ECSU won't cut history, but other programs face ax
Posted December 4, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Elizabeth City State University officials hope to cut four academic programs this winter as they continue to explore ways to trim the school's budget.
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Ali Khan said Wednesday that he recommended the elimination of physics, marine environmental science, geology and studio art – all programs the university identified as "low productivity." Several other programs, including history, were spared the chopping block.
"We know we must change to better serve our students and to continue to garner national honors," interim Chancellor Charles Becton told reporters during a media luncheon broadcast from Elizabeth City. "As a result of budgetary shortfalls and declining enrollment for three years, adjustments are and will be necessary."
Fewer than 50 students total were enrolled in the programs in fall 2013, according to university spokesperson Kesha Williams.
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The program cuts won't be official until a vote by the ECSU Board of Trustees next week and a final vote by the UNC Board of Governors in February.
The public university, located about 170 miles northeast of Raleigh, is facing a $5 million budget shortage for the 2013-14 fiscal year. The chancellor already announced in late September that he would lay off 46 employees and eliminate 41 vacant positions in an effort to cut costs.
But ECSU officials said Wednesday they're also pursuing new programs, such as rural health care, and are recruiting at area and out-of-state high schools in an attempt to attract more students.
"We're putting together the strongest possible team to meet the needs of our students and the community so we will emerge stronger and be an asset not just to this region, but to the state," Becton said.
Becton did not provide additional details about two ongoing probes, one of which led to the resignation of his predecessor.
Chancellor Willie Gilchrist left earlier this year after a State Bureau of Investigation review of the university's failure to investigate more than 100 criminal complaints – some of them sexual assaults – dating to 2005. The university's police chief also resigned, and campus officials hired an outside consultant to figure out what happened.
Another internal investigation at the university is trying to find out why personnel racked up more than $100,000 in charges for international calls to the west African country of Senegal, first reported by The News & Observer.
"I can tell you that the investigations are ongoing," Becton said.