The Most Wonderful Time of Year to Destroy Elizabeth City State

For the third time in less than three years, Elizabeth City State University will be searching for a new chancellor. And for the second time over the same period, HBCU advocates in North Carolina and beyond are left to worry about the fate of ECSU, into the near and distant future.

Make no mistake – the resignation of Chancellor Stacey Franklin Jones was a forced dismissal. UNC System officials picked Jones because, not in spite of, her record of short executive stays punctuated by infighting with faculty and staff, along with a startling lack of acuity for higher education management. 

And because she has left ECSU worse than she found it, Elizabeth City State is in prime position for a merger with East Carolina University, a school less than 100 miles to the southwest of ECSU and founded 16 years after the establishment of ECSU, but lightyears ahead of ECSU in state investment, development and programmatic appeal to the region.  

There is no reason to trust the UNC system to support autonomy for Elizabeth City State, when just a year ago, legislators moved to close the school outright on the grounds of underperformance and leaner spending. And especially when the system’s press release braces us for what we all expected would come sooner than later:

At the request of Interim Chancellor Conway, East Carolina University will assist ECSU and its leadership team by supporting collaborative system efforts to build greater capacity throughout ECSU’s student support and operational units. Fayetteville State University, NC A&T State University, NC State University, and UNC Charlotte will provide supplemental assistance in collaboration with ECU, as requested by ECSU.

And so we’re left to believe that an incoming interim, hours after being selected to replace a “resigning” chancellor and without any reported approval from the ECSU Board of Trustees, independently clears a path for the state to consolidate Elizabeth City State and East Carolina through a pilot program of shared campus services and operations? 

C’mon, man. 

It is sad that the UNC system and the rise of conservative bullying against the state and its citizens will try to make ECSU one of its first real victims in a new way forward for higher education in the state. But what UNC officials haven’t, or don’t care to account for, is the reality that several states have been federally sued and defeated for these same kind of race-based shell games with publicly-funded historically black and predominantly white institutions. 

They must have missed the cases in Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, and most recently, Maryland; where state governments have been forced to collectively pay billions to erase vestiges of ‘separate but equal’ doctrine from higher education funding and capacity building. Here’s hoping that UNC moves forward with action against ECSU, so another 20-year lawsuit will not only create more support for ECSU, but maybe, deliver for our children a merger of UNC-Greensboro into North Carolina A&T, or UNC-Pembroke into Fayetteville State – or both. 

It is insulting to know that outgoing UNC system President Tom Ross, who was forced to resign last January in the first phase of North Carolina’s conservative higher ed takeover, would allow his hand to be forced into starting a merger process during the Christmas break; as if students and alumni are too busy shopping to notice or to mobilize against an effort to destroy an HBCU which never got a fair chance to thrive.

Ross had no problem letting the world know that he was being politically muscled out of his job, but with a week left in it, he stays silent on a school and a community being adversely impacted within the same political machinations? 

The Grinch himself couldn’t have dreamed up a better way to steal Christmas. Now its up to the national HBCU-ville community to speak out on this latest effort to snuff out a part of our economic well-being, and our history. 


17 thoughts on “The Most Wonderful Time of Year to Destroy Elizabeth City State

  1. Wait, Wait…all this is going on and the alumni there are helpless. Oh no, another in your face under-hand. Why is it that black people are not proactive? Why does it take a curve ball to wake us up? Freaking amazing.

  2. I am sorry but will someone please enlighten me and explain why this is a race issue? As a resident of the area and a graduate of NCSU and ECU, I can say that ECSU is considered a joke of higher education in the area. I mean here is a school that was caught doing unethical things which the pharmacy program it set up with UNC. The rigor of its programs, such as education, is severely slacking compared to other programs across North Carolina- think ECU or ASU. So I guess from the outside of it I don’t understand the concept of this article. ECSU needs something done. But if anyone if willing to explain to me how this is an issue dealing with race I would truly love to be educate on the subject.

    1. This article wasn’t about race and as a student at ECSU I don’t appreciate you down talking my school because we prefer not to be taken over by another school. There is nothing wrong with wanting to stay an HBCU. Also, last I checked EVERY school in the UNC based system, including ECU, lost at least three programs this school year. And whether you graduated from ECU or ECSU, both schools are accredited so I’m sure a Viking with your degree is doing just as well as you.

