ECSU celebrates STEM Complex's opening
By Chris Day
Tuesday, August 13, 2019
It’s official. The Elizabeth City State University building formerly known as the Pharmacy Complex is now the STEM Complex.
About 100 ECSU students, alumni, and ECSU and UNC System officials attended a ribbon-cutting at the courtyard entrance to the new building, Monday.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics and the new complex is home to two ECSU programs: the Department of Health and Human Studies and the Department of Aviation and Emergency Management.
Helping to celebrate the renaming of the building were ECSU Chancellor Karrie Dixon, Jan King Robinson, vice chairwoman of the ECSU Board of Trustees; Elizabeth City Mayor Bettie Parker, who is an ECSU alumna; Lloyd Griffin, vice chairman of the Pasquotank Board of Commissioners; Farrah Ward, ECSU provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs; Ulysses Bell, an ECSU alumnus and Kuldeep Rawat, dean of ECSU’s school of science, aviation, health and technology.
Each spoke briefly before they gathered with larges scissors painted gold to cut a ribbon colored ECSU blue.
Parker, who is now retired, was born and raised in Pasquotank County, attended ECSU and spent a career teaching in the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools.
“So, I was able to witness the growth of ECSU for many decades,” she told the audience. “It continues to be an integral part of our community and we applaud its official opening of the new STEM Complex. As you continue to grow and improve so does the city of Elizabeth City.”
The inside second floor of the STEM Complex features a 17-panel timeline of the history of African-Americans in aviation. ECSU officials partnered with the Morehead Planetarium at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to create the display, which was made possible by a donation from Bell.
In addressing the audience, Bell asked his wife, Dorothy Henderson-Bell, to join him at the podium. Dorothy is a top administrator in the N.C. Division of Emergency Management, Ulysses said. He said he wanted to introduce his wife because ECSU’s aviation and emergency management program “appears to have a link” to the state.
Bell got a hearty laugh from the audience with his next line.
“And I wanted also to have Dorothy come up because I would not have made such a generous donation had I not used some of her money,” he said.
Bell said he and his wife felt compelled to sponsor the display because they wanted all ECSU students and residents to have the opportunity to learn and to celebrate “the significant contributions African-Americans have made to flight and space exploration, despite the overwhelming obstacles they had to overcome.”
Bell said it’s his and his wife’s hope that the role models students will learn about in the display will inspire them to seek a STEM education.
Monday also was a chance for guests to have group photos taken with the new one-tenth scale model of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet on display outside the STEM Complex’s main entrance. The replica is blue and white and includes the ECSU logo and “Aviation Science” written in large print along both sides of the fuselage.