North Carolina

Elizabeth City State’s ‘rock star’ interim leader will stay in job permanently

Karrie Dixon
Karrie Dixon

Karrie Dixon, the interim leader credited with improvements at Elizabeth City State University, was named as permanent chancellor Friday.

Dixon was elected by the UNC Board of Governors. The board’s chairman, Harry Smith, called Dixon “a rock star” and “high value athlete.”

Dixon was chosen from a slate of three finalists. Since April, she has held the interim chancellor’s job at a historically black campus that struggled for several years with enrollment declines and budget cuts.

The persistent problems led UNC President Margaret Spellings to establish an ECSU Working Group in the fall of 2016 to come up with strategies to revive the campus.

The university has seen positive changes this year.

Elizabeth City State is one of three universities to be designated by the legislature as an NC Promise school, with in-state tuition of $1,000 a year. The launch of the affordability program this fall led to a 19 percent enrollment increase, to 1,677 students.

The university also received a $20 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that will go toward revamping campus residence halls and restructuring debt to achieve operational savings.

Dixon succeeds the previous chancellor Dr. Thomas Conway, Jr., who served from 2016 to 2018.

Since 2008, she has been a senior administrator for the UNC system, where most recently she was vice president for academic and student affairs. Previously, she was an assistant vice provost at N.C. State University.

She is a former fellow with the American Council on Education. She has a bachelor’s degree from N.C. State, a master’s degree from UNC Greensboro and a doctorate from NCSU.

“I am deeply honored and excited to have the opportunity to serve as the next chancellor of Elizabeth City State University,” Dixon said in a statement. “I’d like to thank the UNC Board of Governors and President Margaret Spellings for entrusting in me the opportunity to lead this great university. I look forward to working with the ECSU Board of Trustees, alumni, faculty, staff, students, and the community as we continue to move ECSU in the right direction.”

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Jane Stancill has reported on higher ed for The News & Observer for 20 years. She has won state and national awards for her coverage of education.
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