ECSU students weigh in on next chancellor

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Matthew Jarvis, speaker of ECSU’s Student Senate, addresses members of the Elizabeth City State University Chancellor Search Committee about what he'd like to see in the university's next chancellor, Thursday during a forum at the Ridley Student Center.

083118 ECSU Search

By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Elizabeth City State University students urged members of the chancellor search panel Thursday to choose a new campus leader who’s comfortable interacting with students and knowledgeable about finance.

The student forum in the Ridley Student Center was part of a series of forums being held by the ECSU Chancellor Search Committee to receive input on what ECSU students, faculty, staff and alumni as well as the general public want to see in ECSU’s next chancellor.

ECSU officials and the University of North Carolina System office say they plan to have the campus’s next chancellor in place by February. University officials have also said, however, that the process of selecting the next chancellor won’t be rushed. They say they plan to take the time needed to ensure the right candidate for chancellor is hired.

To help with the search, ECSU has also set up a webpage at www.ecsu.edu/about/governance/chancellor-search/. The site provides users an opportunity to provide input on the leadership traits desired in the next chancellor. It also allows users to nominate someone for the post.

At Thursday’s forum, Matthew Jarvis, speaker of ECSU’s Student Senate, said the next chancellor should be “student-centric” and have a background in finance.

Jarvis also said it’s important that the chancellor be someone who ensures washing machines and air conditioners in dormitories are kept in good working order.

“I would say a top priority would be living centers,” Jarvis said.

The chancellor should also build on the family atmosphere at ECSU, he said.

“One of the great strengths that Elizabeth City State does have is family,” Jarvis said.

Chorn Poyner, president of the ECSU Student Government Association, said the next chancellor should be committed to serving long term. He also said the chancellor should have a background in finance and be comfortable engaging with students.

Eyricka Johnson, vice president of internal affairs for the SGA, said the next chancellor should be someone who wants what’s best for students.

“It’s important to let the students know that their voices matter,” Johnson said.

The chancellor needs to hear students’ concerns and take steps to address them, Johnson said. In addition, the chancellor should understand, respect and cherish the ECSU culture, she said.

Khya Kornegay said the chancellor should have social skills and be able to relate to students. She said one of the strengths of interim Chancellor Karrie Dixon is her visibility on campus.

“She doesn’t hide from us,” Kornegay said.

Darrell Andrews Jr. agreed that the chancellor should interact with students.

“I would love to actually see them at events,” Andrews said, adding it also would be great for ECSU to schedule more events where students and administrators can interact.

Like other speakers, Jannell Hicks said she would like to see a chancellor remain at ECSU for an extended period. 

ECSU is seeking its fourth chancellor in five years. Willie Gilchrist, who had been chancellor since 2010, resigned under fire in July 2013. Charles Becton served as interim chancellor until Stacey Franklin Jones was hired in October 2014. Jones left a year later in December 2015 and was succeed by Thomas Conway, a veteran university administrator, in January 2016. Conway retired this May. Dixon, a vice president of the UNC System, was tapped by UNC President Margaret Spellings to serve as the university’s interim chancellor until Conway’s successor is named.

Harold Barnes, an ECSU trustee and chairman of the Chancellor Search Committee, thanked the students for their participation.

“Everything that you have said today are reasonable requests,” Barnes said.