ECPI University observes its 50th anniversary
During the past 50 years, more than 60,000 students have graduated from Virginia Beach-based ECPI University, a private, for-profit school.
Mark Dreyfus is president of ECPI, which was started by his father, Alfred, in 1966. “His focus was always on student success, and that hasn’t changed,” Dreyfus says. “We focus on the skills that employers want.”
Alfred Dreyfus came to the U.S. from Switzerland in 1947 and found work repairing electronic equipment. He started ECPI, which stands for East Coast Polytechnic Institute, because he knew there would be a shortage of workers with technical skills, especially in the area of computer technology.
ECPI’s first class in Norfolk had about a dozen students. “By the early 1980s, we had students coming from Richmond and North Carolina,” Dreyfus says.
ECPI now has locations in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Newport News, Richmond, Roanoke and Manassas. The school has six more campuses in North Carolina and South Carolina. Online it has students in about 45 states.
ECPI has slightly more than 10,000 students, an enrollment level that has been consistent for the past five years. Average annual tuition is $14,290, with most students carrying student loans.
The school’s accelerated, year-round schedule gives students the chance to earn bachelor’s degrees in 2½ years or an associate degree in 1½ years. Day and night classes are offered with some Saturday classes as well.
ECPI has schools specializing in technology, health science, nursing, business, criminal justice and culinary arts. It offers students internship and externship programs with local employers.
Mike Morgan, executive director of information technology for the VCU School of Dentistry in Richmond, has two ECPI graduates working for him. “We have had a really good experience hiring from ECPI,” he says. “Most of the folks we hire are right out of the bachelor’s program. Within two months they are operating pretty independently. ECPI is my first recruiting source for help-desk consultants.”
ECPI says its curriculum focuses on areas that offer career opportunities leading to higher wages. In one of its biggest programs, network security, which has 1,413 students, average starting salaries are in the mid-$40,000 range. Electronics engineering technology graduates start around $50,000. The school has 1,057 students enrolled in that program.
ECPI’s current student employment rate is 83.6 percent within six months of graduation. That percentage relates to students now employed in the field in which they studied.