President pledges commitment to ‘Advance Carolina’
University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides delivered his first “State of the University Address” since his investiture last November and told university faculty, staff and students that it is time to “Advance Carolina.”
The directive comes from a year-long, comprehensive initiative known as “Focus Carolina” that examined the university’s core values and core mission.
“Focus Carolina was guided by a new commitment to be ‘bigger and better,’ Pastides said. “Bigger, so that our eight universities can serve more of our citizens … and better because we have the talent, and we have the faculty and students to have an impact on everything that the United States needs more of to remain a beacon of hope and prosperity.”
This year, Pastides said, “It’s time to ‘Advance Carolina.’ Thank goodness for those stimulus funds and thank goodness that for two years we will have the flexibility to carry out selected activities that will make us bigger and better during a time when many would expect us to hunker down.”
Among Advance Carolina plans:
• Students: A key initiative will be “Teaching and Learning Excellence” to recruit and retain a high-quality and diverse student body. The 2009 freshman class is the largest ever, with its highest-ever SAT average (1194).
“I’m proud to say that Carolina is educating more students this fall than at any other time in our history,” said Pastides, who reported that more than 40 percent of Palmetto State students attending a public university are enrolled at a University of South Carolina campus.
Pastides said the university must do more to recruit diverse students, including African Americans who have a high enrollment on all of the university’s campuses except Columbia.
• Faculty: Focus Carolina led to an initiative to “create and promote programs to attract, develop and retain a strong faculty,” Pastides said.
In recent years, the university’s Centenary Plan and Faculty Excellence initiatives were successful in recruiting faculty as senior faculty retired. “Now it’s critical to Advance Carolina by developing a long-range plan to review faculty and retention efforts throughout the system,” said Pastides, who announced that Provost Michael Amiridis and his staff are working on an expanded faculty recruiting and retention initiative.
• Facilities, maintenance: The university also needs a plan to address deferred-maintenance needs. A preliminary funding plan will support a more aggressive deferred-maintenance schedule, and new building projects are moving ahead as much as possible, Pastides said.
Among projects newly completed or under way: a new Honors Residence Hall in Columbia, a Science Technology building at the Beaufort campus, and a freshman residence hall, named Magnolia House, at the Upstate campus, where a new Health Education Complex and George Dean Johnson Jr. College of Business and Economics are changing the face of the campus.
The Lancaster campus, celebrating its 50th anniversary, is raising funds for a new classroom building, and the Union campus has hired an architectural firm to develop a master plan that will build that campus’ future growth with Union’s historic Main Street.
Pastides said his commitment to academic facilities is firm, including a new home for The Darla Moore School of Business and a new School of Law building, as well as better facilities for the Arnold School of Public Health and the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies.
• Innovista: A video clip, featuring Moore school dean Hildy Teegen, emphasized the important role that Innovista, the university’s research district, will have in the school’s future development. Plans call for the new business school to be located in Innovista where, Teegen said, “We can serve as a commercialization hub.”
Pastides said his commitment to Innovista is as strong as ever and that he will name a new Economic Development Council to interact with the community: “We will seek new development approaches and partners for the private buildings.”
• Sustainability: The Princeton Review recently gave the university a score of 95 out of a possible 99 points for its sustainability efforts.
Pastides, a signer of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, said, “Carolina is serious about going green.” Efforts include becoming climate neutral in operations on every campus, installing energy-efficient lighting and appliances, using green cleaning products and making all new campus construction conform to the U.S. Green Building Council LEED Standards.
Mrs. Patricia Moore-Pastides also has led efforts to establish the Farmer’s Market on Greene Street and to grow vegetables in the President’s House garden that have been used at university functions and also donated to Harvest Hope.
Pastides also praised accomplishments in a year that saw the worst budget cuts in the university’s history ($55 million), a research funding record of $210 million, more than $100 million in private support, and top designations in research and service and outreach from the Carnegie Foundation.
“I’m proud to say that we haven’t lost our bearings or strayed from our course of providing a quality education, pursuing discovery and artistic creation that impacts humanity, and making a measurable difference on every one of our state’s communities,” Pastides said.