Elizabeth City State University

In January 2017, the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina unanimously approved Higher Expectations, a five-year Strategic Plan for the UNC System. The Plan calls on the UNC System to achieve ambitious goals in access, student success, affordability and efficiency, economic impact and community engagement, and institutional excellence and diversity.

Progress on these goals and metrics will be achieved through the hard work and commitment of institutional leaders, faculty, and staff. In that spirit, Elizabeth City State University has identified these contributions that Elizabeth City State University aspires to make to the UNC Strategic Plan over the next five years.


Rural Enrollments

By fall 2021, ECSU will enroll 1,508 rural graduates, a 63.2% increase over 2016 levels (584 additional rural students over a base of 924).

From Elizabeth City State University: Elizabeth City State University is uniquely located in a geographic region with a population that is primarily characterized as both low-income and rural. Often students from this region are first-generation college students. Although ECSU recruits beyond its 21-county service region, the university strategically maximizes its recruitment resources to serve the citizens of northeastern North Carolina. Students whose families did not attend college can have a difficult time navigating the college admissions processes. Hence, rural students and their families who live in economically challenged areas benefit from ECSU’s proactive recruitment efforts, which include regular high school visits from admissions counselors, assistance for parents in completing the federal financial aid application, financial literacy workshops, and other direct stakeholder engagement initiatives. ECSU is proud to serve students from the rural counties of the state.

Rural Completions

By 2021-22, ECSU will produce 357 rural completions, an increase of 45.7% (112 additional rural completions over a base of 245).

From Elizabeth City State University: Factors such as low family income, first-generation college student status, and trailing academic preparation may impede students from rural communities from obtaining a college degree. To ease the burden of coming from challenging backgrounds, ECSU uses a multifaceted approach. For example, the NC Promise Tuition Plan provides a financial incentive and access to the affordable education ECSU provides. Through intentional programming for student engagement, the university provides support to help students overcome the challenges associated with the transition to college. Finally, University Studies provides support services such as academic advising, tutorial services, student support referrals, and study skills seminars to create an environment for student success.

Five-year Graduation Rates

By 2022, ECSU will improve its five-year graduation rate from any accredited institution to 42.9%. This is an improvement over a base of 36.5% for ECSU’s 2010 cohort.

ECSU Graduates

From Elizabeth City State University: ECSU is fully committed to the success of our students. The university recently addressed two factors that impact timely degree completion: degree credit hour requirements and academic advising. In fall 2017, the university approved a reduction of degree credit hour requirements from 124-128 to 120 credit hours, which helps students graduate sooner and save on tuition costs. In addition, the university implemented the 15-to-Finish initiative, which encourages students to enroll in 15 credit hours each semester so that they can complete their degrees in four years. The sooner the students earn their degrees, the sooner they are able to enter the workforce. To further support this goal, the university has invested in resources to facilitate degree completion, which include professional advisors for first year students and technology to assist in academic advising processes such as degree auditing (a comprehensive academic advising solution to help students graduate on time) and early alert warnings.

Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, ECSU will improve its undergraduate degree efficiency to 18.2 over a base of 12.3.

From Elizabeth City State University: ECSU endeavors to produce graduates for leadership roles and life-long learning. The university’s mission is to recruit, retain, and graduate students who are prepared to become productive members of a global society. Through the enhanced efforts of the Student Success Initiative and other student support services, such as academic advising and career counseling, the university will retain more students through degree completion. For students who cannot return to campus to complete their degrees, ECSU has an online degree program in Interdisciplinary Studies, which offers a number of concentrations, giving students the flexibility to find a suitable pathway to degree completion.

Achievement Gaps in Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, ECSU will reduce by 50% the achievement gap in undergraduate degree efficiency between male and female students.

From Elizabeth City State University: ECSU recognizes the urgency to retain and graduate students in a timely manner. The university has a particular interest in improving the degree completion achievement gap among male students. Through the Student Success Initiative, the university uses strategic interventions, such at-risk campaigns to monitor targeted students’ academic performance; Academic Wellness Checks to check periodically on students’ academic standing; and other special campaigns to monitor attendance, advising, pre-registration, tutoring, and student adherence to important dates on the academic calendar.


Low-income Enrollments

By fall 2021, ECSU will enroll 1,841 low-income students, a 79.3% increase over 2015 levels (814 additional low-income students over a base of 1,027).

From Elizabeth City State University: Founded as a normal (teaching) school in 1891, Elizabeth City State University serves the higher educational needs of northeastern North Carolina’s 21 counties, all of which are designated as Tier 1 or Tier 2. (The NC Department of Commerce identifies the state’s 40 most economically distressed counties as Tier 1 and the next 40 distressed counties as Tier 2.) Forty percent of the state’s Tier 1 counties are in the university’s service region. In the fall of 2018, 64 percent of our students received Pell Grants. Among the Pell Grant recipients, 60 percent had a reported zero Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is a number that determines students’ eligibility for federal student aid. Lower EFCs represent greater financial needs. The university has supported the increased visibility of admissions counselors in area high schools as one of its steps to serving students from low-income and under-represented populations. The university also provides assistance to help low-income, first-generation, and under-represented students complete the college application and financial aid processes. In addition, the university provides financial literacy workshops to help students understand and plan for the cost of higher education.

Low-income Completions

By 2021-22, ECSU will produce 399 low-income graduates, an increase of 67.6% (161 additional low-income completions over a base of 238).

From Elizabeth City State University: ECSU provides a nurturing and supportive environment that serves many first-generation, low-income students. In the fall of 2019, 64 percent received Pell Grants. Among the Pell Grant Recipients, 71 percent had a reported zero Expected Family Contribution, which is up from 60 percent from last year. The university’s goal is not only to recruit low-income students but also to provide navigable pathways to degree completion. To accomplish this goal, the university’s Student Success Initiative leverages various technologies, such as degree auditing software and the E4U platform, which is an early alert system that allows advisors and students to schedule appointments seamlessly and share information electronically with various stakeholders across campus. These interactions foster enhanced communication between students and advisors to better monitor students’ progress toward degree completion. In addition to the technology, the Student Success Initiative also provides human resources, such as professional advisors and peer tutors to foster student success.

Critical Workforces

By 2021-22, ECSU will produce 136 critical workforce credentials, an increase of 28.3% (30 additional critical workforce credentials over a base of 106).

From Elizabeth City State University: ECSU is committed to educating students to meet workforce demands. Founded as a normal school to train teachers, the university remains committed to educator preparation to meet the demand for certified teachers and school administrators, particularly in northeastern North Carolina. In addition, the university has several initiatives to increase the success of students in STEM fields. For example, the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation is a funded program that provides undergraduate students with opportunities for one-on-one tutoring, mentoring, and research training. The Vikings Enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics program provides curriculum and professional development that will help faculty explore and develop new strategies for promoting student success in introductory STEM courses, which typically have high failure rates.


Research Productivity

By 2021-22, ECSU will receive $9,128,710 in research and development sponsored program awards and licensing income, an increase of 10.2% ($844,944 additional over a base of $8,283,766).

From Elizabeth City State University: ECSU is committed to increasing its research productivity. Through the Office of Sponsored Programs, the university assists faculty and staff to identify grant opportunities. The Office of Sponsored Programs also offers workshops and webinars on topics such as how to draft proposals and budget narratives to further develop the research capacity of the faculty and staff. In addition to developing faculty research capacity, faculty members work with students on collaborative research efforts to teach students how to engage in scholarly research. The students’ research projects are showcased during the annual Research Week at the university. Finally, ECSU is establishing a research foundation that will position the university to be competitive in bidding for contracts and other federally funded opportunities.

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