NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – In 2013, Norfolk State University was met with a number of challenges, culminating with the firing of then president Tony Atwater. It was an ugly time for the school, and a huge task for Interim President Eddie Moore Jr. to walk into.
With the completion of his first year at the helm, Moore sat down with 10 On Your Side for a rare one-on-one interview about the problems NSU has been facing and the work still underway.
“I arrived here in late September 2013, and I found the campus to be warm and inviting,” President Eddie Moore Jr. said Monday.
But a long list of issues at the school also welcomed him, from declining enrollment and rising tuition costs to accreditation issues. Last year, WAVY.com reported extensively on those problems, including the Virginia Board of Nursing barring NSU from accepting new students into its two-year nursing program.
“When I arrived, we had already had a sufficiently low score on three previous exams so that the state wanted us to close the program,” President Moore said.
While the two-year program is gone, Moore said NSU’s four-year program is as strong as it’s ever been.
Another challenge was the school’s finances, which prompted an investigation by the school’s accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
“We didn’t have books. We didn’t know where we were,” Moore said. “The board was very concerned about the audits that were several years behind. It really felt good this last week when we caught up on the audits, catching up three years in roughly 13 months.”
That accomplishment required a lot of late nights and early mornings for NSU’s financial team.
In the meantime, admissions and recruitment may still be scratching their heads: enrollment this fall was down once again. It was initially projected near 7,000, revised to about 6,200, and was, in actuality, less than that. Enrollment totaled a more than 10 percent decline, further hurting NSU’s overall revenue.
“There are a lot of reasons,” Moore said. “The main thing in our minds is financial aid, particularly at the federal level. It’s hard to fund new initiatives when we know the financial aid for the students isn’t fully funded.”
The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia just reported a 78 percent increase in the number of students requiring financial assistance. They’ve asked the General Assembly to appropriate $30 million for need-based help next year. And President Moore said that need is definitely visible at NSU.
WAVY.com also asked Moore about security in and around campus, and he said, very honestly, it’s no utopia. But the school has increased the number of emergency phones on campus in the last year, and it’s holding more seminars to increase students awareness.
Reflecting on the past year, the interim president said his to-do list was (and is) long, but he was adamant efficiency has been his priority from the start. With a lot of work still ahead, the former Treasurer for the Commonwealth of Virginia continues to try to turn the university around.