NCICU Educator Prep Programs Make Strides in Implementing the Science of Reading

In April 2021, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation requiring college and university Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) to provide coursework in the Science of Reading, recognizing that reading and comprehension are keys to student achievement. In December the Goodnight Educational Foundation awarded North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU) $1 million over two years to support the implementation of this initiative – $500,000 in the first year and another $500,000 in the second year. NCICU is the statewide office representing 36 private, nonprofit colleges and universities, 31 of which have EPPs.

To implement this important curriculum, NCICU established a task force made up of representatives from nine colleges and chaired by Dr. Monica Campbell of Lenoir-Rhyne University and Dr. Mary Knight-McKenna of Elon University. The Task Force has been meeting monthly developing strategies to strengthen preparation in the science of reading, including holding a two-day Summer Faculty Institute in June.

NCICU recently disbursed a total of $248,000 in subgrants to the 31 EPPs to support the work of the faculty in each individual program. The work will include enhancing, redesigning, and developing effective literacy coursework, practica, and internships based on the Science of Reading.

Participating EPPs are at the following colleges: Barton College, Belmont-Abbey College, Bennett College, Brevard College, Campbell University, Catawba College, Chowan University, Duke University, Elon University, Gardner-Webb University, Greensboro College, Guilford College, High Point University, Lees McRae College, Lenoir Rhyne University, Livingstone College, Mars Hill University, Meredith College, Methodist University, Montreat College, Mount Olive University, NC Wesleyan University, Pfeiffer University, Queens University of Charlotte, Salem College, Shaw University, St. Andrews University, Saint Augustine’s University, Wake Forest University, William Peace University, and Wingate University

Each of NCICU’s 31 EPPs received $8,000 in grant funds following an application and review process. Subgrant funds are being used for faculty stipends, external reviewer costs, curricular revision, relevant teaching and learning materials, student evaluation, and other professional development supports. EPPs are also using their subgrant funds to support their local communities to use the Science of Reading when teaching young children. EPP faculty are offering virtual, onsite, and mobile tutoring programs and professional development sessions open to the public.

“Reading is the core concept and foundation for success in all levels of education,” said NCICU President Hope Williams, “We deeply appreciate the grant from  the Goodnight Educational Foundation to support this  critical work.”

Pending continued funding from the Goodnight Educational Foundation, each of the 31 EPPs will receive an additional $7,600 in 2023 to fully implement their projects.

EPPs will present the outcomes of their projects during the 2023 Summer Faculty Institute and will also submit a final report to NCICU in September 2023.

NCICU’s Science of Reading project managers are Denise Adams and Pasts Pierce.


31 NC Educator Prep Programs Implement the Science of Reading

In 2022, North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU) established a taskforce to begin work on a groundbreaking initiative to revamp reading instruction in Educator Prep Programs (EPPs) at NCICU institutions based on the science of reading.

The science of reading is a research-backed approach, focusing on fundamental reading skills such as phonics and explicit teaching methods which offer significant benefits to young students, particularly for struggling readers. By diving deep into the mechanics of how we learn to read, from the intricacies of brain science to effective teaching strategies, the science of reading promises to bring about a transformative shift in literacy rates.

To help research, develop, and implement support systems that assist faculty to fully align their college courses with the science of reading, the Goodnight Educational Foundation provided a two-year grant to NCICU. With those funds, subgrants were distributed to all 31 EPPs on NCICU campuses to redesign literacy courses and internships. Through their work over the past year and a half, all 31 EPPs have revised their courses and most of them have added new courses and learning experiences. Deans and faculty members came together this summer to report on their progress and share initiatives that have been implemented to date.

For example, one college used some of the subgrant funds to connect with local elementary schools, building a mobile tutoring lab that they took to those schools to aid struggling readers. Another created a series of intensive workshops with its local elementary schools to aid first grade students in phonological awareness, and to demonstrate how best to intervene with struggling readers. Another institution partnered with a local K-12 school which specializes in teaching kids with learning disabilities. Together, they developed a 10-hour asynchronous course that engages future teachers in a deep dive into content that will enable them to support readers with the challenge of breaking the alphabetic code.

“We recognize that reading and comprehension are keys to student achievement at all levels of education,” said NCICU president, Hope Williams, “and we are so impressed with the collaboration among EPPs and the innovative ideas they have developed and implemented for the Science of Reading curriculum at the 31 NCICU Educator Prep Programs.”

The NCICU Task Force has been developing a Faculty Teaching Toolkit, an online database that includes handouts, videos, and readings to help faculty across the state learn and teach the science of reading.

