On Friday, February 3, about 200 USC campus leaders gathered at the Zone at Williams-Brice Stadium for the Provost’s Spring 2017 Retreat. The morning included three extended presentations before attendees rotated among three breakout sessions for more abbreviated discussions. The meeting closed with updates from other areas within the Office of the Provost.
Provost Gabel opened the meeting with remarks about the recent ban on travel from seven countries and the immediate impact on our international faculty and students in particular. The university is making every effort to support those affected. The provost followed this with an extended presentation of the university’s strategic plan. The Board of Trustees has endorsed this plan as an update to Focus Carolina.
Dennis Pruitt, vice president for student affairs and vice provost and dean of students, provided an update to enrollment management and recruitment. The university has achieved the difficult goal of concurrently growing the undergraduate student body and the academic credentials of our entering students. For the first time, total system enrollment exceeds 50,000. For USC Columbia, recruitment activities target measured growth for new students to 6000 new students each fall, in addition to transfer students. Given changing demographics and increased competition, the university must increase both the applicant pool and its yield of admitted students who enroll at USC. Every academic unit can support this effort through outreach to potential students and participation in recruitment activities.
Leslie Brunelli, vice president for finance and chief financial officer, provided a thorough overview of the university’s budget and how the state budget impacts it. For example, the state allocation for any salary increases only covers a small portion of the actual cost; the university must pay the balance through existing resources or tuition increases. The university is optimistic about the legislature’s interest in a bond bill for construction and renovation costs.
In the breakout sessions,
- Derek Gruner, university architect and director of planning a programming, described the campus master plan and talked about current and upcoming initiatives.
- Prakash Nagarkatti, vice president for research, discussed the university’s research productivity, focusing on progress toward metrics at national benchmark levels. In addition to showing increases in funding and publications, graphs visually demonstrated the increase in research collaborations across the campus.
- Doug Foster, vice president for information technology and chief information officer, provided opening remarks and allocated much of his time to responding to questions from the participants.
The meeting concluded with lunch, brief updates concerning faculty development initiatives (Cheryl Addy), undergraduate studies (Sandra Kelly), global and leadership studies (Robert Cox), building a more inclusive campus climate (John Dozier), and a raffle drawing for nine lucky door prize winners.