FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE --- The long-awaited dream of displaying the university’s history in a public place is now a reality. Elizabeth City State University’s Legacy Room holds a collection of memorabilia that reflects the institution’s 120-year story.
After the annual Founders Day convocation on March 11, visitors strolled through the Legacy Room, located in room #127 of the Kermit E. White Graduate and Continuing Education Center, for their first view. A large, wall-size panel facing the entrance showcases the university’s chief administrative officers -- first known as presidents and later called chancellors – dating to Peter W. Moore in 1891.
Photos, commemorative plaques, yearbooks, grade cards, documents and personal items trace the university’s growth from a small teaching and training center with 23 students to today’s modern and sprawling campus with a student enrollment of 3,300.
A glass case encloses the late Chancellor Marion D. Thorpe’s athletic jacket and a trophy which highlight the 1981 CIAA championship won by the men’s basketball team. Nearby are blue and white pompoms waved by former cheerleaders.
One photo shows the campus farm and garden, where decades ago, students worked to grow food that was served in the cafeteria. The site has since morphed into the Pharmacy Complex.
Archivist Jean Bischoff says the Legacy Room is a wonderful way to increase awareness of the archives and the rich history of ECSU.
“It is a perfect place to take people -- whether we are recruiting students, prospective faculty and staff or touring visitors,” Bischoff said. “The institution’s history defines the institution that we see today. The room reflects the loyalty, dedication and perseverance of former faculty, staff and students.”
As the eager crowd entered the Legacy Room that Friday, ECSU Chancellor Willie J. Gilchrist urged everyone to take a close look at the icons that mark the institution’s development.
“In order to preserve our legacy of this university, it was imperative that we reach out to those who have shown their love and dedication for the university,” Gilchrist said. He particularly recognized Joyce Long and Justina Long, sisters who graduated from ECSU in 1954 and who were instrumental in creating the Legacy Room.
“The Long sisters bring a rich history not only to ECSU but to Elizabeth City,” Gilchrist said. “We are grateful they were able to share their talent and foresight with us. With this Legacy Room, we are preserving the past, present and items that will be important in the future.”
The sisters worked diligently with staff, alumni and Ida Muldrow, a local costume designer and interior decorator, to prepare the room. Muldrow’s goal was to create a room that looks like a museum. Of particular importance, was a room that illuminates the lives of the people and their journey through time. The small room cannot reflect 120 years entirely, so that history will evolve with the use of slideshows. Muldrow’s work required hours of sketching, designing, reviewing area museums for comparisons and meetings with the archivist, alumni, staff, the university’s facilities management staff and printers. Muldrow admits it is an ongoing project that will entail additional plaques and icons.
“Before designing a room, I sit in the room and I ask God to show me the best design, the best resources, for the room. He has the best designs so I just complete the work. I am pleased with this one and I really thankful for everyone’s help,” Muldrow said.
The Long sisters raised $7,000 through the advance sale of commemorative plaques to cover the cost of room renovations. The plaques, which cost $150 each, honor students, staff, faculty, administrators, alumni and friends. They line the wall of the Legacy Room. The sisters purchased eight plaques for members of their family who also are alumni. Proceeds from future plaque sales will support scholarships awarded through the ECSU Foundation.
“We wanted to do something that would recognize the chancellors and presidents of the university and so many others,” Justina Long said. “We hope more people will support this effort and that it’s not limited to alumni.”
Joyce Long said the project has revitalized the interest of many alumni who live far beyond North Carolina’s borders.
“Everyone should give back and leave a legacy. There are about 18 survivors from the class of 1954. Some of them couldn’t be here to do the physical work, but they have been involved,” she said. “One classmate called from California and plans to visit the Legacy Room in August. We were glad to assist them and all the others who contributed. Now we are looking forward to selling more plaques so we can earn more money for the scholarships here at the university.”
To purchase a commemorative plaque, contact Letitia Evans in the ECSU Division of Institutional Advancement at 252-335-3225, or Joyce Long at 252-335-4541.