After more than half a decade of declining enrollment at Elizabeth City State University, UNC system leaders are convening a working group to focus on boosting student numbers at the historically black university.
ECSU Chancellor Thomas Conway will lead the working group, which he says will focus on improving student recruitment and retention.
"As we're looking at declining enrollment, it is time to pull out all stops," said Conway. "We need to do everything we can and get every idea on the table we can generate to look at how we turn this around and make the institution work."
Enrollment at Elizabeth City State University dropped 59 percent over the last six years. Conway said he expects the new committee will move quickly to reverse that trend.
"As we identify issues that need to be changed, we're not going to produce a report, then study the report," said Conway. "We will be making real time changes that are under my purview as chancellor."
This fall, 1,350 students enrolled at ECSU, roughly 200 less than university leaders anticipated. Conway said he'd like to see total enrollment grow to 3,000 in the next decade.
In recent years ECSU has been plagued with a series of scandals, administrative turn over, budget cuts and a shrinking student body. The school was targeted for closure by the General Assembly in 2014. This year state legislators voted to switch ECSU to a low-tuition program that will take effect in 2018.
One of the goals of the new group, according to Conway, will be to help change the way the school is perceived by officials and the general public.
"Part of my goal is to turn this group into a set of informed advocates for Elizabeth City State University that will be able to carry info directly back to the General Administration, directly back to the Board of Governors, so people know exactly where we are in real time," said Conway.
The work group will consist of campus and UNC system leaders, as well as members of the UNC Board of Governors and the ECSU Board of Trustees.