SACS affirms ECU, seeks library expansion effort

GREENVILLE, NC  —   The regional accrediting board for colleges and schools has reaffirmed the accreditation of East Carolina University while urging immediate attention to ECU’s library expansion project.

Chancellor Richard R. Eakin said the Commission on Colleges for Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) has approved ECU’s Institutional Self-Study Program, a requirement for accreditation. The approval reaffirms the school’s accreditation for a 10-year period.

“We got a very good report,” said Eakin, “but we, like every university, have areas that need improvement. Foremost among these is the improvement of the physical facilities at Joyner Library.”

The SACS review committee, that visited the campus last March, recommended that funding be secured as soon as possible for expansion and renovation of the Joyner Library. The review panel described the facility and its branch, the music library, as “overcrowded and inadequate in terms of space and seating.” In addition, the committee found that collections of books to support the academic programs were in “serious danger of becoming insufficient.” It also called for more staff at the campus library and recommended that additional books and catalog and data base search capabilities be added at ECU’s graduate centers at Elizabeth City and Jacksonville. Eakin said the accrediting board asked for a follow-up report by Oct. 15, 1993.

“The visiting team was concerned with the adequacy of the Joyner Library for housing the library collections for providing suitable study space for students and faculty,” said Eakin. “We as an institution share that concern and are working diligently to improve the facility,” he said.

He added that ECU has already prepared the architectural plans for the renovation and expansion of Joyner Library and “nothing is more important to East Carolina University than the completion of this project.” The library tops the capital funding needs list for both ECU and the University of North Carolina system. Plans for the library’s renovation and expansion suffered a setback early last fall when the N.C. House of Representatives rejected a senate proposal for a $271 million bond finance referendum for higher education. The proposal had allocated about $25 million to the ECU library project. The General Assembly had approved a University of North Carolina funding request for the ECU library project about three years ago but withdrew the money when state finances became tight.

“The timely completion of this project is a serious concern for East Carolina University and for the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities,” Eakin said. Dr. James L. Smith, the director of the self-study process, said the study examined about 400 standards, all related to five areas — institutional purpose, effectiveness, educational programs, support services and administrative processes. Of the standards studied, only 15 were questioned by the SACS team. Smith said 10 of the committee’s questions were explained and accepted by the SACS team in an Oct. 1, 1992 response from the Self-Study Steering Committee. Smith said the five unresolved questions pertained to renovation, expansion and staffing needs at the J.Y. Joyner Library and its branch units.

“It’s not that we didn’t do enough,” said Smith. “Sometimes it’s out of our hands because some of the recommendations depend on getting the renovation and [expanded].”