Through this new initiative, NCICU seeks to pave the way for a future where every student, regardless of their background or learning challenges, can become a confident, proficient reader. It is a bold move in education and a significant step towards enhanced literacy in North Carolina.

Williams Receives Trailblazer Award

NCICU president, Hope Williams, has been awarded the Trailblazer Award from the North Carolina chapter of the American Council on Education (ACE) Women’s Network.

“The North Carolina ACE Women’s Network is delighted to recognize Dr. Hope Williams with our Trailblazer Award for her sustained and outstanding contributions to advancing women in higher education,” stated Amy A. Overman, assistant provost and professor at Elon University, and state chair of the Network. “Hope’s record of advocating for equity has shaped our state’s higher education landscape in important ways.”

“I am honored to receive this award from such outstanding women leaders across our state’s higher education continuum, including NCICU, the UNC System and the NC Community College System, said Williams. “North Carolina’s ACE Women’s Network is integral to providing a support system to develop and encourage women’s leadership in higher education to the benefit of students, colleges and universities, and the entire state.”

The North Carolina ACE Network of Women Leaders, Inc. is a non-profit, volunteer organization that is a part of, and shares the purpose of the American Council on Education’s (ACE) leadership programs. As such, the NC ACE Network seeks to develop programs that identify, develop, encourage, advance, link, and support women in higher education careers in North Carolina.

NCICU Spring 2023 Newsletter

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$2 Million Contributed to Independent College Fund

The Independent College Fund of North Carolina (ICFNC), the fundraising arm of North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU) received $2 million in cash and in-kind donations during its annual campaign which ended April 30, 2023.

The iBELONG MALE MENTORING PROGRAMSM received additional funding this year from Wells Fargo which has allowed the program to include four additional campuses and for expansion beyond two years. Sponsorships also allowed NCICU to provide an iBELONG Student Conference and Career Workshop hosted at Livingstone College.  The iBELONG program is designed to increase the persistence, retention, and graduation rates of male students of color.

Program funds also support NCICU’s annual Ethics Bowl and numerous administrative group workshops provided each year for the 36 colleges and universities under the NCICU umbrella. This year, in addition to event sponsors, all  Ethics Bowl campus teams were sponsored.

“This year we are seeing a greater connection between students and the corporate community through programmatic funding,” said ICFNC director, Colleen Kinser.  “We are excited to see where these relationships will lead in terms of internships and careers. Thanks to the support of generous donors, NCICU will continue to administer student enrichment programs that address the significant challenges employers are facing in recruiting and retaining a diverse domestic and global workforce.”

A continued focus on raising scholarship funds will help students pursue their educational goals during the 2023-24 academic year.  The donors have contributed to the following scholarships during this campaign:

These include:

  • Albemarle Foundation
  • Bridgestone Firestone Trust Fund Scholarship
  • Broyhill Family Foundation Scholarship
  • CIC/UPS Education Endowment Scholarship
  • Clancy & Theys Scholarship
  • Dominion NC Power Scholarship
  • ICFNC Advisory Board Corporate Scholarship
  • Jeff and Jan Stoddard Scholarship for Hope
  • North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association Criminal Justice Scholarship
  • Thomas & Ashley Varnadore Scholarship of Optimism in Future Generations

The $2 million raised also includes funds for the newly established STAR Scholarship. The Student Teacher Assistance for Retention (STAR) Scholarship will help fill the shrinking teacher pipeline as students are developed into professional educators. The funds will provide financial support to college seniors who are enrolled in an educator preparation program (EPP) with priority given to students of color to increase diversity in the classroom.

In-kind support was received from Google Ad Grants and from SAS.

Governor Cooper’s Budget Provides Funds for NCICU

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced his proposed budget this week which includes strong support for education, including $31 million for NCICU campuses and students. The Governor’s budget is a recommendation to the General Assembly from the Executive Branch and has been presented to the House and Senate Appropriations committees.

The Governor’s recommendations to the General Assembly include:

  • $5m in additional recurring funding for the North Carolina Need Based Scholarship (NCNBS.)  If enacted, this would increase the NCNBS from $91.1m to $96.1m in recurring funding.
  • $10m in non-recurring funds for assistance to NCICU institutions for Growing the Healthcare Workforce.
  • $16m in non-recurring funds from the State Capital Infrastructure Fund (SCIF) to assist NCICU HBCUs and MSIs with their critical infrastructure needs.

