The Daily Gamecock

Education professor Les Sternberg to lead service office

USC creates new position to direct community outreach programming


USC has launched a new office for community service and outreach in an effort to consolidate the university’s efforts of bridging students and faculty with community organizations and the private sector.

Leading the office is Les Sternberg, who retired from the College of Education in August. Sternberg will keep his previous $208,000 annual salary in his new role, which Provost Michael Amiridis categorized as a “special project” that may or may not continue, depending on its success.

“We decided to organize such community service activities better by creating in essence a portal for the engagement of USC faculty and students in the community,” Amiridis said.

The new office currently has no formal budget or other employees, but Sternberg said his long-term goal is to expand the office with more staff. Its current location, a small annex behind the Osborne Administration Building, barely holds enough space for one.

The new office hopes to coordinate colleges and departments with community groups looking for assistance while documenting the impact on both the university and community level. Sternberg said the office would provide “a central starting point” for those in the community who request university help.

Sternberg will also try to begin a “South Carolina orientation” for new employees to teach them about the state’s politics, geography, food and culture.

Much of the center’s progress will not begin until Sternberg conducts an “environmental scan” — or an inventory of exact university community service needs.

“I do not want to mess up what we’re currently doing, because we’re doing a lot of really good things,” Sternberg said. “The goal is to facilitate more and identify and eliminate certain barriers departments might face.”

Sternberg said there is a growing push for community service in higher education, and research universities should be lending their expertise to businesses, industries and families.

“This is a huge opportunity and a huge challenge,” Sternberg said. “I hope in a year we’ll see that we’ve made significant progress.”