More than 70 members of the SCICU Board of Trustees and their guests attended the 2015 Biennial Retreat held at the Westin Poinsett Hotel in downtown Greenville on March 5-6. Every two years the Board meets in extended session to examine issues critical to the success of independent higher education in South Carolina.
Thursday afternoon, the SCICU Council of Presidents met with Ken Carrick, president of Coleman Lew & Associates for a briefing on the Strategic Vision and Succession Plan that Ken is preparing. Ken will meet with all the college and university presidents, Board officers and committee chairs, past Board chairs, members of the Board of Trustees, and other stakeholders to develop a strategic vision for SCICU and match the personnel needs of the organization with that vision in anticipation of leadership retirements in the next 3-5 years.
The sounds of Anderson University’s jazz ensemble Smooth Gold under the leadership of Professor Doug Norwine welcomed the Trustees and guests to the evening’s reception and dinner. After dinner, Dr. Georgia Nugent, senior fellow at the Council for Independent Colleges and former president of Kenyon College, provided a strong and thoughtful defense of the liberal arts with her presentation Securing America’s Future: The Power of a Liberal Arts Education.
Board Chair Kathy McKinney convened an early morning business meeting of the Trustees which included an opening prayer by Anderson City Mayor Terence Roberts, chair of the Public Policy Committee, and a welcome by Greenville City Mayor Knox White. Among the many items of business on the agenda, the Trustees approved the organization’s audited financial statements and the IRS Form 990 for the fiscal year ending August 31, 2014, as presented by Finance Committee Chair Brent Weaver. Lonnie Emard, chair of the Development Committee, reported on the CIC/IT-oLogy matching grant.
Pinch hitting for a snow-bound NAICU President David Warren, Jim Reynolds, the Board’s chair-elect, made a very timely presentation on TransformSC, an Education Initiative of the South Carolina Council on Competiveness. TransformSC seeks to design new learning models that significantly increase the number of South Carolina graduates who are career, college, and citizenship ready. Jim’s presentation was a perfect segue into the next program Access and Success: Bridges to a Brighter Future at Furman University.
Dr. Jolley Christman, chair of The Jolley Foundation, and several members of the Bridges staff made a very compelling, and sometimes emotional, presentation on a uniquely successful program that prepares first-generation, low-income students from Greenville County for college access and success (for more information go to www.bridgestoabrighterfuture.org.)
As part of the Bridges program, Trustee Dan Sanders announced that the Sanders Family Foundation established $10,000 in scholarships for any Bridges graduate to be used at an independent college or university in South Carolina.
The Jolley Foundation was not only instrumental in establishing the first Bridges program, but it also has provided support for South Carolina Colleges and Universities for 50 consecutive years. A recognition ceremony honoring Jolley Christman and Margaret and Duff Bruce took place at the end of the program.
Dr. Colleen Keith, chair of the Council of Presidents and president of Spartanburg Methodist College, finished up the morning session by moderating a series of panel discussions with the college presidents in attendance. Presidents Elizabeth Davis (Furman), Betsy Fleming (Converse) and Paul Kooistra (Erskine) addressed College Costs and Affordability. Retention and Completion was discussed by Presidents Morrie Scherrens (Newberry), Todd Voss (Southern Wesleyan), and Robert Wyatt (Coker). The last panel took a look at Title IX and Other Regulatory Challenges. Presidents Randall Pannell (North Greenville), Evans Whitaker (Anderson), and Mike LeFever (SCICU) spoke to the increased cost in staff time and money required by an increasing about of federal regulations.
At the end of the session, Board Chair Kathy McKinney presented Dr. Colleen Perry Keith with a Board Resolution recognizing her many years of outstanding service to Spartanburg Methodist College, SCICU, the Spartanburg community, and the State of South Carolina. Dr. Keith was recently named president of Pfeiffer University and will begin her duties on July 1.
The Retreat ended with a networking luncheon with the college presidents hosting lunch table discussion groups.