The Daily Gamecock

Q&A with President Pastides


President Harris Pastides took up his role as USC's president in 2008, and very few know more about the university than he does. The Daily Gamecock asked him a few questions that we think you might be wondering, too.

What do you think the purpose of Parents Weekend is? Why do we do this every year?

Well, parents have a lot of investment in where their sons or daughters go to college. In many ways, they're living vicariously with their sons and daughters, and I think it's the one time of year that we welcome them and say, "Why don't you have the same experience?" I think it breathes life into the concept of college. And it also, from my perspective, increases and enlarges the family of the university — to go beyond the attendee ... to also go to the parents and other family members who come.

If there’s ONE thing parents should be doing this weekend, what would that be?

Spend a little time in the residence hall or in the apartment that their sons or daughters reside in, because the students themselves spend so much time there. I think it's important to get at least a glimpse of what their home lives are like. Beyond that, walk the Horseshoe, the whole circle, once or twice. Breathe the air, y'know; sit on the grass possibly. Learn the history of the buildings there because it's the central part of the university.

What sights should parents and students go see this weekend as a family?

One older, traditional place: the South Caroliniana Library. Even though the books aren't in there now, the second floor reading room of the South Caroliniana Library designed by Robert Mills, America's premier early architect, is maybe one of the most phenomenal indoor spaces in the state of South Carolina. And then, I would suggest the new Darla Moore School of Business, even if their son or daughter is not a business major — it doesn't matter. To see what working with a globally renowned, and I would argue provocative, architect like Rafael Vinoly can do for a university that is really favoring traditional designs, neo-classical designs. So, get a taste of the best we have in the older and the newer.

What resources does USC offer parents that other schools don’t?

We offer them the opportunity to serve on a Parents (Advisory) Council if they wish — i.e. to help guide me and the university forward. Let me say that they have already had a great impact in helping us revamp our undergraduate advising system. They pointed out difficulties that their sons or daughters were having with academic advising, and we have a new system, so it's a very substantive organization.

Beyond that, I would say that communication that we have ongoing with all parents — and I'm not suggesting that other universities don't try that or do a good job — but I think we do an outstanding job keeping in touch with families, mainly electronically.

And then, thirdly, the activities of this weekend are at considerable expense to the university.  Even though there's a fee to participate, it doesn't nearly cover all of the expenses that the university goes through to give them a premier experience.

What is your favorite (and least favorite) part about USC?

My favorite part is interacting informally with students, wherever that might be. It's more about the job than about the university, but my favorite activity is to interact informally — not necessarily formally in big student government meetings, but informally with individuals and groups of students. And my least favorite thing would be, probably, the drive or the walk home after a losing athletic contest. Just feeling that maybe my university family is let down or feeling blue. And I'm like, "Well, I gotta put this behind me and wake up tomorrow morning with a positive attitude."