East Carolina University

In January 2017, the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina unanimously approved Higher Expectations, a five-year Strategic Plan for the UNC System. The Plan calls on the UNC System to achieve ambitious goals in access, student success, affordability and efficiency, economic impact and community engagement, and institutional excellence and diversity.

Progress on these goals and metrics will be achieved through the hard work and commitment of institutional leaders, faculty, and staff. In that spirit, East Carolina University has identified these contributions that East Carolina University aspires to make to the UNC Strategic Plan over the next five years.


Prioritize

Low-income Enrollments

By fall 2021, ECU will enroll 8,070 low-income students, an 11.7% increase over 2015 levels (843 additional low-income students over a base of 7,227).

From ECU: ECU will be a national leader as a “best value” in undergraduate and graduate education while minimizing student debt and cultivating an institutional culture of timely graduation. The university will develop programs to grow the number of enrolled low-income students. For example, ECU provides Access Scholarships to students who demonstrate academic potential and financial need. ECU has also developed strong relationships with community colleges, including through Pirate Promise, a co-admissions partnership with 40 participating NC community colleges. 

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Rural Enrollments

By fall 2021, ECU will enroll 10,915 rural students, an 8.8% increase over 2016 levels (883 additional rural students over a base of 10,032).

From ECU: ECU has a proud history of providing access to excellence and opportunity. ECU enrolls students from all 100 North Carolina counties, including more students from distressed counties (Tier 1 and Tier 2) than any other constituent UNC System institution. In fall 2021, approximately 50% of ECU’s in-state, degree-seeking undergraduate students came from rural counties. The university is committed to providing access to all students and has several programs aimed at growing the number of enrolled rural students and strong relationships with community colleges, including through Pirate Promise, a co-admissions partnership with 40 participating NC community colleges. Through ECU Online, the university offers undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs to allow students options for completing their degrees. ECU also provides Access Scholarships, which allocates funds to NC residents who demonstrate academic potential and financial need. ECU enrolls more Golden LEAF Scholars than any university in the UNC System. The Golden LEAF (Long-term Economic Advancement Foundation) Scholarship Program is designed to assist students from rural counties who demonstrate both financial need and merit. 

Our goal is to equip students with the skills needed to address grand challenges and to improve social mobility. The university also has programs for first-generation college students focused on the transition from high school to college, including the student organization, I’m the First

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Low-income Completions

From ECU: Through student success initiatives, ECU has improved timely graduation of our students, including those from low-income families. Despite the pandemic and national downward trends for low-income students, ECUincreased its low-income completions since last year but fell just short of its goal. ECU continues to be a national leader as a “best value” in undergraduate and graduate education while minimizing student debt and cultivating an institutional culture of timely graduation. ECU’s Pirate Academic Success Center, Writing Center, Math Cave and Advising Collaborative are key ingredients. The university prides itself on providing financial aid and student employment opportunities alongside individualized academic and personal support. Through ECU Online, the university offers undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs to allow students options for completing their degrees. ECU uses improved intervention strategies based on predictive analytics to focus on student graduation achievement. Through an analysis of historical financial aid, we are reforming aid distribution to support the completion agenda.

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Five-year Graduation Rates

By 2022, ECU will improve its five-year graduation rate from any accredited institution to 70%. This is an improvement over a base of 61.3% for ECU’s 2010 cohort.

(Photo by Rhett Butler)

From ECU: The four-, five-, and six-year graduation rates for ECU students completing their degree compare favorably to the rates of its official peer set, and rates illustrate continuous improvement over time. We demonstrate our commitment to timely degree completion through our Finish in Four initiative and Undergraduate Student Success Council. Among the methods the university uses toward this target: advanced analytics (predictive), refined general education requirements, strategies for improving math pathways, refined four-year degree plans, and investments in student success resources, including the Pirate Academic Success Center, the University Writing Center, and the Academic Advising Center. The university’s Partway Home program works with students who have 90+ credit hours but who left before completing their undergraduate degree at ECU. The Pirate Academic Success Center has tutors dedicated to helping these students adjust to returning to the classroom.

