COLUMBIA, SC — The University of South Carolina gave four administrators additional responsibilities Friday, moves that allowed the school to consolidate three open positions and save more than $400,000 in annual salary.
The cost cutting comes as state lawmakers, led by House Ways and Means chairman Brian White, R-Anderson, have challenged the state’s public colleges to find ways to save money to stem rising tuition costs.
The latest streamlining was not meant as a message to White, USC president Harris Pastides said Friday. He said USC has worked for years to find savings, including bringing in a consultant three years ago that suggested outsourcing some work.
“We have been doing it all along, and I hope it’s recognized that way,” Pastides said. “It’s not an in-your-face thing. We want to work with state government to demonstrate that we have been looking at how to save administrative costs.”
White’s budget panel approved creating a higher-education review committee this week that will have $4 million to spend to hire a consultant to find more cost savings at S.C. public colleges.
White said Friday that he was pleased to hear that USC was trimming administrative jobs.
“This is something what we want (colleges) to look at,” the Anderson Republican said.
Pastides was hoping to get an added $10.1 million from lawmakers to offset tuition hikes in the state’s fiscal year that starts July 1. However, the S.C. House’s main budget-writing panel did not include that request in its budget proposal.
Pastides said he will try to get the money added in the state Senate’s budget proposal or consider other ideas. “One strike maybe; we’ll continue to pitch it.”
USC’s administration shuffle included:
• Ed Walton being named senior vice president for administration and chief operating officer, overseeing the university’s planning in finances, facilities, communication and economic development. Walton, who had been USC’s chief financial officer, becomes the third-ranking leader at the school, behind Pastides and provost Michael Amiridis. Walton’s salary will rise to $321,473 a year from $279,542.
• Budget chief Leslie Brunelli becomes chief financial officer, and also assumes the duties and title of vice president for finance, a position that had been open. Her salary will remain $245,197 a year.
• Derrick Huggins, who has led USC’s transportation division for 20 years, adds responsibilities for facilities management, a position that had been open. He becomes vice president for transportation and facilities. He will earn $190,000, up from $172,150.
• News director Wes Hickman takes over as communications and marketing director, consolidating his current job with a vacant vice president’s position. Hickman’s salary will increase to $147,826 a year from $123,188.