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Joint | March 18, 2015 | Press Room | Legislative Black Caucus

Full MP3 Audio File

Leave that alone . . . Good morning, State Representative Pierce. House Bill 48, Chair of the Legislature Black Caucasus and we're coming to share today. We've worked hard the last couple weeks to speak with the Governor to speak of the House and Senator Berger about our ??. We've had some good conversations and I think they understand where we are as a caucus, we're concerned about the USMC system as a whole because its important that all the schools continue to operate and to do the things they need to do to educate our young men and young women across North Carolina, but we do have concerns when we start hearing things about the possible of ?? being closed or merged with other schools. These historical schools have provided education over the years we want to make sure that they continue to operate, so we're doing our part to stay proactive so that the word will be out that we did our part to keep it in the forefront. I have some speakers today who will share at least three minutes on concerns and one of our senior members, ?? will come and talk about the historic perspective of ?? in North Carolina and across the country. [SPEAKER CHANGE] Thank you. I just want you to know that as far as historical perspective is concerned, these schools were born out of the ?? era, the strong segregation era, as a means of keeping African American students basically out of the white institutions. During this period of time the five institutions that we have here in the state they have made significant contributions to the state. We've had a governor, we've a congress member, we've had other folks making significant contributions, not only to the state, but to the state and to the nation. So, these schools play an important role. Since the advent of integration these rolls have become more important. You take, for instance a school like Elizabeth City, they now have an aviation school there and its a dominate force in the North Eastern section of the state. What they contribute to the Elizabeth City area, in terms of businesses, in terms of prosperity can't be denied. You take ANT State University, which is a engineering school. You've had an astronaut come from that school and now they're offering a PhD in engineering. Elizabeth has ?? State, which has a strong, strong program. And, the contributions that they have made in that particular area, ?? State has been a ??, particularly to the young forces with the school being there and available to the arm forces. North Carolina Central, my school I save for last, naturally. But, its a school that is now turning out scientist in the bio-tech, bio-manufacturing era. You have 150 students in there now who are in the PhD program in that bio-tech program. We've got two bio-tech schools via with each other at North Carolina State so what I'm saying in short is these schools have made significant progress, have been a boom and made a contribution to the state, still are making contributions to the state and the fact of the matter is those schools are now more integrated than the white schools are integrated when you do it on a percentage basis. That means all and everybody's getting a good education, particularly out of those schools. They are no longer to be put at the bottom of the list. Be happy to answer any questions. [SPEAKER CHANGE] Certainly when we look at ?? . . . Paul Lowe, 32nd district. Certainly when we look at . . . Senator Paul Lowe, don't leave that out. Certainly, when we look at ??, I am certainly a component of went to Salem State University where if you have been to any hospital in North Carolina you'll just about find a Ram, somebody whose studied nursing at our school and we're doing some great things there. One of the unique things that I wanted to say that has not been done anywhere is that motor sports is one of the big things in North Carolina. Its a big money maker, it employees over 25,000 people are employed by the motor sports industry and we have one of the

