Leaders from East Carolina University and Fayetteville State University met at ECU’s Main Campus Student Center Friday to take the next step in a partnership intended to promote graduate recruitment and education; undergraduate student engagement and collaboration; and research, public service and scholarship.

“This has been two years in the making,” said LaKesha Forbes, associate provost for equity and diversity at ECU. “There’s a lot that we have in common with Fayetteville State University — student success, community engagement, all those things — that align very well with the two institutions, and so I think that this is going to be a long-standing and mutually beneficial relationship that we’re building here together.”

LaKesha Forbes, left, associate provost for equity and diversity at ECU; Dr. Monica Leach, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Fayetteville State University; and Dr. Grant Hayes, interim provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at ECU, sign a memorandum of agreement between the two universities. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

Forbes, along with Dr. Monica Leach, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at FSU, and Dr. Grant Hayes, interim provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at ECU, signed a memorandum of agreement to develop pipelines linking FSU’s undergraduate students to ECU’s professional and graduate programs.

FSU has an enrollment of about 6,700 students, almost half of whom are adult learners, said Leach, so online programs and workforce development could be particularly beneficial.

In addition to identifying connections and pathways between academic programs at the two institutions, intended outcomes of the partnership include:

  • Exploration of experiential learning opportunities and best practice programming for student success, retention and transition to graduate programs;
  • The development of early assurance agreements guaranteeing admission of FSU students into ECU’s professional and graduate programs; and
  • The development of plans to engage and inform FSU students about early assurance opportunities.

Deans and instructors from ECU and FSU had a roundtable discussion about academic programs and how the partnership could contribute to the shared missions of student success and regional transformation. Deans from ECU’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and SciencesCollege of Engineering and TechnologyCollege of Health and Human Performance, and the graduate school gave overviews of their colleges, focusing on graduate degrees of possible interest to students in specific undergraduate programs at FSU.

Dr. Paul Gemperline, dean of the graduate school, outlined the school’s Grad PIRATE Talks, a student-led seminar series. Since many of the talks are presented online, FSU’s Dr. Afua Arhin, interim dean of the College of Health, Science and Technology, was intrigued by the idea of using them as a means of connecting students at the two institutions.

Seeing students like them doing graduate-level research could help build their confidence that they could do it, too, Arhin said.

Following the discussion and the signing, the group toured ECU’s campus, had a working lunch and participated in a graduate student panel discussion.

“This is an awesome opportunity for us to expand different pathways for our students to have opportunities for graduate education, and I think what’s even more exciting about it is the history and the mission of our two institutions, both here at East Carolina and Fayetteville State University, being in Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties,” said Leach.

“It’s exciting to be able to work with people just as committed to the importance of having our students remain in the state of North Carolina, and to give back and be workforce ready through the undergraduate and graduate programs that both of our institutions offer,” she said.