GREENVILLE, N.C. — Deans and administrators from East Carolina University and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke met Thursday at the ECU Health Sciences Campus Student Center to ink an agreement that lays the groundwork for cooperation and collaboration between the two institutions.

Initiatives include expanding graduate pipelines and pathways from UNCP to ECU; developing mutually beneficial opportunities for research, scholarship, public service, and creative activities; and partnering on shared experiences for students, faculty, and staff.

“We share the desire to provide the people of our state and our region opportunity and access — access to new ways of thinking, access to diverse perspectives and opinions, access to a better education and a better life — and that’s something that our colleagues at UNC Pembroke also share,” said Dr. Grant Hayes, interim provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at ECU. “This partnership really is a signal of our real commitment and dedication to access.”

Initial areas of focus include the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Art and Design in the College of Fine Arts and Communication, the College of Nursing, and the School of Dental Medicine. The partnership will expand into other disciplines and program areas as the relationship evolves, said LaKesha Alston Forbes, ECU’s associate provost for equity and diversity.

“It all starts with just an idea, and it goes forward from there,” she said.

Dr. Zoe Locklear, interim provost and vice-chancellor of academic affairs at UNCP, said the two universities share a focus on regional service. The relationship between the two campuses has existed for a long time, she said, and it feels right to formalize it.

“We’re living it every day, and I could rattle off the names of many students who went to Pembroke for undergrad and matriculated to ECU for graduate studies,” she said, and many of them return to their home counties to serve the communities they came from as doctors, dentists, and other professionals.

By developing and signing the memorandum of understanding, administrators hope to formalize and expand opportunities for students at both universities.