Current as of February 5, 2010
Because a number of you have asked me or other university officials about how the legislative session in Columbia is shaping up, I thought I would provide everyone with an idea of when we can expect key developments in the weeks ahead – especially since I will be unable to attend February’s Faculty Conference. Key timeframes ahead include:
- The S.C. Board of Economic Advisers will meet late next week to assess how revenue collections for the current year are going, as well as consider adjustments to the outlook for next year’s revenue. The latter will guide legislators in their preparation of an appropriations measure for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Winthrop will be monitoring that meeting for any key developments, both for the current year’s operations, as well as the outlook for next year, and will update you as warranted.
- House members will be taking next week off as furlough days, though the House Ways and Means Committee is continuing its subcommittee hearings through mid-month. Full committee preparation of the House spending plan for the next fiscal year then begins. That draft plan should be available by the end of February, with full House consideration to begin in early March.
- The outcome of the House process generally provides a baseline for expected appropriations for the next fiscal year, with the Senate historically able to improve on that a bit, given that they will be working with later revenue estimates. In the past couple of years, however, that traditional pattern has been changed by the recession, with the Senate having to address lower revenue projections. That part of the picture likely will become clearer in late March.
Because all higher education institutions recognize the nature of the economy and the limitations that poses on the General Assembly, we have been working together this year to streamline some of the regulatory processes that slow our operations. This would allow campuses greater flexibility in using our respective resources as best serve individual campuses and our respective missions, without the multiple layers of review in Columbia that are now required on many fronts. Bottlenecks in Columbia sometimes impede campus operations, especially given the special needs and preferences within an academic calendar -- for example, when a major classroom or residence building renovation is needed, or when the university needs to acquire goods/services in a timely manner to meet campus needs. This package of changes will enhance the efficiency of several aspects of operations, while still ensuring accountability through regular reporting and simplified reviews in Columbia, along with standard auditing practices.
Closer to home, this week we launched our joint initiative with the City of Rock Hill, with the first get-together of the “College Town Action Plan Working Group.” This group of 16 citizens will guide the process of developing an action plan to create a more economically vital and active “college town” area around the Winthrop campus. That will help Winthrop meet expectations of prospective students and their families as we recruit our student body in the future, as well as assist Rock Hill in attracting new businesses and job opportunities and improving urban core properties. This week launched the College Town Action Plan Working Group over a ‘get-acquainted’ dinner on campus. The group will begin its outreach to a variety of key stakeholders – including members of the extended campus community – later this month, and will be joined by a nationally recognized consultant with expertise in assisting communities develop their ‘college town’ potential in future meetings. More about this activity can be found here: http://www.winthrop.edu/news-events/article.aspx?id=9685.
In addition, I hope you all saw the earlier announcement about the very kind gift of alumna Patricia “Patz” Carter and her husband, Ray, of Chapin, S.C. This multi-faceted gift eventually will provide scholarship and faculty support for the Department of Design, as well as support conservation, preservation and adaptation of the Winthrop campus and facilities. It also will add a very distinctive feature to the Winthrop campus in the year ahead, by supporting the creation of what will be known as the Hardin Family Garden at Winthrop, at the culmination of Scholars Walk, between Roddey and the West Center. We are especially grateful for this gift because it honors the many special folks who have been a part of the Winthrop family in multiple roles over the years, recognizing how their talents have helped Winthrop become all that it is, and all that it will be for future generations. Please join me in thanking the Carters – and the Hardin family -- for all they do for Winthrop.