Investiture Ceremony for Dr. Al M. Panu

Excerpts from President Pastides prepared remarks. 

Welcome everyone to the Helen and Brantley Harvey Plaza at the University of South Carolina Beaufort.  This beautiful campus opened in 2004, joining our original campus in Beaufort, and soon we will have a new campus on Hilton Head.  Together, we are here to participate in one of our institution's most venerated traditions. The Investiture of the Chancellor marks an important milestone for USC Beaufort and for the entire University family. 

I'm so pleased to be with faculty, students, alumni, trustees, government officials, community members, and friends and family of our new Chancellor. We come together to briefly reflect on our past, but more importantly to offer our expectations for an even brighter future for the students who will study and mature here; for the communities and the counties served by USC Beaufort; for the entire Palmetto State; and, dare I say, the world, which will be better for what we will expect to do here, what we must do here, and what we will do here. 

I have not read his remarks, but I believe that Dr. Al Panu will tell you that the road from his native Democratic Republic of the Congo to the highest office of this beautiful university on the coast of South Carolina has been filled with interesting and colorful adventures.  I learned about a few of them during our interviews together including his studies toward baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degrees in chemistry and his experiences at other universities in helping thousands of students meet their full potential.  

I recommended Al's appointment to the Board of Trustees from among the many qualified candidates that the search committee and I interviewed for two main reasons. First, he had extensive—extensive—and relevant experience on what makes college students successful. Al's passion for education, including making it accessible and affordable, was evident in our conversations.  Pat Conroy, our beloved friend who last visited this campus in October, wrote, "One can learn anything, anything at all...if provided by a gifted and passionate teachers."  Second, Al has a warm and engaging personality coupled with a gentle demeanor which is well suited to the diverse citizenry of the towns and communities served by USC Beaufort.  You might even say that his gentleness matched the gentleness of the Lowcountry landscape perfectly. 

More than anything, I came to recognize that Al was filled with a great desire to serve this university—not just to serve any university in a high position—but to serve this university. 

We spoke at length about the historic evolution of USC Beaufort, including its start as Beaufort College in 1795 to the 1959 collaboration between our university and Beaufort and Jasper County officials to develop a two-year regional regional campus, to its emergence in 2004 as a four-year comprehensive university. Its purpose was evident from the start and it has always served its students and communities with distinction.   

Let me confess to each of you how excited I get every time I visit the historic Beaufort campus. Patricia and I always make time to walk down Bay Street and visit its eclectic shops. But there was more to do than USC Beaufort could do from its traditional location. There were more students and more communities and more needs throughout Jasper, Colleton, Hampton and Beaufort counties and the idea of a larger, new campus was born. It could not happen from Columbia alone. 

What we have here, in fact, could never have happened without the vision and resolve of citizens and government leaders who were willing not only to recognize the need but to pay for the expansion of educational opportunity; to subsidize the land and the buildings; and to subsidize, in partnership with the university and the state of South Carolina, recurring funds to provide a first-rate college experience right here in the Lowcountry. 

The landscape for higher education is not a canvas of green grass and blue sky—not an impressionist painting by Manet of a Sunday afternoon picnic on the banks of the Seine—it's more of a Rembrandt with lots of dark tones yet always, always the golden glow of light penetrating the darkness.  

I cannot overstate the gratitude that the University of South Carolina, our Board of Trustees and I owe to the county councils, the towns and the people of Beaufort and Jasper County for their ongoing efforts and continued financial support.  It also could not have happened without our USC trustees, notably Mack Whittle who was transitioning from his term as chairman and Herb Adams, who was coming in as chair; President Andrew Sorensen; and before I go any further—it could not have happened without a strong—let me restate that—without an indomitable and creative woman who would not take "no" for an answer, the University of South Carolina Beaufort's first Chancellor, Jane T. Upshaw. May we please recognize Jane and Tom Upshaw who are here with us today? 

During my tenure, I've been on this gorgeous 200 acre campus for commencements, for groundbreakings and for ribbon-cuttings—including food service, bookstore and campus life facilities—plus a new Sand Shark Recreation Center and two new on-campus residences. 

Today, USC Beaufort's second Chancellor will be installed at a time of continued need and increased challenges.  The landscape for higher education is not a canvas of green grass and blue sky—not an impressionist painting by Manet of a Sunday afternoon picnic on the banks of the Seine—it's more of a Rembrandt with lots of dark tones yet always, always the golden glow of light penetrating the darkness.  In the Lowcountry, that light is USC Beaufort and with great leadership the canvas will grow increasingly brighter. 

I'm extremely proud that all three of our comprehensive universities, the University of South Carolina Beaufort, the University of South Carolina Aiken and the University of South Carolina Upstate are ranked among the top public colleges in the South.  

In a few minutes I will be placing the symbolic mantle of authority on Dr. Al M. Panu.  He will then, officially, become the Chancellor of the University of South Carolina Beaufort.  When I do so, I want all of you to symbolically help me place the medallion on his shoulders, because he must feel your support, as well as mine—and because he must be accountable to all of you, as well as to me.  

Please join me in officially welcoming Al, his wife Judith and their three children Sylvain, Marc and Anna to the University of South Carolina family.  

Let's take a moment to recognize the Board of Trustees. Serving as volunteers, they make a sacrifice of their time and resources to benefit the quality of life in the Lowcountry and to make South Carolina more prosperous, healthier and more vibrant.  When we say Carolina changes everything, it starts with our Board of Trustees. 

Let's also take a moment to applaud the work of our faculty, administrators and all staff members, for they are the ones closest to the action—to the place where learning is fostered and delivered—USC Beaufort's faculty and staff.  

Charge to the Chancellor and Presentation of the Chancellor Medallion 

 

I will ask the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees Chair Eugene Warr, Board member William Jones and Dr. Panu to join me at the podium. Dr. Al M. Panu, the University of South Carolina's Board of Trustees and I are charged by the General Assembly, on behalf of all the people of South Carolina, to oversee a most vital enterprise dealing with the quality of life in South Carolina.  The University has pledged itself to be a "faithful index to the ambitions and fortunes of the state." 

As our new Chancellor, the task before you is large. You must court many constituencies for support. You must inspire many people involved in every aspect of this institution's life and work every day of each year by being the leader of our students, faculty and staff. You must remind us to infuse every aspect of collegiate life with the integrity inherent in discovering and imparting knowledge and truth, and with the tenets of the Carolinian Creed as an aspirational guide. 

It now will be my privilege to bestow on you the emblems of office, which symbolize the responsibilities, which you have already borne admirably for seven months. Will all please rise? 

Medallion placed on Dr. Panu.

Dr. Al M. Panu, by virtue of the authority vested in the Board of Trustees by the General Assembly, acting on behalf of the people of this state, I hereby do install you as the Chancellor of the University of South Carolina Beaufort. I charge you to guide and guard this historic citadel of learning. 

If you willingly accept this challenge, accept with it this medallion of office, which designates you as the embodiment of the institution's power and authority.  

Congratulations Dr. Panu.