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ECSU strategic growth plan to span 5 years

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Within a month Elizabeth City State University plans to quantify a strategic goal for growing enrollment over the next five years.

Although the current draft of the university’s strategic plan for the five-year period that begins in 2020 and ends in June 2025 emphasizes enrollment growth, the university staff is still finalizing the specific number that will become the target for growth over the next five years.

The ECSU senior administrative staff plans to have a number identified by the December meeting of the ECSU Board of Trustees. The trustees will be asked to adopt the strategic plan at that time.

But at a special meeting of the board on Nov. 6 to discuss the draft strategic plan, ECSU Chancellor Karrie Dixon made it clear that growing enrollment is the main priority in the strategic plan’s first year. Everything else the university needs to do will depend on enrollment growth, she said.

Growing enrollment will generate additional resources for personnel and other needs of the university, she said.

“I’m holding my cabinet accountable for looking at their current budgets,” Dixon said. That process should identify some things the university could stop doing in order to have resources to devote to the strategic goals that are outlined in the plan, she said.

Alyn Goodson, ECSU’s general counsel and vice chancellor for operations, said he hopes the administration has the board’s “strong nod” to begin the “tough process” of establishing priorities for tasks and resources.

Dixon said she will work closely with the university’s senior staff to come up with a realistic plan for the first year, with clear priorities and appropriate funding targets.

“We have some resource needs throughout the plan,” Dixon said. Those will in some cases mean asking for additional money but in other instances will be paid for with savings from other areas within the current budget.

Other improvements will cost nothing but simply require a change in the culture of the institution, she said.

The senior staff will come up with a plan to show demonstrable progress beginning in year one, according to Dixon.

Among the costs associated with the sustainable growth goal are $300,000 for marketing materials and mailings, $50,000 for on-campus events and in-person visits with school counselors, $25,000 for increased campus tours, $156,000 for additional personnel in enrollment management, and a $1 million increase in institutional aid to students over the five-year period.

The board at the Nov. 6 meeting approved adding the words “and beyond” to the draft mission statement, so that it now reads: “Elizabeth City State University, a comprehensive public university, ensures access to excellent student-centered, experiential learning. Through practical education, applied research, and public and private partnerships, we prepare a diverse student body for personal and professional success to positively impact the region, state, nation, and beyond.”

The board also approved a draft vision: “Elizabeth City State University will be a premier public institution and a leading partner for economic, social, and environmental progress. We will be a destination institution that develops leaders who will make a positive difference now and in the future.

The draft values approved by the board are accountability, commitment, excellence, collaboration and inclusion.

The draft goals are:

Academic Excellence — Provide high-quality academic programs steeped in experiential learning that fully utilize our strengths as a university and enhance our region

Student Experience — Create transformative experiences for our students that support academic outcomes and build Viking spirit

Sustainable Growth — Maximize our potential through improved enrollment processes and investment in recruitment, retention, and completion efforts

Institutional Advancement — Promote and progress the institution through the engagement of our students, alumni and other stakeholders

Operational Excellence — Ensure sound and efficient university operations and enhance our customer service quality and delivery

Regional Development — Secure our position as a catalyst in regional economic, social, and environmental development and facilitate collaboration with industry and government to improve our region.

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