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20 in ‘18

A retrospective of UofSC highlights from the past year

From a world-class musical performance to stellar academic achievements and cutting-edge research discoveries, 2018 was an eventful year at the University of South Carolina, the state’s flagship institution which continues to have a large impact on the Palmetto State. Here are 20 of the year’s many highlights.

Larger than life

unveiling of the Richard T. Greener statue

The Richard T. Greener statue is located between Thomas Cooper Library and the Center for Health and Well-Being.

It’s fitting that the statue Carolina erected in February to honor Richard T. Greener, the university’s first African-American faculty member, is 9 feet tall. Greener’s larger-than-life story is one of academic achievement, professional success and civic service, played out mostly in the tumultuous years after the U.S. Civil War. It’s a story of firsts — in addition to being USC’s first black professor, Greener was also Harvard’s first black graduate and America’s first black diplomat to a country of white citizenry. “Not only is it the right thing to do to honor him, but this is the right place because the University of South Carolina was his first big appointment,” says Christian Anderson, a USC professor who teaches the history of education. Congressman Jim Clyburn joined other guests for the inaugural Richard T. Greener Symposium and dedication of the Greener statue.

Rhodos Fellows

In 2017, the university launched its Galen Fellows program, a living and learning community that groups together first-year health science majors. The concept was a hit: More than 1,000 students applied, and the first class of Galen Fellows included 455 students. This year, the same idea —grouping together students in related majors with the goal of instilling a more holistic and interdisciplinary understanding of their chosen career paths — was rolled out to students in the areas of information, design and computing. The Rhodos Fellows program brings together students from more than 40 majors and facilitates collaboration across those fields. From computer science to design, students living in South Quad under the leadership of faculty principal Simon Tarr, associate professor of media arts in the School of Visual Art and Design, are learning how their majors intersect and how working together across disciplines can magnify the impact of their efforts.

Life of Riley

Riley opening ceremony

In August, South Carolina Political Collections opened the Richard W. Riley Collection. Housed at the Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library, the trove of documents details the life and public career of Richard Wilson “Dick” Riley, a former South Carolina state representative, senator and governor, and U.S. Secretary of Education. “USC is a prestigious university, and its Hollings Special Collections Library is a jewel,” said Riley, a graduate of the USC School of Law. The vast archive contains more than 3,000 photographs, thousands of speeches with Riley’s handwritten edits, extensive research notes on policy development, correspondence, news clippings and interviews, as well as printed campaign materials from Riley’s political campaigns. To celebrate the collection’s opening, Riley invited President Bill Clinton, under whom he served as a cabinet officer, to deliver special remarks at a private opening event.

Targeting autoimmune disorders

In August, the NIH Center for Dietary Supplements and Inflammation at the USC School of Medicine received a five-year $10 million grant to continue its studies into how inflammation can be regulated with dietary supplements. This multi-disciplinary center is made up of faculty from five USC colleges who work together to tackle the problem of inflammation from a variety of perspectives. The group is currently engaged in four major research projects, which seek to understand how inflammation can be regulated with dietary supplements to better control inflammatory diseases such as allergies, autism, colitis and colon cancer, and liver diseases. The center is directed by Prakash Nagarkatti and Mitzi Nagarkatti.  

dance marathon dancers

For the kids

Carolina’s Dance Marathon hit two big milestones in 2018: It celebrated its 20th anniversary, and it exceeded its $1 million fundraising goal for Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital. The Main Event, held in March at the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center, raised $1,025,171 for the hospital, adding that to the $3.6 million raised in the first 19 years of the event. More than 1,700 students registered to raise money and join in the 14-hour marathon, making it the largest student-run philanthropy on campus. The Dance Marathon staff of nearly 200 student volunteers, who work year-round to raise money and make connections with the children and families they help, were honored by the state Senate with a resolution noting the passion and commitment they showed the children of South Carolina. The Carolina chapter also took home three national awards from the international Miracle Network Dance Marathon organization’s annual conference in Indianapolis.

Back in the picture

Gamecock football standout Marcus Lattimore returned to Carolina in January, taking on a new role as director of player development. Much of his job involves serving as a mentor or big brother to players on the football team, helping guide them through issues beyond the playing field. He also brings in speakers for weekly sessions and organizes mandatory community service projects for the team. It’s a change of responsibilities for Lattimore, a star running back whose football future was derailed by knee injuries in his sophomore and junior seasons.  “Nothing in life is guaranteed, I know that firsthand,” Lattimore says. “So many high school athletes — virtually every one — has an aspiration of playing in the NFL. I hope it happens for everyone, but the statistics show it just won’t. My job here is to make sure they know the truth about life and reality.”

