State of the University: A Path to Excellence
UofSC President Bob Caslen outlines plan for freezing tuition, strengthening research, increasing diversity
By Office of Communications and Public Affairs
To make the University of South Carolina more affordable and more accessible to state residents, President Bob Caslen announced a tuition freeze for the coming academic year during his first State of the University address Wednesday.
“We simply must protect the value proposition of higher education — for our current and future students, faculty and staff,” Caslen said. “It didn’t take COVID-19 to start this conversation, but the pandemic certainly has made it more urgent than ever.”
In his speech, delivered in front of a few guests at the university’s Pastides Alumni Center and livestreamed, Caslen outlined his vision for the flagship university’s future, including a commitment to in-person instruction, boosting research and cultivating a diverse faculty and student body that better reflects the people of South Carolina.
“The value proposition is why we reopened in August,” Caslen said. “We would never have reopened if our public health experts had advised against it. But we must deliver on our mission. We must make higher education accessible and affordable, or current students won’t stay, and prospective students will not give us a chance.”
Within the very name of our university rests its most solemn obligation: to serve the people of South Carolina. How we fulfill this obligation is what will make us preeminent, and our new strategic plan lays out the pathway to get there.
Caslen thanked researchers, faculty and staff who committed hours to reducing the spread of COVID-19 by providing both online and in-person classes by developing a more responsive test for the disease that has killed a million people worldwide.
“The very fact that our campus is open and has remained open; the fact that we are delivering education to more than 35,000 students using flexible modalities; and the fact that we are navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and taking care of each other; it’s clear to me that the University of South Carolina is demonstrating what it means to be the state’s flagship institution of higher education,” Caslen said.
Caslen noted several priorities from the university’s strategic plan, For South Carolina: A Path to Excellence, which was developed over the past year and approved by trustees this summer.
“Within the very name of our university rests its most solemn obligation: to serve the people of South Carolina. How we fulfill this obligation is what will make us preeminent, and our new strategic plan lays out the pathway to get there,” Caslen said.
Highlights of the strategic plan include:
- enhancing diversity among students, faculty and staff while continuing to make campus a welcoming environment for all;
- working to make college more affordable and offering new innovative degree programs for nontraditional students;
- continuing to build on record-setting external research funding, which reached $279.5 million in 2020, while building on existing corporate research partnerships;
- improving the university’s physical and technology infrastructure to better serve the needs of future students.
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