The past 5½ years at the University of South Carolina have presented numerous challenges and opportunities: There have been dramatic increases in the test scores and grade point averages of students entering all of our baccalaureate institutions, while simultaneously enrolling a substantially larger number of South Carolina residents than ever before; new buildings on each of these campuses; an entirely new campus in Bluffton; extraordinarily talented scholars joining our faculty – not restricted to the nationally eminent Endowed Chairs, and a remarkable escalation of external research funding.
We also have seen the launching of the Inn at USC, the Innovista, the Student Success Center, the Gamecock Guarantee program – enabling students from poverty-level families to attend four full years at Carolina tuition-free, the Bridge Program with all 16 of our state’s technical colleges, the integration of the Colleges of Pharmacy of our University and the Medical College of South Carolina – a merger unprecedented in the annals of pharmacy education – the incorporation of Midlands Tech and Greenville Tech into our Small Business Incubator program, and the creation of Health Sciences South Carolina – a non-profit corporation composed of all three state’s research universities and the four largest teaching hospitals.
These are just a few of our recent accomplishments. But none of these would have occurred without the full participation of a terrific team working together as one: students, faculty, staff, and administrators. By uniting as members of one Gamecock family we have wrought truly marvelous things. And the last four of these endeavors were made possible only by close collaboration with Presidents Ray Greenberg and Jim Barker of our sister research universities – the Medical University of South Carolina and Clemson – and Barry Russell, of the Technical College System.
But in order to build on the momentum that has been generated, it is absolutely essential that we expand our philanthropic support. Our faculty and students quite appropriately demand the latest in technological innovation. The salaries of our staff and faculty lag behind peer institutions; our need for substantial scholarship support is more urgent than ever, and in the absence of capital bonds being issued, our deferred maintenance needs continue to pile up.
One simply cannot sustain the noteworthy improvement of recent years without ramping up a very substantial capital campaign. That requires a two-year silent phase, followed by at least five years – and perhaps more – in the public phase. Our university requires a president who can see that campaign through from start to finish.
Although Donna and I have immensely enjoyed our service to the Gamecock family, after considerable discussion we have come to the inescapable conclusion that it is time to pass the baton of the presidency. We could not have asked for, nor been granted, a more caring and supportive community. You all have been consistently gracious and wonderfully accepting. Upon being selected as your President in the spring of 2002, I truly did not imagine that we could have come this far so soon.
I thank each and every member of our University family for unstintingly translating myriad dreams into reality, and giving stout legs to ambitious aspirations. I stand in your collective debt, and wish you Godspeed in all your endeavors. I look forward to returning to the faculty upon stepping aside as President, and renewing a life of scholarship and teaching — perhaps with some administrative responsibilities. I am considering several alternatives and will announce my plans for the future in January, 2008. Donna and I are excited about remaining in this great community, and I pledge full support to my successor.