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Rep. James Smith, District 72, Richland County, meets with advocates at Carolina Day at the State House.

Carolina family spreads USC's message at State House

By Brad Muller, mullerb@mycarolina.org

Nearly 350 students, alumni and supporters of the University of South Carolina converged at the State House Wednesday for the 10th Annual Carolina Day to speak one-on-one with legislators about the university’s legislative priorities.

“We are over 265,000 alumni strong with about 170,000 of those living, working, contributing to and voting in the State of South Carolina,” USC President Harris Pastides said. “We are as powerful as we’ve ever been, but we’re not going to use that power recklessly. We’re going to use it to increase our productivity and our dedication to the people of this state.”

All eight USC campuses were represented at the event, which was sponsored by My Carolina Alumni Association’s Carolina Action Network.

Among the university's priorities for the legislature are South Carolina Palmetto College, On Your Time Graduation initiative, equitable funding among public institutions and deferred maintenance. The visit comes one week after Pastides spoke with lawmakers about the university’s push for flexibility, affordability and accessibility.

“We will only ask for things that we think will be compounded with interest for the people of South Carolina,” Pastides told the advocates at the post-event luncheon. “I don’t know that we’ll get everything that we ask for, but we will remain hopeful. That’s not what today is about.  You can’t earn a dollar until you earn a friend. All of you on Carolina Day helped us make new friends, and you’ve helped even make better friends from those (legislators) that were already friends.”

The University of South Carolina and its alumni are a powerful force in driving the state’s economy by supporting nearly one in every 37 jobs in the state. The university and its alumni contribute more to the state in taxes than USC receives in state appropriations —about $75 million dollars more.

“We are committed, resourceful and flexible. We are more committed to the people of South Carolina than any time in our history,” Pastides said. “We will never look away. That’s not what a flagship university does. It does not look away from its people. We’re a public university.”

Here’s what President Pastides had to say Wednesday about the university’s legislative priorities.

S.C. Palmetto College:
“Palmetto College belongs to everybody. It’s not a Columbia program. It belongs to the whole system and beyond the system. You could have gone to a technical college. You could have gone to any university and decided at some point you didn’t have the money to continue or you had a parent who was ill, or you had other contingencies that made you drop out of school in good standing. Come on back. Palmetto College is South Carolina’s public online university.”

On Your Time Graduation initiative:
“Why should students graduate on our time? We want you to graduate on your time. Your time might be three years. We’re going to introduce a full summer semester with required courses and a full array of courses to make South Carolinians able to graduate in a more affordable way and on their time.”

Equitable Parity Funding:
“Our three comprehensive universities in Aiken, Upstate and Beaufort are funded below the median, and in some cases well below the median. The lowest amount funding per South Carolinians is received at USC Beaufort, less than $1,000 per year; whereas other public colleges and universities received about $4,000 per year. So we’d like to address that.”

Deferred Maintenance: 
“We have a 10 year capital plan, but it’s not enough money to take care of all of the buildings when they need to be taken care of. So it winds up costing us more to take care of them.”

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Posted: 02/06/13 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 02/07/13 @ 9:45 AM | Permalink

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