How to get what you want

Published 11:12 am Tuesday, July 12, 2016

To the Editor:

Having spent my working career in higher education, I have come to the conclusion the most people, especially students, don’t know how the university is organized. The most important part of getting what you want is going to the right place for it.

So, here goes my attempt to explain the common structural organization of institutions; I will do this by comparing and contrasting Roanoke-Chowan Community College (R-CCC) and Elizabeth City State University (ECSU).

First, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the institution is the Chancellor (ECSU) or President (R-CCC). I’ll return to the functions of the Chancellor/President (C/P or P/C) shortly.

There are five major areas in all universities – they are business and finance, institutional advancement, student affairs or services, and academic affairs, with information technology as a recent addition. Now larger institutions may have more areas than this, but you always find at least these five. Each is headed by a Vice Chancellor (VC, ECSU) or Dean (R-CCC) who reports to the C/P. Within each of these areas is a substructure of Associates or Assistants, and then there are others below this level. I was an Associate VC for Academic Affairs at ECSU and, therefore, reported to the VC for Academic Affairs, who in turn reported to the Chancellor.

In addition to the Deans or VC’s, there are other direct reports to the P/C, including the Director of Human Resources. Together, all the direct reports form the P/C’s cabinet. This is the major administrative body of the Institution.

The functions of the business and finance area are to handle all non-private monies – state allocations, tuition, fees and other income; they also pay the bills and produce checks, and perform purchasing and accounts payable. Building facilities, maintenance and campus planning are parts of business and finance.

Institutional advancement handles all private funds; this area contains fundraising, alumni affairs, media relations and government relations.

Student services/affairs deals with all activities students engage in outside of the classroom, including fraternities and sororities, residence halls, campus police and student discipline.

Finally, the largest of the four areas is curriculum (R-CCC) or academic affairs (ECSU), which does the teaching and instruction. This is the main service of the university. This area contains all the degree programs, all of the faculty and most of the staff of the university.

Now let’s return to the P/C. He/she coordinates the activities of these five areas and assures that the whole university is operating in a unified fashion. The President/Chancellor distributes the institutional budget and sets the mission and direction of the Institution.

I hope this brief overview has been helpful. Remember, when you go to the college or university with a question or problem, think of this structure and go to the right area that handles that issue. There are plenty of good people at both institutions that want to help you; you must get to the right one.

W. Eric Thomas
Elizabeth City
Interim RCCC President