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Tyree Barnes, an ECU senior from Weldon, presented student concerns about the name of Aycock Hall during the Nov. 21 Board of Trustees meeting on campus. A number of students attended the meeting and supported Barnes by standing throughout his presentation. (Photos by Jay Clark)

STOPPING THE 'BRAIN DRAIN'
Trustees approve tuition increase to address faculty salaries

Nov. 21, 2014

By Crystal Baity and Kelly Setzer
ECU News Services


The East Carolina University Board of Trustees is recommending a 5 percent tuition increase for in-state undergraduate and graduate students in each of the next two academic years.

For in-state undergraduate students, tuition would rise $198 next year and $208 a year later, increasing to $4,365 by fall 2016. Current tuition is $3,959.

The proposal, unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees at its quarterly meeting Nov. 21, now goes to the University of North Carolina system’s Board of Governors for consideration.

“We take any tuition and fee hike very seriously, but we feel this is appropriate at this time,” said Robert G. Brinkley, board chairman.
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Chancellor Steve Ballard presents information on the ECU Strategic Plan during the Board of Trustees meeting.

Out-of-state undergraduate and graduate student tuition would increase by 3 percent each of the next two years. Non-resident undergraduate students who pay $19,156 this year would see tuition rise to $20,323 in 2016-17. Out-of-state graduate students, who currently pay $16,540 in tuition, would pay $17,547 by 2016.

The tuition increase would generate an estimated $11.8 million in revenue over the next two years. The majority of funds would go toward the creation of a salary increase pool for faculty members, who have had one raise of 1.2 percent over the past six years. Funds also would be allocated for merit-based scholarships in the Honors College, STEM-related programs or for talented undergraduates in the fields of business, education, engineering and nursing.

Retaining and attracting faculty members in a competitive market is vital to the university’s mission. At least 35 faculty members - several with national research grants - left in the last year alone, said Dr. Rick Niswander, vice chancellor for administration and finance.

“It really is a brain-drain,” said Interim Provost Ron Mitchelson. “Our best-funded researchers are being cherry-picked.”

“If we don’t retain our faculty, the quality of our programs will decline and students’ degrees and experiences will be negatively impacted,” said Niswander in a summary presented to the board’s executive committee. “If we don’t recruit at market rates, we will not get the best faculty and will not be a competitive employer.” The Brody School of Medicine would increase tuition by $1,150 in 2015-2016, with no proposed increase in 2016-2017. The School of Dental Medicine is proposing a 5.86 percent tuition increase of about $1,221 for 2015-16 and $768 in 2016-17.

Under the proposal, the following fees for all students would increase: athletics, education-technology and student

Housing has proposed a rate increase of 3 percent or about $150 for residence halls. Dining is proposing an annual increase of $100 per year for each of the next two years for residential meal plans.

Also on Nov. 21, trustees directed Chancellor Steve Ballard to activate an ad-hoc committee, as defined in a revised facility naming policy, to consider the un-naming/renaming of Aycock Hall, and to be prepared to make formal recommendations for a board vote no later than the scheduled Feb. 19-20 Board of Trustees meeting. The policy now has a stated process and criteria for considering the renaming of campus buildings following the work of a task force formed by the chancellor.

A number of students, alumni and others have called for the university to rename Aycock Residence Hall, which opened in 1960. The student residence hall is named for Charles B. Aycock, a former governor, lawyer, federal prosecutor and school superintendent who served as a spokesperson for the white supremacy campaigns at the turn of the century. That revelation helped prompt a review of ECU’s facility naming policy, which was initially adopted in 1997 and last amended in 2009.

Approximately 25 students attended the board meeting to show their support for renaming Aycock Hall. Tyree Barnes, a senior from Weldon, and Tyler Morrison, a senior from Dunn, spoke to the group.

“We have lied to ourselves long enough and pretended that Mr. Charles B. Aycock’s name on our campus is not one of the sources of our differences,” Barnes said.
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ECU Board of Trustees member Terry Yeargan joins in discussion during the Nov. 21 Board of Trustees meeting.
“When I walk down College Hill, I am not reminded of the brilliance of East Carolina University. Rather, I am reminded of the mental and physical degradation of my ancestors just over a century ago.”

In other business, trustees approved final plans for the Student Union.

The student union will cover almost 209,000 square feet with construction costing $95.5 million. Furniture, fixtures, audiovisual and other equipment plus design costs and fees will total $122.2 million.

The facility will provide a new home for the Ledonia Wright Cultural Center, a new LGBT center, student government and student group office space, multi-venue dining facilities, a new bookstore and a dividable ballroom as well as balconies, patios and an outside media screen.

Jim Merriman with Perkins+Will presented revised plans to the Finance and Facilities committee on Nov. 20. Trustees had asked at their September meeting that the center, which will front approximately 300 feet on 10th Street, have a more defined presence from the street.

To try to invigorate the streetscape, some of interior spaces – such as dining seating areas – were moved from the Sonic Plaza side to the street side. The project includes a 700-car parking deck in same area as the current parking lot west of Mendenhall Student Center. Officials expect the center to be completed by the 2018 fall semester.

Jeannine Manning Hutson contributed to this story.

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Approximately 25 students remained standing during the presentation to the board by ECU student Tyree Barnes, who presented concerns about naming the Aycock residence hall.