A century of remembrance

WWI markers

One hundred years after the end of the “war to end all wars,” USC relocated a set of granite-and-bronze markers that memorialize Carolina students and alumni who died during World War I and the Mexican border dispute. Thirteen markers now stand sentinel on the front lawn of the War Memorial Building, and plans call for installation of 15 more to replace those that were lost, probably during construction on Gibbes Green in the mid 20th century. The markers were originally placed along Greene and Pickens streets by the S.C. Department of the American Legion Auxiliary in 1927, eight years after the university had planted 28 elm trees there as living memorials. Names of the 28 students and alumni also appear on a plaque that was dedicated in 1922 and installed near the front entrance of the South Caroliniana Library. In all, 531 USC alumni served in uniform during WWI.

Still No. 1

For the 20th consecutive year, the Darla Moore School of Business’ International MBA program was awarded the No. 1 ranking in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. “Being recognized as the best among peers is impressive, but sustaining that record for 20 years is nothing short of amazing,” said Moore School Dean Peter Brews. “To achieve 20 consecutive years ranked No.1 for the undergraduate program and to be ranked No. 1 at the same time for the graduate international business program reflects the high quality, rigor and depth of Moore School international business programs.” In addition, the school’s Professional MBA program was ranked No. 13 among all public universities. In all, Carolina has 43 academic degree programs listed in U.S. News’ “Best Graduate Schools” publication in 2018, including criminal justice, nursing, nuclear engineering and school library media.

Big and smart

Preliminary data reveals that the fall 2018 freshman class is one of the university’s biggest on record and included more South Carolinians than have ever been enrolled before. In addition, freshman African-American enrollment increased again, marking a 49 percent uptick since 2016. This is also one of UofSC’s most academically talented freshman classes ever — their average SAT score is 1276.

Tickling the tastebuds

Panera Bread

Students returning for classes this fall found some decidedly different dining options in the Russell House. The dining areas on the first and second floors closed at the end of the spring semester for a major renovation that brought new restaurants, including Chick-fil-A, Panera Bread and Pei Wei as well as Carolina Creamery, Olilo by Cat Cora (a fast-casual Mediterranean concept), and Congaree River Smokehouse, offering smoked and grilled meats. On the second floor, diners can find more options such as Oath Pizza, Southern Kitchen, Sushi with Gusto, the Horseshoe Deli and Twisted Taco, along with Einstein Bros. Bagels.

Accelerating innovation

The university started the year riding the momentum of several innovation-related announcements that came at the end of 2017. In December, the university joined with Samsung in an advanced-manufacturing research consortium that will work closely with the company’s Newberry, S.C., home appliance facility. Soon after, the state Department of Commerce established a $2 million aerospace research endowment at USC’s College of Engineering and Computing. The endowment will deepen the university’s relationship with Boeing and facilitate aerospace innovation in South Carolina. “Collaborative efforts like this one are critical as we seek to promote continued growth in our aerospace cluster and beyond,” said S.C. Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt.

Bernstein Mass

Bernstein Mass

There’s a reason why Leonard Bernstein’s 1971 “Mass” isn’t performed very often. It’s extraordinarily difficult to pull off. With some 200 performers — including singers, actors, dancers, two orchestras, a rock band, a blues band and a children’s choir — the groundbreaking “Mass” is simply beyond the capability and ambition of most performing arts organizations. That’s precisely what made it an appealing choice for Tayloe Harding, dean of the School of Music, and Ellen Douglas Schlaefer, director of opera studies. Working with the Department of Theatre and Dance and other campus partners, the School of Music not only successfully mounted this massive production, but also packed the Koger Center for three performances. “Mass” demonstrated the power of collaboration, gave students invaluable performance experience and showed the impact the university has on the cultural life of the state of South Carolina.

Ideas worth spreading

speaker on the tedx stage

University alumna Kassy Alia presents her talk on improving community/law enforcement relations through her nonprofit Serve and Connect.

When people need inspiration, many dive into TED, an online community known for sharing ideas worth spreading. This fall, the university welcomed the public to campus for TEDxUofSC, a half-day experience featuring 12 insightful TED talks and artistic performances designed to cultivate innovation, build connections and inspire others. A team of dynamic speakers addressed a range of topics such as overcoming stereotypes and drug addiction, learning to listen in uncomfortable conversations about race, finding new ways to diagnose and treat mental illnesses and other engaging subjects. The inaugural TEDxUofSC event united scientists, entrepreneurs, students and performers and helped them share their ideas with the Columbia community.


