Trustees vote to end 2 majors


Farrah J. Ward


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Monday, March 18, 2019

Elizabeth City State University is ending its major programs in communication studies and sociology as it adds new ones in digital media and homeland security.

The ECSU Board of Trustees voted last week to discontinue both majors at the recommendation of interim Provost Farrah J. Ward.

The change will not affect any personnel. Ward said the university’s one tenured professor in sociology will move over and teach in the university’s new homeland security program while the one tenured professor in communications studies will teach classes in the new digital media program.

Trustee Jan King-Robinson said she wants to be sure students in digital media are still receiving ample instruction in the mechanics of communication — core writing and speaking skills.

Ward confirmed that written and oral communication will remain central parts of the digital media program.

“Even though it’s digital we still understand the importance of communication in the major,” she said.

Digital media includes courses in mass communications, communications, journalism, English, speech and art.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has approved the new digital media major as a “non-substantive change” because much of the coursework remains the same. The digital media curriculum is 120 credit hours, and 90 credit hours are the same as under the previous communication studies major, Ward explained.

King-Robinson asked if changing from communication studies to digital media is a trend at other colleges and universities, and Ward said it is.

“Digital media is a popular major,” Ward said. “It has a lot of employment possibilities.”

Ward said the new digital media major, which debuted this academic year, also makes good use of ECSU’s existing faculty.

ECSU has been in the process of discontinuing some major programs and adding new ones in recent years.

In 2014 ECSU discontinued four programs: physics, studio art, geology, and marine environmental science.

Interdisciplinary studies and emergency management, on the other hand, were added in 2016. The university also is in the process of seeking final approval for its new programs in unmanned aircraft systems, homeland security, and sustainability studies.

In another new development, ECSU is adding online degree-completion programs for students who have completed associate degrees in criminal justice and business administration.

“We are directly responding to our community college partners and what they desire,” Ward said.

She said the university expects approval of those programs soon and believes they will boost the enrollment of transfer students.

Chancellor Karrie Dixon said the online degree completion programs are a good opportunity for students, area community colleges and the university.

“This is really exciting for ECSU and our partnerships with community colleges,” she said.