President Pastides Welcomes Students Home

Welcome home! It's great to have the entire Gamecock family back on campus. I've received cards, emails, photos and tweets from many of you over the past few months and I'm delighted that you've had such a productive summer. From internships, to study abroad, to backpacking, to community service, to classes and labs right here on campus and more, you've been wonderfully engaged. 

I know that all of you join Patricia and me in welcoming our incoming freshmen—the class of 2020. Over the past decade, as the University of South Carolina has become a destination of choice for students around the globe, the competition for admittance has also become quite fierce. Carolina's growing academic accolades, including top global university in the state, allow us to select a truly impressive community of scholars. This year alone, we received more than 25,000 freshman applications for approximately 5,100 openings. We're proud that each member of our Carolina family has earned his or her rightful place on campus. 

I'm so glad that each of you are here. This is where you belong. Welcome home.  

We are committed to a superior student experience. This will require engagement beyond the classroom as each of you participate in leadership opportunities, service learning, international experiences, internships, undergraduate research, social justice activities and more. Research tells us that the first six weeks on campus set the tone for the future. As many of you learn to balance new freedoms with new responsibilities, remember to set goals and work toward their completion, don't be afraid to explore academic possibilities and I encourage each of you to step out of your comfort zone to participate and lead. 

The cornerstone of learning is built on our outstanding faculty. Take the time to get to know your professors. Visit them during their office hours and let them get to know you. Also, I ask that you take the initiative to check in with your advisors frequently—especially our new freshmen and transfer students. Your advisors will help you stay on track and are the key to scholarship opportunities, internships, study abroad and graduating On Your Time—which, we trust, is in four years or less. 

As a Carolina family, we are inspired by the ideals found in the Carolinian Creed. I am committed to civil and substantive campus conversations. On this campus, you will find an unqualified support of diversity and inclusiveness. We are excited as our bold, new initiatives such as The Center for Civil Rights History and Research as well as the Welcome Table SC move forward. When we embrace the Carolinian Creed, we create a campus dedicated to greater unity of purpose. 

We recently received happy news that the city of Columbia has been ranked as one of the top ten college towns in the nation. I have no doubt that the vibrancy of our student population, the beauty of our historic campus and the enthusiasm of our Gamecock fan base have helped secure this ranking. Of course our most important rankings and the ones that will open doors for you in the future include our 47 nationally ranked programs in areas such as undergraduate and graduate international business; public health; engineering; nursing; and hospitality, retail and sports management. 

Let's make a pact to look out for each other this year. As Gamecocks, we have an obligation to stand up and speak out when we see a member of our community engaging in dangerous behavior. This includes sexual harassment and/or assault as well as irresponsible use of alcohol. We're a family. We look out for each other—especially during these first six weeks. 

So. It's official. You are a college student and an adult. While we are here to do whatever we can to help you make smart and appropriate choices, ultimately you are responsible for the decisions you make. So make wise ones that will set a solid foundation for your successful future. I'm counting on you. 

I'm so glad that each of you are here. This is where you belong. Welcome home.