Following a competitive process administered by the National CESU Council (with representatives from each participating federal agency), the North Atlantic Coast CESU was established in June 1999 by cooperative agreement between agencies of the Department of the Interior (National Park Service and USGS) and the University of Rhode Island as host institution, with University of Maryland Eastern Shore as a partner.

The North Atlantic Coast CESU has grown significantly over the past decade, now with 7 federal agencies and 15 academic and non-federal organizations. The cooperative agreement was renewed in 2004, and again in 2009, by the National CESU Council based on a federal agency and external peer review process.

The consortium of academic institutions and research/educational organizations, each with a strong expertise in addressing issues of the coastal zone, provides the participating federal agencies with an extraordinary wealth of technical expertise to draw from. New, innovative and creative science-based solutions are being developed in response to the myriad of environmental and social issues that confront of nation’s coastal zone.

The CESU is truly a cooperative venture. Academic and other non-federal scientists and students collaborate with federal agency scientists and managers on all CESU-supported projects. There is substantial involvement on the part of federal agencies, often providing technical guidance, participating in data collection, analysis and interpretation, and mentoring students, among other collaborative activities.