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Research Productivity

By 2021-22, ECU will receive $60,000,000 in research and development sponsored program awards and licensing income, an increase of 37.1% ($16,230,933 additional over a base of $43,769,067).

From ECU: The research enterprise at ECU continues to expand, allowing the university to reach its strategic plan goal. ECU is investing in our people, tools, and facilities to seek solutions to our region’s challenges, including health and health care, coastal community resiliency, rural development, advanced manufacturing, and assistance for the military. Capital improvements in support of research include a new Life Sciences and Biotechnology building and plans for a research greenhouse. Through partnerships and discovery, we will be a force for rural progress, achievement, and growth, helping both local and global communities.

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IMPROVE

Rural Completions

By 2021-22, ECU will produce 2,601 rural graduates, an increase of 17.7% (391 additional rural completions over a base of 2,210).

From ECU: ECU provides support for rural students throughout their academic careers and beyond. The university graduates more students from distressed counties (Tier 1 and Tier 2) than any other constituent UNC System institution.

Undergraduate students are supported through learning communities and living learning communities, a professional advising collaborative, the Pirate Academic Success CenterUniversity Writing Center, and collaborative programming through Academic Affairs and Student Affairs. ECU emphasizes high impact practices, including undergraduate research, senior capstone experiences, study abroad, learning communities, service learning, field experiences, internships, etc. Recent national surveys indicate that nearly 80% of ECU undergraduates participate in at least two such practices before they graduate, which is well above the national norm. Our goal is to equip students with the skills they need to address grand challenges and improve social mobility.

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Critical Workforces

By 2021-22, ECU will produce 3,517 critical workforce credentials, an increase of 12.3% (386 additional critical workforce credentials over a base of 3,131).

From ECU: ECU emphasizes critical workforce needs in the region and beyond, including STEM, K-12 teacher education, and health care. For the past four years, ECU has surpassed its annual goals for critical workforce credentials awarded and is on track to surpass the 2021-22 plan goal. The College of Education collaborates with public school partners through the Latham Clinical Schools Network to produce the very best teachers throughout the network and across the state. The Miller School of Entrepreneurship serves as a regional hub for entrepreneurship and innovation. The College of Nursing is designated as a National League for Nursing Center of Excellence and is among the top distance education programs in the country. ECU’s College of Engineering and Technology has expanded degree programs and is experiencing significant growth. ECU leverages these relationships to create new ways to understand complex issues, develop and operate innovative solutions, and drive change for people and organizations in our region and beyond.

Note: ECU had an increase in education credentials for 2020-21 after adjusting for a definition that was being captured differently across campuses. Starting in 2020-21 all credentials, including non-degree, teaching certification only credentials, were captured as critical workforce credentials at all institutions. ECU surpassed its goal this year with or without this adjustment.

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Achievement Gaps in Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, ECU will reduce by 50% the achievement gap in undergraduate degree efficiency between male and female students.

From ECU: As is the case at many universities, females at ECU are retained and graduate at higher rates than male students. ECU is investing in male student-success initiatives, and the university continues to see increases in undergraduate degree efficiency for male students. As part of this effort, the university has established a living learning community, freshman seminars, the annual Male Student Success Summit, mentoring, and targeted academic advising through the Pirate Academic Success Center. One partnership initiative is GEAR UP NC, a national college access program funded by a U.S. Department of Education grant. The initiative aims to significantly increase the number of students in disadvantaged communities who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. 

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Sustain

Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, ECU will improve its undergraduate degree efficiency to 22.5 over a base of 20.7.

From ECU: ECU’s actual completion rates (four-, five-, six-year graduation rates) compare favorably to rates of its official peer set and the university continues to make strides in this area, surpassing its annual goals for four consecutive years. The university has put several tools in place to promote degree efficiency: advanced analytics (predictive), refined general education requirements, strategies for improving math pathways, and refined four-year degree plans. In addition, the university continues to invest in its student success resources: the Pirate Academic Success Center, the University Writing Center, and the Academic Advising Center.

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