"I promise to accelerate
our momentum as a world- class University, yet remain
a faithful index to the best hopes and dreams of all
July 11, 2008
Dr. Pastides' remarks
Thank you, Chairman Adams, members of the Board of Trustees, the Search Committee, members of the University and South Carolina communities, and friends. It's an extraordinary honor to have been selected as the 28th president of the University of South Carolina and it's a joyful moment for me and my family. I'm sorry that my daughter, Katharine, and my son, Andrew, could not be here today, but my wife, Patricia, is here and she will be introduced to you in the weeks and months ahead. Her love of this University and of public education, K-16, will serve as a great benefit to us all.
I came to this flagship university and to the Palmetto State on Aug. 1, 1998, and one decade to the day later I will walk across the Horseshoe to the President's office in the Osborne Building. That walk will be an amazing journey, just like the journey of the last 10 years. In fact, it's particularly gratifying to know that after working for a decade as a professor, a dean and a vice president, that our Board feels that I've earned this privilege.
During the selection process, people asked, "What's so special about this opportunity at South Carolina?" Why here? Why now? I give the same answer today that I've given before; there are very few universities in America that makes as big a difference in the educational, economic, and cultural fortunes of their states as this University makes in South Carolina. From the foothills of the Upstate to the Atlantic shores, this University's eight campuses are everywhere and matter everywhere. I take our University's commitment to the people of our state very seriously and today I rededicate myself to it. The reverse is also true. ... The support of South Carolinians everywhere matters to this university.
I hope to be a great leader, and most great leaders stand on the shoulders of those who came before them. I'm thankful to two great presidents who preceded me, Andrew Sorensen and John Palms.
Bravo to President Sorensen. His six-year leadership has been significant for our University, Columbia, and our state. During the time of his leadership, we've seen strong growth in academic quality, research funding, the recruitment of excellent faculty, and applications by record numbers of students. I am glad, personally, that he won't be going far.
Ladies and gentlemen, one thing I told the Search Committee and the Board, and I will say this to anyone who will listen, is that speed matters, because the challenges ahead are not slowing down. We face —and must embrace—as Martin Luther King said, "the fierce urgency of now." In the spirit of the approaching Olympics —and congratulations to our exceptional Gamecock track athletes who will be representing our nation in Beijing—we are in a race to innovate and to contribute to our state's well-being, and time is not our teammate.
I plan to focus this University and make difficult decisions when necessary to accelerate our progress and to work efficiently and collaboratively. This is not a time for gradualism. I promise to accelerate our momentum toward becoming a world-class University, yet remain a faithful index to the best hopes and dreams of all South Carolinians.
One thing I will never compromise is the value of a University of South Carolina education. The cornerstone of this University must continue to be an accessible and high quality learning experience. I stand before you today as a product of public education. It was public education that unlocked the door of opportunity for me.
At age 17, I received a $250 per-semester, state-funded scholarship that nearly covered the cost of my tuition. ... You can imagine how long ago that was. I chose to attend a public university, based on the value it provided to me and to my family, and I became the first member of my family to go to college.
In that spirit I will seek more resources for our Gamecock Guarantee—the program that ensures that tuition will not be a struggle for first-generation and lower-income college students.
Our second President, Thomas Cooper, said it well: "That to have been a graduate of this University, shall everywhere be considered as a fair passport to the world's esteem."
I pledge to you today to work to increase the value of this fair passport by building consensus within the University, working fairly and openly with the State's other universities and colleges, with government, with the business community, and with every one of the University's friends wherever they might be. I will also reach out and be accessible to our community neighbors who ask the University to be a beacon of hope and opportunity. ... I pledge that this beacon will be visible and bright.
Finally, I look forward to continuing to promote the rich artistic tapestry that is everywhere at Carolina, as well as being Gamecock fan No. 1 at our thrilling athletic events. Go, Gamecocks!
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.
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