N.C. A&T On Point Newsletter

VOL. 6/ NO. 5 / OCTOBER 2023

Chancellor's Message
Chancellor's Message

Upward Momentum in Student Success
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N.C. A&T Chancellor Martin Sr.

One of North Carolina A&T’s sharpest points of academic focus over the past eight years has been a wide-ranging collection of initiatives and metrics summarized under the heading of “student success.” They can be as disparate as creating living-learning residence halls or measuring undergraduate degree efficiency, but as those who work in this area know, the fabric of student success is made of many diverse threads woven into a strong, supportive environment.

That focus led to significant progress in enrollment, retention and graduation rates. But the COVID pandemic and the unprecedented pressures it put on in-person instruction, online education and, for many, medical needs interrupted that trendline from 2020-22.

The good news today is that we are seeing a strong comeback in student success measures across academic programs. In several important instances, we are not only seeing a solid uptick, but outcomes that surpass pre-COVID success.

Retention of first-year students, for instance, has jumped from 74% during the worst days of the pandemic now to 80%. The completion rate for courses in our general education curriculum increased by 10%, from 71% to 81%. The four-year graduation rate is up for all students, but perhaps most notably, more than 6% for male students, who continue to trail their female peers in virtually all measures throughout academia. 

A&T’s success in these areas is not the result of any single effort, but of numerous strategies that, taken together, surpass the sum of the individual parts. One that bears mentioning here is the quality enhancement plan or QEP we put in place as part of the university’s accreditation affirmation in 2021.

QEP: Toward Enhanced Achievement in Mathematics recognizes that general education math courses represent the single greatest academic challenge facing our undergrads. It has created a network of free in-person and online math tutoring plus a range of testing and continuous instructional support through the web-based ALEKS PPL program. Students are taking advantage of those supports, and their performance is showing up in improved measures across multiple categories.

Earlier this fall, A&T also opened a new University Student Success Office that is bringing together the growing portfolio of success initiatives under a holistic, service-oriented banner. The USSO not only includes specific academic performance programs, but recognizes the significance of mental and emotional health in individual success. It also incorporates development programming designed to help students prepare for the professional lives.

North Carolina A&T’s new strategic plan, approved earlier this year, sets ambitious new goals for student success. Through the thoughtful, creative efforts described above, we are working not only to reach but exceed them.

- Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr.

Student performance in mathematics coursework is helping to fuel student success in multiple areas.

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A&T Joins Forces With Defense Civilian Training Corps
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Inaugural members of the A&T cohort of the Defense Civilian Training Corps Scholars Program

North Carolina A&T State University continues to be on the leading edge of higher education engagement with the U.S. Department of Defense in identifying and preparing the next generation of leaders in America’s sprawling defense network.

Three years ago, N.C. A&T became one of America’s first universities to join forces with the nascent U.S. Space Force through its University Partnership Program and to have a graduate, Air Force ROTC Cadet Captain David Vermillion, commissioned as an officer.

Now, A&T is leading in a new Dept. of Defense pilot program designed to develop civilian national security leaders – the Defense Civilian Training Corps (DCTC). A&T was one of four institutions selected nationally to be part of the DCTC Scholars Program, and 20 students have now been selected to be part of the A&T cohort.

While half the cohort is from North Carolina, six more states are represented in the group, as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands. The students have already been taking part in virtual kickoff activities since September, a campus kickoff in October and meeting with Defense officials responsible for bringing the initiative to life.

“The DCTC aligns with our goals to prepare students for high-impact careers upon graduation, and the additional financial resources will allow our students to graduate with less debt,” said Rosalind Dale, Ed.D., vice provost for engagement and outreach. She also pointed out that A&T’s selection for the pilot program is in part a reflection of “the academic excellence found across our campus.”

gray image line + Read more at https://www.ncat.edu/news/2023/10/dctc-inaugural-cohort.php.

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Climate Resiliency Center to Launch at A&T
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The new center will focus on climate impacts on vulnerable communities in North Carolina’s Piedmont Triad region.

North Carolina A&T faculty, alumni and students have long been heavily involved in work to safeguard the environment and slow the rate of climate change, from strong participation in the annual, international State of the Climate Report to Administrator Michael Regan’s leadership of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Now, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy, A&T is establishing a Climate Resiliency Center to “improve the use and utility of DOE climate science and engagement with local communities.” The project is being led by Solomon Bililign, Ph.D., a professor of physics with extensive personal involvement in climate science, notably through ongoing air quality research he has led on the African continent.

