S.C. State vital to ‘One Orangeburg’ and state’s future

ORANGEBURG — In this close-knit community we call Orangeburg, there lies one common goal: to make Orangeburg County an even greater community where we all can be proud to live, work and play. Efforts toward this attainable goal are made every day by individuals, businesses and organizations that are invested in making this goal a reality.

Persons from all walks of life are welcome here. Businesses and industries stake a claim in the economic success of the county and city, and recreational and cultural activities are offered throughout Orangeburg.

For South Carolina State University, the push to advance the unifying movement of One Orangeburg became even more evident when Orangeburg City Council made an unyielding statement demonstrating its ongoing support of South Carolina State.

On April 5, council members voted to fund up to $1 million of work to improve campus roads and sidewalks. The Bulldog community is immensely grateful for the generous support provided by the council.

This display of magnanimous support demonstrates that the city recognizes the public value of S.C. State as a formidable economic engine and appreciates the countless benefits it provides to the community.

S.C. State University has come a long way, and we are extremely pleased with the significant progress we have made in less than 12 months. The progress can be attributed to the new president, Dr. W. Franklin Evans, the administrative team he has assembled and the new fully committed board of trustees, with diverse experiences and a wealth of resources. As chairman of the board, and someone who was born right here in Orangeburg, I do not want the university to merely survive — I want to ensure that it thrives.

We began the 2015–2016 year with a balanced budget, which speaks volumes to the financial restoration that has taken place. I am also pleased that we met and exceeded enrollment goals, clearly demonstrating the confidence of students and parents.

There is a renewed sense of pride among alumni and other supporters, which is leading to the best fundraising year we have had in over a decade. I am delighted to serve as chairman, and my affinity for the university is unquestionable and unwavering.

This institution of higher learning is woven into every fiber of the community. The impact of its 120-year presence, right here in the Garden City, as well as in the Palmetto State, is undeniable. Its contributions are significant and far-reaching.

While it is almost impossible to fully capture S.C. State’s influence, the university certainly transforms lives and inspires greatness among those whom it serves.

The university generates an estimated $187 million for South Carolina’s economy, serving as a major contributor to the sustainability and growth of Orangeburg and the state.

S.C. State has drawn generations of scholars — from across the nation and around the world — who chose to pursue their educational dreams here in Orangeburg. The exceptional academic programs, infinite educational opportunities, and amazing cultural experiences are some of the things that attract students to this university.

Alumni — nearly 30,000 — are making a difference in the world as engineers, educators, college presidents, business executives, physicians, speech pathologists, social workers, lawmakers, generals and other high-ranking military officers, nutritionists, artists, musicians and even athletes. Some 19,000 alumni call South Carolina home, providing a highly competent workforce in the state.

Our emerging faculty leaders and expert faculty are dedicated to conducting research that contributes to new knowledge and addresses many complex issues that challenge individuals, families and communities in the state, across the nation and around the world. Research and other creative discovery on campus focus on health and wellness, eliminating obesity, improving the academic performance of K-12 students in underperforming schools, and preparing minority educators to make sure these students are successful, enhancing global food security and seeking solutions that may contribute to eliminating or reducing the incidences of diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and pancreatic cancer.

S.C. State University improves the quality of life of communities throughout the state through its many outreach and public service activities, ranging from alternative energy, community and economic development, and youth citizenship and leadership initiatives.

The students also possess a robust sense of social responsibility, giving back to the community by volunteering hours in combatting illiteracy, exposing youth to science and engineering, and feeding the hungry and less fortunate. As a cultural destination, SC State offers activities such as lectures and executive speaker series, music and dance performances, athletics events, and art exhibits.

In a broader context, Orangeburg City Council’s assistance aligns with the outpouring of support that the university receives from the governor and other state leaders, who are committed to the future of this institution.

They, too, acknowledge S.C. State’s legacy of leadership as one of the nation’s top historically black university, a producer of exceptional leaders, a strong community advocate, and an economic partner vital to the state’s prosperity.

All of us involved with S.C. State know that this institution has made tremendous progress along the way, but we are mindful that we have more work to do in order to bring S.C. State back to its heyday, the level of prominence for which it was once known.

S.C. State University appreciates this outstanding gesture of support from the City of Orangeburg. We thank city leaders who understand the importance of S.C. State University as an invaluable partner, whose faculty, staff, and students, for some 120 years, have invested in Orangeburg by purchasing homes and vehicles, shopping at local businesses and paying taxes.

We further extend gratitude to city leaders and those who support S.C. State, by standing firm and showing courage in making certain that the university remains an essential contributor to achieving the One Orangeburg vision.

The Bulldog family pledges its unwavering support to Orangeburg, the community it calls home.

Charles S. Way Jr., chairman of the Beach Company, is an Orangeburg native and chairman of the S.C. State University Board of Trustees.