FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Elizabeth City State University recently received an award from the U.S. Department of Education for a grant totaling $586,437, to scale up an already piloted program targeting STEM students from 21 of North Carolina’s most economically depressed counties.

The program is titled, “CASER-ECSU,” or Comprehensive Academic Scaffolding to Enhance Retention of Minority STEM Students at Elizabeth City State University.

“This project will enhance ECSU’s continued effort to ensure a smooth transition of students from high school to college, a challenge well-known to disproportionately affect minority student success, especially in their first year of college education,” said Dr. Eyualem Abebe, Professor of Biology and principal investigator for the project. “A successful first year experience contributes to student overall retention and graduation rate and this project aims to make sure participant students overcome the challenges of first year gateway courses.”

The research team includes Dr. Abebe, a biologist, award-winning teacher and researcher; and Dr. Tesfaye Serbessa, a chemist, a veteran teacher and researcher, and graduate and undergraduate student peer-tutor/mentors.

Funded through the Department of Education’s Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP), this award will support and prepare 90 minority ECSU STEM students in three years through a comprehensive program for a successful college experience. CASER-ECSU will encompass a summer bridge component, student support, graduate school and science career preparation.

These students face major challenges in their first year of college life due to a lack of academic preparedness, overall weak high school academic experiences, students’ general perception of college life and academic rigor, weak scientific literacy, sense of isolation and lack of self-efficacy.  The CASER-ECSU program will work to increase retention and success rates among ECSU’s STEM undergraduate students.

“We are honored that the Department of Education selected our project among others to enable our strong team of faculty and students to continue to provide a much-needed academic support at a broader scale to our students here at ECSU,” said Dr. Abebe.

Dr. Abebe joined the faculty at ECSU in 2006. Prior to the MSEIP grant, he received sustained grants for the past 10 years from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Protection.

He has been recognized by ECSU numerous times for his efforts in research and teaching.  In 2014, he received the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.

“We are truly excited about Dr. Abebe’s award from the Department of Education, specifically the long-term benefits for retention among our STEM students through innovative measures such as learning communities”, said Annemarie Delgado, ECSU’s Director of Sponsored Programs, Contracts, and Grants.


For More Information Contact the ECSU Office of Communications and Marketing at 252-335-8745.