President Michael Amiridis took to the stage Tuesday in the Russell House Ballroom to highlight the university's accomplishments and announce upcoming projects during his first State of the University Address.
The president said he is proud of the university's accomplishments from the past year, such as hiring new deans and executive staff, as well as expanding university housing. He primarily focused on actions taken to address student concerns in the areas of academic advising, Wi-Fi, parking and mental health and well-being services.
"The first thing that I want is (for students) to realize that we're hearing you, right? All the recommendations that you made; we're trying to make progress, and we are making progress," Amiridis said.
Amiridis said the provost office added 26 new advisors to its staff in the past year, a 60% increase. The office is also rolling out a new four-year advising plan.
"The goal of the new advising plan is to enhance guidance and to engage students in more meaningful and comprehensive discussions, not only about academics, but also about career aspirations and experiential learning opportunities," Amiridis said.
The university recently invested $10 million into improving the Wi-Fi connectivity around campus, Amiridis said. It also added 3,000 new parking spots for both residential and commuter students and updated mental health and well-being services around campus.
Mental health services for students were restructured so that students could have increased access to them whenever needed, Amiridis said. Increased support staff for the counseling office was also added so that more same-day appointments and immediate support could be offered to students.
The president celebrated the university's growth and the student experience after USC welcomed its largest freshman class of over 7,300 students this year. However, he said that continuing to grow at larger numbers could be troubling with the university's current infrastructure.
"We don't anticipate, and we don't want this level of growth next year," Amiridis said. "We cannot handle it."
Regarding the university's growth, Amiridis said the recent decision to automatically admit all South Carolina high school students who graduate in the top 10% of their class would help make the university more accessible and that he pictures minimal effects on the university infrastructure.
"I think we will not see a huge growth with the 10%," Amiridis said. "We will see a few hundred students because already we get a lot of students who are in the top 10%."
The president said that the primary reason behind this decision was to increase the number of applications that they receive from some South Carolina counties that are considered low-income.
The president ended his speech on a hopeful note for the university's future.
"We are in good shape," Amiridis said. "We cannot stop now. We need to keep going fast."