Legislative requests highlight USCís innovation
By Liz McCarthy, email@example.com, 803-777-2848
Flexibility, affordability and accessibility. That’s the message university President Harris Pastides delivered to S.C. lawmakers Wednesday as he laid out USC’s legislative priorities.
“Business as usual in higher education will not work any longer in South Carolina or in the United States,” Pastides said as he described USC’s two innovative programs launching this year -- South Carolina Palmetto College and On Your Time Graduation.
Thanking the General Assembly for its past support of S.C. Palmetto College, Pastides asked lawmakers to consider an additional $2.1 million in permanent funding for S.C. Palmetto College to match the $2.9 million the online degree program currently receives.
“South Carolina Palmetto College may be the most significant investment the General Assembly has made to increase flexibility, affordability and accessibility to four-year baccalaureate degrees in high demand, employable fields,” the president said.
S.C. Palmetto College will offer seven majors in the fall, including business, criminal justice and education, allowing place-bound South Carolinians a way to earn a degree without leaving jobs, families or communities.
Pastides presented his vision for the university’s On Your Time Graduation initiative that will allow students to complete degrees quicker and reduce overall tuition costs and loan debt by creating a full 12-week summer session with a variety of course options.
On Your Time Graduation redefines the traditional academic calendar, providing flexibility and maximizing assets.
“What this program represents is not business as usual,” Pastides said. “It’s a sea change, a culture change at USC.”
The university is seeking $5 million in permanent funding for this unique program that will serve as a model for other institutions across the country.
To support this effort, USC will also ask lawmakers to consider changing how lottery scholarships are used so that students could apply financial aid to the new semester.
USC Beaufort Chancellor Jane Upshaw also spoke with legislators about equitable parity funding, urging lawmakers to fix funding inequities among state universities. Currently USCB’s $1.4 million in state funding is the lowest per-student funding among the state’s teaching-focused public universities.
Upshaw asked lawmakers to support the university’s request for $8.3 million for the USC system to match the statewide average.
"These institutions are critical to building a highly skilled, professional workforce for the future of our state," Upshaw told the Island Packet after the meeting. “We are simply asking for a level playing field.”
The remaining $22.25 million in the request would go to deferred maintenance on all eight campuses, including $15 million that would add much needed classroom space at Hamilton College.
Pastides’ presentation comes a week before Carolina Day at the State House Feb. 6 when alumni, faculty and staff from the eight campuses visit state lawmakers in support of the university and voice their support for these ground-breaking initiatives and critical needs.
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