Shared resources at the heart of new higher education consortium
Diane LeFieles June 15, 2012
Rocky Mount, N.C. The charter members of the Eastern NC Consortium for Higher Education
came together on Friday, June 8 at Nash Community College to demonstrate their commitment
to a new venture in cooperation. Leaders from more than 10 colleges and universities
have pledged to share ideas information, services, and resources in a concentrated
effort to further their mutual goals and spur economic development and growth in communities
in the eastern part of the state.
The list of charter members includes four community colleges: Cape Fear, Edgecombe,
Nash, and Wilson; two public universities: East Carolina and Elizabeth City State;
and four independent colleges: Chowan, Louisburg, Mount Olive, and NC Wesleyan. Barton
College has joined as an associate and The Upper Coastal Plain Learning Council is
an affiliate member. Others are expected to join in the near future.
"The consortium is situated in an area of the state where both access to higher education
and student persistence are often limited by economic issues and student preparation,"
said Dr. Beth Velde, director of public service and community relations at East Carolina
University. "This unique collaboration in Eastern North Carolina will create new synergies."
The founding members studied other educational consortia including highly successful
groups in Raleigh and the Tidewater region of Virginia. NC Wesleyan College President
James A. Gray, III is serving as the group's interim president. Gray said, "ECU Chancellor
Steve Ballard immediately jumped on the idea that collaboration is king and said he'd
do anything to help. That validated the concept that the community colleges and large
public universities have a common goal and want to pitch in toward the same objectives."
Each college will remain a separate entity; however, this informal partnership will
allow each school to share in the resources on the partners' campuses 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. The consortium is planning to open their doors
for cross-registration, permitting students from one campus to take classes on another
campus at no extra charge in tuition or fees.
"The consortium is a great opportunity to share what we are doing and promote all
of the positive initiatives going on," said Dr. Deborah Lamm, president of Edgecombe
Community College. "I do believe that collaboration is the key to success for people
in Eastern North Carolina."
The Eastern NC Consortium for Higher Education has been under development since the
winter of 2011. The member colleges have developed and signed a written Memorandum
of Understanding that describes the basic framework and functions of the consortium
as agreed to by all the members.
In addition to organizational meetings, the consortium hosted its first shared professional
development event on March 23 at Louisburg College. Faculty and staff from the member
schools attended the seminar focused on undergraduate retention. The next conference
will bring together reference librarians and other library staff on July 18 at NC
Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount. The group will learn from each other and discuss
ways to bring online resources to students at all of the member schools.
Gray said, "There's a direct link between education - higher education, and economic
growth. If we can come together to help our students in Eastern North Carolina, it
will be a wonderful thing, indeed." He continued, "It may take some time to work through
the details of what we want to do, but this cooperative effort has tremendous potential
to have a positive impact on this region through the united power of higher education."
This press release appears courtesy of Diane LeFiles, director of communications at
North Carolina Wesleyan College, firstname.lastname@example.org.