GREENVILLE – It’s no secret that rural North Carolina lags the state’s urban areas in education, health and economic development.
But East Carolina University Chancellor Cecil Staton aims to do something about it.
In what he calls the signature initiative of his chancellorship so far, Staton has created an interdisciplinary Rural Prosperity Initiative to combine the best minds at the University and solve those disparities.
“If you look at rural North Carolina, you’re going to find that the health-care disparities far exceed those issues in our more urban areas,” Staton says in the accompanying video.
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“If you look at the educational disparities, they’re far, far more severe in our rural communities than in the urban areas. And that’s generally true just in the whole area of economic development.
“Our Rural Prosperity Initiative is a recommitment of our university to bring the resources from across the university – our business school, our school of engineering, our medical school, our dental school, our nursing school, our College of Allied Health Sciences – and even more broadly, to come together to figure out how we’re going to address those disparities,” he says.
The commitment is not necessarily a new one, Staton says.
“It’s in our DNA already at ECU – it always has been, since the founding of this institution in 1907,” he says.
“We have an aspiration to grow our research enterprise at ECU, really to double the amount of research expenditures at our university over the next five years. Those expenditures in large measure will be aimed at addressing those disparities and how we can have an impact across rural North Carolina.”