Thursday, the East Carolina University Board of Trustees reconvened for its spring session and discussed an incline in graduate and undergraduate enrollment, athletics department finances and reputation.
Present at the meeting were board members Max Joyner Jr., Chair Vern Davenport, Angela Moss, Leigh Fanning, SGA President Colin Johnson, Jim Segrave, Jason Poole, Tom Furr, Fielding Miller and Vince Smith. Robert Moore and Phil Lewis were notably absent after the investigation surrounding their alleged financial support to a student in violation of UNC policy code 200.7. Lewis resigned from the BOT in the UNC BOG’s meeting Friday, and Moore was censured.
The Audit, Risk Management, Compliance and Ethics Committee began the meeting with a reminder of the state ethics act. It then went over operational metrics and internal audits of ECU. Auditor for the State of North Carolina Beth Wood was present for this section of the meeting and gave her impression of ECU’s audit.
“No material errors are in your financial statement. When people look at the financial stability of ECU, they can rely on the numbers they’re seeing,” Wood said.
Wood thanked the board members for the sacrifices they’ve made to “make East Carolina University the best university in the system.”
The committee then went over to the Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Sara Thorndike’s risk management presentation.
Her research showed the major risks that face ECU including current fiscal challenges, declining graduate and undergraduate enrollment, athletics department finances and reputation, retaining faculty, ECU’s reputation in urban areas and ability to improve and sustaining BOG and BOT relations.
The Athletics and Advancement Committee, led by committee chair Fielding Miller, then began its session, with Athletics Director Jon Gilbert who presented a look at the metrics and finances of the athletic department.
Gilbert cited season football ticket goals are hoped to be over 16,000 this year, nearly 2000 more than 2019. He also mentioned that 14 out of 19 sports teams at ECU earned a cumulative 3.0 or better GPA in the last year. The athletics department also recently renovated the tile floors in Minges Coliseum to polished concrete.
This spring work will begin to make a new control room in Dowdy-Ficklen, which will be used to stream and produce the TV contracts required of the AAC. The annual Pigskin Pigout is planned for April 17-18 of this year, and the first football game of the season will happen on Labor Day weekend against Marshall, on the 50th anniversary of the plane crash.
Miller then spoke on fundraising numbers for east campus, which is projected to reach $14.2 million for this year. Fundraising for west campus is in the red, which Miller said causes concerns.
“We have lost momentum around legislative discussions for the new hospital. We raised $8 million last year for the health sciences campus. If we can keep the momentum we have on east campus and if it bleeds over onto west campus, we will be in great shape,” Miller said.
Kendra Alexander was introduced by the committee as the new Associate Vice Chancellor for fundraising, focusing on east campus as a priority. Alexander spoke on what an honor it was to work for ECU.
President of the ECU Board of Visitors, John Cooper, along with members Wanda Montano and Linda Hofler presented BOV bylaw revisions to the committee, which are cited in The East Carolinian’s article on the BOV meeting held on Jan. 31.
University Affairs Committee Chair Max Joyner Jr. then introduced senior chemistry major Felicia James, who gave a three minute thesis on antibacterial resistance to the committee.
Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson then reviewed the university’s operational metrics. He said new freshmen, transfer and graduate applications have seen increased numbers, with a slight increase in transfer students expected in the next year.
Vice Chancellor Virginia Hardy commented that housing contracts and tuition deposits are up, but the counseling center numbers have decreased.
SGA President Colin Johnson asked Hardy if it would be more effective to study the productivity of the counseling center and how many students wish to go rather than how many actually get appointments.
“I think we could revisit the counseling center. We don’t need to track how many visits we are getting, but we need to track the productivity of the center,” Johnson said.
Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director for admissions Stephanie Whaley and Associate Director for Transfer Recruitment Erica Hoyt, presented the research on transfer student recruitment. Research showed a decrease in applications over the last few years, but maintained a strong admittance rate for those who did apply. ECU held a strong yield rate of students at 65-66%, while the national yield rate is only 52%.
ECU Admissions revealed their plan on improving student admission and yield. It included development of new scholarships to help transfer students afford education at ECU, expanding markets and introducing regional admissions counselors spread throughout North Carolina and adding one in Virginia.
The financial and facilities committee presented on the university operating budget. Thorndike revealed that $11,293,715 in total tuition revenue was collected in 2019.
BOT members were then given an update on construction projects on and around the main campus.
Bill Koch, Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Safety & Auxiliary Services Bill Koch gave an update on campus parking and focused his statement around the new student center parking deck.
“We are doing more than just breaking even, we are making money in the garage in just one year of revenue,” Koch said.
The BOT will meet again on Feb. 14 in Spilman 205 to continue its spring sessions.