“On behalf of our 36 independent colleges and universities, I want to thank the Governor for his support of our colleges and universities and, especially, our students,” said NCICU president Hope Williams. “North Carolina families are still recovering from the pandemic and the additional financial aid will be critical in making college possible for many students. In addition, we are committed to responding to the state’s significant need for more healthcare professionals which these funds would support. We also deeply appreciate the recommendation of funds to address infrastructure needs at our minority-serving institutions to support their historic missions.”

The budget also includes an average 18% teacher raise over the biennium, a $1 billion plan to support mental health, and major funding for childcare, job training, and economic development.

The General Assembly’s budget is being crafted first in the House of Representatives and is expected to be passed by April 6 before being sent to the Senate, which will also pass a budget before the two chambers meet jointly in conference committee to determine the final budget plan.

Queens University of Charlotte Wins NCICU Ethics Bowl

Queens University of Charlotte is the champion of North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities’ (NCICU) 12th Annual Ethics Bowl. The Queens team faced Wingate University in the final round. The theme this year was Ethics in Contemporary Society, and the topic debated in the finals concerned voting rights.

Queens had faced Campbell University in the semifinals, as Wingate met Montreat College. The case for that round considered the ethics of removing Russia from the Security Council of the United Nations. Additional topics covered during the initial four-rounds of competition included Germline Editing, Food and Energy Shortages, Artificial Intelligence and Our Changing World, and Mental Health.

“All the participants demonstrated a high level of understanding of and insight about the complex issues presented,” said NCICU President Hope Williams. “It was apparent that they had done significant research in preparation for the Ethics Bowl. Judges and moderators of the event said the students’ commitment to the
integrity of the event and the issues in the case studies presented instills them with great faith in these future leaders.”

Sixteen of North Carolina’s private colleges competed in the event which was held at the North Carolina Legislative Complex in Raleigh. More than 60 corporate, nonprofit, legislative and community leaders served as judges and moderators for the two-day event.

At a banquet held Friday evening at the NC Museum of History, Leslie Garvin, executive director of North Carolina Campus Engagement, told participants that to be a citizen of the United States is to choose to live ethically.

Participating colleges and universities were: Barton College, Campbell University, Catawba College, Chowan University, Gardner-Webb University, High Point University, Johnson C. Smith University, Livingstone College, Mars Hill University, Methodist University, Montreat College, NC Wesleyan University, Queens University of Charlotte, University of Mount Olive, William Peace University, and Wingate University.

The NCICU Ethics Bowl is supported by sponsorships allowing students to participate at no cost to themselves or their institutions.

16 Colleges to Explore Ethics in Contemporary Society

Artificial intelligence, mental health, and non-fungible tokens (NFT’s) in the art world are a few of the topics that may be debated under the umbrella of Ethics in Contemporary Society as part of North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities’ (NCICU) annual Ethics Bowl. Students from 16 private college and university campuses across North Carolina will participate in the event on February 10 and 11 at the North Carolina Legislative Complex in Raleigh.

 “This is NCICU’s 12th annual Ethics Bowl, and the first in-person event since 2020.

The broad theme of Ethics in Contemporary Society presents timely and important topics for discussion,” said NCICU president Hope Williams.

 “The Ethics Bowl is both academically challenging and an individually rewarding experience for our students,” she continued. “Determining ethical responses to complex situations leads to personal awareness and valuable discussion among team members and participating business and community leaders.”

 Each Ethics Bowl team has four-to-six student members. A campus coordinator works with the students to help them prepare for the competition which consists of four rounds over the two days, plus semi-final and final rounds. In each round, a specially developed case study outlining a complex ethical situation related to the theme will be presented to the teams for debate. Each match is awarded to the team that makes the most sound, persuasive presentation.

 Three judges and one moderator participate in each match. Approximately 60 business, non-profit and government professionals have volunteered to fill those roles.

 A banquet for campus participants, judges, moderators, and sponsors will be held Friday evening at the North Carolina Museum of History. Leslie Garvin, Executive Director of NC Campus Engagement, will be the keynote speaker at the banquet. NC Campus Engagement is a collaborative network of colleges and universities that champions civic and community engagement in higher education. 

Garvin has worked with the organization for 18 years and was named executive director in 2015. She holds a Master of Social Work with a concentration in social and economic development and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and African and African American Studies from Washington University in St. Louis. Garvin is a former White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellow, and an AmeriCorps alum. She is currently a Fellow with the University of California Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement. Garvin also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Issues Forum and co-chairs the State Summits & Networks Subcommittee of the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition.  

