Pastides to USC community: Participate, innovate, lead
USC President Harris Pastides welcomed the Carolina community to the historic Horseshoe Wednesday for the annual State of the University address, offering his personal refrain for the year: “Participate, innovate and lead.”
“All of our state and national universities provide a good education. However, few are the universities that accept a role in leading their state to higher levels of economic performance and social well being and who can actually deliver on that promise,” Pastides said. “This is the University for South Carolina, the one who participates, who innovates and who leads.”
Speaking to about 800 students, faculty and staff gathered under the shade of live oak trees on a picture-perfect morning, Pastides extolled the accomplishments of the university in the past year and looked ahead to exciting things to come in 2011-12.
He thanked faculty and staff for their creative and innovative work, pointing out that the university set another record for federal research funding in the past year. He also said the faculty ranks were strengthened by three National Academy members, three fellows of the American Council of Learned Societies and one National Medal of Science winners.
Pastides also announced a merit bonus plan for employees. “It’s only a gesture to some, but I hope it’s also a statement of the university's commitment to you,” he said.
He also said he has asked his administrative team to develop a more significant merit salary adjustment for staff and faculty next year.
Pastides acknowledged several students in the crowd, saying, “My most enjoyable moments as president are those that I spend with our students. They are the ultimate reason we are here and they are also the great promise of America.”
Among those singled out were Reggie Bain, a Carolina Scholar who developed a science outreach project for K-12 students; Elizabeth Wilson, USC’s 2011 Outstanding Woman of the Year; and Michael Roth, the All-American pitcher for the Gamecocks back-to-back national championship baseball team.
On Nov. 11, the university will kick off the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in South Carolina’s history. The campaign will focus on the university’s initiatives, including Rule of Law; aerospace; increasing access to high-quality public education; creating a healthier state and nation; contributing to a sustainable energy future; and developing an enriched leadership curriculum.
“An investment in these initiatives is an investment in our students, the state of South Carolina, our nation and the world,” Pastides said.
For those in the crowd, the State of the University offered a chance to celebrate the university’s successes and look forward to its future. For staff members Venis Manigo, director of purchasing, and Susie Vitaris the event was like a family reunion.
“I came out to hear the speech and celebrate being part of the university family,” said Manigo, who has worked at the university for 20 years. “This is our family reunion.”
“This event is a great opportunity to celebrate who we are and all the wonderful things that are happening at our university,” said Vitaris, a senior budget analyst and 25-year employee. “We have so much to be proud of academically and athletically.”
Dr. Casey Goldston, an instructor and academic programs coordinator in the Arnold School of Public Health, brought her University 101 class to hear the address.
“It’s important for them to know what’s going on with the institution, and especially to get freshmen involved,” Goldston said.
Dr. Claudia Benitez-Nelson, a professor in the department of earth and ocean sciences and the marine science program, was thrilled with the speech’s location.
“This is the university! The Horseshoe defines the character of the University of South Carolina. To have it on the center of the campus where people naturally congregate, highlights what’s beautiful about USC,” she said. “Look at how many people are here -- faculty, staff and students -- and that’s what’s important.”
Peter Duffy, an assistant professor and director of the MAT Program in theatre education, said it is wonderful to see what is happening across the USC system.
“It’s great to see our athletic teams do well, but it also is great to see our MFA program ranked among the top 50 and to see our theatre and dance programs growing and doing well,” Duffy said. “We are feeling Gamecock pride across the board.”
Kenny Tracey, a junior sport management major from Atlanta, said he was glad to hear Pastides talk about USC Connect, an innovative approach that integrates learning within and beyond the classroom.
“Being a Gamecock means a lot to me,” Tracey said. “A Gamecock is a charismatic leader, a person who doesn’t sit back. It is someone who goes after it and really likes to make an impact on those around him.”
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