ELIZABETH CITY – Elizabeth City State University Chancellor Thomas Conway says ECSU started as an economic development necessity in Northeastern North Carolina – and it remains so today.

“This was an institution founded for reasons in Northeastern North Carolina that I believe were part of an economic development necessity,” Conway says in the accompanying video.

“There were people in this region of the state that the state was concerned about – what’s going to happen to these people in terms of their ability to participate in the North Carolina economy?”

Conway outlines how ECSU started as a teacher’s college in 1891 in an effort to educate the people of Northeastern North Carolina. He adds that the modern university now offers degrees in business, aviation and computer science, among other subjects, as well.

“And we’re turning out students that go into the market and are market-ready,” he says.  “We’re participating at the level that a great institution – that a 21st-century, relevant institution has to participate.”

Conway shares how during UNC System President Margaret Spellings’ first visit to Elizabeth City, a student told her:  “’You know what? The faculty at this institution think they’re our parents – and we love it.’

“That is the kind of connection that students have with faculty when they come to Elizabeth City State University,” he says.

A study found that ECSU means $232 million in added income to the region.  “We believe that we are a valuable part of the economic engine here,” Conway says.

Continued investment in that engine will be important.

“I talk about the value added of the institution historically in this region,” says Conway, who will retire May 31.  “And I talk about the necessity for continued value added in this region if this region is going to grow economically – which is a necessity for the state.”

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