East Carolina University students, faculty, staff and administrators will gather this morning on campus to mark Founders Day, a date that honors the school’s founding some 106 years earlier. It recalls the institution’s humble beginning as East Carolina Teachers Training School and the century of growth that made it a jewel of the state’s celebrated public university system.
The event comes at a difficult time, however, as a Legislature hostile to higher education stands poised to further cut funding for the University of North Carolina deeply harmed in recent years by reduced spending. Not only would that approach undermine East Carolina’s commitment to educating the state’s future leaders, it could compromise its mission of service to a region that looks to Greenville for leadership.
Rick Niswander has spent enough time in academia to know that East Carolina faces some tough choices in the coming month. The university’s vice chancellor for administration and finance recently said budget cuts since 2009 of 16 and 9 percent have forced the school to do more with less. At the same time, tuition has increased steadily, so that students are paying ever more at UNC schools.
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