The Daily Gamecock

Column: Rex Tolliver will make a great addition to USC

<p>The USC Smokestack located at the heart of campus on Aug. 31, 2022.</p>
The USC Smokestack located at the heart of campus on Aug. 31, 2022.

Rex Tolliver is an excellent addition to the university due to his platform to improve USC and his track record of impressive accomplishments. 

J. Rex Tolliver, Vice President for Student Affairs and Academic Support
J. Rex Tolliver, Vice President for Student Affairs and Academic Support

Tolliver was selected out of three candidates for vice president for student affairs and academic support. Previously, he served as the vice chancellor of student affairs at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) for the last five years of now university President Michael Amiridis' time as UIC's chancellor. As he steps into this new role, Tolliver is tasked with spearheading programs and services that will help students beyond their time in college.

Some of his main goals for the campus are to help improve outcomes in diversity, equity, inclusion and justice, to increase the student success rate and to better support the student affairs staff. Among his plans to increase inclusivity within our community are systems to hire and retain staff from underrepresented demographics and create more programs that reach minority student groups. 

“Students affairs supports students from a number of perspectives, particularly our first-generation students, students of color as well as our LGBTQ+ students,” Dr. Julian Williams, the vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, said. “So I'm excited and hopeful that Rex — and student affairs under his leadership — will take an intentional approach to supporting all of our students to create spaces for students to feel supported by the university and really take on the role around student development.” 

As USC becomes more diverse, changes need to be made within the university for it to accommodate its population better. USC has historically struggled with many problems stemming from a lack of inclusivity such as addressing the problems faced by the disabled community and controversy surrounding renaming buildings. With Tolliver’s plans to increase diversity, we can hope to see a more welcoming environment for students and staff of all backgrounds. 

Alongside improving the diversity of the campus, there are staffing problems that need to be addressed as well. Citing recent staff shortages in the student affairs office that have left the remaining members overworked and underpaid, Tolliver has proposed ideas to create more flexible schedules and increase investment in professional development.

While Tolliver is focused on energizing his staff, he is also here for the students. 

“I think a lot of the things he did at the University of Illinois Chicago was being more student-centered and thinking about the community as the whole,” Shay Malone, the director of multicultural student affairs, said. “At the same time thinking about our staff and faculty here, and how we can all work together to make this place we call home."

Tolliver needs to consider the perspectives of the faculty, staff and student body in order to fulfill his plan to craft a better work-life balance and improve the overall experience at USC. 

Tolliver’s platform is not only all-encompassing, but his previous achievements show his wide range of skill sets. During his time at the University of Illinois Chicago, he created a program to help boost unpaid internships, launched a fund to jumpstart faculty research that would improve student success and helped with dorm construction on campuses by creating private-public partnerships where private developers build dorms on the campus property.  

With his wealth of previous experiences in student affairs, Tolliver has proven himself to be dependable. His knowledgeable insight is exactly what USC needs for future success. 

“I think he will bring a new energy, he's got perspectives from other institutions that he served on,” Anna Edwards, the associate vice president for student life, said. “He's got particular experience in the facilities auxiliary services side which I think is going to be really important for us as we look at facilities, we look at student union, we look at the future of student housing on campus, we look at what the gaps are.” 

Tolliver has proven his work ethic in his various roles over the course of his career. With his background in student affairs and his fresh perspective, USC can become a better and more well-rounded place for the whole community.