On March 3, 1891, Hugh Cale, an African-American representative in the N.C. General Assembly from Pasquotank County, sponsored House Bill 383, which established a normal (teaching) school for "teaching and training teachers of the colored race to teach in the common schools of North Carolina." The bill passed, establishing a normal school for teachers and laying the groundwork for the Elizabeth City State University we know today.
The first leader, Peter W. Moore, was called a Principal (subsequent leaders would be called President, then Chancellor). Moore served as Principal and then President until his retirement as President, Emeritus, on July 1, 1928. During his tenure, enrollment increased from 23 to 355 and the faculty grew from two to 15 members.
During the tenure of the second president, John Henry Bias, the institution was elevated from a two-year normal school to a four-year teachers college (1937). Two years later, the institution's name was officially changed to Elizabeth City Teachers College on March 30, 1939. The growth and elevation to a teachers college changed the institution’s mission to include training elementary school principals for rural and city schools. The first Bachelor’s of Science degrees in elementary education were awarded in May of 1939.
Between 1959 and 1963, the institution became more than a teaching college, adding 11 academic majors to the original elementary education major. In 1961, the college joined the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accrediting group and maintains its accreditation with that body to the present. In 1963, the N.C. General Assembly changed the institution's name from Elizabeth City State Teachers College to Elizabeth City State College and on July 1, 1969, the college became Elizabeth City State University. In 1971, the General Assembly redefined the University of North Carolina system with 16 public institutions, including ECSU. Together, those institutions became constituents of The University of North Carolina (July 1972).
With 28 undergraduate and 4 graduate programs of study, ECSU offers degrees in aviation and natural sciences, business and economics, teaching and administration, visual and performing arts, mathematics and computer science, social and behavioral sciences and other select professional and pre-professional areas.
As a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina System, ECSU is the most affordable academic success university in North Carolina. Our intimate class sizes afford our student body a small, yet challenging learning environment. We teach, train, and mold our students in an environment representative of today’s global economy.