Exercise. Eat less. Read more. These are popular New Year’s resolutions people make as that ball is falling in Times Square. Organizations can have resolutions too.
In the last two years SCICU member colleges and universities have done an amazing job adapting to the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. As I’ve noted before, thanks to the precautions they took, there have been no major outbreaks on the campuses.
Higher education in general was already facing major changes due to technology, demographics, and changing workforce demands. The pandemic has accelerated the transformation in higher education. How campuses recruit students, educate them and provide a supportive environment are all being reassessed and reconfigured. Though I hate to employ an overused term, it fits: Campuses are adapting to the New Normal, and so must SCICU.
In the coming months we will explore how SCICU can best serve its member institutions in this volatile environment. We will encourage discussions with the campuses, our Board of Trustees and other stakeholders to identify how SCICU can help our member institutions as they navigate these uncharted waters.
Through our scholarship and grant programs SCICU in our last fiscal year provided $640,000 in support to students at SCICU member institutions. SCICU helped more than 400 students pay for college, overcome unexpected family financial emergencies, and conduct high-level academic research.
We are committed to help even more students this year. The students at our colleges and universities have had to endure so many disruptions and uncertainties. We want to help ensure they’re not distracted by financial needs. In this effort we complement the tremendous scholarship and grant support provided by the member institutions, which totaled nearly $350 million last year.
One of SCICU’s top responsibilities is promoting independent higher education in South Carolina. We work with state legislators, public officials, and the media to highlight the many successes realized on our member campuses.
Our efforts serve to promote campus fundraising and underscore the importance of SCICU member institutions, and their students, to the future of South Carolina. We see the results, for example, in the support demonstrated by the governor and General Assembly for the Tuition Grants Program, which last year provided financial support to more than 12,000 South Carolina residents.
This year we will extend our communications “footprint” through the use of digital and social media and expand our partnerships with campus relations professionals at the SCICU member institutions.
I once heard that March is where New Year’s resolutions go to die. That won’t happen with SCICU’s resolutions – they will be kept.