Amendment passes to stop provision that could have closed ECSU

Posted at 9:33 PM, May 29, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-30 23:52:59-04

UPDATE: On Friday, Senator Bill Cook filed an amendment to the provision in the budget that could have formed a study that would have looked into dissolving any institution that had a large drop in enrollment. Elizabeth City State University would have been among those schools. It has seen a 33% drop in enrollment from 2010 to 2013. 

“We are grateful that the proposed budget provision has been removed from the Senate budget bill.  We are grateful to Senators Cook, Berger, Davis and Apodaca for their efforts.  ECSU is grateful for the broad-based support received for Representative Steinberg, Mayor Peel and other Elizabeth City area community leaders, our constituents and all who showed their support.  ECSU will continue on its plan to right-size and increase enrollment,” said Chancellor Charles Becton.

Elizabeth City, NC - It was a scary past 48 hours for the Elizabeth City State University community.

A provision in the state budget plan looked at closing down the school because of dropping enrollment numbers.

"Oh it would be devastating,”says Elizabeth City Mayor Joe Peel. “Not just to this community but to the entire region."

However, Friday afternoon that idea was nixed.

Senator Bill Cook proposed an amendment to take out that provision from the budget and it passed.

"Just a lot of relief," says an ECSU sophomore.

That relief did not come without a fight from students. They inundated social media with words of support.There was also an online petition against the idea that got more than 7,500 signatures.

"Showing your support for your school is a great morale booster,” says ECSU student Darius Witherspoon. “And it's going to be beneficial for people to see that we love this university."

The budget provision called for dissolving any institution connected to the UNC system with enrollment numbers that had fallen more than 20 percent.

In the past four years ECSU has dropped enrollment by nearly 30 percent, which is more than any other UNC school.

Interim Chancellor Charles Becton says he is relieved but sticks by his plan to find ways to bring more students to the university and increase enrollment.