University address outlines Advance Carolina plans
Touching on accomplishments from the previous year and outlining plans for the coming year and beyond, President Pastides delivered his first-ever State of the University address Sept. 16 in the law school auditorium.
The audience of faculty, staff, and students included all of the University campuses, to which the address was streamed live on the Web.
Pastides, who joined the University 11 years ago and is starting his second year as president, briefly recounted the University’s achievements since he was named president in August 2008, including:
• back-to-back Columbia campus freshman classes that were the biggest and had the highest SAT averages in University history
• record enrollment for the University system this fall
• a record-breaking year in private support and research funding
• completion of building projects on the Columbia, Beaufort, and Upstate campuses
• and the University’s resilience in the face of historic reductions in state appropriations because of the economic recession.
“While there’s still more economic turbulence to come,” Pastides said, noting the recent 4 percent mid-year cut in this year’s budget, “I am 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, as well as on the lives of many people beyond our borders.”
Focus Carolina, the University’s comprehensive strategic planning initiative, will guide Carolina’s plans in the coming years, Pastides said. Advance Carolina, the next phase of Focus Carolina, will put Focus Carolina’s committee goals into action. That includes plans for becoming bigger and better -- increasing the number of state citizens with baccalaureate degrees and engaging in more impactful research and artistic creation.
Advance Carolina will also guide the University’s plans for:
• recruiting more diverse students, especially African Americans to the Columbia campus
• developing a long-range initiative for faculty recruitment and retention
• improving the quality for faculty and staff by reviewing tuition assistance for family members of USC employees and reviewing leave policies to determine if they are as accommodating as they can be
• and addressing deferred maintenance needs across the campuses.
Pastides reaffirmed his commitment to Innovista, the University’s research innovation district that has received extensive media attention recently because of the failure of two private developers to complete a private-sector building.
“I will be naming a new Economic Development Council to broaden the interface with the community [concerning Innovista], and we will seek new development approaches and partners for the private buildings,” he said. “Economic development cannot be measured by the results in the next quarter; it’s about creating the innovation that will advance our region and state in the same way that results have emerged, over decades, in Boston, Seattle and in Austin.”
In his closing remarks, Pastides noted that the University is “given huge responsibilities yet inadequate resources. We are expected to be more accessible, and at the same time more prestigious. … We are expected to participate in new ventures that could advance the state’s well being, but we are challenged when results are not immediate or when the path requires a detour.
“Still, as I said at my investiture in November, there is not another university in all of America that I would prefer to lead. This institution, this family, this University, I believe, makes a greater impact on the citizens of its state than any other university in the land.”