The only motor sport, the greens, in the country, which I think is a fantastic thing and I am a product of an HBCU and I certainly want to see our schools continue to be vibrant in this community so we thank you for coming. If you have any questions, let me know. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Just make my statement for Howard who could not be here. He had another meeting, but he said good morning. My name is Howard Hunter the third and I represent the fifth district, which includes Elizabeth City State University. Elizabeth City State University serves 21 counties in the North, Northeast North Carolina, is one of the economic engines, and its impact’s approximately $130 million dollars per year to the region. Signature programs include aviation, science, and the only school in the state to offer a BA degree in aviation science. He talks about they produced a lot of teachers in that area, visual performance, art, and other things, and he’s really working hard to ensure that the Governor and this legislature provides the $3 million for the next three years, he’s asked them for that, that will help the school do what it needs to do, and it also we will support the chancellor there as she prepares for the future to move East Carolina forward, and that comes from Howard. Elizabeth City, excuse me, Elizabeth City forward. Thank you for that, on that. Senator Don Davis. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Don Davis, North Carolina Senate, District 5, and extremely delighted to be with you today, and thank everyone for coming out. Thank you for coming out. The North Carolina legislative black caucus, we met yesterday and obviously as reported at meeting, we were able to have a candid conversation with the chair of the UNC Board of Governors. We also had the chair of the public affairs, as well as President Ross and staff members of the UNC system. After that meeting, we met as a membership and I’m delighted to share the position that our caucus took in terms of positions reflecting our membership. That included our first position was to support the appropriation of at least $3 million each year over the biennial that would be used for the purpose of enrollment growth strategies at Elizabeth City State University. Our legislative black caucus also took a position to oppose the cap on the development expenditures on that, we saw on the Governor’s budget, and we also took a position to support enrollment funding, and not only for our HBCUs, but this would be the funding for our entire system. I’m realizing that as we’re dealing with challenges with enrollment that it would be important for us system wide to support such funding. And then the fourth position that we took was to oppose the closure of any historically black college and university in the state of North Carolina. So that motion was carried unanimously, strong vote of our caucus, and we stand 100% behind these positions. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Good morning. I’m Representative Jean Farmer-Butterfield, district 24, Wilson and Pitt counties. I want to thank our students for being here this morning. I think that’s very important. I’m glad they were able to join us. I’m a product of historically black university, and that’s North Carolina Central in Durham so Representative Michaux is not the only Eagle in the room, and I want to. I will say to you that my parents had eight children, and six of them attended colleges in North Carolina. One went the wrong way and attended ANT State University. Five attended North Carolina Central University, and two went to Washington, attended Howard University. So I understand the value of historically black colleges. It’s a part of my heritage and I’m very proud of it. Our black caucus has decided to have a historically black college and university day under the leadership of Representative Pierce, our chair, and Senator Gladys Robinson has been given the charge to make

This day successful, so we're looking forward to having the alumni and students and parents and others in the community concerned about historically black colleges to come to the legislature. Our alumni are in the community action mode and planning mode. They are concerned about and appreciate the history and recognize the importance and value of maintaining all historically black colleges and universities in North Carolina, and indeed they want to strengthen them. So they're planning to participate in the historically black college and university day. They are also working to organize all of the stakeholders. Parents, students, concerned citizens, and indeed alumni to make sure that they have a plan of action to work together and develop and implement a community action plan with strategies around items such as funding, enrollment, tuition and grants, fund raising, marketing and branding, and they're looking forward to working with Senator Robinson and making sure that there is a liaison between them and the legislative black caucus, and that's information I thought was important to share on their behalf. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Carla Cunningham, Mecklenburg County. Let me say that we had some candid conversations yesterday with the Board of Governor representatives here, and they were very informative. I think they were very straightforward, and I appreciate the caucus work on that. I am a proud graduate of Winston-Salem's State University's Nursing Program, and I got the message from them that that is quite a success throughout the state, and it will continue to be. I am very appreciative for them making the journey, but we do have commitments that we need to stick by, because just like Representative Michaux stated, the HBCU's rooted from the Jim Crow years, and now we are at another junction. It is still to maintain that service to the African American community and to the state, because we are inclusive in the HBCUs, and we have to continue to monitor the funded. I appreciate you giving me an opportunity to speak. Thank you, and if there are any questions. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Good morning. Senator Erica Smith-Ingram. I represent senatorial district 3. That's eight counties in Northeastern North Carolina, Bertie, Chowan, Edgecombe, Hertford, Martin, Northampton, Tyrrell, and Washington counties. I want to thank you for being here today. North Carolina hosts some of the top HBCUs in the entire nation. I am a proud graduate of North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University, so aggie pride, and we are very excited that not only does North Carolina ANT have state recognition, but among African American engineers across the nation, North Carolina ANT is the number one producer of African American engineers at the bachelors level, masters level, as well as the doctoral level, on all three levels. We are are the top producers, North Carolina ANT, of African American certified public accountants. Because this is a national issue, we must make priority for our HBCUs to continue to thrive and lead the nation in excellence. I was glad to hear in our meeting yesterday that there will be no efforts to merge our HBCUs or close our HBCUs. We are a national forefront of educating students of all nationalities and all ethnicities. They not only come from North Carolina, but students come from across the world to attend our HBCUs. That's why we must place paramount importance on giving these schools the funding that they need that they may continue, and I am so happy that we have a commitment for Elizabeth City State University to receive the $3 million that it is going to need as it continues to offer excellence. Thank you for being here today, and we would be happy to field any questions. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you for coming here this morning. My name is Representative Ralph Johnson. I represent Guilford county and I'm glad that you're here today. Senator Ingram already alluded to the fact, and I'm a proud ANT graduate. Marketing degree at ANT

