‘People are Noticing Our Progress’: Chancellor Gives ECSU Spring 2021 State of the University Address
As students return to campus, Elizabeth City State University looks forward. Nearly one year ago, the campus, along with the rest of the world, was thrown into what many have called a “new normal” amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but Viking students, staff and faculty continue to be resilient and ECSU continues to rise together.
That was the message from Chancellor Karrie G. Dixon during her State of the University address Thursday, Jan. 21, at the start of the spring 2021 semester. Chancellor Dixon spoke at the head of the Faculty/Staff Institute, encouraging the campus community to continue on this road to excellence, but emphasizing that there is still work to be done.
“ECSU is in the game, but we must continue to work to be the best we can be,” she said.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge ECSU, planning for a safe and healthy return to campus has been a top priority. The return to campus was postponed until Jan. 20 to give the Viking community time to quarantine after the holiday break, and to conduct appropriate testing to ensure Vikings continue to maintain the low infection rate seen during the fall semester.
Chancellor Dixon said ECSU’s efforts to rise to the occasion and maintain the health and safety of its students have been highly successful and across the UNC System, the university’s successes are being lauded.
“Thank you for your efforts to help our students stay on campus,” she said. “We did not have one case contracted in the classroom; they were all contracted outside of the classroom.”
At the end of the fall semester, there were a total of 63 confirmed cases of student infections. Students followed safety protocols, were appropriately quarantined when necessary and the semester moved forward successfully.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, ECSU’s growth continues and its profile continues to grow regionally, statewide and across the nation, said Chancellor Dixon. In the fall semester, ECSU saw a 13 percent increase in enrollment, which speaks to the confidence students and their families have in the university’s dedication to providing them with “a quality education at an affordable rate.”
“Students are seeing the accountability and excellence we provide,” said Chancellor Dixon.
And so many others, she said, are seeing what ECSU can do, and the hard work by the campus community is paying off as evidenced by the largest donation from a single donor in the university’s history, $15 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.
“Ms. Scott’s gift is one indicator that we are moving in the right direction,” she said.
Chancellor Dixon said ECSU was only one of three HBCUs in North Carolina to receive a large donation from Ms. Scott. Her team examined the universities and determined after looking at leadership and the people of ECSU, that the university would receive the historic gift.
“People notice our hard work,” said Chancellor Dixon.
The gift is, she said, a testament to the hard work faculty and staff have done to move the university forward. Together, she said, ECSU can grow and be sustainable for future generations.
“We can do this as long as we work together,” said Chancellor Dixon.
Chancellor Dixon said ECSU will continue to work through the goals of its five-year strategic plan. And in the midst of it all, the campus will continue to work toward its reaffirmation by the university accreditation organization, SACSCOC.
“Although these are challenging times, I remain clear eyed about our future,” she said. “I am fortunate to lead a campus that models A.C.E. (Accountability, Commitment, Excellence).”
The A.C.E. acronym has been at the foundation of Chancellor Dixon’s leadership philosophy since taking the helm in December 2018. She has emphasized the necessity of working together using these three principles and now, she said, ECSU is seeing the fruits of its hard work.
In the most recent UNC System employee survey, ECSU ranked at the top in faculty and staff confidence ratings. And that, said Chancellor Dixon, “is a big deal and everyone should be proud.”
“We are making great progress. Our commitment, dedication and morale are up,” she said.
ECSU, however, must not rest on its laurels.
“We have to have a mindset of continuous improvement,” said Chancellor Dixon.
As the spring 2021 semester opens and students prepare for life on campus, Chancellor Dixon emphasized that faculty and staff will “continue to serve ECSU with A.C.E.” She said the pandemic has tested the university, and the university continues to rise to the challenge.
“In the words of John Wesley, ‘Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can,’” she said.
In the end, Chancellor Dixon reminded faculty and staff of her oft cited entreaty: “A rising tide lifts all boats; however, make sure everyone in your boat is rowing and not drilling holes.”