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System Affairs

Our Leadership

The system's research institution in Columbia joins three additional comprehensive institutions across the state to provide traditional four-year degree programs, awarding bachelor's and advanced degrees. Together with Palmetto College, these institutions and their leaders are dedicated to their students and their local communities.

Campus Chancellors

Chancellor Susan Elkins

Susan Elkins — Palmetto College

Named chancellor of and chief administrative officer of Palmetto College in February 2013, Chancellor Susan Elkins coordinates the entire university system's degree completion programs. Elkins is also responsible for the overall planning, resource allocation and program evaluation of the USC Lancaster, USC Salkehatchie, USC Sumter and USC Union campuses as well as the online bachelor’s degree completion programs offered by the four senior campuses — USC Aiken, USC Beaufort, USC Columbia and USC Upstate.

Daniel Heimmermann

Daniel Heimmermann — USC Aiken

A former university provost and vice president for academic affairs, Heimmermann will focus on student success of USC Aiken as well as addressing the workforce needs of the region through the addition of new degree programs. Renowned for its high-quality, accessible, industry-aligned academic programs, USC Aiken is also committed to transformative, engaged teaching, compelling research, and partnerships that enrich the lives of students as well as the region and state.

Bennie Harris

Bennie L. Harris — USC Upstate

As chancellor, Bennie Harris brings higher education executive leadership expertise to USC Upstate. He intends to continue Upstate’s commitment to growth by improving academic programs, creating programs that respond to new employment needs, deepening the impact of service, adding new facilities, renovating and adapting existing spaces to emerging technologies and methods, and expanding the permanent resources necessary for long-term service and success.

Chancellor Al Panu

Al Panu — USC Beaufort

With a career in higher education that spans nearly 30 years, chancellor Al Panu was appointed to his current role at USC Beaufort in June 2015. It was the vision for USC Beaufort that attracted him to the chancellor position including of a distinctive academic, student-centered and community-engaged education. Passionate about bridging higher education and community, Panu is eager to expand USC Beaufort's efforts to provide first-rate, world-class higher education to the Lowcountry region of our state.


Palmetto College Campus Deans

Dean Walter Collins

Walt Collins — Lancaster

Professor Walt Collins began his career at USC Lancaster in August 2002 as an Instructor of French and English. Rising quickly through the ranks to assistant professor and assistant dean of student affairs, Collins began serving as Regional Campus Dean on April 15, 2013. He was also promoted to the rank of professor in August of 2015.

Dean Ron Cox

Ron Cox — Palmetto College Columbia

Professor Ron Cox was named Dean of Palmetto College Columbia in 2019. He first joined USC Salkehatchie as an instructor in 1992 and was named director of the USC Salkehatchie Walterboro campus in 2000. While serving as associate dean for academic and student affairs at USC Lancaster from 2002 to 2019, he was promoted to the rank of professor of history in 2015. 

Interim Dean Randy Lowell

Randy Lowell  — Union

Professor Randy Lowell began teaching at University of South Carolina-Union in 2012 before later transitioning into an administrative role. He currently serves as interim campus dean. Lowell, a research-focused psychology professor, is the founder of the campus’ Perception, Attention, Language and Memory Psychology Lab and USCU Research Club.

Chris Nesmith

Chris Nesmith — Salkehatchie

Professor Chris Nesmith became Regional Campus Dean in spring 2019. Nesmith came to the University of South Carolina in 2003 as coordinator of the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program and instructor of English with Trio Programs. In 2013, he was named assistant vice provost for Extended University, quickly followed by his appointment as associate provost of Palmetto College in January 2015.

Dean Michael Sonntag

Michael Sonntag — Sumter

Professor Michael Sonntag became Regional Campus Dean of USC Sumter in 2014. A first-generation college student, he earned his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology in 1997 from the University of Arkansas. He has served on a variety of community development boards and committees, and is a member of Rotary International.

System Affairs

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