On March 3, 1891, Hugh Cale, an African-American representative in the N.C. General Assembly from Pasquotank County, sponsored House Bill 383, which established a normal (teaching) school for “teaching and training teachers of the colored race to teach in the common schools of North Carolina.” The bill passed, and the origin of Elizabeth City State University was born. The institution’s first name was Elizabeth City State Colored Normal School (1891-1939).
The first leader, Peter W. Moore, was called a Principal (subsequent leaders would be called President, then Chancellor). Moore served as Principal and then President until his retirement as President, Emeritus, on July 1, 1928. During his tenure, enrollment increased from 23 to 355 and the faculty from two to 15 members. During the tenure of the second president, John Henry Bias, the institution was elevated from a two-year normal school to a four-year teachers college (1937). Two years later, the institution’s name was officially changed to Elizabeth City State Teachers College (1939-1963). The growth and elevation to teachers college changed the mission to include training elementary school principals for rural and city schools. The first Bachelor of Science degrees in elementary education were awarded in May of 1939.