UNC extends ECSU's flexibility to admit students


UNC President Margaret Spellings visits Elizabeth City State University for a meeting with Chancelleor Thomas Conway (not pictured), Thursday, February 16, 2017.


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Friday, June 1, 2018

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors has agreed to extend a pilot program giving Elizabeth City State University and two other UNC campuses increased flexibility in the admission of students.

ECSU Board of Trustees Chairman Kim Brown thanked UNC System President Margaret Spellings this week for what he called a recent “vote of confidence” by the Board of Governors to extend the admissions program, known as the Minimum Admission Requirements pilot.

Brown assured Spellings and other UNC system officials during Wednesday’s meeting of the ECSU Working Group that ECSU plans to continue the pilot program “with a sense of integrity.” He thanked UNC officials on behalf of ECSU and the students he said will benefit from the program.

“We are so grateful, so thank you,” Brown said.

Harold Barnes, vice chairman of the ECSU Board of Trustees, thanked Harry Smith, chairman of the UNC Board of Governors, for his leadership in pushing the MAR project forward.

For her part, Spellings, who was attending the meeting by telephone conference, thanked ECSU officials for their efforts.

“This really has been a team effort,” she said.

Current UNC admission standards require high school students to have a minimum 2.5 grade-point average and a score of 880 score on the SAT or a 17 on the ACT, both of which are used by college admission officers for determining enrollment eligibility.

Under the three-year pilot program, ECSU, Fayetteville State University and N.C. Central University have been able to admit students with lower a SAT or ACT score as long as their GPA is higher than the minimum standard.

Barnes said it’s important to remember the MAR project isn’t designed to abandon academic standards; it’s instead geared toward “lowering the barriers to entry,” he said.

ECSU Chancellor Karrie Dixon agreed.

“We’re still looking at students who have strong profiles to be successful here at ECSU,” Dixon said.

In fact, Althea Riddick who heads enrollment management efforts at the university, said the average GPA of students in the MAR pilot was 3.18 and the average SAT score was 853.

Among current applicants, the university is looking at a pool of 127 potential students for the MAR pilot, which is capped at 100 students, Riddick said. Of that 127, 104 applicants — or 81 percent — are from the state’s rural and lower-income Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties, she said.

Riddick said that as the university moves toward its target of enrolling 600 new freshmen and 120 new transfer students this fall, 379 freshmen have already confirmed their intention to enroll — more than the 349 who enrolled last fall.

“We are already trending higher,” Riddick said.

The university is receiving about 100 new applications every week, she said.

ECSU Trustee Jan King Robinson said she was delighted the university seems headed toward meeting its enrollment goal.

“We are pleased but not satisfied,” Riddick said of the enrollment trend.

Spellings, who was the keynote speaker at ECSU’s spring commencement last month, said she could see and feel a positive difference on campus when she was here.

“The enthusiasm, the crowd, the energy — it truly is palpable,” Spellings said.