New president aims to lift UofSC to top in the US
His experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan taught Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen valuable life lessons.
Among them was a need to win the hearts and minds of those you aim to help.
With his advisors, including former Rep. James Smith, he is taking 10 days to tour South Carolina, talking with community and education leaders.
He brought his goodwill tour to Lexington last Friday to share plans as the University of South Carolina’s 29th president with members of the West Metro Rotary Club.
He first gathered the deans and key administrators for 2 days to discuss their vision and mission.
From that they developed vision and mission goals to:
• Transform the university to be the best in the US.
• Make it more affordable for more state students.
• Provide more scholarships to talented students who otherwise could not afford to attend college.
• Work with K-12 educators to prepare more students to qualify for college.
He told of asking a bright African American high school senior where he planned to attend college.
The young man said he couldn’t afford college.
“He had dismissed the idea,” Caslen said.
After 43 years of military service and commandant of the US Military Academy at West Point, he said he comes to higher education with a service perspective.
He sees student diversity as an issue since the state’s African American population is 29.5%, but the African American enrollment is only 9% of the student body.
He said part of the problem is cost. The university’s tuition and fees are among the highest in the nation.
He pledged to find more sources of revenue to make higher education affordable for more local students.
He said that by strengthening the pipeline of K-12 students, all colleges in SC would benefit.
He also said he was looking forward to a great contest between the state’s 2 top universities on the football field next week.