Management consultant named ECSU chancellor

Posted September 4, 2014 12:13 p.m. EDT
Updated September 4, 2014 1:17 p.m. EDT

— The University of North Carolina system Board of Governors on Thursday named Stacey Franklin Jones, a mathematician and systems engineer who most recently worked as a technology management consultant, as the new chancellor of Elizabeth City State University.

ECSU has been plagued by financial difficulties and declining enrollment in recent years – state lawmakers even considered closing it last spring – but Jones said she welcomes the challenge of leading the historically black university.

"The future of Elizabeth City State is bright, and I am honored to have been elected to help shape it," Jones said at a meeting at SAS Institute in Cary shortly after the Board of Governors voted unanimously to support her recommended nomination by UNC President Tom Ross.

Jones, 53, will take the reins at ECSU on Oct. 1, succeeding Interim Chancellor Charles Becton.

She said she plans to make the school a flagship university in northeastern North Carolina and have it known for its affordability and academic success.

"I see Elizabeth City State University's geographic and historical profile uniquely positioning us to create a national model," she said. "Our country needs a blueprint for producing knowledge-workforce-prepared graduates without charging a fortune."

Ross said Jones has "a rare blend of leadership experience in higher education, industry and government, as well as an understanding of how to guide institutions through serious challenges, whether academic or financial in nature."

A Boston native, she has a bachelor's degree in math from Howard University, master's degrees in numerical science and technical management from Johns Hopkins University and a doctorate in computer science from George Washington University.

After spending a decade as an electronic systems software engineer and product development manager at defense contractor Northrop Grumman, she moved into higher education, teaching math and computer science at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C. She later moved into administration roles there, overseeing the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and then all research at Benedict.

In 2010, Jones was named provost at Bowie State University, but she lasted only a few months, resigning after faculty there issued a vote of no confidence against her and the school's president. Articles posted at the time on the websites of The Washington Post and the American Association of University Professors said faculty became upset when she reorganized programs and shifted personnel around without any faculty input.

For the past three years, she has been a senior consultant on executive management, technology partnerships and corporate development, working with technology contractors and federal agencies.

"She has proven herself to be a strategic thinker who is engaged, resourceful, innovative and accessible," Ross said. "At this pivotal point in its history, I believe she has the right mix of skills, expertise and passion needed to guide Elizabeth City State University toward future success."

Ross also praised Becton for heading ECSU over the past 14 months. He took over following the resignation of former Chancellor Willie Gilchrist amid a state investigation into how the school handled sexual assault cases on campus.

Becton exhibited "integrity, strength and grace" in guiding the school through a difficult stretch, Ross said, adding that he helped ECSU top its enrollment target for the 2014-15 school year.