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Historical Highlights

About ECSU

Historical Highlights


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, and the origin of Elizabeth City State University was born.

Early Leadership

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 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 teachers college changed the mission to include training elementary school principals for rural and city schools. The first Bachelor of Science degrees in elementary education were awarded in May of 1939.

Continued Growth

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 accrediting group (SACS) 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).


Academics. Currently, ECSU offers 28 baccalaureate degree programs, through its ten departments in arts and sciences, selected professional and pre-professional areas and four master's degree programs in Biology, Elementary Education, Mathematics, and School Administration. As of May 2013, undergraduate and/or graduate degrees have been conferred upon more than 20,000 students.

Rankings. Over the years, the university fared well among publications that rank institutions. ECSU has earned national acclaim for its advancements: In 2007, Diverse Issues in Higher Education ranked ECSU #1 among Historically Black Colleges and Universities for its black male student-athlete graduation rate. Between 1999 and 2014, ECSU repeatedly earned national acclaim in U.S. News and World Report Magazine's ranking of best colleges in the south. The U.S. News and World Report 2015 edition of Best Colleges ranked ECSU #2 in the publication's category of Top Public Schools (Regional Colleges in the South) and #20 among its Historically Black Colleges and Universities. For the third consecutive year, Washington Monthly ranked ECSU #1 among baccalaureate colleges. (2012, 2013, and 2014 Best Baccalaureate Colleges)

The Campus. Since 2003, North Carolina bond funding allowed ECSU to build a Physical Education/Field House (2003), University Suites, a residence hall (2004), and the Walter N. Henrietta B. Ridley Student Complex (2005). Funding from university-private partnerships allowed the university to construct Viking Village, a three-story residence hall adjacent to the campus main entry (September 2004). In July 2004, the N.C. General assembly allotted $28 million to construct facilities for the Pharmacy Complex, which opened in the fall of 2010. Construction of the Willie and Jacqueline Gilchrist Education and Psychology Complex began in July 2010 and was completed in December 2011. Construction of a new three-story residence hall, Viking Tower, began in May 2011 and was completed in August 2012.

Since 2005, ECSU student-athletes have earned a respectable collection of championship trophies in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA): softball and baseball (2005); basketball (Vikings 2007); volleyball (Lady Vikings 2008) and bowling (Lady Vikings 2009). ECSU teams also won three CIAA Eastern Division titles: football (Vikings 2006 and 2008); basketball (Lady Vikings 2007); volleyball (Lady Vikings 2007). The football team won the CIAA Northern Division championship (2011 and 2012) and the team was the 2012 Pioneer Bowl Champion.

On October 1, 2014, Dr. Stacey Franklin Jones became Elizabeth City State University's 10th chief executive officer and the first female leader of the institution.

Updated September 2014

Founding Father

Hugh Cale Hugh Cale

Chief Executive Officers

Peter Wedderick Moore Peter Wedderick Moore, A.M., LL.D.
Principal, 1891-1928
President Emeritus, 1928-1934
Marion Dennis Thorpe Marion Dennis Thorpe, Ph.D.
President, 1969-1972
Chancellor, 1972-1983
John Henry Bias John Henry Bias, A.B., LL.D.
President, 1928-1939
Jimmy Raymond Jenkins Jimmy Raymond Jenkins, Ph.D.
Chancellor, 1983-1995
Chancellor Emeritus, 1995-
Harold Leonard Trigg Harold Leonard Trigg, Ed.D.
President, 1939-1945
Mickey Lynn Burnim Mickey Lynn Burnim, Ph.D.
Chancellor, 1995-2006
Sidney David Williams Sidney David Williams, A.M., D.PED.
President, 1946-1958
President Emeritus, 1969-1974
Willie James Gilchrist Willie James Gilchrist, Ed.D.
Chancellor, 2007- 2013
Walter Nathaniel Ridley Walter Nathaniel Ridley, Ed.D.
President, 1958-1968
President Emeritus, 1988-1996
Stacey Franklin Jones Stacey Franklin Jones, Ph.D.
Chancellor, 2014-