Alumni Advocate for Carolina, Higher Education
Nearly 300 students, alumni and supporters of the University of South Carolina on Wednesday, February 6, 2013, converged at the State House in Columbia for the 10th annual Carolina Day at the State House to speak one on one with state legislators regarding legislative priorities affecting the university. The event is sponsored by My Carolina Alumni Association’s Carolina Action Network.
View photos from the event.
“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.
See Cocky at the event!
Among the university's priorities for the legislature are Palmetto College, "On Your Time" graduation initiative, equitable parity funding and deferred maintenance.
- USC’s Palmetto College will allow working or place-bound South Carolinians to complete or earn baccalaureate degrees online without leaving their jobs, families or communities; ensuring a USC degree opportunity for all our state’s residents. In coordination with the regional campuses, Palmetto College will offer an array of degrees through the system’s flagship and comprehensive campuses.
- With the new “On Your Time” graduation initiative, USC students will have the flexibility to complete their degrees quicker, reducing overall tuition costs and student loan debt. By redefining the traditional university academic calendar, USC will become a model by providing a third full semester of classes during the summer, increasing the number of core and STEM courses, reducing class size, and more opportunities for degree completion.
- Equitable parity funding. A dramatic disparity exists among higher education institutions in funding received per in state resident student. For 2012, the calculated funding per South Carolina Full-Time Equivalent student averaged $2,487. USC asks the legislature to bring Senior (Aiken, Beaufort & Upstate) and Palmetto College campuses (Lancaster, Sumter, Salkehatchie & Union) to that average.
- Deferred maintenance. The USC system is comprised of eight campuses across the state with more than 6 million square feet of teaching and research space. Several of our buildings are more than 100 years old. As state funding for higher education has been drastically reduced over the last decade, routine maintenance has been delayed or funded internally by revenue that would ordinarily support the core University missions. USC is grateful to the General Assembly for previous appropriations that help defray USC's overall annual deferred maintenance costs. FY 2013-14 deferred maintenance funding will allow USC system to address dire needs in renovation, roofing, HVAC and safety concerns with existing infrastructure.
“We will only ask for things that we think will be compounded with interest for the people of South Carolina,” President 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 1 in every 37 jobs in South Carolina. The university and its alumni contribute more to the state in taxes than USC receives in state appropriations —about $75 million dollars more.
My Carolina offers opportunities for all alumni to donate their time to make the University stronger through advocacy, supporting academic scholarships and many other programs. My Carolina strives to keep alumni connected and show how each alumnus can make a difference for the university today and for the future. For more information, visit www.MyCarolina.org.
The following are additional quotes from University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides at the pre-event briefing for advocates at the Capitol City Club in Columbia Wednesday morning.
On 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. Let’s annualize that (appropriations) money.”
On the “On Your Time” 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. We’re asking for $5 million in funding for the infrastructure for that.”
On 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 one thousand dollars per year; whereas other public colleges and universities received about four thousand dollars per year. So we’d like to address that.”
On deferred maintenance
“We have a ten 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. We’re asking for $22,250,000.”
“We are committed, resourceful and flexible. We are more committed to the people of South Carolina than any time in our history. 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.”
“Resourceful. We’re finding new ways to conduct business. We outsource when we can, cut costs when we can, eliminate duplicate programs when we can. We’re very resourceful, and we’re looking at new ways to generate revenue.”
“We need to be flexible and break down barriers. We’re going to use technology and we’re going to redesign the academic calendar.”