Newswise — Willie J. Gilchrist, former long-time superintendent of Halifax County (NC) Schools, has been elected chancellor of Elizabeth City State University (Elizabeth City, NC) by the Board of Governors of the 16-campus University of North Carolina. UNC President Erskine Bowles placed Gilchrist's name in nomination on March 15 during a special meeting of the Board held on the campus of East Carolina University in Greenville (NC).

Gilchrist, who has served as ECSU's interim chancellor since September 1, 2006, assumed the new post immediately. He succeeds Dr. Mickey L. Burnim, who stepped down to become president of Bowie State University in Maryland.

In recommending Gilchrist to the Board of Governors, President Bowles said: "Over the past six months, Willie Gilchrist has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is the right person to lead Elizabeth City State University for the long haul. I can think of no one who could bring the same breadth of experience or deep personal knowledge of the educational needs of the region-from students in kindergarten through adult learners. As our University continues with work with DPI and our community colleges to develop a seamless educational system here in North Carolina, Willie's experience will be absolutely invaluable. That belief has been affirmed by students, faculty, alumni, and community leaders, all of whom have benefited from his long-time connections to the region, his extensive administrative experience, and his sound judgment. No one can question Willie's love for and devotion to his alma mater, and we are most fortunate to retain a leader with such determination, integrity, and commitment."

Chancellor Gilchrist stood at the podium, as the audience applauded, and pledged to make his alma mater stronger and more resourceful.

"I'm elated to have the title of chancellor and I'm looking forward to working with faculty, staff, alumni and the citizens of the Albemarle. I'm looking forward to collaborating with the community colleges in our region and strengthening relations with other universities in the UNC System," Gilchrist said, "Students across the nation and around the world must know there is a university that still offers personalized attention and a quality education at a reasonable rate. We want them to come to Elizabeth City State University."

"I extend sincere thanks to the ECSU Board of Trustees, members of the search committee, students, staff, and faculty. Jacqueline and I look forward to serving ECSU as its chancellor and first lady."

Gilchrist holds an undergraduate degree in health and physical education from ECSU (1973), a master's degree in administration from Brockport State University in New York (1975), and a doctorate of education in administration from Nova Southeastern University in Florida (1998). He has completed additional graduate work at Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

After graduating from ECSU, Gilchrist spent four years as a teacher and counselor in the Rochester, NY, public schools before returning to northeastern North Carolina. He began his administrative career as an assistant principal at Eastside School in Jackson in 1977 and was soon promoted to assistant principal of Gumberry High School. He was named principal of Gumberry High in 1979, and after three years in the post was named principal of Northampton County High School-West in Gaston.

After 11 years in that post, he was recruited to serve as associate superintendent of schools for Northampton County. Less than a year later, in May 1994, he was named superintendent of Halifax County Schools, overseeing a rural district serving nearly 5,500 children. He stepped down from that post in August 2006 in order to take on the assignment as interim chancellor.

In 2001, Gilchrist was elected by the NC Senate to the UNC Board of Governors, the policy-making body for the 16-campus University of North Carolina. Before resigning from that seat last fall, Gilchrist chaired the Board's Committee on Educational Planning, Policies, and Programs, the Task Force on Teacher Supply and Demand, and the Gardner Award Committee. In addition, he served on the Committee on University Governance, the Committee on the Future of Information Technology, and several other ad hoc committees.

In addition to his work on the Board of Governors, Gilchrist has served on the Governor's More at Four Committee, the Governor's Education First Task Force, the Halifax County Airport Authority, the Halifax-Warren Smart Start Board of Directors, and the boards of the Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Halifax Development Commission, and the BMB Shelter Home.

Active in professional and civic organizations, Gilchrist has received numerous awards and other recognitions for his contributions to education and service to children. A 1994 recipient of ECSU's Outstanding Alumni Award, he has also been named Middle-level Superintendent of the Year by the NC Middle School Association (2003), Halifax County Schools Administrator of the Year (1999), Region 3 Superintendent of the Year by the NC High School Administrators Association (1998), and Principal of the Year for Northampton County Public Schools (1986, 1992-93).

Gilchrist and his wife, Jacqueline, have one daughter and two sons, all of whom are ECSU graduates.

Elizabeth City State University was founded in 1891 as the State Colored Normal School. Elizabeth City State University granted its first bachelor's degrees in 1939 and was renamed Elizabeth City State Teachers College that same year. A part of the 16-campus University of North Carolina since 1972, ECSU today enrolls nearly 2,700 students and offers 38 baccalaureate degree programs, four master's degree programs, and a pharmacy program in partnership with the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Pharmacy.

The oldest public university in the nation, the University of North Carolina enrolls more than 202,000 students and encompasses all 16 of North Carolina's public institutions that grant baccalaureate degrees. UNC campuses support a broad array of distinguished liberal-arts programs, two medical schools and one teaching hospital, two law schools, a veterinary school, a school of pharmacy, 11 nursing programs, 15 schools of education, three schools of engineering, and a specialized school for performing artists. Also under the University umbrella are the UNC Center for Public Television with its 11-station statewide broadcast network, and the NC School of Science and Mathematics, the nation's first public residential high school for gifted students.