Bob Connelly has seen the University of South Carolina Upstate campus take shape, literally and figuratively. With a career that spans more than four decades at the University, he has been involved in the construction and/or renovation of every building on the Spartanburg campus.
On September 25 Bob will begin his retirement, and when he leaves the campus, what goes is walking encyclopedia of University history and knowledge. When Bob came to work for the former USC-Spartanburg in 1972 as an accountant, the university was still in its infancy, having been founded in 1967. He dedicated his professional career to the institution, eventually serving in the roles of Controller, Associate Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs, Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs, and Director of Foundation Finance. Bob was named Employee of the Year in 1990 and he received the Founders’ Day Distinguished Service Award in 2005.
“For 42 years, Bob Connelly was instrumental in finding innovative and creative approaches to the financial and capital endeavors of the University,” said Chancellor Moore. “During his tenure, Bob helped create an effective institutional support structure to provide an array of services to meet the changing and growing needs of the institution. He implemented sound business practices and reporting structures resulting in a solid financial base for the institution to grow.”
He served on the 10-member Strategic Planning Committee that assisted in the development of the Campus Master Plan in 1990. The 10-year, $185 million master plan literally transformed both the physical footprint and reputation of the campus, adding classroom space, academic support facilities, housing, athletic facilities, beautification initiatives, the George Dean Johnson, Jr., College of Business and Economics in downtown Spartanburg, and an entire new highway infrastructure system.
Bob’s expertise, ingenious thinking and commitment played a large hand in the realization of this master plan. The $15.5 million Palmetto House, a freshman residential facility, was built after the USC Board of Trustees approved an “off balance sheet” method and the Spartanburg County Commission for Higher Education granted approval for new use of the existing property. The project was a uniquely funded effort by a bond-financing venture backed by Bank of America partnering with the USC Upstate Foundation, making it the first of its kind financing for the University of South Carolina system and among the first in the State.
Across the State of South Carolina, Bob was recognized in public higher education circles as the “best of the best” among university chief financial officers for his fairness, good judgment, honesty and creativity. His counterparts often turned to him with astonishing regularity for guidance and assistance in dealing with the most demanding challenges of institutional financing.
Bob earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Clemson University and a master’s degree in business from Appalachian State University. Bob served with the First Infantry Division in Vietnam as a Signal Officer where he was a First Lieutenant and a recipient of the Bronze Star. He is married to Joy and they have two sons, Chris and Cameron.