America's Rural Communities Need Our Help


ECU is embarking on an initiative to address rural prosperity in eastern North Carolina and beyond.

The Rural Prosperity Initiative will harness the intellectual strengths and research resources of ECU to improve the quality of life, health, education and employment for the people of our region and their communities. ECU is committed to rural prosperity by leveraging resources from all corners of the university. We will partner with government, industry and community groups to develop new tools and approaches that drive job creation, health innovation and educational improvements in rural and coastal communities.

Rural Communities are sustaining America. America is NOT sustaining its rural communities.

Rural Prosperity Initiative News

More ECU News


As we work together to identify new strategies through research we will find solutions
for the challenges holding us back.


Coastal Studies Institute

ECU now operates the $32.6 million Coastal Studies Institute on Roanoke Island in the Outer Banks. ECU faculty and staff are engaged in economic development and research, as well as innovative approaches for capturing ocean energy, engineering and sustainable designs for coastal communities, marine ecology, maritime archeology, hospitality and tourism.

Miller School of Entrepreneurship

ECU is helping rural North Carolina by catalyzing new businesses in the region. In 2015, a $5 million commitment made it possible to establish the first school of entrepreneurship in the region. The Miller School of Entrepreneurship prepares students to take entrepreneurial mindsets and skill sets into their communities.


ECU, SAS Announce Partnership

ECU and analytics leader SAS are joining forces to help rural areas overcome economic, educational and health disparities. Using analytics and data visualization, ECU and SAS will work together to support ECU’s Rural Prosperity Initiative as well as efforts to rapidly grow the university’s research enterprise.

ECU and RTI International Team Up

East Carolina University and RTI International are exploring opportunities to jointly combat regional challenges in eastern North Carolina. By developing a partnership with RTI – an independent, globally-engaged nonprofit research institute dedicated to improving the human condition – ECU can better serve the needs of its rural residents with reliable data thorough analysis, innovative methods, novel technologies and sustainable programs.


Millennial Campus

Soon to launch, ECU’s millennial campus will connect the talents of university researchers and partners in industry, government, military and more to discover innovations that boost rural and coastal prosperity. The campus will focus on commercializing research discoveries that benefit regional industries and help create new businesses.

Dental Medicine Community Service Learning Centers

The School of Dental Medicine offers a cutting-edge dental education program with its eight dental medicine clinics throughout North Carolina. The Community Service Learning Centers, in addition to the main dental medicine campus in Greenville, bring dental students and faculty to communities in rural counties that lack dental medicine providers.


Rural Education Institute

The Rural Education Institute at ECU serves as the epicenter of rural education research, teacher support and outreach. The institute leverages research-practice partnerships to address educational disparities and ensure access to high-quality instruction in rural areas. The institute focuses on early age-reading, math skills and K-12 STEM education.

School of Rural Public Health

ECU has announced plans to establish a new School of Rural Public Health in August of 2020 after the plans were approved by the UNC System Board of Governors’ Committee on Educational Planning, Policies, and Programs. The new school will initially combine departments and centers already in existence at ECU – public health, health education and promotion, biostatistics, health services and information management and the Center for Health Disparities.


ECU-Vidant Health Clinical Integration

A 2018 integration of ECU Physicians with Vidant Medical Group will unite nearly 800 physicians in a new entity. The corporation aims to be the national model for rural health and wellness by creating a premier, trusted academic health care delivery system with special expertise in the distinctive needs of the region.

North Carolina Agromedicine Institute

ECU partners with the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute to promote the health and safety of farmers, fishermen and foresters through research, prevention, intervention and educational outreach.


ECU I-Corps

Funded by the National Science Foundation, Innovation Corps@ECU embraces the formation of ideas, innovation and commercialization of inventions by using proven methods in lean launch, customer discovery and business model innovation. The project aims to prepare and support ECU faculty, staff, students, entrepreneurs and industries in the process of validating the potential for new products, services and technologies while launching new companies.

Lab School

The ECU Lab School, a partnership between ECU and Pitt County Schools, launched in 2017 and serves students in Pre-K through 5th It builds on a student’s strengths and provides learning experiences through research-based instruction. A holistic approach is used to maximize each child’s potential through academic, physical and social lenses.

Rural Prosperity Initiative Data Hub

In support of Chancellor Cecil P. Staton’s Rural Prosperity Initiative, the Division of Research Economic Development and Engagement has undertaken the development of an interactive database for ECU faculty and students. The database initially contains Excel files, geographic information system maps and formatted presentations. This data will be expanded to include interactive maps at the county level, as well as aerial and satellite imagery.

This on-going project is designed to provide researchers at ECU with a broad suite of regionally-specific data spanning health, education and economic disparities at the eastern North Carolina county level, state level and national level.

Rural Prosperity Initiative Data Hub


ECU launched its eight pan-university research clusters in 2017-18. The clusters focus on research and engagement between the university and its faculty, students and community partners. Click the clusters below to learn more about how our clusters are influencing research at ECU.