And I would be horribly remiss not to acknowledge Mike LeFever and the ten years he was at the helm. I thank Mike for everything he has done for SCICU. I am standing on very tall shoulders.
I would like to share with you three reasons I am excited to be leading SCICU and working on behalf of independent higher education in South Carolina.
First, our 20 institutions expand the array of higher education choices in South Carolina, providing our 33,000 students with options that best fit their needs. We include faith-based institutions as well as HBCUs. And we offer colleges and universities with smaller enrollments for students seeking a community setting and more focused attention. Collectively, our approaches to higher education work for South Carolina. While our four-year undergraduate enrollment comprises about 15 percent of all undergraduates in South Carolina, our students earn nearly one-quarter of the bachelor’s degrees granted.
Second, independent higher education in South Carolina provides students with the chance to attend college, regardless of their circumstances. Institutional support for scholarships amounts to more than $250 million annually, which is complemented by state support to students through the Tuition Grants Program, and need and merit-based scholarships. More than 95% of our undergraduates receive financial aid.
Considering the opportunities we provide, it is not surprising our students are very diverse. Nearly half of students are minorities, and half are eligible for federal Pell Grants, meaning they demonstrate the most economic need. Many of these students are the first in their families to attend college and they benefit greatly from the support they receive at our institutions.
Third, we offer academic excellence grounded in the liberal arts. Our graduates have jobs – and futures. Dell Technologies forecast that 85 percent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 have not been invented yet. Success will depend on the ability to think critically, analyze, and adapt seamlessly to rapidly changing conditions. These essential skills are precisely what students gain at independent colleges and universities.
These are challenging times for all in higher education. SCICU stands ready to work on behalf of independent higher education in South Carolina to ensure a bright future for our colleges and universities and the students they serve. I look forward to working with you.
In closing, let me wish all of you the happiest of holidays. And here’s to a rewarding 2019!