President Bob Caslen promised to freeze tuition for the 2021- 2022 academic year, evaluate campus building names and move the School of Medicine Columbia to the BullStreet District at the State of the University address Wednesday morning.
During Caslen’s first State of the University address as president, he made a promise to all current and future students that he will not change the price of tuition for the 2021-2022 academic year.
“We must make higher education accessible and affordable, or current students won’t stay, and prospective students will not give us a chance,” Caslen said.
During his first semester as president, Caslen began working on "The Path to Excellence" plan. It includes eight strategic points to spark innovation, recruit top students and faculty, invest in research and create a more diverse and inclusive university.
To support the diversity and inclusion point, Caslen created the Presidential Commission on University History, which includes President Emeritus Harris Pastides, university archivist Elizabeth West and associate professor of history Valinda Littlefield. They are tasked with researching the history of every building on USC’s campus and evaluating their names.
The team will give Caslen a report at the end of the year with its findings and suggestions for change. Caslen said there will be a public forum soon to gather input from all members of the Carolina community before working with the South Carolina General Assembly on the recommendations.
“The establishment of this commission is not only about how we address building names. It is also about our collective effort to create a more inclusive and welcoming campus community by presenting a more inclusive and historical narrative of our university’s past,” Caslen said.
Another part of "The Path to Excellence" plan includes advancing university infrastructure. Along with investing in the Division of IT, Caslen plans to relocate the School of Medicine Columbia, currently located on Garners Ferry Road, to the BullStreet District.
He said this new expansion will change much of the university and the downtown area of Columbia. The Campus Village development is also planned to continue. However, both of these expansions were slowed down due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Caslen also highlighted research accomplishments in the address. In 2020, faculty members gained $279.5 million towards research and awards funding. According to Caslen, this is a new record for the university.
“The University of South Carolina has perhaps never been so well-prepared to tackle the future and succeed,” Caslen said. “We have never been so highly regarded, highly accomplished or highly sought-after as a destination for those seeking a top-notch degree.”