Student: Dixon already having impact at ECSU
By Reggie Ponder
Monday, February 19, 2018
The UNC system vice president slated to take over as interim chancellor at Elizabeth City State University beginning June 1 is already having a positive impact on ECSU, according to a campus student leader.
"I like her right now," Matthew Jarvis, president of the ECSU chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Thursday, speaking about Karrie Dixon.
University of North Carolina System President Margaret Spellings has announced that Dixon, who has worked closely with Chancellor Thomas Conway and other ECSU officials in recent months, will become interim chancellor after Conway retires at the end of May.
In an interview before the start of a meeting Conway held last week to update the community about ECSU, Jarvis said Dixon has led the university in improving the "cosmetics of the campus" and has also promoted "a big uptick in on-campus activities."
Student activities has been a key issue at ECSU following Jarvis and other student leaders’ calling last fall for the firing of Chief Student Affairs Officer Nolan Davis, largely over the activities issue. Davis was later fired in the wake of the controversy.
Since the start of the second semester in January, ECSU has been offering a wide array of activities for students. Among the more recent are bowling, skating and a trip Thursday night to Virginia to view a midnight screening of the new film "Black Panther."
While Conway and Arthur Jackson, ECSU's interim vice chancellor for student affairs, have been instrumental in boosting student activities, Jarvis said he also attributes the improvement to Dixon's involvement.
"We're excited about the way the university is going," Jarvis said. "We want to keep it going on this upward slope that it's on now."
Dixon in general has garnered praise from ECSU trustees, UNC administration and members of the local community. While she has acknowledged being interested in being considered for the permanent chancellor’s job at ECSU, Conway said last week the university’s next top leader will be chosen following a national search.
Conway noted in remarks at Thursday’s community meeting that a national search for chancellor is required by UNC policy for any university in the 16-campus system.
Conway said when he first came to ECSU in January 2016 one of the things he wanted to do was lead the university to live up to its reputation and heritage. His goal now, he said, is to leave a runway for his successor to take off from.
"We're in a relatively strong position now," Conway said.
The chancellor told Thursday’s audience that ECSU’s current enrollment is about 1,500 students but its goal is to enroll 2,400-2,500 students over the next five years.
But as the university’s enrollment grows, ECSU still wants to ensure it continues its tradition of educating students from low-wealth families and rural counties, Conway said.
ECSU is ranked one of the top 20 historically black colleges and universities in the country, graduating students who go on to do well both in the job market and at graduate and professional schools, Conway said.
The chancellor also reported that the ECSU Working Group — the body of UNC and ECSU officials tapped by Spellings — continues its work ensuring the university is prepared operationally for this fall’s launch of the NC Promise tuition discount initiative.
NC Promise plans to discount tuition for in-state students at ECSU to $500 a semester and $2,500 a semester for out-of-state students. The tuition discount is being subsidized with funding authorized by the General Assembly.
ECSU expects a significant increase in enrollment this fall, given the university saw its first enrollment increase in seven years last fall — and that was before implementation of NC Promise.
"The picture for the institution is positive," Conway said.