Twenty-one students from the Subtropical Ecosystems class, along with Dr. Joni Criswell, associate professor of biology, and three chaperones traveled to Pigeon Key Island, Florida, May 5-11 to gain a better insight into the biodiversity among the subtropical regions of the United States. Another goal of the trip was to better educate students about conservation efforts and the effect human pollution is causing on ecosystems such as mangrove forests.
“I feel this trip is extremely beneficial to any student looking into ecology or how to better our planet through natural resources,” said Brianna Rao, a rising junior biology major from Rock Hill, South Carolina.
According to Dr. Criswell, the Florida Keys closely resembles tropical areas of other countries she’s visited. She says that observing subtropical and tropical ecosystems is beneficial, because such areas contain upwards of about 90 percent of diversity.
“Even though we live in a state that has a fair amount of biodiversity with the coast, the Upstate and the mountains, subtropical and tropical regions host most of the world’s biodiversity. You don’t get an appreciation until you’re up close and have hands-on experience with it and are not seeing in a zoo setting. It’s one thing to appreciate something behind a fence, but it’s completely different to actually see it in the wild and have an up-close encounter with a species,” Dr. Criswell said.
Pigeon Key is a five-acre island with a marine science center located along the old Seven Mile Bridge. The students also learned the history of Pigeon Key, which was originally the location for a work camp connected with construction of the Florida East Coast Railway in the early twentieth century.
“We visited Pigeon Key to learn more about conservation efforts and to physically experience what we had learned about in class, like coral reef ecosystems and how they were affecting marsh ecosystems and mangrove ecosystems. The experience gave us a better view of how our oceans work and how our ocean life is built upon these ecosystems that are subtropical and how we’re dependent on them for the future of the world,” Rao said. “We got to explore a lot and were able to snorkel. We were able to see some cool stuff along the islands: eels, lobsters, rays, dolphins, starfish—all the sea life you could possibly imagine. We were able to do a lot of things on the island that visitors can’t do. Staying the night we were able to do tide pooling and were able to look at smaller creatures we were never able to see and experience in South Carolina.”
The students also saw firsthand just how vulnerable such an ecosystem can be, picking up items that litter the area.
“We found pieces of wire from fishing lines, netting, pieces of wood, pieces of beer cans, alcohol bottles, pieces of cigarettes that had washed up, and a bunch of lumber and tires that shouldn’t be there,” Rao said. “It opened our eyes to a lot of conservation efforts and the reasoning behind so much of a movement in the world for conserving our coral reef ecosystems and mangrove ecosystems. I think for me it also opened my eyes to more career opportunities in the future, such as moving toward careers in conservation and ecology.”
COLUMBIA, S.C. — After two years of COVID-related virtual celebrations, SCICU’s annual Excellence In Teaching Awards Program will return to an in-person awards dinner on April 5 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
“We at SCICU are excited to return to our in-person awards dinner for the Excellence In Teaching Program,” said Jeff Perez, SCICU president and CEO. “We look forward to celebrating the achievements of the 21 faculty award winners who provide an education that is second-to-none and inspire their students to become leaders in their professions and communities.”
2022 marks the 16th year of the SCICU Excellence In Teaching Awards Program. Each year SCICU member colleges and universities use rigorous criteria to select a faculty member to receive the SCICU Excellence In Teaching award. Award recipients receive a framed award certificate and a $3,000 professional development grant.
For the first 13 years of the SCICU Excellence In Teaching program, award recipients and their guests were honored at a special dinner in April during S.C. Independent Colleges and Universities Week. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the dinner was cancelled in 2020 and 2021.
Please click here to read about the 2021 Excellence In Teaching Awards recipients.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (courtesy columbiasc.edu) — As the winter sports seasons gear into full swing, the makeup of Columbia College (SC) Athletics will look a little different. For the first time, the Koalas will have a men’s team participating in the sport of indoor track and field.
The first-year head coach for Columbia College men’s track and field, Eric N’Dri, is no stranger to the Koala athletics program. Last season, N’Dri served as the assistant coach for the women’s track and field team and was instrumental in helping the Koalas win the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) Indoor Title and finish as conference Runner-ups during the outdoor season.
“I am extremely excited to lead this team of incredibly talented student-athletes,” N’Dri said. “I will take a little bit of something from every college where I have worked, including here, and implement it in the program.”
Throughout the preseason, N’Dri and the coaching staff have been working hard to prepare the team and understand that it will take more than just hard work to get the job done this season.
“A key to this season will be building great team chemistry and having the athletes build trusting relationships with one another,” added N’Dri. “Once the relationships develop, the performance will follow.”
