System office Dixon has worked with ECSU and other institutions facing challenges in enrollment or other areas.

"When campuses face challenges the system is a resource," Dixon said.

Dixon said she has been very committed to helping ECSU and wants to see the university successfully address its challenges. She has been able to focus even more on ECSU since this past fall when she began working with the ECSU New Directions: Phase 2 Operational Team.

Dixon praised Conway's leadership at ECSU, calling him a "great leader" who should be commended for his outstanding service. She pointed out she has known Conway more than 20 years, going to back to when both were administrators at N.C. State.

"Over the years I have learned a lot from him," she said.

Dixon said her work with the operational group over the past few months has brought her and Conway even closer; they talk at least every other day, she said. And since Conway announced his upcoming retirement they’ve talked even more, she said.

During those talks, Conway has shared a lot about his vision for ECSU, Dixon said. One of Conway's significant accomplishments at ECSU has been the support he’s built for the university in the Elizabeth City community, the state Legislature and the UNC Board of Governors, she said.

Dixon said Conway has expressed his confidence in her abilities to carry on the work needed to move the university forward.

Dixon said she likes the progress ECSU is making to prepare for the 2018-19 academic year,

"I feel great about where things are right now,” she said.