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Division of Human Resources

Presidential Search Survey Results

As part of the process of searching for the next President of the University of South Carolina, the Presidential Candidate Search Committee invited USC System stakeholders and members of the public for input on the qualities the Committee should seek in potential candidates. Between June 23 and August 2 of 2021, the Committee's online survey recorded 5,928 responses. Here are some key findings.

University of South Carolina
Presidential Candidate Search Committee
Data Provided by Respondents to Presidential Search Survey

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Section 59-117-40(5) of the Code of Laws of South Carolina gives the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees the sole power “to appoint a University president.” The University of South Carolina’s Presidential Candidate Search Committee was appointed on May 21, 2021, in keeping with Board of Trustees policy BTRU 3.01 (“Presidential Candidate Search Committee”) [pdf]. The Search Committee is “charged by the Board of Trustees with the recruitment and assessment of candidates for the position of President of the University of South Carolina.” The Board of Trustees will appoint a new President from among a set of not less than three names of fully acceptable candidates presented to the Board by the Search Committee.

The Presidential Candidate Search Committee created and implemented an online survey for the purpose of gathering opinions from stakeholders and members of the public about desired characteristics of potential candidates for the position of President along with current issues facing the University and the next President. As the survey’s introductory message noted, “[t]he President of the University of South Carolina serves as the chief executive of the University of South Carolina System and of the System's flagship research university in Columbia.”

The survey was linked to the dedicated webpage regarding the University’s presidential search. Completion of the survey was encouraged via emails to stakeholders and via other means.

Between June 23 and August 2 of 2021, the online survey was accessed 6,213 times. (It is possible that some of these 6,213 instances represented individuals who accessed and perhaps completed portions of the survey multiple times.) The survey was initiated by replies to the first survey item 5,928 times. Not all of these 5,928 initiations resulted in completed responses to all survey items.

Respondents were predominantly alumni (43.74%) and current students (29.22%), with lesser numbers representing faculty (10.12%), staff (12.97%), family members of students (1.32%), members of the public (0.3%), and others (2.33%). A great majority of respondents were associated with USC Columbia.

Survey results reported here are not provided with any claims as to representative quality across the USC System or within USC System institutions—nor are data provided here with claims as to representative participation by demographic groups. Data have not been weighted to approximate representative samples. There are no measures of statistical significance reported here, because no effort has been made to determine deviations from a mean. That is, the data provided here merely represent the opinions of those who had access to the survey, along with the time and the interest to reply.

For many survey items, respondents were asked to rate the relative importance (on a scale of 1 [not at all important] to 5 [very important]) of a quality or concept. Responses yielded high and low averages as follows:

  • Professional qualifications that the Search Committee should seek among candidates:
    “Experience leading a large, complex organization” (high mean = 4.4)
    “Experience as an elected official at the local, state, or federal level” (low mean = 1.97)
  • Personal characteristics that the Search Committee should seek among candidates:
    “Integrity” (high mean = 4.93)
    “Caution” (low mean = 3.56)
  • Matters affecting all members of the USC community that should be prioritized by USC’s next President:
    “Academic excellence” (high mean = 4.77)
    “Intercollegiate athletics” (low mean = 3.37)
  • Matters affecting faculty and staff that should be prioritized by USC’s next President:
    "Promoting a positive work culture across the USC System” (high mean = 4.56)
    “Online course offerings” (low mean = 3.49)
  • Matters affecting students that should be prioritized by USC’s next President:
    “Quality of instruction” (high mean = 4.77)
    “Online course offerings” (low mean = 3.53)

When asked to rank-order the next USC President’s major categories of duties from most (1) to least (9) important, respondents awarded the greatest degree of importance to “Promoting academic excellence” (mean = 3.08). Respondents awarded the least degree of importance to “External engagement in associations, policies, and trends related to higher education” (mean = 6.66).

Feedback received through this survey instrument, along with opinions voiced during approximately 29 (as of September 8, 2021) constituent meetings, will shape the leadership profile for the University of South Carolina Presidency, which the Presidential Candidate Search Committee will prepare and release in early September. Similarly, feedback will shape interview questions posed by the Search Committee as it interviews candidates for the position of President.

Constituent and public feedback informs but does not limit the Search Committee’s opinions, processes, and choices. In fact, Board of Trustees policy BTRU 3.01 (“Presidential Candidate Search Committee”) [pdf] encourages members of the Committee to “[d]eliberate and make decisions according to the best interests of the University System and without the need to make decisions in order to satisfy any subset of stakeholders— that is, act in the University System’s fiduciary interests rather than in the interests of any stakeholders.” The University of South Carolina Board of Trustees, like all boards governing U.S. colleges and universities, exists to protect the fiduciary interests of the institution that is governs; this expectation is delineated in Board Bylaws [pdf] and policies.

A detailed report regarding survey results may be obtained through a request to the Secretary of the Board of Trustees at trustees@sc.edu.

Respondent's Relationship to the USC System

 

Professional Qualifications Desired of USC’s Next President

 

Personal Characteristics Desired of USC's Next President

 

Issues Facing the USC System and USC's Next President

 

Major Categories of Duties for USC's Next President

 

For an accessible version of the information above, download the accessibility spreadsheet [xls]. A detailed report regarding survey results may be obtained through a request to the Secretary of the Board of Trustees at trustees@sc.edu.

 


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