Winston-Salem State Chancellor Offers Optimism, Support for SB873

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Winston-Salem State University Chancellor Elwood Robinson has posted a Facebook message with commentary on North Carolina’s Senate Bill 873, a proposal that seeks to reduce tuition at his school, and Elizabeth City State University and Fayetteville State University.

The post contains Robinson’s first extended comments on the bill, which has been widely protested by state HBCU alumni and students, and denounced by legislative and advocacy officials in recent weeks.

Calling the bill “exciting,” Robinson suggests that the potential cost savings for students and to earn a commitment from state legislators for long-term funding, may be of help to WSSU and the other schools named in the proposed legislation.

Dear Ram Family,

Senate Bill 873, the “Access to Affordable Higher Education Act,” is headed for consideration by the full Senate later this week. The goal of the bill is to increase the accessibility of higher education for North Carolinians by, among other things, reducing the cost of tuition to $500 per semester at five University of North Carolina universities. Winston-Salem State University is among those included in the bill.

Since the bill was introduced, we have had many conversations with both legislators and UNC General Administration about what it means for our campus. These discussions have been highly encouraging. As a result of those dialogues, a provision to change the name of the university was removed. Additionally, a proposed cut to student fees was reduced. We are continuing to engage in conversations as the bill goes forward. We believe it is essential for the state to provide the affected universities with funding to offset the lost revenue from tuition — as well as funding to support the anticipated enrollment growth — to ensure that instruction and student services are not diminished.

WSSU has a long history of educating exceptionally promising students from under-resourced families. In fact, providing a quality academic experience to those who may have otherwise been denied that opportunity is central to our mission. We believe cost should not be a barrier for any individual who wishes to pursue a college education.

There is no doubt that Senate Bill 873 will have a tremendous impact on our campus. In many ways, this bill is exciting because it opens the door to a college education for many deserving students. As Chancellor, my goal is to ensure we have the resources that allow us to continue to offer those students a high-quality education provided by student-centered faculty in a caring and supportive atmosphere.

For over a century, the world around WSSU has changed. We have faced dramatic shifts in public policy and U.S. culture. We have seen funding fluctuate and attitudes change. Throughout it all, we have consistently provided a first-class, premier education in a caring, supportive, and nurturing environment. That is the WSSU way and it will be the WSSU way for years to come.

Elwood L. Robinson
Chancellor

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