By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide
To assure another 80 years of service as a viable institution of higher education, Norfolk State University must assure its accreditation, be more efficient with the use of its fiscal and personal resources, acquire new income and bolster its ability to serve and provide new opportunities for its students.
This analysis came from the university’s interim president Eddie N. Moore during his 2015 “State of The University” speech”
“Repositioning Norfolk State University Begins Now” was the heart of the speech delivered by Moore during the opening session of the school on August 17 to faculty, staff and state and federal officials.
One of the major efforts to achieving that goal, according to Moore, is working to remove the damning sanctions imposed by Southern Associations of Colleges and School Commission on Colleges (SACCOC) last year because of the school’s long term management and operational shortcomings.
NSU still has its accreditations, but it could be pulled, if the school does not meet the criteria set by SACCOC during an inspection of the school this fall.
This issue has raised questions about NSU’s viability as a university in the view of parents of potential students and state officials.
Moore said he recently told state political leaders about plans his administration will be employing to overcome the issues, including being more efficient in “the way we do business”; increasing accountability at all levels; generating more revenue and implementing creative strategies; adjusting academic programming and services to ensure adequate faculty and support; and becoming more “nimble” in meeting the needs of the students it serves.
Moore said the accreditation agency will be on the school campus in October to conduct its survey of the school’s ability to comply with SACCOC suggestions for having the sanctions against the university removed.
The NSU leader said that school officials are working on “producing a complete and effect report for the agency by September. He said the school has engaged internal and external reviewers of the draft of the plans and has received feedback from the Board of Visitors.
Moore said while a college’s liberal arts programs provides a “foundation” for learning, more funding and emphases are being directed on STEM-H or Science, Technology Engineering and Healthcare
Moore said he is steering NSU toward being a major player in the “Go Virginia” initiative which is designed to expand private sector employment in these STEM-H areas to spur regional cooperation among locales and economic development.
The plan calls for NSU outreach and coordinating with K-12 school divisions and seeking private investment in university-based research which will lead to new products, services and businesses to bolster the state’s “New Virginia Economy” program.
Moore said NSU is “on the cusp” of the new economy with a $30 Million in federal funds to pursue cyber-security research. NSU was designated a center for academic excellence in cyber defense education until 2020 by the federal government.
Moore heralded the development of the cell phone app “Kwiz-O-PIA” developed by the NSU gaming lab to aid students in practicing for Standards of Learning (SOL) Test.
To better improve services to students, Moore said NSU has launched 15 living learning community centers for students with 45 faculty and staff members who are involved in operating them.
“NSU leads in these areas by serving as the HBCU-Model for learning communities across the country,” said Moore. “Additionally the ‘ideal Spartan’ concept was created last year to emphasize some of the core values of the university community: civility, pride, engagement, curiosity and excellence.
Moore said along with the 95 foot communications tower to improve campus safety and communications, the school has hired a new chief after a national search.
He reported that the NSU raised some $5.2 million in cash and pledges during the 2014 “I am NSU” fund campaign from 4,200 donors. He said that alumni, faculty and staff pledges were increased as well.
More said the school has already raised $1.3 million of the $3 million goal its has set for 2015.
NSU, Moore said, is also seeking to re-craft its image with the hiring of a public relations firm to expand the university brand and increase public awareness of NSU programs.