Meeting in Greenville, the UNC Board of Governors voted to give East Carolina University the designation they need to bridge education and innovation with new business opportunities.

ECU has been granted millennial campus status.

ECU’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Economic Development, Ted Morris, says the millennial campus designation means ecu can collaborate with private companies to commercialize research discoveries and offer advanced training to benefit the region’s high-tech industries.

It also provides ECU with the ability to rehabilitate areas of Greenville with the use of tax credits…something a tax supported university wouldn’t be able to, by law.

This makes ECU the eighth millennial campus in the UNC system..

Provost Ron Mitchelson said having a millennial designation for a satellite campus will allow the university to use state property to interact with the private sector for research and development.

Several other universities in the system have similar campuses, including N.C. State University, UNC, N.C. Agricultural and Technical State University with UNC Greensboro, Appalachian State, UNC-Wilmington and Western Carolina.

Mitchelson said ECU recently was named the third-largest research institution in the UNC system, and the millennial campus will continue to aid in that.

Associate Vice Chancellor of Engagement, Innovation and Economic Development Ted Morris said millennial campuses open doors for public-private activities that will stimulate and support the university.

One of the areas identified for a possible millennial campus is Greenville’s warehouse district, which encompasses 22.3 acres near the Dickinson Avenue corridor. The district would include the American Tobacco Co. Storage Warehouse No. 2, the Export Leaf Factory known as the Haynie Building and the Prichard-Hughes Warehouse, which ECU received eligibility certification for the N.C. Historic Mill Rehabilitation Tax Credit. Morris said the tax credit would amount to more than 50 percent of the proposed projects, and ECU officials likely would start with the Haynie Building.

Another possible area for the ECRIC is about 19 acres bordering the east side of downtown Greenville named the Uptown District. That location would allow ECU to bridge main campus with downtown Greenville and the Tar River area, Morris said.

ECU’s master plan identifies the area for a possible visual and performing arts center, a hotel and conference center and alumni center.

The third possibility would be the university’s Health Sciences Campus. Morris said Vidant Medical Center and the Veterans Affairs facility nearby would offer significant possibilities for the campus.

“The area is kind of a no-brainer,” Morris said.

The fourth possibility is the Stratford Arms and Blount Fields area near ECU’s athletics complex, which encompasses about 73 acres. Morris said it is one of the most strategically located possibilities in Greenville and offers longer-term opportunities.

The last is the only site located outside of Greenville at the UNC Coastal Studies Institute in Manteo. The 83,791-square-foot, $32.6 million facility on Roanoke Island is managed by ECU and involves partnerships with other universities for research and educational and community outreach programs.

The Coastal Studies Institute analyzes needs and develops plans for coastal restoration, and Morris said the millennial designation would allow for more partnerships.

Morris said he will work with N.C. State to help ECU navigate the process, in terms of precedent and state reaction.

“I think we’re now in a very conducive environment, but recently it has not been,” he said.

Chancellor Steve Ballard said a millennial campus would require support from the UNC Board of Governors, though he knows it will benefit the university and the region.

Ballard said partnerships with Patheon and IBM are two examples of a millennial campus already happening. He said a grant from the Department of Defense, which will be official in a few weeks, will further develop the millennial campus and be “transformational.”

“I think we can expect significant help in this county for what we’re doing,” he said. “They understand that … this millennial campus (is) really a game-changer for our community. That’s in the heart of our mission.”

Morris said millennial campuses are built through partners, which are equally involved in the planning.

“This is not about getting a designation, renovating a building and then trying to later figure out what we’re going to put in,” he said.

Trustee Deborah Davis said the idea of a millennial campus is one of the most exciting developments at ECU.

“It’s significant, especially in a point in time where across the country we’re seeing actual reductions in the amount of research funded,” Davis said.

Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Brinkley said the millennial campus has been anticipated for years, and there is strong interest in the project.

“This has been something we have discussed for a long time,” he said. “It’s a tricky thing to get going, It still needs support from the board of governors and lots of support from private industry. … There really is a strong interest in entrepreneurial-type of activities and innovations, so I don’t think there’s been a better time.

ECU has identified the following properties
for millennial designation:

  • greenville’s warehouse district near
    dickinson ave. corridor
  • uptown area
  • health sciences campus
  • stratford arms and blount fields
  • unc coastal studies institute campus
    properties – manteo

Courtesy of: The East Carolinian and The Daily Reflector