The Daily Gamecock

Faculty talk budget, transparency

University higher-ups outline USC Connect, shrinking state funding, education sacrifices

The Quality Enhancement Plan, transparency and a worsening budget were the big issues at Wednesday afternoon’s faculty senate meeting in the Law School Auditorium.

Several university heads gave speeches concerning the most important issues facing the university.

Quality Enhancement Plan

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools requires the submission of a Quality Enhancement Plan as part of its reaffirmation of university accreditation process. USC’s Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs and Chair of the QEP Proposal Committee Irma Van Scoy outlined USC’s plan, dubbed USC Connect, in the meeting’s first presentation.

“We plan to make a difference to enhance the lives of students here at Carolina,” Van Scoy said. “We’re going to be investing serious money in it, so we want everyone to know about it.”

Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Studies Helen Doerpinghaus estimated that “serious money” is $500,000 per year for five years. When asked if SACS requires a minimum cost for the QEP, Van Scoy said the proposal “requires a significant investment on the part of the university.”

The plan is intended to meet SACS’ criteria, which include enhancing student learning throughout the university and building on current research, by increasing students’ intentional participation in “beyond-the-classroom experiences.”

As opposed to the self-explanatory “within-classroom experiences,” BTCs, as Van Scoy abbreviated them, include short-term varieties such as lectures and the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and long-term ones such as the Living and Learning Community. The goal is that students will “construct meaning across experiences over time” in a way that will enable them to “creatively integrate and apply their knowledge, skills and dispositions.”

Van Scoy described one of the proposed facets as an search engine that would use students’ current majors and activities to suggest BTCs that would interest and benefit them.

According to Van Scoy, SACS will be visiting USC at the end of March. The QEP will be finalized this summer and will be implemented in Fall 2011. An open QEP forum will be held in the Russell House Theater Feb. 15.
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In response to calls from the South Carolina General Assembly for more transparency among public institutions, USC’s Vice President of Finance and Planning and Chief Financial Officer Ted Moore said at the meeting that a full transparency website will launch July 1.
Moore said USC had already made much of its financial information available online and that the new website would not be cheap.

“It may be $58,000 more to pay for this,” said Moore. “And that’s just a guess at this point.”

According to Moore, law would exclude certain factors such as employee salaries under $50,000 from being revealed. Currently, only state employees making more than $50,000 must have their salaries posted on the Budget and Control Board website. He also said the university was working so names wouldn’t be listed on travel expenditures.


When USC President Harris Pastides stood at the lectern to give his assessment of the university, he noted that it was the Year of the Rabbit on the Chinese calendar.

“Rabbits are quick, cautious and know how to hide,” Pastides said. “The university will be emulating some of these traits.”

According to Moore, USC has cumulatively lost 41 percent of its state funding, and there could be another 25 percent cut this year.

“We’re now funded at 1984 levels,” Moore said. He continued that, if inflation is taken into account, state funding for the university is back in the “disco era.”

Pastides said the university had already been forced to make huge sacrifices, including the loss of nine bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s programs and four doctorate programs.

“It will not be a good year financially,” Pastides said. “I hope it will be the last bad year.”

Pastides said the General Assembly is considering caps on tuition and the number of accepted out-of-state students, the former of which Moore said had a “very good likelihood” of occurring. Pastides said he asked legislators to do neither.

According to Pastides, USC receives $112 million in tuition from out-of-state students. He said he made sure to point out to legislators that out-of-state tuition dollars are more than the state is funding the university. Pastides also said enrollment for in-state students was 77 percent.

While the president pointed out many of the problems the university faces, he touted statistics such as a 30 percent increase in black enrollment and the fact that 40 percent of all baccalaureate degrees from public universities in South Carolina come from USC. He also described his meetings with new Gov. Nikki Haley as a “breath of fresh air.”


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