    2. That’s interesting. I live in Durham where the Duke and UNC people say the same about ECU and ASU, and NCSU is regarded as the poor stepchild.

      1. Considering NCSU has the top agriculture program of its kind in the nation, and top engineering and textiles programs as well, along with a severe lack of academic scandals, I’d say that opinion reflects more on the people saying it than on the school itself.

    3. Interesting perspective…there are a lot of subpar NCSU graduates who work for superior ECSU graduates #proudECSUgraduate

  3. People are so uneducated when it comes to education. If you have never attended ECSU, how can you speak to the rigor of its programs? As a graduate of ECSU, I compete with people from across our state on a regular basis. Funny thing is, I have seen many graduates from different universities in NC who couldn’t have graduated from ECSU with the low performance they displayed at their respective schools. In particular the Education department. Let’s also be clear that this is not the first time, the UNC System has tried to change ECSU to some other institution that they can re-brand. Every so often, UNC System has the brilliant idea to change ECSU, if not the population, the name, the image, etc. By the way, it’s not the university’s fault that the UNC Board of Governors continue to put people in place that are not qualified to run the school. That is where the unethical situations come from. Imagine the school if we received the money and support from the UNC system that the other schools in the system receive, ie ECU, NCSU, ASU, etc. The things that are actually happening to make our school look bad are actually the fault of the very people trying to close it!

    1. Realness, (and I’m not upset, I’m just adding clarity) but ASU actually receives the least amount of state FTE funding than any other school in the system. Like they are bottom of the barrel in regard to UNC System handouts.

  4. I encourage you to go back and review the history of ECSU and what has happened within the last decade to understand why SAVVY commented like they did. I live in the area and I am well informed on what has happened within the last decade. High Schoolers consider ECSU as the 13th grade. Ask someone on the campus who has been there longer than a couple of years. This isn’t about race but under performance and finance.

    1. Informed?!
      You have no idea what you’re talking non of you do other then like two commenters, I am a student there, in the chemistry department and I know a student that’s in the chemistry department at UNC of Charoltte and I student who is in the chemistry department at East Carolina University! They both have asked me for hell over Skype with their work and they have both say I take harder classes, also they are not black, but I am. My school is amazing everyone has its moments of hard ache and struggles and when people like you all who have no inside but just opinions begin to talk about "what you know" you sound like an complete idiot!! I will be a Vikig until I die and I will give back to my school once I graduate until I see fit! So shut up if you don’t know, and just pray because my school a shuts down that entire community will. They run because of us "stupid 13th graders".
      Bless up and keep on.

  5. This is crazy — I left in 88′ and the UNC System was trying to take over ECSU back than. The UNC system has a history of trying to take over ECSU. One has to wonder why is that? When I attended ECSU, the facility was 95% doctoral, which was unprecedented at that time and we had the same curriculum as UNC Chapel Hill! There is something going on here and as an alumni I intend to find out!

  6. It’s all about money and power. They don’t want to give us(ECSU) money to thrive, but they have the power to basically take our heritage from us!!! Smh

  7. Savvy, just stop talking. I am an ECSU grad with ECU grads that WORK FOR ME! As for the Pharm program there, UNCCH did not provide the same funding, personnel or resources that they provided to UNCA ( the other site). Get your facts straight.

  8. ECSU’s average SAT score for math and critical reading is the lowest in the UNC System at 840 (source The North Carolina 2013 SAT Report). The percentage of students who are accepted but actually choose to go to ECSU is around 55% which seems to indicate it is a "safety school". When a school is the last choice for the lowest-achivieng students it is time for a change.

    1. ECSU is a valuable part of the UNC system. It is important to defend its autonomy for a number of reasons including the role of the campus in terms of economic development in an impoverished part of North Carolina. Another key reason to protect, defend, and support Elizabeth City State University is the fact that it is a historically black college and university. Like other HBCUs in the UNC system, it has been underfunded and threatened by the NC legislature and the UNC Board of of Governors. North Carolinians deserve better. These institutions belong to us — all of us. ECSU and all the other campuses belong to us and we must remind the UNC BOG and all the other so-called leaders that these campuses matter to us. Whose university? Our university!

  9. I take exception with branding this as a conservative take over. Pray tell what did years of liberalism deliver to ECSU?

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