Message from SCICU President and CEO Jeff Perez –
October 29th will mark my first year as President & CEO of SCICU.
I used my president’s report at the SCICU board meeting earlier this month to reflect on that year. I talked about where we were, where we are and where we’re going.
Where we were –
When I started at SCICU we were blessed with strong leadership, and I’m fortunate that remains the case. The presidents had command of their campuses and the SCICU board included experienced and dedicated members who provided me with guidance and support.
The SCICU staff, all three of them, showed themselves to be overachieving in what we accomplish as an organization. The office was well managed, our fundraising was very successful and we enhanced our profile through publications like the Statistical Abstract and the College Guide.
SCICU boasted a solid reputation in both Columbia and Washington D.C. Every public official I spoke with held SCICU institutions in high esteem.
Where we are –
In this year’s session of the General Assembly we achieved significant success with our advocacy for the Tuition Grants Program, which received the full $1.6 million requested by the Tuition Grants Commission. I have emphasized collaborating with all sectors of higher education – as I supported their efforts they supported ours. I know members of the General Assembly very much appreciated our all working together.
We enjoyed putting together trustee appreciation receptions across the state, which gave our board members the chance to interact with one another and our campus presidents in a less formal atmosphere. The receptions also gave me the chance to get to know them.
In fundraising we pursued and secured new resources, including a $50,000 Power:ED Grant from the South Carolina Student Loan Corporation, and a $10,000 matching challenge grant from the Council for Independent Colleges.
In communications, we’ve gone digital. We’ve established a social media presence, and produced a digital version of the College Guide, which has been warmly received by guidance counselors across the state. And we’ve saved several thousands of dollars in printing costs for the College Guide, as well as materials for our Board of Trustees meetings.
Where we’re going –
As we work to support our campuses advancing their missions, we must recognize the daunting challenges they face. Our institutions confront unprecedented competition for a diminishing population of traditional students. At the same time that there are fewer high school students, the number of adult students looking to start or complete a degree is growing rapidly. And all students expect the flexibility provided by technology and online learning.
In my report at the board meeting I also discussed that higher education finds itself questioned as never before. Despite substantial evidence to the contrary, surveys show the public questioning the value of a four-year liberal arts education. And politicians and business leaders are attracted to the immediate gratification of alternative programs of shorter duration. While there is certainly a need for a broad continuum of higher education options, the irony is that most of these same leaders have a four-year degree and would acknowledge their career success would have been impossible without it.
Our job in the next year is to build on the relationships we have with community leaders and public officials so that we can tell the success stories coming out of our campuses and be unabashed in our support of independent higher education.