I look forward to working at SCICU every day, but the first week in April was tremendous.
On Tuesday, April 5, we held the Excellence In Teaching Awards dinner at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Each of the 21 member institutions nominates a faculty member for the SCICU award, which includes a $3,000 professional development grant and a framed awards certificate.
This was our first awards dinner in two years, and we were all excited to get together – Mother Nature wasn’t so sure. She made it a bit more interesting by strewing tornados and strong thunderstorms across the Midlands. A couple of campuses weren’t able to make it, and we had to “shelter-in-place” for about 20 minutes at the convention center – not a big deal as we just moved the reception away from the gallery windows into the dining area.
I deeply appreciate that nearly 150 people were able to make it. Many thanks to the presidents and campus leaders who joined in celebrating their faculty members’ achievements.
Faculty members are typically acknowledged in professional environments like academic conferences and don’t often get the chance to be recognized in front of family and friends. We at SCICU are very proud to provide that opportunity.
On Wednesday, April 6, we held the first Higher Education Day at the State House. You may remember in previous years we’ve celebrated Independent Higher Education Day, but this year we joined with our colleagues from the Commission on Higher Education and the Technical College System to highlight the depth and breadth of college opportunities in South Carolina.
About 65 students from colleges and universities all over the state met with legislators to express their thanks for the state’s financial support of students, in particular the Tuition Grants Program for private college and university students and the Needs-Based Grant Program for students at public colleges and universities. Speaking of Tuition Grants, the day also marked the culmination of our annual letter-writing campaign – fully 9,000 hand-written messages were sent to legislators by Tuition Grant recipients thanking them for the support that makes real for more than 11,000 students the dream of a college education.
Holding a joint Higher Education Day symbolizes our mutual support for each sector’s financial aid program, and highlights the collective contributions of our campuses and students to the future of South Carolina.
Nowhere was that clearer than in the balcony of the S.C. House of Representatives where the students were acknowledged by the legislators with a resolution proclaiming April 6, 2022 as Higher Education Day in South Carolina.
The students then moved outside onto the steps of the Statehouse where they were joined by none other than Gov. Henry McMaster who issued an executive proclamation honoring the students.
I capped off the week by flying to Chicago to attend the meeting of the board of directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. I sit on the board in my capacity as national chair of the association of individuals like myself who run state organizations.
Spending time with campus leaders from across the country afforded me the opportunity to benefit from their perspectives on the challenges facing independent higher education. And there were familiar faces there: Allen University President Ernest McNealey and Coker University President Natalie Harder were also in attendance.
That week tested my endurance, but I’ve never been happier to be so tired.