ECSU eyes aviation program's accreditation


Dr. Vann Newkirk


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Monday, June 18, 2018

Elizabeth City State University is seeking accreditation for its aviation science curriculum through the Aviation Accreditation Board International.

ECSU Provost Vann Newkirk announced the initiative at a meeting of the ECSU Phase 2 Working Group last month.

Newkirk thanked the University of North Carolina Board of Governors and the UNC System office for their support of ECSU’s aviation science program. He said UNC officials’ support of the program is helping bring aviation science at ECSU to new heights.

ECSU recently acquired four new aircraft, bringing the aviation science program’s total number of airplanes to six.

One of the important reasons to seek AABI accreditation for the aviation science program is that it would open up the potential for the program’s graduates to land jobs with airlines, Newkirk explained. In addition, AABI accreditation would pave the way for aviation scholarships funded by airlines and for the university to operate training programs for airline employees, according to Newkirk.

President Margaret Spellings, who was participating in the working group’s meeting by teleconference, said she was pleased that ECSU is pursuing AABI accreditation and indicated that recent reports note large numbers of pilots will be retiring soon, which will open up a lot of jobs for pilots.

“That’s terrific,” Spellings said of the progress being made with the aviation science curriculum and the AABI accreditation initiative.

Harrry Smith, chairman of the UNC Board of Govenors, said he applauds what ECSU has done in developing the aviation science program.

“This is a marquee program for you,” Smith said.

AABI is the world’s only non-governmental accrediting agency for college and university aviation education programs.

The accreditation process includes substantial study and preparation by faculty and university administrators and their advisors, culminating in a site visit by an AABI team.

As part of the update on the AABI accreditation process, Newkirk distributed to working group members a list of those serving on the university’s Aviation Advisory Board.

Members of the advisory board incude: Dion Viventi, airport manager in Rocky Mount;Tom Freeman, aviation safety specialist with the N.C. Division of Aviation; Michael Dunn, captain with United Airlines; retired Col. Brian Davis of the U.S. Air Force; Scott W. Hyatt Jr., a U.S. Coast Guard C-130J pilot; Martin Gottholm, attorney and master Army aviator; retired Admiral Arthur Johnson, a U.S. Navy aviator; retired Capt. Kevin Smith of the U.S. Coast Guard; Clarence Bostic, an education specialist with the National Aerospace and Space Administration at the Langley Research Center; retired Brigadier Gen. Arnold Gordon-Bray of the U.S. Army; retired Admiral Gary Jones of the U.S. Navy; William Nelson, a student in the aviation science program.