Aspiring Scholar

Casey Brayton, a South Carolina Honors College junior majoring in marine science and math, became the ninth person in the university’s history to be named a Truman Scholar. She received $30,000 for graduate school and the opportunity to participate in professional development programming. Brayton’s goal is to earn a doctorate in physical oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and possibly a master’s in science communications or environmental policy. Ultimately, she hopes to pursue a career in research and public policy in a NOAA research lab. 

“There are still huge gender and racial disparities in the natural sciences, especially when looking at statistics for tenured professors,” Brayton said. “I want to help create a space where aspiring women and minority scientists could access all of the guidance necessary for success in high-level academic and administrative jobs.”

Digital transformation

McNair Center

Abdel Bayoumi, left, director of the McNAIR Center, has expanded the center's research interests in the past year to include combustion studies, predictive maintenance and drone design.

The McNAIR Center for Aerospace Innovation and Research launched its new Digital Transformation Lab that will showcase an array of real-world industrial and consumer applications — from robotics, visual inspection and autonomous drones to smart home appliances. “These research partnerships and the new lab are the culmination of years of innovative work by our faculty researchers and the USC Office of Economic Engagement,” said USC President Harris Pastides. “Through corporate partnerships, our researchers can bring added value to industrial applications while students work alongside faculty to gain critical exposure to leading edge technologies that make them more employable.” The 15,000-square-foot space will be used to demonstrate McNAIR’s capabilities to prospective industrial partners as well as prospective students.

Go Gamecocks! Go Red Sox!

Carolina fans have known for a long time what Jackie Bradley Jr. and Steve Pearce can do on the baseball diamond. In October, the rest of the world got a look. The former Gamecocks didn’t just help the Boston Red Sox win the 2018 World Series — they wrote their names into the history books in the process. In the American League Championship series, Bradley hit two homers, including a grand slam, and knocked in nine runs to earn the ALCS MVP award. Not to be outdone, Pearce then went 4-for-12 and knocked in eight in the World Series, securing an MVP trophy of his own. “They’re still the same guys that they were (in college), and I think that leads to putting them in the position to be successful,” their former head coach and current USC athletics director Ray Tanner told The State. “They’re never too high, they’re never too low. The theme for Boston (this season) was, ‘We’re a bunch of guys that get along well, we have a selfless clubhouse.’ You have two guys in our former Gamecocks who epitomize that.”

the Pastides at the state of the university

President Pastides and First Lady Patricia Moore-Pastides have been at Carolina since 1998 when he joined the university as dean of the Arnold School of Public Health.

Job well done

President Harris Pastides’ annual State of the University address is always a big deal, but the 2018 edition was a special affair. In addition to celebrating the university’s accomplishments from the past year, President Pastides announced that he will retire in 2019, after more than a decade at the helm. Pastides reflected fondly on his tenure and thanked those who helped him move the institution forward despite taking the reins during the largest economic downturn in a generation and a period of rapidly declining state support. “No one can expect the good fortune to serve in any position for 10 years — it’s a significant amount of time in any personal career, let alone a college president serving in turbulent times,” Pastides said. “But as important a milestone as this is for me personally, it’s more importantly a reminder about the ways we’ve stood strong and resilient through many challenges and many storms to create an even greater university from the great one it was 10 years ago.”


The University of South Carolina’s sport science programs were ranked No. 1 in the United States in the Global Ranking of Sport Science Schools and Departments, conducted by Shanghai Rankings, the third consecutive year that the university’s sports science programs came out on top.

The ranking recognizes accomplishments from the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management’s sport and entertainment management program, the Arnold School of Public Health's exercise science and athletic training programs and the College of Education’s physical education program. “The No. 1 in the U.S. ranking by the Global Ranking of Sport Science Schools and Departments reaffirms the university’s strategic commitment to provide exceptional academic, research, and experiential learning opportunities to bolster our student’s potential in sport science,” said Provost Joan Gabel.

Record-breaking romp

Harris Pastides and A'ja Wilson

With 86 school records, including 11 career marks, and a total of 166 top-five entries, 2018 graduate A’ja Wilson is officially the most decorated athlete of any sport at the University of South Carolina. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft, Wilson’s inaugural season with the Las Vegas Aces has only extended her romp on the record books. In 2018, the power forward finished the season tied for third in scoring and was named both a WNBA All-Star and the league’s Rookie of the Year. The Aces finished the season in ninth place. During the WNBA offseason, Wilson will play overseas in China for the Shanxi Flame.