State Fund Focus: North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities

North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities is dedicated to ensuring support for its programs, which enhance the quality of education and meet academic needs. Through student enrichment programs, NCICU is able to impact the lives of at-risk students as well as provide diverse opportunities to augment the learning capacities at member colleges and universities. Student enrichment programs also give businesses and the philanthropic community an additional opportunity to direct their support of independent colleges and universities to specific priority areas important to their organization. With input from campus presidents and administrators, NCICU has identified key areas to provide financial support and academic advisement for students who are often under-represented in specific fields of study. Over the past four years, NCICU has offered enrichment programs in the areas of college access, peer mentoring, undergraduate research, and energy benchmarking. Below are a few highlights from programs currently offered to NCICU colleges and universities.

Independent College Access Network
NCICU, in partnership with other education sectors in the state, received funding from the US Department of Education to establish the Independent College Access Network (ICAN) among the private colleges and universities in North Carolina. The purpose of NCICU’s ICAN initiative is to develop a system among North Carolina’s 36 independent colleges and universities to provide support and increase collaboration among pre-college programs in order to create, enhance, and implement initiatives which promote college access and success. ICAN also provides professional development and funding opportunities for campuses, while establishing a platform for member institutions to form and implement a plan of action and share best practices to develop, refine, and/or enhance college access programs and initiatives. NCICU provides support to member institutions in the area of college access by implementing the following program components:
  • College Access Network Development Initiative – A series of interactive workshops, seminars, and panel discussions to share best practices and develop individual campus action plans.

  • Quality Advising Collaborative – The Collaborative is providing support to a variety of programs in the area of advising and first-year experience programs in order to increase persistence and graduation among new American, first generation, low income, and minority populations.

  • ICAN Mini Grants – To build capacity in order to provide a quality higher education experience for students, ICAN mini grants have been awarded to assist institutions in implementing new initiatives and to enhance existing advising, college success, and pre-college programs.
Rep. Joe Tolson and Hope Williams, president of NCICU, with Betsy Barefoot and John N. Gardner from the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education.​
NCICU hosted its first Independent College Access Conference in September. The event consisted of presentations facilitated by John Gardner and Betsey Barefoot, nationally recognized experts in the fields of first year experience programs and academic advising, as well as a passionate keynote address from Cynthia Marshall, President of AT&T North Carolina, on the importance of support from the corporate sector to positively impact education in our state. ICAN campus program administrators also facilitated workshops to share best practices of college access and success initiatives.

Undergraduate Research Program
The NCICU Undergraduate Research Program is a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) related initiative designed to increase undergraduate research opportunities for students attending the 36 independent colleges and universities in North Carolina. This program was initiated by Chief Academic Officers at NCICU institutions who requested additional opportunities for undergraduate students to conduct research and present their findings before a group of their peers. The program not only addresses this need, but also emphasizes inclusion of students who are often under-represented (new American, low-income, first-generation, and/or minority students) in the STEM fields of study. These students receive both financial support and academic advisement in their area of interest. The NCICU Undergraduate Research Program also supports the students’ participation in the “State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium.”

Ethics Bowl
NCICU recently secured a grant from the National Venture Fund of the Foundation for Independent Higher Education to implement the NCICU Ethics Bowl with member institutions. Engaging students in complex ethical dilemmas, the Ethics Bowl will test the critical thinking skills students have developed. It will consist of a series of on-campus projects and a statewide debate competition between student teams from independent colleges and universities, addressing ethical issues in business, education, government, and other aspects of life. Following the one year of on-campus applied ethics activities, NCICU will host the Ethics Bowl competition. The inaugural competition will be held in the Spring of 2012.

 Return to Homepage