The NCICU Ethics Bowl is made possible by sponsorships that allow students to participate at no cost to themselves or their institutions.  

“Students consistently cite the NCICU Ethics Bowl as a highlight of their college experience,” Williams said. “We deeply appreciate the corporate and civic leaders who make this event possible through financial contributions and by volunteering their time as judges and moderators.”


Barton College – Sponsored by Duke Energy
Campbell University
– Sponsored by SageView
Catawba College – 
Sponsored by Catawba College Alumni Association
Chowan University – 
Sponsored by Southern Bank Foundation
Gardner-Webb University
– Sponsored by Cherry Bekaert
High Point University
– Sponsored by the Wren Foundation
Johnson C. Smith University
– Sponsored by Duke Energy
Livingstone College – Sponsored by Duke Energy
Mars Hill University – Sponsored by NC Electric Cooperatives
Methodist University – Sponsored by Piedmont Natural Gas
Montreat College
– Sponsored by Coca-Cola Consolidated 
NC Wesleyan University  Sponsored by Mindstream
Queens University of Charlotte – Sponsored by BHDP
University of Mount Olive – Sponsored by Mount Olive Pickle Company
William Peace University
 Sponsored by Fidelity Investments
Wingate University
– Sponsored by Centrica Business Solutions


Students Receive Stipends for Research

More than 400 students from colleges, universities and community colleges in North Carolina will participate in the State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium (SNCURCS) which will be held Saturday, December 3, on the campus of UNC-Wilmington. The annual symposium showcases NC undergraduate student research and creative work and provides undergraduate scholars in all fields a forum to share the results of their work through posters, presentations, performances, and works of art.

North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU) awarded stipends to seven students to support the research that they will showcase at the symposium. The stipends ranged from $400-$600. The students and their research projects are:

Emma Ahrens, Wingate University senior, Fetal Microchimerism in Sheep:  Determining patterns of fetal cell transfer in the ewe during pregnancy and beyond; faculty advisor, Dr. Alison Brown.

Jalen Garner, Catawba College senior, Mining the root microbiome for antibiotic-producing bacteria; faculty advisor, Dr. Amanda Rushing.

Jacob Hiatt, Catawba College senior, Identification of antimicrobial synthetic genes in a novel Pseudomonas strain; faculty advisor, Dr. Amanda Rushing.

Heidi Jensen, Chowan University junior, The fungicidal activity of nanoemulsion particles derived from thymol on belowground pathogens of wheat; faculty advisor, Dr. Torrence Gill.

Kasey McLamb, Catawba College senior, Molecular effects of BPA on invertebrate cell models; faculty advisor, Dr. Erin Witalison.

Hunter Sjobom, Catawba College sophomore, Screening soils near aquatic sources for antimicrobial-producing bacteria; faculty advisor, Dr. Amanda Rushing.

William Roque, Catawba College junior, Characterization of antimicrobial metabolites produced by a novel Pseudomonas strain; faculty advisor, Dr. Amanda Rushing.

“We are pleased to reward the intellect and creativity demonstrated by these undergraduate students,” said NCICU President Hope Williams. “Each year we get to witness the passion and resourcefulness that could lead to game-changing research.”

NCICU Fall 2022 Newsletter

Our fall newsletter includes updates on grant-funded projects, our upcoming Ethics Bowl, and welcomes new presidents and Business Affiliates.

NCICU Fall 2022 Newsletter

NCICU Receives Scholarship Challenge Grant

NCICU has received a $25,000 grant that will establish scholarships for students who are pursuing teacher education at one of NCICU’s 36 colleges or universities. The scholarships have been funded through a Scholarship Challenge Grant from the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and requires a match of at least $37,000.

“The Council of Independent Colleges is proud to support NCICU and its colleges through CIC’s Scholarship Challenge Grant Program,” said Marjorie Hass, president of the Council of Independent Colleges. “The grant will provide additional scholarship aid for students of second-year status or higher at NCICU’s four-year colleges and universities.”

“As part of the effort of independent colleges and universities to increase the pipeline of teachers in North Carolina, these scholarships will help support our students as they intern in classrooms as part of their degree requirements,” said NCICU president, Hope Williams. “We greatly appreciate CIC’s funding of this important initiative.”

NCICU expects to begin distributing the scholarships for the 2023-24 academic year.

If you would like to support scholarships for our future teachers, you can contact Colleen Kinser, [email protected], or go online and make a gift today