Walton at chancellor forum: ECSU can be great again

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Elizabeth City City Councilman Johnnie Walton addresses members of the ECSU Chancellor Search Committee at a forum on what city residents would like to see in the next Elizabeth City State University chancellor, at the Hugh Cale Training Center, Wednesday.


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Friday, August 31, 2018

Members of the Elizabeth City community said Wednesday night they want a chancellor for Elizabeth City State University who values teamwork and will interact personally with students, faculty, staff and the community.

City Councilman Johnnie Walton was the first to speak at the community forum hosted by City Manager Rich Olson and River City Community Development Corp. President Lenora Jarvis-Mackey, both members of the ECSU Chancellor Search Committee, at the Hugh Cale Training Center.

Walton, a football standout at ECSU in the 1960s who also coached at the university in the 1980s, said the next chancellor needs to “be able to realize who is a good team player.”

Walton also believes ECSU “can get back to a trend of being great.” Recently, though, the university has been like a ship that is at a standstill, he said. In order for a boat to move forward, Walton said, everyone needs to be rowing in the same direction.

The university needs a chancellor who will conduct good analysis and who has good ethics, Walton said.

“I want to see a chancellor that’s open-minded, that will follow the policies of the system,” he said.

The next chancellor will have a lot of work to do to return the university to greatness, Walton said.

“It’s going to be a hard process,” he said.

Walton also said he wants a chancellor who will make him proud to donate to the university.

Wednesday’s forum was part of a series of forums sponsored this month and next by the Chancellor Search Committee. The university hopes to have the next chancellor in place in February 2019.

Angie Wills, an employee of River City CDC, also addressed the panel, identifying herself as an ECSU graduate, the mother of an ECSU graduate, and a staff member at the university for 17 years. Wills said she wants to see the community take pride in ECSU.

“I would like to go back to a time when I was working at Elizabeth City State University and there was strong, bold leadership,” she said.

Wills said that when she is in Greensboro she sees community pride in N.C. A&T State University. She’d like to see the same kind of community pride in Elizabeth City for ECSU, she said.

Earline Walton said the chancellor should be dedicated to addressing issues ECSU students are concerned about; should be visible on campus; and should be personally engaged with all faculty and staff members.

The university leadership should have Viking Pride, engage with students and be accountable, she added.

Mayor Bettie Parker said she is proud to be a graduate of ECSU and supports the university. Parker said the next chancellor needs to be personable; should be someone who “does not convey an air of dictatorship”; and someone who seeks out the activists in the community.

ECSU is crucial to the community, Parker said, adding she stands ready to work with the chancellor. The chancellor needs to promote business and community pride in ECSU, Parker said.

Elizabeth City police Chief Eddie Buffaloe said he would like to see a chancellor “with a public safety mindset.”

City fire Chief Cory Mercer said he likes the job interim Chancellor Karrie Dixon is doing. He said she’s visible on campus, noting her visits to dormitories recently as freshmen were moving in. He said that kind of visibility and “vibrancy” is needed in the next chancellor.

ECSU Trustee Harold Barnes, who chairs the Chancellor Search Committee, said the panel values the input it is gathering from the forums.

“There aren’t any preconceived notions about who the next chancellor is going to be,” Barnes said.

The search panel will hold a second community forum in Elizabeth City on Tuesday at Arts of the Albemarle at 7 p.m.