GREENSBORO — More students and more housing are two things coming to N.C. A&T this year.
On the first day of fall semester classes at A&T, Chancellor Harold Martin on Wednesday also spelled out changes in how the university will handle student complaints of sexual misconduct.
A&T “has enormous potential and opportunity,” said Martin, who’s starting his 11th year as chancellor of the largest four-year historically black university in the country. “More importantly, there are growing expectations of our university in this region, this state and in the nation as a whole.”
Here are some highlights from his 40-minute meeting with local news reporters Wednesday:
A&T bought parts of a large local apartment complex near campus in 2018 and another smaller complex earlier this year. Look for those sorts of purchases to continue, Martin said, as A&T tries to keep up with student demand for campus housing.
This fall, about 5,000 students will live in residence halls or apartments owned or managed by the university. That’s about 40 percent of all undergraduates — a higher percentage than most other UNC System schools, Martin said, but well short of local demand.
A&T is leasing space at local apartment complexes this fall for about 400 students who signed up for campus housing but didn’t get assigned a dorm room.
To provide more campus housing, the university hopes to break ground soon on a new 420-bed residence hall on Bluford Street.
A&T also might buy more properties in the area. Martin declined to say which — or how many — apartment complexes A&T has its eye on.
“We say this to our students … we have to manage the risk of growing too fast because (residence halls are) a big investment,” Martin said. “But we clearly recognize that we’re going to have to add an additional number of beds before next year.”
Martin said A&T has put in place most of the recommendations of the university’s new Sexual Assault Committee. Here are some of those changes:
• A&T has expanded its Title IX office to include a new full-time employee who will focus on enforcement and investigation of complaints. (Title IX is the federal education law that bans gender discrimination — including sexual harassment and sexual violence — in educational settings.) That office has been moved from the human resources area to A&T’s legal affairs office, where it will be overseen by the university’s general counsel.
• All employees have received training to better handle student complaints of sexual harassment and assault. A&T police officers will get additional training this fall to help them respond to reports of sexual assault.
• A&T will create a new sexual misconduct hearing process that’s separate from the regular student conduct hearings. Martin also said the university will more quickly share information with students after sexual misconduct hearings.
Martin formed the committee of students, faculty and staff in February after a freshman cheerleader said that her coaches failed to report her sexual assault to proper A&T authorities. The coaches later resigned. Martin declined to say Wednesday how that student's case was resolved.
Martin said the committee found that A&T employees didn’t always report incidents promptly and students often thought the university took too long to investigate sexual misconduct reports and was slow to reveal the outcome of conduct hearings.
The changes, he added, are intended to make the reporting process more fair, open and timely.
Martin said A&T expects to start the fall semester with about 12,450 students, a record. That’s about 2 percent more than last year. The university wants to have 14,000 students on campus by 2023.
A&T is about a million dollars away from meeting its fundraising goal of $85 million that it announced in November.
The campaign will continue for another year and a half. Martin said the university is on pace to raise at least $100 million by the end of 2020 for scholarships, academic programs, faculty and campus facilities.
A&T has started or will soon start three new academic programs, including a new doctoral program in social work that it shares with UNCG. Martin said other new degree programs are in the works, though he didn’t share details Wednesday.