Skip to Content

University History

Joint Recommendations by University History and Communications and Education Subcommittees

The Presidential Commission on the History of the University of South Carolina received a two-pronged charge to “study and better understand the histories of the people whose names adorn our buildings” and “to research University history — more broadly — to capture the voices and contributions of forgotten, excluded, or marginalized groups.”  

Guided by principles of integrity, objectivity, accountability, and openness, Commission members addressed the charge. We believe that the University of South Carolina has an opportunity and duty to help current and future generations understand the truth in all its complexity. By doing so, it will honor its primary mission of promoting “the dissemination of knowledge” to the state and society.

The appointment of the Commission was a sign of progress and we have been successful in our work so far. Yet, much more work is needed. We urge the University to consider the following recommendations:

 

Administrative

Establish a permanent University history task force to provide ongoing input about programming, proposals for research projects, host scholarly activities and sustain the initiatives recommended by the Commission and accepted by University leadership. See Clemson University, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, University of Virginia, University of Alabama for models.

Clemson University [pdf]
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill - Message from Chancellor Folt: Task Force on UNC-Chapel Hill History
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill - Guskiewicz announces launch of history commission, details on community building fund
University of Virginia [pdf]
University of Alabama [pdf]

 

Communication/Outreach

University history website:

The University history website serves as a clearinghouse of information, research, projects, tours, and events regarding the University’s history. It will often be the first and only exposure to our history for members of the public. The University history website must continue to actively develop and grow to serve as a place of connectivity with the institution’s communities.

  • Establish a permanent working group or committee to ensure continued maintenance and expansion of content of the website after the commission’s work is done. Membership should include faculty and communications staff.
  • Add an interactive map to the website so that visitors can connect to different historical figures, subjects, and events by clicking on different buildings or sections of campus.
  • Create sections on different parts of campus so that the history of those areas prior to the University’s acquisition of them can be explored. Examples include the south campus and the Wheeler Hill community, and the original campus and indigenous communities. A land acknowledgment should be included with input from the indigenous community.
  • Information on the University’s buildings and grounds should include links to full biographies of the people for the whom the buildings are named and to related subjects in other sections of the website. For example, the entry on Hamilton College should include a link to the desegregation of the University, as it was the registration location for the first African American students since Reconstruction.
  • Adopt the recommended criteria provided by the Commission for governing the process of naming. 

Social media:

  • Produce a year-long social media campaign with monthly or bimonthly highlights of significant events and underrepresented persons or groups.
  • Produce “That’s not my name” social media campaign of short videos to promote understanding of the importance of pronouncing names correctly.

 

Education

  • Develop an educational outreach component, including workshops and curriculum development opportunities for high school and collegiate instructors. Lesson plans may be hosted on the University history website.
  • Produce a booklet to be issued during student orientation that provides a brief, inclusive, and illustrated history of the University of South Carolina.
  • Create virtual tours for different historical topics and sections of campus. If adapting existing tours, ensure they have consistency with the University's branding, so they are clearly official pages. An example of this is Hannah White’s African American history tour, which will be expanded by a graduate class in fall 2021.
  • Work with Walking Cinema to develop virtual walking tours based on sections of campus, time periods, and subjects, such as slavery, desegregation, and women’s history. The company worked with University of South Carolina Beaufort’s Institute for the Study of the Reconstruction Era to develop the “Free and Equal” app (see Appendix 16).
  • Encourage faculty to develop and teach academic courses on the history of the University and/or incorporate research on the history of the University.
  • Establish an annual week or month devoted to the history of the University with different types of educational events, proposed and or supported by cross campus participation, i.e., arts and sciences, education, law, music, cultural heritage institutions, and the at-large community.
  • Restore the diversity and inclusion requirement to Carolina Core, so that students must take a course related to race and diversity to graduate.
  • Incorporate/update study of the University’s history into University 101. Review what is currently used, expand, and update as new information is gathered.
  • Create an exhibit panel for each building providing the history of the building and a fuller biography of its namesake. This enables the University to provide educational and historical context on each building, regardless of renaming recommendations, while the Heritage Act is in place. If a building has been recommended for name change, that information could be included. For example, a display in Sims College would include the building history, a biography of J. Marion Sims, and the commission’s recommendation for changing the name. Initial panels should be based on the building histories produced by the commission.

 

Funding and Research

  • Establish long-term, sustainable funding sources to support continued research and educational activities on the University’s history, including administrative support, faculty release time, salary supplements, and small grants programs. Activities may include but are not limited to virtual and in-person conferences and roundtables, fine and performing arts, community focused events, research projects, curriculum development, and oral history projects.
  • Make funding sources available to both faculty and staff, as not all who are teaching are faculty, and allow for nonacademic departmental participation.
  • Support SCIAA proposal, NPHC Monument, Indigenous Discovery Tours of University of South Carolina’s Historic Horseshoe (see Appendix 17).
  • Continue dedicated and funded research of names on the buildings and landscape, following the research methodology established by the Names on the Landscape Subcommittee. Dr. Melissa DeVelvis’s term of employment extends through December, and she should continue her research and reports for future consideration during this time.
  • Fund a dedicated post-doctoral position for 2-3 years to conduct oral histories with faculty, staff, students, alumni, as well as at large community members to document their memories of and experiences with the University. The oral histories will be conducted following best practices as defined by the Oral History Association. The Oral History Department, University Libraries, should oversee this position and be responsible for audio preservation and eventual access. Funding would include coverage of transcription expenses.
  • Encourage faculty and students engaged in the study of the University’s history to submit their work to Scholar Commons institutional repository.
  • Encourage all campus units to compose/update their histories and deposit them in the University Archives. Review them for needed updates every two years. 

 

Other

  • Use resources of the University to work with members of communities such as Wheeler Hill and Ward One to bridge paths to healing and reconciliation.
  • We recommend that the University examine ways to create more diverse and balanced campus commemorations outside of a pay-for-name model.
  • Adopt the recommended criteria provided by the Commission for governing the process of naming. 
  • Host a “Test Your University of South Carolina History Knowledge” trivia event, which could be cosponsored by local merchants or organizations. Prizes could be donated to the top three teams. Participants might include teams of alumni, students, and university employees. The event could be hosted once a semester or yearly, and around such occasions as Homecoming or Parents Weekend.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.

©