Co-PIs for the center include physics Professor Ademe Mekonnen, Ph.D., who has served as an editor and section author in the State of the Climate Report since 2015, along with senior research associate Marc N. Fiddler, Ph.D., and George Stone, Ph.D., a professor of marketing. They will collaborate with colleagues at the prestigious Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the chief sustainability officer of the City of Greensboro’s Office of Sustainability and Resilience.

“We’ll be looking at climate impacts on vulnerable communities in the Triad area of North Carolina, primarily Greensboro, Winston-Salem and even Charlotte,” said Bililign. “We are also trying to investigate the formation of secondary organic aerosols from the interaction of biogenic emissions from plants and trees in the region with anthropogenic emissions (fossil fuel emissions) that can form ground-level ozone, which is a pollutant.”

The center was announced in conjunction with the first White House Summit on Building Climate Resilient Communities held recently in Washington.

+Read more about the center at https://www.ncat.edu/news/2023/09/doe-funds-climate-resiliency-center.php  

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These Three Things

A&T’s Role Expands in Dynamic Semiconductor Industry
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The CHIPS Act of 2022 made historic investments in the U.S. semiconductor industry, to which A&T is increasingly connected.

Not much has unified decision makers in the nation’s capitol over the past three years. But one topic has yielded a singular level of agreement: Semiconductors and the vital role of microelectronics for U.S. competitiveness in the economy of the near and longer-term future.

The Biden Administration led creation and passage of the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, which committed $53 billion to research, workforce development and manufacturing support in the U.S. semiconductor industry. Its goals: To develop more resilient semiconductor supply chains, make more critical technologies at home and create high-paying manufacturing jobs.

North Carolina A&T serves the semiconductor industry in many ways and will heighten that service through these three initiatives:

  • CLAWS. The “Commercial Leap Ahead for Wide Bandgap Semiconductors” hub at North Carolina State University is one of eight regional “Microelectronics Commons” hubs recently announced as an outgrowth of the CHIPS Act. CLAWS will focus on improving “laboratory to fabrication capability for wide bandgap semiconductors.” A&T is N.C. State’s only university partner in the hub, which also includes six major industry partners. A&T’s role will focus largely on workforce development.

  • CA DREAMS. Across the country, A&T is part of another regional hub, this one at the University of Southern California: The California Defense Ready Electronics and Microdevices Superhub. California DREAMS includes 17 partner institutions and more than 50 affiliates and will focus on accelerating the development and manufacture of microelectronics in the United States. In addition to A&T, partners include Caltech, five University of California campuses, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Morgan State University
  • Wolfspeed Center. In partnership with Wolfspeed, the world leader in next-generation silicon carbide chips, the university will open a research and development facility at A&T’s Gateway Research Park North Campus. The new initiative will seek CHIPS Act funding to explore new processes and applications to further develop silicon carbide chip capabilities for the global semiconductor market. The facility will open in early 2024.

The latter project builds on the strong existing relationship between Wolfspeed and A&T that has largely been focused on development of the future workforce. Understanding the singular value of A&T in that work, Wolfspeed made a historic gift of $4 million to the university in 2020, at the time, the largest single gift ever given to A&T.

Data Points
Data Points

A Strong Rebound
Like most other educational institutions, North Carolina A&T experienced declines in measures of student success during the COVID pandemic, as students struggled to make the pivot to fully online instruction. However, we’re now seeing a strong rebound. In some cases, A&T student success is 
in a better position than prior to the pandemic.

Pandemic Low Point


First-Year Retention  74% 80%
Gen. Ed. Course Completion Rate 71%  81%
Male 4-Year Graduation Rate 19%  25%
Overall 4-Year Graduation Rate 29% 36%
Degrees Awarded 2,412 2,543

Dr. Harold L. Martin Sr.

Erin Hill Hart

Todd Hurst Simmons

Sandra M. Brown
Kevin Scalf

Yvonne L. Halley

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is a land-grant university that is ranked by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education as a Doctoral University: High Research Activity.

N.C. A&T does not discriminate against any person on the basis of age, color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. For inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies, contact the Title IX Coordinator at titleixcoordinator@ncat.edu.

N.C. A&T is an AA/EEO employer, and it is an ADA compliant institution; thus, facilities are designed to provide accessibility to individuals with physical disabilities.

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