A budget amendment passed Friday by the state Senate drops the idea of closing Elizabeth City State University.
The amendment eliminates a provision in the Senate budget that would have mandated a study by the UNC Board of Governors to dissolve campuses where full-time enrollment declined by more than 20 percent since 2010. Elizabeth City State University, which saw a 26 percent enrollment drop between 2010 and 2013, is apparently the only UNC campus that meets that definition. The provision had called for the UNC board to present a plan for “dissolution” to the legislature in 2015.
Anger was swift, with the Legislative Black Caucus united against the idea of shutting down the historically black campus in northeastern North Carolina.
Senator Bill Cook, a Republican who represents the district that includes Elizabeth City, put forth the amendment that removed the budget provision. “ECSU has had its fair share of problems in the past few years, but I do not think this study is the best way to begin addressing them,” Cook said in a statement.
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ECSU Chancellor Charles Becton had posted a statement on the university’s website, detailing the university’s economic impact on the region. ECSU is the area’s third largest employer and produces 64 percent of the elementary school teachers and 38 percent of the secondary school teachers in northeastern North Carolina.
On Friday, Becton issued a statement saying he was grateful the budget provision had been removed. He thanked Cook, Senate leaders and Rep. Bob Steinberg, who represents the district, along with community leaders in Elizabeth City.
“ECSU will continue on its plan to right-size and increase enrollment,” Becton said.