Help USCB get equitable state funding

info@islandpacket.comFebruary 27, 2013 

University of South Carolina Beaufort campuses in Bluffton and Beaufort continue to demonstrate unprecedented growth and success.

Since becoming a baccalaureate university, USCB has more than doubled its full time enrollment, its academic programs and its doctorate-qualified faculty, making it the fastest-growing baccalaureate institution in South Carolina for a decade.

With local donor and community support, the Beaufort-Jasper Higher Education Commission and USCB are replanting more skilled professionals and citizen-leaders in our region -- as nurses, teachers, and business and hospitality managers. These young people will enhance the future of our communities.

USCB also is a good steward of its resources. The percentage of USCB's budget that goes to instruction and instructional support is the highest of any baccalaureate university in the state. Conversely, USCB spends the lowest percentage of its budget on administration of all South Carolina public universities.

But USCB is appallingly underfunded. It receives the lowest allocation as a percentage its budget of any public university in the state -- 4 percent. During the period that USCB expanded its mission to a four-year university, added the 200-acre Hilton Head Gateway campus in Okatie, expanded the Beaufort campus to serve the arts and more than doubled its doctorate-qualified faculty and the number of students served, its annual state appropriation dropped from $2.2 million to $1.4 million.

As the accompanying graph shows, USCB receives $940 per student to educate in-state students, compared with a weighted average of $2,487 for all 10 public comprehensive universities. South Carolina students who attend private universities in the state receive an average of $2,356 in state support for a baccalaureate education.

USC President Harris Pastides has made funding equity for USC Beaufort, Aiken and Upstate one of his top requests to the governor and the legislature. Our local legislative delegation -- Sens. Tom Davis, Chip Campsen and Clementa Pinckney and Reps. Bill Bowers, Shannon Erickson, Bill Herbkersman, Ken Hodges, Weston Newton and Andy Patrick -- are working energetically to raise awareness of the USCB funding inequity.

Because higher education in South Carolina is underfunded compared with national averages, USC is not asking for any institution to lose funding as the legislature addresses this inequity. New investment must be used to raise USC Beaufort, Aiken and Upstate to the average funding of their peer public universities.

The South Carolina House of Representatives began debating its budget this week. We urge you to contact Rep. Chip Limehouse, chairman of the Higher Education subcommittee, and the other leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee -- Reps. Brian White, chairman, Michael Pitts and J. Roland Smith, as well as each member of the committee. Thank them for addressing the funding inequity of USC's comprehensive universities. Ask them to continue their strong support of the $1.2 million parity adjustment for USCB recommended to the House last week. The additional recurring funding proposed will raise USCB to the in-state student funding level of USC Upstate.

Join the Beaufort-Jasper Higher Education Commission to build an even stronger university for local citizens and our state through your influence as a voter.

To find the information you need to call, email or write House members and the Senate Finance Committee, go to www.scstatehouse.gov.

Members of the Beaufort-Jasper Higher Education Commission are H. Tim Pearce, chairman, Laverne L. Davis, Vernita F. Dore, J. Simon Fraser, Jane S. Kiser, John E. McKenzie Jr., Lawrence S. Rowland and Andrea W. Smallwood.

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