The Elizabeth City State University Board of Trustees recently (September 11) voted
to name the ECSU Planetarium in honor of Dr. Sultana Khan, the facility's director.
Khan, a professor in ECSU's Chemistry, Geology and Physics Department, has been employed
by the university 33 years. She took on the additional role of director of the planetarium
In 2006, the University of North Carolina Board of Governors named her as one of 16
recipients of the Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award was established in 1994
to underscore the importance of teaching and to encourage, identify, recognize, reward
and support good teaching within the university. The awards are presented annually
to a member of the faculty of each of the constituent institutions of the UNC system.
Khan's research focus is metal-insulator transitions and solar energy research with
the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Khan's teaching interests include electricity
and magnetism, astronomy, optics, thermodynamics, modern physics, mechanics and mathematical
methods of physics.
Khan said it is an immense honor for the planetarium to bear her name.
"I am honored and fortunate to be acknowledged for the work I love to do. It is wonderful
to know that this legacy will be here for a long time."
Khan has seen the planetarium develop from a concept on the drawing board to a vibrant
facility that each year welcomes thousands of visitors, including school groups and
"The planetarium is important reflection of ECSU's commitment to outreach and community
engagement and academic excellence," Khan said. "I'm very thankful to our Board of
Trustees for recognizing our achievements. Faculty, staff, administration, students
and alumni have contributed to the planetarium's success."
The planetarium opened on Jan. 23, 1990, with a visit from then-Gov. James G. Martin.
At that time, the planetarium consisted of a 30-foot dome with a uni-directional classroom
seating 54 and a SPITZ 512 star projector. The planetarium has grown and currently
is equipped with 60 uniquely designed planetarium chairs, more than 40 automated mechanical
projectors and a collection of advanced audio visual equipment, three screens of full-motion
video from DVD, laser disc or VHS and a professional theater-quality sound system.
"I remember working during weekends, holidays and many weeknights, often working until
midnight to put shows together," Khan recalled.
The planetarium offers a range of programs free to the public, including seasonal
shows. Although Khan plans to retire next year, she said she will remain involved
with the planetarium. The dedication ceremony for the facility will be held at a later
For information on the planetarium, go to www.ecsu.edu/planetarium