A message to students to use time wisely

Dear Gamecock students,

Well, to all you seniors, this is your fourth fall in a row with either a flood or a hurricane. Hopefully this isn't the new normal - but just in case, maybe we should write a "weather break" into the academic calendar for next fall!

Or maybe we should just cancel this year's fall break...(kidding).

Your professors are aware of the importance of making up lost class time with you and I'm confident that by the end of this semester you will be right where you need to be.

But I also wonder if we might try making use of this newfound time to make the university even better?

I also want to remind you that there are many ways to use your downtime wisely and productively, especially since we don't anticipate the rain or heavier weather to arrive until later this week. For example, you can drop by the Student Success Center for tutoring and writing support; join a group exercise class at the Wellness and Fitness Center; take in popcorn and a movie at the Russell House; or get ahead in your schoolwork at the Thomas Cooper Library which is open 24/7 this week. Many other services and activities are remaining available to you.

I also look for forward to seeing some of you in front of the Russell House tomorrow at noon for an "Anything But School" conversation with me. And, by the way, there will be food!

But I also wonder if we might try making use of this newfound time to make the university even better?

Often in our history, great advances have been achieved as a result of an unforeseen difficulty or event. For example, the Mayo Clinic was established because there was an immediate need to recruit doctors in the aftermath of a tornado that struck Rochester, MN in 1883.

Sears, Roebuck and Company was established in 1886 when a railway station agent, Richard Sears, was stuck with a shipment of watches that a local jeweler refused to sign for. He designed a catalog and established a side business selling the watches, and soon quit his job to start the first big catalog mail order business.

Payman Taei was a senior at the University of Maryland when he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. Bedridden and unable to attend classes, he used the time to learn digital art, an interest that he had not had time to pursue. That led to becoming a website developer, and he is now the CEO of HindSite Interactive, a leading design and development firm.

To this end, Patricia and I are putting up $100 awards for up to ten students who write the most insightful short essays entitled, "This is How We Can Make USC an Even Better University." If selected, I will also invite you to be on my Student Advisory Council.

I will leave it to you to define the parameter of that question. But please no papers about parking and early semester food lines! Please submit your responses to president@sc.edu by Monday morning. I look forward to seeing you at the Russell House at noon tomorrow to talk more about the contest and many other things.

Be engaged and safe, fellow Gamecocks!

Harris Pastides