Message from SCICU President and CEO Jeff Perez —
In my short tenure as President & CEO of SCICU, I can say with all confidence last week was one of the very high points, showcasing the finest our campuses have to offer – our students and those who teach them.
Last Tuesday I had the honor of accepting Chairman Jerry Govan’s offer to make a presentation to the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus. The legislators were impressed by the diversity our campuses offer. We expand the array of environments in which students, particularly first generation and minority students, can succeed. We add small campuses, faith-based campuses, and our Historically Black Colleges and Universities, known as HBCUs. I also stressed there are seven other SCICU campuses where African-American students make up more than 20 percent of the enrollment. And we demonstrate the importance of diversity on our Board of Trustees, where 32 percent are African-American.
That night we celebrated the SCICU Excellence In Teaching Awards Dinner (Please click here to see a gallery of photos from the awards dinner.). This is our chance to acknowledge the finest teaching at our campuses. This being my first dinner, I was deeply impressed by the show of support for teaching excellence. About 180 attendees, including seven campus presidents, were on hand to honor the award recipients from each of our institutions. Many thanks to the seven campus presidents who joined us.
As I read the profiles of the Excellence in Teaching Award recipients, I was struck by how each professor had a unique approach to teaching, but they all shared a dedication to the success of each and every one of their students.
The next morning was the opportunity for our students to shine at the annual State House Day, which is the culmination of the annual student letter-writing campaign. I thank the campuses for their participation by sending a total of about 100 students who had received support from the South Carolina Tuition Grant Program (Please click here to view a gallery of photos from State House Day.).
We kicked off the morning by honoring Sen. Vincent Sheheen as our 2019 Legislative Champion. Sen. Sheheen has been a steadfast supporter of higher education, including our private colleges and universities, and read from a legislative concurrent resolution designating April 8-12 as SC Independent Colleges and Universities Week. He also shared with the students the impact on legislators of their letter-writing campaign, and for taking the time to personally thank the legislators.
That impact has never been greater! We announced the stunning results of the legislative letter-writing campaign. I’m very pleased to report that our students wrote more than 9,000 letters to their state senators and representatives! That handily beats the previous record of 8,200 letters. And congratulations to Anderson University students for writing the most letters, and Erskine for having the highest percentage participation.
After the ceremony our students and those accompanying them, including Limestone President Darrell Parker, met with legislators and other public officials. The smiles and enthusiasm of our students was matched by that of legislators who were delighted to share time with these students who are making the most of the opportunity provided them by the Tuition Grants Program.
Thanks to the outreach of Coker College President Robert Wyatt, Speaker Jay Lucas acknowledged our students from the floor of the SC House of Representatives. Speaker Lucas asked our students, who were gathered in the House gallery, to stand by college. There were cheers and applause from the legislators for each our campuses.
We concluded the day with a group photo on the steps of the Capitol. What a great image – our students all wearing the colors of their alma maters.
I capped off the week by serving as a delegate at the investiture of Morris College President Dr. Leroy Staggers. Investitures and inaugurations capture the spirit of an institution by honoring its past and traditions while expressing optimism for the future under new leadership. Dr. Staggers’ investiture conveyed his deep ties to Morris, having worked there for 25 years, and his eminent qualifications to guide the college to a bright future.
SCICU campuses were well represented – thanks to the SCICU campus presidents who were also delegates: Dr. Ernest McNealy (Allen), Dr. Roslyn Artis (Benedict), Dr. Dondi Costin (Charleston Southern), and Dr. W. Franklin Evans (Voorhees). Claflin’s President Dr. Henry Tisdale was a distinguished guest and a member of the platform party.
As I look back on last week, I consider myself deeply fortunate to be associated with the SCICU campuses, our visionary leaders, inspiring faculty and the students who benefit from their knowledge and guidance.