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Leaders from more than ten colleges and universities gathered last Friday at Nash Community College to demonstrate their commitment to a new joint venture in cooperation.
The charter members of the Eastern North Carolina Consortium for Higher Education pledged to share ideas, information, services, and resources in a concentrated effort to further their mutual goals and spur the economic development and growth of the region.
Dr. Hope Williams, president of North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, says, “We applaud the five NCICU-member schools in eastern North Carolina for joining together and teaming with public and community colleges and universities. It is often through partnerships that progress in education is nurtured and created for the good of all. This consortium’s emphasis on using the power of higher education to help the economy of eastern North Carolina is commendable.”
The list of charter members includes Edgecombe and three other community colleges: Cape Fear, Nash, and Wilson; two public universities: East Carolina and Elizabeth City State; and four independent colleges: Chowan, Louisburg, Mount Olive, and North Carolina Wesleyan. Barton College has joined as an associate, and The Upper Coastal Plain Learning Council is an affiliate member of the consortium.
Each college will remain a separate entity, but this informal partnership will enable each school to share in the resources on the partners’ campuses, thereby expanding the ability of each institution to offer more to its students. By working together, the colleges will have a greater impact on higher education through opportunities such as combined professional development activities, shared library accessibility, study-abroad options, pursuit of grants, and more.
Following the model of a similar arrangement in Virginia, the consortium is planning to open member institutions’ doors for cross-registration, permitting students from one campus to take classes on another campus at no extra charge in tuition or fees.
The Eastern North Carolina Consortium for Higher Education has been under development since last winter with Wesleyan President James Gray serving as interim president.
In addition to organizational meetings, the consortium recently hosted its first professional development event at Louisburg College. Faculty and staff from the member schools attended the seminar focused on undergraduate retention.
“The consortium is a great opportunity to share what we are doing and promote all of the positive initiatives going on,” says Dr. Deborah Lamm, ECC president. “I believe that collaboration is key to success for people in eastern North Carolina.”