With the New Year comes promise and possibility, and as we also enter a new decade, our hopes for North Carolina A&T State University are higher than they’ve ever been. But as we all have heard, hope is not a strategy. The careful planning that we have already invested in our work and that will continue throughout the year serves as the essential predicate to make those hopes and dreams realities.
Here are three of our most important resolutions:
1. Diversify Our Revenue Stream. Like many of our public, land-grant peers, state funding no longer represents the bulk of our revenue. Growing other sources of funding is essential to both our short- and long-term success.
Congress provided welcome assistance on this front in December through its passage of the FUTURE Act, which made permanent $255 million in annual funding for historically black colleges and universities and other minority serving institutions and simplified the paperwork college students must complete to apply for federal student aid. The certainty around that funding will be a boon for A&T and other campuses seeking to chart long-term courses of action and sustainability.
Closer to home, A&T last fall surpassed its original, $85-million goal for the Campaign for North Carolina A&T, the most ambitious fund-raising effort in our university’s history. Rather than simply call it done, we chose to continue the campaign through its planned end, Dec. 31, 2020, and set a new goal, which we also are working to exceed: $100 million for student scholarships and aid, academic programming, faculty support and facilities.
2. Grow in enrollment and academic competitiveness. Our university’s strategic plan calls for total enrollment of 14,000 by 2023; this year, our student body numbers 12,556, leaving us less than 1,500 students from that goal.
We intend to make further progress toward that enrollment target this fall, with growth not only at the undergraduate level, but with sharper focus on our masters, doctoral and certificate programs.
A&T was recognized by 24/7 Wall Street in 2019 as one of the top 100 American campuses that are defying the national trend of declining college enrollment. We will continue to defy it in 2020.
3. Expand our campus facilities. We have added significant new facilities at A&T in recent years, and will continue to do so in 2020. Chief among the additions is the Engineering Research and Innovation Complex, a $90-million structure that will increase the instructional, research and partnership capacities of our College of Engineering, which produces more African American engineers than any university in America. We raised the highest beam on the facility last fall, and are moving toward completion in 2021.
At our University Farm, we are in the midst of construction of a $12.3-million complex that will add an instructional auditorium, laboratories, a demonstration kitchen and a 50-person classroom. It will also include a 400-person conference facility, amphitheater, student and community gardens, and a community/urban food complex with a business incubator and an expanded dairy, capable of creating A&T-branded products such as ice cream, yogurt and butter. The complex will come on line in stages and be fully operational by 2022.
Other projects and acquisitions include residence halls and apartment complexes to meet the demand for on- and off-campus housing.
These resolutions and others will challenge us, causing us to think in new ways about who we are and what we want to become in coming years. In short, they will test our resolve as resolutions, and at their best, should.
- Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr.
Students in front of the new Student Center, one of many physical plant upgrades at A&T.