Houston Texans owner Robert McNair has pledged $8 million to start a new institute at his alma mater, the University of South Carolina, to teach students about social-demographic changes that could affect their jobs, the university said Tuesday.
“We are really informing students about the challenges they are facing when they graduate,” Peter Brews, dean of USC’s Darla Moore School of Business, told university trustees Tuesday.
McNair is starting similar institutes at five other schools. He is one of USC’s biggest benefactors, having previously given the school $30 million for a scholars program to attract out-of-state students.
The McNair Institute will work across different academic disciplines on a broad set of topics. No initial focus was announced Tuesday.
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The institute will be run by a board that includes leaders in USC’s business, arts and sciences, social work, public health and engineering schools, Brews said.
Starting next year, the institute will offer classes that could be taught by a team of USC professors and guest lecturers. Work also will include an annual conference that brings experts to Columbia.
Issues covered at conferences could include the solvency of Social Security, the impact of the federal debt, working in an innovation-based economy and health-care challenges because of the growing aging population, Brews said.
USC plans to make the institute’s courses and conferences available across the country.
Trustees approved the McNair Institute on Tuesday.
USC president Harris Pastides said of the new program’s goal, “They would hope it touches every South Carolina student ... to understand the perils that we have going forward.”