It’s been a year. End.
But that does not mean that there was not much to celebrate, recognize and honor at the University of South Carolina in 2020. There was. And there is still more to come in 2021.
Whether we were developing innovative instructional strategies and aggressive testing protocols to confront the coronavirus, or whether we were making our voices heard on social justice issues or proving our value, once again, on campus and in the community, UofSC outperformed any and all challenge year and raised the bar for the following year.
We received new leadership, including Dean and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, William Tate; vice president for diversity, equality and inclusion Julian Williams; dean of law school William Hubbard; and vice president of communications Larry Thomas.
We also announced a new vice president of development, Monica Delisa, who will start in January 2021, and a new football coach, Shane Beamer, who will lead the Gamecocks to the field at Williams-Brice next fall.
And we adjust to the new normal. We teach courses, conduct research and seek scholarships at a time when it would be easier to wait and see. We opened new classrooms, offices and laboratories. We build new partnerships and strengthen existing ones. We played sports and applauded.
Of course, we had a good reason, and not just on the field. Check out the classifications: best first year experience in public university, best international business programs (undergraduate and graduate), four Top 5 and twelve Top 25 graduate programs, all according to US News & World Report. In all, we now have 56 academic programs rated nationally, more than any other university in the state.
Meanwhile, Inside Honors named South Carolina Honors College as the first among public honor colleges nationwide, the Global Ranking of Schools and Departments of Sport Sciences ranked the university’s sports science programs first in the USA for the fourth consecutive year, and the Department of Defense has recognized our Navy ROTC program, which completed 80 years in 2020, as the best in the country.
Unsurprisingly, we are one of the fastest growing emblematic universities in the country. On the Columbia campus alone, we mint 7,288 new graduates in the spring and open our doors to 7,750 new students in the fall. In preparation for the next chapter, we also present a bold new strategic plan, which will guide the university’s growth and improvement in the coming years.
Most importantly, however, we show what we are made of, who we are and what we can become. The challenge is an opportunity waiting to happen, but it also reveals the character. And in 2020, our character was our greatest strength.