Message from President Harris Pastides

June 26, 2015 at 1:45 pm
Dear USC Upstate Family:

Several weeks ago we began a conversation about the future of USC Upstate. My visit in May was a productive one with many of you attending one or more of the small group meetings and campus forums. I appreciate your candor, your responsiveness and your concern. Though there are a variety of opinions and suggestions on next steps, I know we all share the same objective, to move forward in a positive way for the good of our students.

Since my visit, I have continued to hear from many of you. To those who have reached out to me directly, thank you. In some cases you have brought to light things that were unsaid in public sessions. While there was much positive affirmation of the work being done at Upstate, some of you also shared negative experiences resulting from the conduct of colleagues and co-workers.

Let me be clear, bullying and intimidation will not be tolerated at the University of South Carolina. Ours is a campus of tolerance and civility. Respect for all is at the heart of the Carolinian Creed, the code by which we agree to abide.

As we continue our conversations over the coming weeks, it is evident to me that we must advance our efforts to create a more civil community climate. Therefore, I am asking system administrators to engage appropriate faculty and staff at Upstate to make progress on several fronts:

  • Chris Byrd, Vice President for Human Resources, and Mary Anne Fitzpatrick, our newly appointed Vice President of System Planning, will work with Chancellor Moore and Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Clif Flynn to identify a new Faculty Ombudsman, operating under an established system of best practices.
  • Vice President Fitzpatrick will engage with Chancellor Moore, Dr. Flynn, the newly identified Faculty Ombudsman and Upstate’s faculty senate leadership on shared governance issues.
  • Vice President Byrd will advise on establishing a Faculty Civility Advocate to coordinate adherence to Upstate’s civility policy.
  • Bobby Gist, Director of Equal Opportunity Programs, will ensure the process for filing a complaint of bullying, harassment or intimidation is well known across campus and that appropriate investigations and actions are undertaken.
  • These system officers will report progress regularly over the coming weeks.

The future of USC Upstate is important to our system. We have the opportunity to come together, reaffirm our collective values and establish a path forward that will chart a trajectory for success well into the future. I know each of you will remain engaged, participate when needed and continue to communicate your concerns as we proceed.

Finally, as we continue to discuss governance, it is important to remember the collective success of the campus. Like the Columbia campus and the USC system as a whole—Upstate is in the midst of a period of tremendous momentum. There are a record number of applications, the student retention rate is at an all-time high and enrollment in fall 2014 was the largest ever. As I’ve said before, that type of success doesn’t happen accidentally, it takes a team approach. I thank each of you for your part.

There will be more to come in the weeks ahead. In the mean time, please do not hesitate to contact me, Mary Anne Fitzpatrick, Chris Byrd, Bobby Gist or Cantey Heath if we can be of assistance. We are all in this together and ultimately we will triumph as a Carolina family.

Harris Pastides
President, University of South Carolina