Chancellor Harris Reflects on the Road Ahead at University Day

September 5, 2023 at 10:28 am
USC Upstate employees attending University Day.

USC Upstate faculty and staff celebrate University Day in the Olin B. Sansbury Campus Life Center Ballroom on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023. Photo by Terry Manning, USC Upstate.

By Salleah Brown-Massey, ’24

Chancellor Bennie Harris welcomed faculty and staff to the start of the 2023-24 academic year at the annual University Day celebration on Aug. 23. His remarks highlighted the accomplishments and challenges USC Upstate experienced in the previous year, and looked ahead to the future.

To review the last academic year, Harris turned to an analogy. He noted that the size of a windshield compared with a rearview mirror suggests it’s more important to look at where you’re going than to keep looking back. Nevertheless, he said, it’s worth celebrating past successes and reviewing mistakes to improve going forward. Harris noted the lingering impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic that continued to affect the university in the 2022-23 academic year. But those challenges also helped the University develop a deeper understanding of the importance of collaboration, flexibility, and wellness for every member of the Upstate community.

Looking ahead, Harris shared some highlights that include a revamp of the university’s website; the introduction of a new intranet for the campus community; a $21-million-dollar expansion of the school library; and the strengthening of the University’s cybersecurity program with the launch of the National Government and Security Institute. These projects, along with several upcoming events, ensure that USC Upstate is always looking to the future, and not staying locked in the past, Harris said.

To conclude, Dr. Harris reminded the audience that everyone plays a part in helping the university “Reach Greater Heights,” and that collectively the campus community can handle the road ahead, navigating the challenges and embracing the possibilities.

David Wallace, associate professor of communication, said after the speech he was excited to hear about the new programs and events that are planned. “After several challenging semesters from COVID, the chancellor’s message brought a renewed sense of optimism and possibility for our campus,” he said.

Tracey Bourgoin, the new chair of the Staff Senate, said she appreciated the chancellor’s review of the previous year’s challenges and achievements, and was looking forward to working with Harris on his initiatives. “I am hopeful that our Staff Senate can play a vital role in shaping the university’s path forward,” she said.  

Chancellor Harris speaks during University Day 2023.