A new USC student advocacy office and a project focused on brain health research and care in South Carolina were just a couple items USC's board of trustees approved in a meeting on Friday.
The office, titled the Student Advocacy Center, is intented to be a "one-stop shop" to help students with questions regarding financial aid, grades, meal plans and class registration, said Rex Tolliver, USC's vice president of Student Affairs and Academic Support. The center will be located in Russell House.
The office will also include a program called the Gamecock Green Group to help new students navigate the campus, and it will be located throughout campus.
“We have been diligently planning for this large freshman class that we have coming,” Tolliver said.
While the office will work to accommodate the increasing number of students attending the university, Tolliver said his intention for the office is to find ways to better serve the student body as a whole.
“I want to approach this institution with a students-first perspective, and it's about ways in which we can better serve the students,” Tolliver said.
The center is not the only structure intended to help support the incoming freshmen class. Administration and trustees also gathered Friday morning for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Campus Village, a $240 million development project that contains 1,808 beds for students. The village also includes other services such as a career center, dining hall, Starbucks and a transportation hub.
“This is a great year for USC," university President Michael Amiridis said during the ceremoney. "A year of growth and potential as you welcome a historic freshman class — by far the largest in our history, and this growth proves that our reputation gets even stronger every year."
The board also approved the plans for a new brain health hub. Vice President for research Julius Fridriksson said the Brain Health Network project will include a hub located in a rennovated building at the intersection of Bull and Harden Streets in Columbia as well as five clinics placed in rural parts of the state.
The clinics will work to address various health disparities found in these areas, such as the higher risk of brain health issues, he said.
“We know that there’s a space here where we can definitely be a part of the solution for this thing,” Fridriksson said.
The hub will also be equipped with the newest technology, such as MRI scanners, which will be the first of their kind in South Carolina, according to Fridriksson.
"These are going to be crucial for making USC the institution in the state for differential diagnosis and treatment,” Fridriksson said.
The project has secured $30 million in renovations and an additional $5 million in recurring funds, which will allow for hiring and staffing of the hub and the other clinics located around the state. Fridriksson said the clinic is estimated to start seeing patients this fall.
In addition to the two plans, the board also approved a new contract extension for head baseball coach Mark Kingston through the 2027 season.
The Gamecocks finished 42-21 overall (16-13 SEC) in the 2023 season and made it to the Super Regionals in the College World Series where it lost to the University of Florida.
Kingston will now recieve an annual compensation of $725,000, tying him for 13th in highest salary in the SEC.