By Riley Bean | September 30, 2020 at 10:51 AM EDT - Updated September 30 at 10:51 AM
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - University of South Carolina President Bob Caslen says the school has outlined a bold vision for the future in the midst of the global pandemic.
Caslen announced his future plans, including a tuition freeze, during his State of the University address Wednesday.
Caslen said a tuition freeze for the next academic year will lessen the financial burden on families and make attending the state’s flagship a reality for more state residents.
UofSC said the speech marked Caslen’s first State of the University address since being named president in July 2019.
Caslen began the address by thanking UofSC researchers and staff for spending countless hours helping reduce the risk of the virus on campus which UofSC says was through robust testing methods and other efforts.
“The very fact that our campus is open and has remained open; the fact that we are delivering education to more than 35,000 students using flexible modalities; and the fact that we are navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and taking care of each other; it’s clear to me that the University of South Carolina is demonstrating what it means to be the state’s flagship institution of higher education,” Caslen said.
UofSC says Caslen later expanded on several tenetsof the university’s strategic plan, For South Carolina: A Path to Excellence, which was formally approved by the Board of Trustees this summer.
“Within the very name of our university rests its most solemn obligation: to serve the people of South Carolina. How we fulfill this obligation is what will make us preeminent, and our new strategic plan lays out the pathway to get there,” Caslen said.
UofSc says highlights of the strategic plan include:
· Enhancing diversity among students, faculty and staff while continuing to make campus a welcoming environment for all;
· Working to make college more affordable and offering new innovative degree programs for non-traditional students. UofSC has not raised tuition on the Columbia campus since 2019 when it increased by 0.6 percent;
· Continuing to build of record-setting external funding ($279.5 million in SFY 2020) while building on existing corporate research partnerships;
· Improving the university’s physical and technology infrastructure to better serve the needs of future students.
“We simply must protect the value proposition of higher education – for our current and future students, faculty and staff. I’ve been talking about this value proposition since I arrived at South Carolina; it didn’t take COVID-19 to start this conversation, but the pandemic certainly has made it more urgent than ever,” Caslen said.
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