Monday, February 3, 2014

January 2014: ECSU plans to open Veterans Center in spring

ECSU plans to open Veterans Center in spring

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE--Elizabeth City State University administrators plan to roll out the welcome mat in spring at a facility that will service the men and women of the military.

This veterans center will stand as a one-stop center for veterans, active duty and reserve members of military. It will be housed in a structure that has served the university’s Military Science Department since 1985 and has a storied history of its own. It is a former Rosenwald School. Structures like this one originally served as schoolhouses for black children in the rural South. Julius Rosenwald, a philanthropist and former Sears, Roebuck and Co. president, partnered with Tuskegee Institute to construct more than 5,300 of the structures for educational and residential purposes before the program’s end in 1932. While many fell to age and abandonment, this one remained a fixture on a vibrant college campus.
Before administrators hold the grand opening reception, the building must undergo renovation. James Dockery, interim director of ECSU’s Division of Human Resources and a proponent of the veterans center, said plans are taking shape for the new center.

“We are looking to strip away paint and create this one-stop shop for veterans. This will be a place where they can do their registration for (ECSU) classes and a place where they can meet and share experiences,” Dockery said. “There are places in the nation that are veteran friendly. We really want Elizabeth City to be a place that is truly veteran friendly.”

Dockery served 23 years in the U.S. Air Force and is confident that a veterans center would be a wonderful addition to the university. The facility, located in the heart of campus, is a short distance from instruction halls, the bookstore and the library. ECSU currently employs 30 veterans and has several veterans enrolled as students. The university is one of several in the state that would like to welcome thousands of military members who come to North Carolina for training or for retirement.

“Other than Fayetteville State University, we are the only school (in the University of North Carolina system) located near a large military installation. This is an opportunity to serve those who serve us,” Dockery said. “We’ve already reached out to the Coast Guard, our neighbors down the street.”

He said Chancellor Charles L. Becton and ECSU’s executive leadership team toured the Coast Guard base. Leaders from the base have visited ECSU, viewed the facilities and talked with people on campus.

The budding relationship contributed to the selection of two recent speakers at ECSU. Cmdr. Warren D. Judge, a 1997 ECSU graduate who has served 27 years with the Coast Guard, spoke at the Veteran’s Day program in November, and Vice Adm. Manson K. Brown was the December 2013 Commencement speaker. Dockery emphasized that the veterans center will welcome people from all branches of the nation’s military. Counseling on educational benefits for veterans will be offered. The goal is to provide a smooth transition from military to college life for veterans, active duty service members, Reserve or National Guard, military dependents, survivors and families.

“I believe society as a whole owes a special debt to the men and women who serve in the military,” he said. “ECSU is committed to recognizing that special debt. In Elizabeth City, we live in a unique community -- a college town and a military town. I would like to see the entire community rally around this opportunity to better serve the men and women of the military. I am excited to be here and helping.”

Photo caption:  A familiar structure on campus, a former Rosenwald School house which most recently housed the Military Science Department, will soon serve as the new veterans center at ECSU.

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Kesha Williams
Director of Media Relations| University Relations and Marketing
Elizabeth City State University
1704 Weeksville Rd. | Elizabeth City, NC  27909
Phone:  252.335.3686 | Fax:  252.335.3769

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