Dr. Sandra Jordan, chancellor at USC Aiken, announced Friday that she will be retiring effective June 30, 2021.
Jordan has served as the chancellor since July 1, 2012. She was the fourth person to serve in that capacity.
In a letter to the campus community, Jordan wrote, "It has been an extraordinary privilege to serve with you and for you as your chancellor. I will always be grateful for the opportunity I've had to learn from – and help illuminate to others – the dedication and excellence, creativity, and commitment that characterizes this amazing – and award-winning – university!"
During Jordan's time as chancellor, USC Aiken received more than 80 awards or recognitions, including the U.S. News and World Report's No. 1 ranking for public regional universities in the South, according to a news release.
University of South Carolina President Robert L. Caslen stated, "Last year, Dr. Jordan informed me of her intention to retire at the end of this academic year. We celebrate this milestone moment for her and the legacy she leaves behind at the University of South Carolina Aiken and the entire UofSC System."
"Sandra has been a trusted partner in higher education on the state and national levels for many years. Her contributions and reputation are impeccable, and all of us in the University of South Carolina system will miss her tremendously. The next UofSC Aiken chancellor will have big shoes to fill," Caslen added.
Jordan began her work as the fourth chancellor when USC Aiken and other colleges and universities in the nation were facing the after-effects of a severe recession.
She identified "job one" as strengthening the university's financial position and addressing employees' salaries that had stagnated during the Great Recession. Working with campus constituents, Jordan instituted the university's fair-wage plan, oversaw the successful completion of the university's first capital campaign and expanded outreach to alumni.
She launched two successive strategic plans, "Forward Together" and "Leading Forward," that guided the institution's work and budget, updated the mission and vision statements, created a new campus master plan and launched a new institutional logo.
Jordan prioritized creating a more inclusive campus, forming the chancellor's task force on diversity, increasing the role of the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging; working closely with the Inclusionary Council, increasing under-represented student enrollment; and launching an aggressive international partnership plan. She also took steps to help the institution deliver on the promise of access and opportunity.
Under her leadership, the university created new "bridge programs," restructured student payment plans and kept tuition low. Working with the Aiken County Public School District, Jordan was instrumental in increasing dual enrollment and creating the Aiken Scholars Academy.
During her tenure, the university increased the support provided to all students by adding a professional advising center, creating a Learning Commons that contributed to closing the achievement gap and adding a Student Ombudsperson Office.
Since her arrival in 2012, USC Aiken's total enrollment accounted for the broadest racial and cultural representation ever in its history.
Working closely with the local Statehouse members, Jordan increased state appropriations by 78.15% and secured funding for several physical plant updates, including the pedestrian bridge over Robert M. Bell Parkway. Under her guidance, the university restructured a recruiting plan that resulted in a 22% increase in enrollment. Meanwhile, she also reinvigorated the fund balance, increasing it by 109%.
Early after arriving in South Carolina, Jordan commissioned a study of workforce needs in the region. Working with community and campus constituents, the university aligned new degree programs with the requirements of regional employers. These new programs included degrees in health care, engineering, an MBA, applied gaming, communications and media, and cybersecurity.
During her tenure, 24 undergraduate and graduate programs were created or redesigned, and the university took their first forward-looking steps into online learning.
Moreover, in recognition of the university's strong liberal arts and sciences curriculum, Jordan helped the university secure an invitation into the prestigious Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges and later into the Southern University Conference.
A long-term goal for Jordan was to increase the university's connectivity with the community, and this was achieved through meaningful partnerships with many entities, including the Savannah River Site, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, the Savannah River National Laboratory, the Department of Energy, Savannah River Remediation, Fort Gordon, Bridgestone, the City of Aiken, the Aiken Regional Medical Center, Aiken County Public School District, Kimberly-Clark, the First Tee of Aiken and the South Carolina National Guard, among many others.
With her retirement, Jordan's husband, Michael Jordan, will also relinquish his role as the university's "First Gent," though he will continue his active career as an architect. His profession has included academic work as an associate professor at Murray State University, as a designer for architectural firms and as an architect for international corporations. In his role as First Gent, Michael Jordan made significant contributions to the university, including providing free design work and consulting for institutional projects.