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Because of progress, UNC governors may curb participation in working group meetings

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Karrie Dixon, a University of North Carolina System vice president who will take over as interim chancellor at Elizabeth City State University on June 1, addresses members of the university's Working Group, Wednesday, Jan. 24.

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Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Friday, February 9, 2018

Elizabeth City State University has improved its institutional operations so much, members of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors may soon curtail their participation in joint bi-monthly meetings with ECSU officials.

Harry Smith, a member of the UNC Board of Governors who participates in the ECSU Working Group, said he believes the group’s meetings need to become focused more on the key initiatives that will boost enrollment at ECSU. Members of the Board of Governors need to hear from ECSU officials what resources are needed to fund the initiatives that will get the school to an enrollment of 2,000 students, Smith said.

“What we want to do is know when we can advocate for you,” Smith said.

Because of ECSU’s progress, Smith said UNC governors may not need to continue participating in the portion of the Working Group meetings where details of university operations are being discussed.

At this point, UNC officials trust that the people on campus at ECSU are doing what they need to do, Smith said, adding, “I think you’ve got a rock star in Karrie Dixon.” The reference was the UNC System vice president who has been tapped to serve as interim chancellor when Chancellor Thomas Conway retires at the end of May. 

The working group’s focus, he said, needs to be on how the Board of Governors can help advocate for resources for ECSU.

In response to Smith’s request that the university identify resources that it needs, Joshua Lassiter, ECSU’s vice president of business and finance, explained he is working with Dixon to come up with what Lassiter called a “comprehensive ask” by the start of this year’s legislative session.

Lassiter said ECSU staff do not want to leak out possible requests item by item but instead want to look closely at what the university can pay for with existing funds. Staff then will identify what is needed in additional funding to make up ECSU’s “comprehensive ask.”

Smith said those items that need to be part of a request to the General Assembly are the things he is most interested in as a member of the Board of Governors.

UNC System President Margaret Spellings told Working Group members that she is very encouraged by the progress that has been made, especially with the work of Conway and Dixon. The UNC System office is getting good cooperation from ECSU staff and people are not being defensive, she said.

The progress is starting to show up in the numbers, Spellings said.

Althea Riddick, who heads enrollment management at ECSU, presented a brief report on the university’s enrollment outlook.

Riddick said the university currently has 38 students confirmed for the fall from Woodrow Wilson High School in Portsmouth, Va. Riddick said the office’s collaboration with ECSU Trustee Kim Brown, who lives in Chesapeake, Va., to recruit students from the Hampton Roads area of Virginia has been paying off.

Riddick said admissions staff plan to attend the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament in Charlotte beginning later this month and would process student applications on site. The university also will be awarding 21 scholarships of $1,000 each during the CIAA Tournament based on students’ grade-point average.

The ECSU admissions office also will host its first breakfast for school counselors, she said.

ECSU has established an enrollment goal of 1,700 students for this fall. Right now ECSU is on pace or even ahead of pace to reach its 600-student goal for fall 2018 freshman enrollment, according to Riddick.

“That sounds awesome,” Smith said. “Great job.”

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