The team began its era at the Best Cregger Invitational hosted by Roanoke College Dec. 3-4. In this inaugural meet, the Columbia College (SC) men’s track and field team had four athletes to qualify for the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) Indoor Track and Field Championships scheduled for February 17-19. The Koala men also had several Top-10 finishers in the first meet of the program.
After the opening meet, the team will take a break for the holiday and return to action the weekend of January 14-15, when they participate in the Gamecock Open hosted by the University of South Carolina.
The Koala men’s indoor track and field team will have a total of six meets before participating in the 2022 AAC Indoor Track and Field Championships February 17-18.
Note: The men’s indoor track and field team will be the fourth men’s team to compete in the history of Columbia College (SC). Men’s soccer, men’s cross-country, and men’s golf began competing this fall.
SCICU’s 2021 College Guide makes the college search easy!
If you’re looking for the latest information on admissions, financial aid, scholarships, athletics, and more for South Carolina’s leading independent colleges and universities, then the SCICU 2021 College Guide is your best one-stop source.Please download and share the College Guide with family members and friends who are looking for the independent college or university in South Carolina that best meets their higher education needs.
The election of a new board chair, a new Council of College Presidents chair, and seven new trustees highlighted the Sept. 28 virtual business meeting of the SCICU Board of Trustees.
Lucy Grey McIver, deputy general counsel for BlueCross Blue Shield of South Carolina, was elected to a two-year term as chair of the SCICU Board of Trustees. McIver joined the SCICU board in 2014 and has been active on the board’s Public Policy committee. The board named McIver chair-elect in 2019.
Jerry Cheatham, outgoing SCICU board chair, passed the gavel to McIver in SCICU’s virtual fall board meeting Sept. 28.
“Jerry Cheatham led the SCICU Board of Trustees through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing strategic guidance on how SCICU could best serve the member institutions and their students,” said Jeff Perez, SCICU president and CEO. “We are grateful for Jerry’s leadership and I am thankful for his friendship.”
Newberry College President Maurice Scherrens will serve a full term as chair of the SCICU Council of College Presidents. Dr. Scherrens had been filling the vacancy left with the departure of Converse President Krista Newkirk. The SCICU Council of College Presidents comprises the presidents of the 21 SCICU member institutions.
Seven South Carolina business leaders were elected as new trustees on the SCICU board. These newly-appointed trustees will serve a three-year term and will select committee appointments in the areas of development, finance, and public policy. SCICU is pleased to announce the following new board members:
- M. Blake Dowd – Market President, Synovus (Lexington)
- Steve Growth – SVP / Director of Government Lending, First Citizens Bank (Columbia)
- Dennis Lynch – Member/Attorney, Nexsen Pruett (Columbia)
- Jada McAbee – Shareholder / CPA, Halliday, Schwartz & Co. (Spartanburg)
- David Murphy – VP / Growth and Risk Operations, Unum and Colonial Life and Accident (Columbia)
- D. Shannon Stephens – Midlands President, United Community Bank (Columbia)
- John Sullivan – President, Allegiance Industries (Lexington)
Bios for the new trustees may be read here.
Seven existing trustees were nominated and elected for a second three-year term on the SCICU board. These trustees will continue to serve on the board through August 31, 2024 and include:
- Cynthia Bennett – Chief Diversity Officer, S.C. Chamber of Commerce (Columbia)
- John Garrison – Counsel, Internal Operations, Aflac (Columbia)
- Steve Hall – Vice President of Business Development, Find Great People (Greenville)
- Brandolyn Pinkston – Retired Consumer Affairs Administrator (Columbia)
- Ben Porter – Market President, First Citizens Bank (Spartanburg)
- Leigh Ann Puryear – Community Relations Liaison – Duke Energy Carolinas (Greenville)
- Trey Simon – President and CEO, S.C. Student Loan Corporation (Columbia)
SCICU is grateful for the service of the following outgoing trustees:
- Kin Britton – Upstate Market President, First Horizon Bank (Spartanburg)
- David Charpia – Market President, HomeTrust Bank (Greenville)
- Holt Chetwood – SVP/Manager Commercial Banking, First Citizens Bank (Columbia)
- Russell Cook – Senior Advisor, S.C. Research Authority (Columbia)
- Joe Gillis – President, Gillis Specialty Advertising (Columbia)
- Ben Green – President and COO, Insurance Advantage (Columbia)
- Tyler Hudson – Director, Commercial Real Estate, Synovus (Columbia)
- Ray Lattimore – President and CEO, Marketplace Staffing (Greenville)
- David Parker – Vice President, Business Partner Foundation, Darla Moore School of Business (Columbia)
“We are deeply grateful that our board officers and new trustees will be putting their leadership and experience at the disposal of SCICU,” said Perez. “As our new chair of the Board of Trustees Lucy Grey McIver will continue the progress championed by outgoing chair Jerry Cheatham.”