I'm not going to repeat what has already been said because I guess there would be some redundancy. But the key here is that we do not need to close any HBCU's and we cannot allow folks to kind of pick and choose for the people of this state who are looking to receive a quality education at an HBCU. Again, I'm not going to take any more time but I think the key here is that we're glad that funding is in place. We did meet with the board of governors yesterday. There were some interesting conversations that were had yesterday but I just wanted to say that. That the key right now is for HBCU's to stay effective and to stay funded. We do understand that the General Assembly will have the final say. The board is the board and we do understand that we know that its going to take this body here working to ensure that that funding stays in place and I'm quite sure...we will continue to talk about it. We do have those assurances from the board but now the real work is here in the General Assembly and with the governor. Any questions at this time? Yes Ma'am? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, I'm wondering what your hearing about seems like you're concerned enough to have the meeting yesterday, to have this event today, to put on a lobbying day for alumni and so forth, so you must be pretty concerned. So I'm wondering what you're hearing and where its coming from? [SPEAKER CHANGES]That they have been rumors I think that started in a meeting down in Charlotte. One member of the board made some comments that took wings. I forgot his name and that kind of got us our attention and we've been hearing some other things from that last session about some movement and Elizabeth City's always been the target so we just want to be proactive. There's no doubt about that. So that's our plan of action. Stay proactive. Keep getting the public, keep our alumni our students and everybody abreast of what's happening and let them know that we're not asleep at the switch. That we're just going to keep advocating on behalf of HBC. Would anyone else like to make a comment about that? [SPEAKER CHANGES]In the past there have been efforts to do some things. For instance the law school in North Carolina Central was on the chopping block, I guess maybe thirty years ago and we came over and saved that. Since that time that law school has turned out to be one of the premier law schools in the country, particularly for women. Its right now integrated to a point, right now its about fifty fifty and you've got significant.. you've got graduates coming from that law school that have made significant contributions. This idea of closing or merging these HBCU's is not new. We've had to fight it. It looks like its a cycle that comes around every twenty or thirty years and we've come back and defend them and we've always been successful in defending them and we're going to be successful this time.[SPEAKER CHANGES] We just have two other presenters. Just a quick note too we have Mr. Fred Yate, who is a board member of Elizabeth City and we a student who'd like to make a comment. Student you can come first. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Hi my name is Shayla Jackson. I'm a current student at the number one HBCU in North Carolina or overall North Carolina and NC State University. (Laughter) But numbers are here nor there. I just really want to comment on the fact that we all came up in stated how great each school did in particular areas like WSSU in Nursing program, ANT with the Engineering program but honestly we need to stand together in order for this to occur. There's not reason why each individual HBCU has to fight for their own stability. There's no reason why we have to fend for what's ours. It's our land. It was granted to us and so I feel like when it comes down to it we need to stand together. Not just North Carolina as a state, any HBCU that may feel as though they're being threaten to be taken over or overtaken. It's just we need to make sure that we're standing for what's ours. We produce some of the top students across the board. HBCU's, we're African-Americans, we're minorities really. It's not even just about being a black individual attending college. Like some of the individuals here stated there's international levels we can't even begin to imagine. There's an international program...

