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Elizabeth City State University (1891- )

Jimmy Jenkins Science Center
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Elizabeth City State University was established in 1891 as a response to a bill, enacted by the North Carolina General Assembly, which proposed the creation of a normal school for the training of black teachers in the state. Located in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, the University is a member-institution of the University of North Carolina, and currently sits on a 200-acre campus surrounded by residential districts. A historically black college, Elizabeth City State University is a public, four-year liberal arts institution, and has a diverse student body of approximately 2,500 students.

After its creation as a normal school in 1891 under the sponsorship of Hugh Cale, an African American representative in the state assembly from Pasquotank County, Elizabeth City State University slowly transitioned into a full, four-year teachers’ college in 1937. Expanding its role to include the training of school principals, the school changed its name to Elizabeth City State Teachers College and awarded its first Bachelor of Science degree in its program of Elementary Education in 1939. The following 25 years saw the University’s expansion in vocational-technical programs and the establishment of 13 academic majors. In 1961 the institution changed its name to Elizabeth City State University to reflect its curriculum’s expansion and the addition of graduate programs. Currently, Elizabeth City State University offers 38 baccalaureate degree programs and selected master’s degree programs.

Elizabeth City State was granted membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1961 and remains fully accredited. Dedicated to preparing its graduates for leadership roles and lifelong learning, the University continues to earn notable credits for academic achievements. Between 1999 and 2006, the University repeatedly earned national acclaim for its top-five ranking in the category of “Top Public Comprehensive Colleges in the South” by U.S. News and World Report Magazine. Additionally, as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Elizabeth City State University competes within the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) and is known for its successful athletic program. As its list of alumni indicates, the University has shaped its numerous college athletes into successful professionals.

Notable Elizabeth City State University alumni include Larry Johnson, legendary preparatory school football coach in the state of Maryland and current Pennsylvania State University head football coach; Reginald “Reggie” Langhorne, former National Football League (NFL) wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns and the Indianapolis (Indiana) Colts; Johnnie Walton, former NFL quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles; and Michael “Mike” Gale, former National Basketball Association (NBA) and American Basketball Association (ABA) guard for the Kentucky Colonels, New York Nets, San Antonio (Texas) Spurs, Portland (Oregon) Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors.

Elizabeth City State University website,; Toni Hodge-Wright, The Handbook of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Seattle: Jireh and Associates, 1992).


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