East Carolina University has received a $1.25 million gift from Wachovia to combat the shortage of teachers in Eastern North Carolina through a partnership with community colleges.
The gift, the largest corporate donation ever received by ECU, will provide scholarships and infrastructure improvements for Partnership East, which joins university and community college resources to educate teachers throughout the region.
“Education is one of Wachovia’s top priorities,” said David Parker, Wachovia’s regional president for Eastern North Carolina. “We are so pleased to be able to partner with East Carolina University to help grow our base of highly-qualified teachers who are committed to living, teaching and improving education in our region.”
Marilyn Sheerer, dean of the College of Education at ECU, said that when the Partnership East programs are fully operational, at least 100 new teachers are expected to graduate from community college sites each year. “These graduates, for the most part, will be individuals who have grown up in the rural areas and plan to continue to live there,” Sheerer said.
“We are tremendously excited about the advantages that the Wachovia gift will provide,” Sheerer said. “The scholarships will allow us to reach more students who want to be teachers and that is the primary purpose of this effort. Partnerships allow us to accomplish more than any of us could do alone, and Partnership East, which brings together ECU, the UNC system, North Carolina community colleges and now the private sector, is an outstanding example of this principle.”
Through Partnership East, centers or “hubs” have been established at Craven, Edgecombe and Wayne community colleges with a fourth proposed at College of the Albemarle in Manteo. Each hub also serves nearby community colleges.
Aspiring teachers are able to take all their course work at the hub. The first two years are taught by community college instructors, and the last two years are offered by ECU faculty members, either face-to-face or through distance-education. Because the students do not have to move or commute to ECU to complete their university degrees, they face fewer disruptions in their lives.
Molly Corbett Broad, president of the 16-campus University of North Carolina, said “Partnership East offers a wonderful example of how UNC campuses across the state can collaborate effectively with community colleges both near and far to boost the supply of high-quality teachers in our public schools. In supporting this critical effort, Wachovia is making a visionary investment in the future of eastern North Carolina.”
Martin Lancaster, president of the North Carolina Community College System, said, “When the private sector partners with education, great things happen. Thousands will benefit from this investment. The community colleges involved in Partnership East are proud to play a role in one of the best collaborative efforts in the state designed to educate our future ‘homegrown’ teachers.”
North Carolina’s projected enrollment growth in public schools is the fourth largest in the nation and the state will need up to 80,000 new teachers in the next 10 years. That is roughly equal to the number of teachers in classrooms in the state today.
From ECU News Service