Three top university positions were filled at the beginning of the 2022-2023 academic year — including university President Michael Amiridis, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Donna Arnett and Vice President for Student Affairs and Academic Support Rex Tolliver.
Each administrative leader came to USC looking to accomplish goals such as hearing from students, improving quality of education and transforming mental health services for students.
When Amridis first began his presidency, he said he came in hoping to organize a summit where USC students could tell him directly what they wanted to see improved.
The summit, Imagine Carolina, was hosted by administrators and Student Government to allow students to voice their concerns about the university. From this event, he said his administration created a foundation for its new objectives.
“As the president, I have many more opportunities to interact with the students, to talk to them,” Amiridis said. “What we did with Imagine Carolina also was, for me, it was very exciting, because we had a good number that came and spoke their minds.”
Amiridis said his administration is making progress on areas brought to his attention during Imagine Carolina, citing mental health issues, student advising and parking.
The Division of Student Affairs is restructuring the mental health office and setting up a new model for advising. Additionally, the university is adding two previously privately owned parking garages.
Moving forward, Amiridis said he plans to reevaluate the administration's progress and work with Student Government to see if Imagine Carolina can become an annual event.
"We're not done," Amiridis said. "We just started in these areas, and we need to address these. I think we need to get their temperatures to see, 'Is what we believe that we are doing that is positive — does it really make a difference, and are they satisfied by these changes?'”
Arnett said her most significant achievement of the year was meeting with faculty and staff in "listening tours" across campus — something she had been planning to do since she arrived at the university.
“I've met every department in every college on campus and spent time listening to what they're most proud of, what their challenges are and met with both faculty and staff," Arnett said. "And I've learned a lot about the richness that is unique to a comprehensive campus like USC."
Arnett's initial goals included developing research and providing more high-quality classes for students. Arnett said she plans to progress in this area by hiring people on her team. She recently hired a vice provost of strategy and innovation and is looking for a vice provost and vice president of Global Carolina.
“I'm building the team,” Arnett said. “I'm doing a deep dive in understanding where we need to grow, research and where we have need for academic instruction, so I'm going to be partnering with the president to outline a growth plan for hiring new faculty. He wants to do a large hiring initiative.”
Vice President Tolliver
Coming into USC, Tolliver said he wanted to focus on improving mental health.
Aligning with Amiridis' goals of restructuring mental health, Tolliver plans to consolidate services by hiring a supervisor in charge of all areas of campus wellness.
In addition to improving mental health services, Tolliver said his highlight of the year is the number of times he has interacted with students.
“That's the thing that I've enjoyed — connecting with the students in their environments," Tolliver said. "I think it's important that we understand them, that we see them where they are,” Tolliver said.
To connect with students, Tolliver holds “Tuesdays with Tolliver,” where he immerses himself in student environments to learn and hear from students directly.
During one of his Tuesday sessions, Tolliver said he rode the USC bus for two to three hours to understand how the transportation system can better benefit students.
“It's about, 'How are students interacting and experiencing the services that we're providing on campus?' and then, 'What would they like me to know about those?' and then what things they would like me to try to either fix, address or enhance," Tolliver said.
Moving forward, Tolliver wants to continue to play a big role in furthering the university's goals.
Tolliver's position touches many different areas in the university, which he believes makes it difficult for him to narrow down what's most important. However, he said that his main priority is to support the university in its goals.
“Our number one priority is part of the university's priority," Tolliver said. "We are already starting to engage in a process to adopt new priorities for the division, and that in turn will guide all the work that we're going to be doing over the next several years.”