The Daily Gamecock

Letter to the Editor: University has plenty to offer

President hopes all students embrace Jeffersonian values

Each summer, as prospective first-year students and their families visit our beautiful campus, they repeatedly comment about the warm and welcoming spirit of the Carolina community. I am most grateful to our upperclassmen who continue to show not only leadership but genuine hospitality toward both prospective and incoming students. I join them wholeheartedly in welcoming our newest class of freshmen to campus. Strong in numbers and strong in academic talent, with the highest SAT scores to date, I have no doubt they will contribute to Carolina’s building momentum.

With our emphasis on academic excellence, innovative research, access, affordability and flexibility, USC has clearly become a destination of choice for students both inside and outside of South Carolina. Efforts to recruit the best students led to a surprising shift in the number of accepted students who chose to enroll, defying recent national trends. We offered admission to students with the expectation of the same size freshmen class as last year, but our popularity improved beyond expectations. I am delighted that we have record numbers entering our Honors College, Capstone Scholars program, several top ranked STEM programs and more. It speaks volumes about the growing reputation of our university and the quality of our students.

As I anticipated the return of our students, Thomas Jefferson’s insightful statement in the Declaration of Independence has been on my mind. We all know that as a people we have the right to life, liberty and “pursuit of happiness.” Jefferson, as a scholar of Aristotle and other great Greek philosophers, was referring to happiness in terms of a public good. In fact, Jeffersonian happiness implies that the well-being of the individual is tied to the well-being of the whole. And it was Jefferson’s contemporary, James Madison, who believed that happiness was a test of balance and proportion.

This year, I would like to invite our student body of more than 30,000 students and our faculty and staff, to pursue a Jeffersonian happiness: to strive for individual excellence while also striving to positively impact our broader Carolina Community. This ties in directly with our commitment expressed in the Carolinian Creed, which begins, “The community of scholars at the University of South Carolina is dedicated to personal and academic excellence. Choosing to join our community obligates each member to a code of civilized behavior.”

Together, we have worked towards a greater public good. I am proud of the rankings that Carolina has collectively earned. They define our culture, our students and our university while assisting our graduates in gaining employment. That USC is the only university in South Carolina with the Carnegie top-tier designation for very high research is an invaluable ranking. That both our Honors College and our undergraduate international business programs are ranked No. 1 is impressive.
That USC’s College of Engineering and Computing is ranked No. 1 in the state by the National Research Council for faculty research production is terrific. That INSIGHT into Diversity magazine has named USC as one of the nation’s top universities for diversity and inclusivity is a tribute to all.

Again, a big welcome back to all of our returning students and an especially warm welcome to our first-year students. You have made an excellent decision to join the Carolina Community. It is my hope that we will approach this academic year with balance and proportion. Let’s all agree to embrace Jefferson’s version of happiness, remembering that the well-being of each individual on campus is directly tied to the well-being of the entire Carolina Family. Welcome home.