Message from SCICU President and CEO Jeff Perez –
Though I have attended more than 30 graduation ceremonies in my career, hearing “Pomp and Circumstance” still brings a lump to my throat. I think of all the wonderful students I’ve known. Graduations are bittersweet – we must say goodbye to students we’ve mentored, but we know bright futures lay ahead for them.
To say the least, the SCICU member institutions have a deep and lasting impact on the students who they prepared and inspired for success on whatever path they choose. But that impact is much broader than you may realize.
As a new report from the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) reveals, independent higher education is vitally important to their students as well as the communities and states in which they’re located.
The NAICU report, Private, Nonprofit Higher Education: Shaping Lives and Anchoring Communities, details the national and regional contributions of private colleges and universities. The total national economic impact is $591 billion. They employ 1.1 million people, create another 2.3 million jobs and generate nearly $78 billion in federal, state and local taxes.
Now let’s focus on South Carolina. The SCICU member institutions have an extensive economic impact on our state. The 20 colleges and universities, with 33,000 students, employ more than 7,200 people and their payroll and business expenses total $844 million – that makes independent higher education one of the biggest businesses in South Carolina!
But as the NAICU report notes, the United States is a “nation of college towns,” and that is certainly true here in South Carolina where many SCICU member institutions are located in small towns. SCICU member institutions are often one of the largest employers in their communities.
The impact of private colleges and universities goes beyond dollars and cents. As former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder put it: “Colleges are the anchors for their community – not just an
economic catalyst, but a cultural catalyst. Their presence changes the dynamic of those towns.”
Private colleges and universities improve the quality of life in their communities through the volunteering by campus community members which inspires a philanthropic spirit in students that lives beyond their college years. The campuses work with community leaders to identify and meet public needs. SCICU campuses are good neighbors, and so are their students who become leaders in their communities and careers.
I urge you to take just a few minutes to read through Shaping Lives and Anchoring Communities. You’ll soon see that private colleges and universities not only educate and equip their students to succeed, they also sustain their communities and fortify their states.