Our rich generosity of spirit

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the Carolinian Creed, a document that a diverse group of University of South Carolina students, faculty and staff created to foster a new age of civility and a generosity of spirit at Carolina.  The events playing out on college campuses across the country this week give us an opportunity to pause, reflect and evaluate the climate at our own university. 

Our Creed suggests that our campus community is wide enough to embrace inclusiveness, wise enough to listen to opposing views and strong enough to discourage bigotry. In order to create this sense of belonging and community, however, the ideals of the Carolinian Creed have to be supported by concrete actions. 

We have achieved a great deal, during both calm and troubled times.  In the past year alone, we've gathered for several listening forums where my administrative team and I have had the opportunity to hear from students, from our faculty, and from the surrounding community. And on an ongoing basis, we regularly meet with students, faculty, staff, parents and my Community Advisory Committee.  These conversations often provide advice and outcomes that help us map the way to a more inclusive environment. 

Let's continue to talk with each other, to share our concerns, to voice our grievances, to offer solutions, to report unacceptable incidences and also to celebrate the rich diversity that we share.

A tangible result of our work is one that we can all be proud of: Carolina has received four consecutive Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Awards, which were presented by the nationally recognized publication, Insight Into Diversity.  And recently the SEC awarded Carolina a substantial grant so that we might share our diversity programs with the entire conference.  But I also know that there is more to be done. 

Two years ago, we appointed USC's first chief diversity officer, Dr. John Dozier.  This position allows us to plan, support and evaluate needs within our community on an ongoing basis. Following this summer's tragedy in Charleston and the subsequent removal of the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds, I asked Dr. Dozier to begin working on an initiative designed to address issues of race and reconciliation.  You will soon hear more about this as we prepare to launch the South Carolina Collaborative on Race and Reconciliation. 

I cherish this university and remain steadfastly committed to improving our institution for the benefit of all members of the Carolina family. 

Provost Joan Gabel and Dr. Dozier are incorporating diversity and inclusion as part of our measurable campus progress. And I am pleased to announce that we are adding one more pathway for those seeking to graduate with Leadership Distinction.  This pathway will powerfully address Social Justice—a distinction that will resonate with our students' future employers. 

In addition, we have also created a Social Compact Task Force to explore ways to eliminate abusive behaviors including discrimination, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual assault and hazing. 

Together, as a community, we will continue to take a pro-active stance on diversity and inclusion.  Let's continue to talk with each other, to share our concerns, to voice our grievances, to offer solutions, to report unacceptable incidences and also to celebrate the rich diversity that we share.  I cherish this university and remain steadfastly committed to improving our institution for the benefit of all members of the Carolina family.  Every day, I witness rich generosity of spirit and I want that to be the experience of every member of our community.