Feb. 26, 2024 

Leha Byrd  
ECSU Communications and Marketing        
Email or 252-335-8745      

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (Feb. 26, 2024) – Bertie County Schools Superintendent and Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) alumnus Otis L. Smallwood ‘94 has been selected to deliver the keynote address for the 133rd Founder’s Day Convocation. The event is Friday, March 8 at 10 a.m. in the Mickey L. Burnim Fine Arts Center.  

With more than 26 years of experience, Smallwood, a Bertie High School graduate, said his goal is to implement effective programs and initiatives that enhance students’ learning experience. His motto is, “Building A Better Bertie.” 

 Having the chance to publicly reflect on the journey of ECSU, its history and impact is a prestigious opportunity, Smallwood said.  

 "I am deeply honored and humbled to have been selected as the Founder’s Day speaker for Elizabeth City State University. As we celebrate this significant milestone, I am reminded of the visionary founders who had a bold vision for education and empowerment,” he said. “I look forward to addressing the bright minds, faculty members, alumni, and distinguished guests who will gather on this special day.” 

Smallwood earned a degree in mathematics education from ECSU, a master’s degree in school administration from East Carolina University and a doctorate from Nova Southeastern University. He has served in several educational roles including assistant principal and assistant superintendent, as well as teacher and bus driver.  

The Founder’s Day Convocation is the first of two events to commemorate the university’s establishment in 1891. The university’s annual Scholarship Gala is Saturday, March 9, 6 p.m. To purchase tickets or to learn about how to become a sponsor, visit the event site.   


Elizabeth City State University provides students with a high-quality, affordable education. A constituent member of the University of North Carolina System, ECSU develops courageous, resilient, and empowered leaders through excellent student-centered, experiential learning. ECSU offers baccalaureate, professional, and master’s degrees across a wide variety of disciplines. Come to Discover. Leave to Conquer. Visit