Fast summer coming to a conclusion at Presbyterian College

It has been a fast summer at PC: graduation seems like yesterday, yet we are preparing for new students to arrive at the Pharmacy School the week of August 15 and on the undergraduate campus August 20. With different convocations and a “Week of Welcome” on tap for returning students the week of August 22, we will launch our 137th academic year very soon. Although it also seems like Phyllis and I arrived in Clinton just a few weeks ago, we are glad to be here and excited to start our second year back on campus. It is great to be a part of this community, and we appreciate and value the welcome we have received over the last year. Over the summer, our community faced the loss of two people who gave tirelessly of their time and talents to grow PC and take it to new heights: Dr. Joe Gettys and Dr. Ken Orr. Both of these individuals made a significant impact on PC that will be felt for generations to come. While we mourn their passings, we celebrate their lives and accomplishments. Before we look forward, I want to take a brief look back over the last few months: while much remains to be done, we have made great progress in many areas at PC. Our success starts with the accomplishments of our students, both in and out of the classroom, as they have committed themselves to service and demonstrated excellence -- not only in their academic work -- but also in their athletic and extracurricular activities. Our faculty and staff are similarly distinguished, both in the undergraduate program and in the Pharmacy School. Taken together, their achievements are too many to enumerate, and we are fortunate to have such an outstanding community of students, coaches, faculty, and staff members at PC. If you have been on campus this summer, you have seen the work begun on the renovation of and addition to Neville Hall. It is exciting to envision the Neville Renewed being prepared for re-opening in August 2017. If you drop by the gazebo on Adair Street, you can get a sneak peek of what we have in store. We have also welcomed Aramark, our new dining services provider, to campus. They are busy renovating the food court in our Springs Student Center to provide a Moe’s Southwest Grill, a Boars Head Deli, and Starbucks coffee; all of this will be open on campus when classes begin. We are also moving our campus store, the Scotsman’s Corner, to the student center this month, so check out our new offerings when classes begin very soon. Greenville Dining Hall is also slated for renovation in the summer of 2017, and I have sensed lots of enthusiasm from students for all these changes in progress. In January of this year, we added eight new trustees to our Board: seven are PC alumni, and all of them bring fresh perspectives and energy to PC’s leadership. Suzanne Petrusch joined PC in June as Vice President of Enrollment Management and Financial Aid, and Joe Weber arrived in July to serve as Founding Director for our upcoming Physician Assistant program (slated to hopefully open in May 2018). Suzanne and Joe are already providing great leadership in their respective areas, and they have joined an excellent team that works well together to keep PC going every day. As we closed out our fiscal year at the end of June, we achieved our fundraising goals for the PC Annual Fund. We also held orientation sessions for our incoming students – the class of 2020 – which is significantly larger than the class that arrived on campus this time last year. While we still have a couple of weeks to finalize our numbers, we are excited about the freshmen, transfers, and international degree-seeking students planning to attend PC this fall. Last week the PC Summer Fellows programs held their end-of-summer symposium, where both undergraduate and graduate students displayed the work they have done with faculty on campus on many different research projects, and it is amazing to see the topics they have explored over the last eight weeks. We have much to be thankful for over the last year, and we could not have made such progress without the dedication and hard work of our people – faculty, staff, coaches, and others who make a real difference on campus. People are the key to any organization, and we are blessed to have great people. Much remains to be done, however, so let me outline some things we have in progress for this year. On Wednesday, August 17, we are holding a PC Community Day to kick off our work to develop a new strategic plan for the campus. This work is designed to help us identify priorities as we build an inspired future for PC, and as we proceed over the next academic year, it will enable us to focus our time and resources on key items identified as important to PC over the next few years. Next month, we will file our 10-year reaccreditation report with our accrediting body – the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. This is a crucial process for PC, as we work to demonstrate how we provide a top-notch education, enhance our academic quality, and maintain important standards across different areas on campus. An on-site team will visit campus in March, and we will learn the results of our work later in 2017. Finally, while we should have a good class this year, we are starting at zero to bring in another great class. We need at least three consecutive strong incoming classes to say we have a trend, and that is definitely our goal. In this election year, you may have seen different debates over the importance of a college education: the educational environment is challenging, and constantly changing, and some people question the value of a liberal arts education or a college degree. At PC, we remain committed to the idea that the rate at which the world and jobs are changing calls for more graduates who are problem solvers, communicators, effective colleagues, prudent risk takers, and leaders willing to contribute to their communities. All of these qualities come from a strong background in the liberal arts, and they reflect the work we do at PC to prepare and inspire our students for successful and fulfilling lives. PC would not exist without strong support from our alumni and friends who are willing to give their time, talents, and resources to continue the work begun in 1880. The City of Clinton and Laurens County are also essential to PC’s continued growth and success. This is our home, and we are committed to its growth. We appreciate and give thanks for the support and encouragement we receive from these different communities, and together we will continue to strengthen the PC community. (Bob Staton is president of Presbyterian College.)

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