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East Carolina University

Located in Greenville, North Carolina, East Carolina University (ECU) was originally a teacher’s training college. ECU has developed into the third largest university in the University of North Carolina Higher Education System, with over 20,000 students. Notable alumni include Sandra Bullock (actress), Kelly King (CEO of BB&T), and James Maynard (founder of Golden Corral Restaurants).

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North Carolina State University, NC State

Once known as the North Carolina State University of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, NCSU has become a national and international leading institution in its academia and industry-based research programs. The university was formed in 1887, and the first classes were held in October 1889. Today, NCSU boasts in a student body of 34,000 students and a faculty and staff of 8,000.

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Methodist University

Methodist University was opened in September 1960 after the Methodist Church was offered land and significant funds to build a school in Cumberland County, North Carolina. The first class graduated in May 1964, and Methodist received accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1966. Currently, over 2,200 students attend Methodist University, and its Physician Assistant Studies programs attracts students across the state and nation.

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Elon University

Once known as Elon College, the name Elon is derived from the Hebrew word for oak. The college received this name because of the large amount of oak trees in the area. In 1889, Elon College was opened, and the first class numbered 76 students. Today, over 50 undergraduate programs are offered at Elon University, and nearly 6,000 students attend the institution.

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Meredith College

Recognized as the largest women’s private college in the Southeastern United States, Meredith College was created at the behest of Thomas Meredith, founder of the Biblical Recorder, in the late 1800s. Ten female students graduated as the first class in 1902, and in 1909 the college became known as Meredith College in honor of its original founder. Presently, Meredith enrolls almost 2,000 students and offers 32 majors and four graduate programs.

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University of North Carolina, Pembroke

The Croatan Normal School, forerunner of UNC-Pembroke, was formed by the General Assembly on March 7, 1887, after Native Americans petitioned the legislature for a teaching school in Robeson County. Throughout the 1910s and 1930s, the school started to offer degrees other than education and in 1969 the college’s name was changed to Pembroke State University. Today, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke has a study body of over 6,900 students.

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Fayetteville State University

The first normal school for African Americans in North Carolina, Fayetteville State University (FSU) was established in 1867 as the Howard School. Although FSU was once a school strictly for the education of teachers, the school grew in the 1950s as new programs were added to the institution’s curricula. Today, over 6,300 students currently attend FSU and the institution offers a Freshman Year Initiative program to incoming students.

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The University, North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Opening its doors to students in 1795, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill holds the distinction of being one of the oldest public universities in the country and the first public university to award degrees in the eighteenth century. Currently, UNC is highly ranked with several national publications listing Carolina as a preeminent leader in academic quality, affordability, diversity and engagement in international presence. As of 2012, UNC Chapel Hill retains a student body of 29,137 and 3,221 faculty members.

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Wilmington, University, North Carolina

The University of North Carolina of Wilmington (UNC-W) started in 1947 as a junior college funded by the New Hanover Board of Education. Since its inception, the college has become part of the University of North Carolina higher education system and it offers over 50 undergraduate degree programs. Currently, 13,000 students attend the University of North Carolina of Wilmington.

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Winston-Salem State University

Originally the Slater Industrial Academy, Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) has grown from its meager beginnings of 1892. The first class of 25 students studied to become teachers, but today, WSSU offers programs ranging from nursing to English, with a student body of almost 6,500 students. Important locales on Winston-Salem State University’s campus include the sculpture gardens and the Diggs Art Gallery.