...and being an honor student, we’re there. We live in the same dorm, so I see all the different cultures and all the different individuals that are striving and succeeding at North Carolina A&T State University. I, originally from South Florida, all my family went to FMU, but I went ahead, I applied to five schools -- NC State, Clemson, Auburn, Tuskegee and NC A&T State University. But the only school that I felt saw potential in me was ??. I plan to go there for graduate school, I want to be a large animal veterinarian. But anyway, NC A&T State University was the only school to offer me the [Daddy?] Scholarship currently. I’m on a full ride right now and I’m successful. I have a 3.75 GPA and I continue to do better, not because I have to, not because I want to keep my money, but because I know I want to do good. I want to do great in my field of interest. And A&T, their faculty, especially the school of agriculture, they see that within me. I’m here on this trip. I was supposed to be watching the governor, but as soon as I saw this information, as soon as this was brought to me by my counter-party here, I was like we gotta find, we gotta see what’s going on. And so we made it a priority to come here. We were out there. I brought it to certain individuals, but we decided to come because this is a really, like this is a deeply rooted issue within me. I chose to go to a HBCU, I chose to represent NC A&T State Univ. And by making that decision, I’m proud. I have not once ever regretted attending a HBCU. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, but this is like...I apologize. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, she took up most the time, so I’m not gonna take up all the time, but my name is Sharly Schaffer. I’m currently in environmental science, a junior at NC A&T. I just wanted to come to tell you guys I’m from San Jose, CA and coming from the west all the way to the east, it’s kind of different. San Jose is--we don’t have a lot of black people. The amount of black people is .2%, so in my classes, I was the only black kid in all the classes. Coming here, I grew, I found myself as an individual . I became something better. I succeeded. And without HBCUs, I don’t know, I’d be another statistic, I’d be another number in the classroom. I’d just be the only black kid. So being at HBCU, being at A&T, especially with so much tutoring and so much opportunities to do experiments, and work in the labs, it’s just amazing. And I’m just so grateful for HBCUs and attending A&T. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ??, give your name and where you’re from. [SPEAKER CHANGES] My name is Mayor Fred Gates. I’m the mayor of Winfall, NC. And I happen to serve on the board of trustees at Elizabeth City State University. I’m not speaking for the board, so don’t misquote me, please, but the board and the chancellor of Elizabeth City State University is working very, very, very hard together to bring about an enrollment increase. The major economic impact of Elizabeth City State University in the northeastern region is tremendous. We appreciate the black legislative caucus of taking this task on and making it a priority. We are hoping that the general assembly and the governor will provide the funds that’s necessary to keep these HBCU’s operating. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Any other questions? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yeah, I have one. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, just go ahead. [SPEAKER CHANGES] For you, I’m sure you get regular updates on how things are going at Elizabeth City. Do you have any current data on sort of how the applications are looking for fall and what your numbers might be like? [SPEAKER CHANGES] They’re looking very good, very good. We, matter of fact, we’re gonna have a transfer date, April 7, that’s when students can come with their credentials and be accepted on that day, using the community colleges. We’ve got five community colleges in the district that we serve, and any other school that wants to transfer into Elizabeth City State University. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Let me add something to you about Elizabeth City State. I just had a client that made a significant contribution of half a million dollars to Elizabeth City State University for the aviation school. That half million dollar donation turned, went to state

Its share to that, $255,000 in there with the foundation there adding another sum to it, brought that whole donation to $1 million as an endowed share in the school of aviation and science in Elizabeth City. That was my client. I’m a North Carolina Central graduate, so you know, I had to get a bite of pudding on that. [SPEAKER CHANGES] And by the way, Elizabeth City State University is the only school in this area that has an aviation program. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, that’s true. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I want to add on to the question. While it’s still early to look at indicators, one thing that I believe is very important and we’ve continued to impress upon colleagues as well as the Governor, is when in this bill, members of the general assembly begin to talk and information goes out talking about possible closure when language is placed into a budget initially that references studying closure, that does not help enrollment. So for there to be some initial preliminary indicators, favorable indicators, that says a lot, but the reality of it is when any governing authority is talking closure we have to be very mindful and sensitive of what implications that language and that dialogue in itself may have. So as there may be preliminary favorable indicators, I would imagine, what would it be without that communication. And long story short, we had a great communication, very constructive. There appears to be a commitment to our HBCUs and with that being said, our conversations must be geared around not only our HBCUs but all of our universities in the system success. How do we bring about student success, performance? How do we bring about success in our communities in terms of their transition into the workforce and so forth. [SPEAKER CHANGES] We also wanted to acknowledge councilman Horton from coming all the way from Elizabeth City and as Senator Davis was sharing, the important thing is to keep the conversation going. We must continue to dialogue and support together. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I do, yeah. I’m wondering, I understand what you’re saying about the history and the heritage and the strength of these institutions. I’m wondering if you all see the need for them to change given the rising young population in North Carolina and the Latino population, the whole shifting population of North Carolina in general. Do you think they need to change? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I think they are meeting that change much more so than the historically white institutions, simply because we’ve been in that position to have to meet the changes as they came, as they come about. So with the shifting population, with the shift even in age group, you’re finding now with most people who are going to colleges not in the 18-22 age group, is somewhat a bit older than that. These institutions, these HCBUs have served that type of population before, and they continue to serve it now. So the, for us, there is no change. It’s just bolstering, and I think once folks begin to realize we have been a bedrock in the communities both white and black, then they’ll understand the necessity of keeping these schools intact. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Any other questions? We want to thank you for coming, give you another, make sure you have another question. You’re doing a good job, keep asking us good questions. Thank you for, you get videos for, you can get your own pictures, but if you need video let us know. But thank you for coming to be with us today. Thank you.