SC Senate Education Committee – February 22, 2012 Research University Presidents Remarks – Clemson President Barker
Chairman Courson, Members of the Committee and staff,
I bring you greetings from campus and I want you to know how much my colleagues and I appreciate the opportunity to come before you today. As members of the Senate Education Committee, you have been very supportive of the research universities, and Dr. Pastides, Dr. Greenberg and I acknowledge the partnership we have had with you over the years. We look forward to continuing and strengthening that partnership for the benefit of the citizens of South Carolina.
I would also like to thank Secretary Hitt for joining us today to give his thoughts on the importance of our partnership with his team to build a bright, prosperous future for South Carolina.
We are here to address your specific questions as well as provide you with information on the impact of the research sector to our state, our collaborative efforts, and what we see as the future for our sector.
The research sector’s impact on South Carolina is substantial. Collectively, our three institutions have nearly a quarter of a million alumni living in South Carolina – raising families, working, building companies and communities, creating jobs, and paying taxes.
We currently enroll 34,392 students from South Carolina in undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs.
And this past year, we awarded more than 14,000 degrees to South Carolinians.
These graduates are our most important contribution to economic development. Statistics from the Southern Region Education Board indicate that the fastest growing job sectors in our region will require education beyond high school – led by projections of a 22 percent increase in job openings requiring a Ph.D.
This is the workforce many industries are looking for when they scout locations. They will be looking for regions with strong, science- and technology-oriented research universities that can produce the people they need to hire and research-based innovations that will keep them competitive. With your support, the research sector can be a key component of South Carolina’s economic development team.
However, our impact extends far beyond the classroom. Collectively, we had $ 459.5 million in research expenditures in the last fiscal year. Our presence is truly statewide, with major research and graduate education centers in Charleston, Columbia, Clemson, Greenville, North Charleston, Florence, Blackville, Georgetown and Greenwood.
A good example of the economic impact possible is the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research. As of 2011, CU-ICAR has generated nearly $250M in investments, with another $500M in development commitments, and has announced more than 2,300 new high-wage jobs.
Mr. Chairman, you asked us to specifically address what we’re doing to prepare students for technology-based jobs. I am glad you asked that question. One of the overriding goals in Clemson’s new strategic plan is to provide talent for the 21st century, which includes preparing students for knowledge- and technology-based jobs.
Some specific initiatives follow:
First, we’re working to give every student the chance to participate in rigorous engagement programs – such as undergraduate research, Creative Inquiry, co-ops and internships. These programs have been shown to help students develop creativity and problem-solving skills, learn to work in teams, think critically and communicate effectively – all of which are essential skills for all jobs.
Second, the Road Map includes a 10-year capital improvement plan that will provide students with 21st century facilities, laboratories and studios, study and work spaces that foster collaboration and engagement, and cutting-edge information and computing technology.
Third, we are developing innovative approaches to teaching at both the graduate and undergraduate level. A prime example is a program at CU-ICAR called Deep Orange, which turns the Campbell Graduate Engineering Center into an original automotive equipment manufacturer. Students work side-by-side with faculty and engineers from BMW and other partners to design, test and build a prototype automobile from start to finish.
Fourth, we have established a Center for Workforce Development, which will work with industry and other institutions to ensure that South Carolina has the workforce high-tech companies are seeking when they are scouting locations for new or expanded operations.
One of the center’s first initiatives is a National Science Foundation-funded project in which Clemson and the state’s technical colleges are helping prepare a skilled workforce for the aviation and automotive manufacturing industries. Clemson is developing virtual and distance learning modules, which will be delivered through the existing network of technical colleges.
These are just a few of Clemson’s initiatives under way to ensure that South Carolina has both the skilled technicians and advanced education workforce that technology-focused industries are seeking, as well as a strong research environment.
Like all of higher education, we have been challenged by the Great Recession. While we are encouraged that state revenues are beginning to recover, we recognize that the state faces many financial challenges ranging from federal and constitutional mandates to increased health care and retirement costs. We know we can’t realistically expect to return to our former funding level anytime soon.
Despite – or better yet, in response to – these economic challenges, Clemson has adopted a new 10-year strategic plan called the 2020 Road Map. A copy is included in the packet we will leave with you today.
It is a realistic plan for these economic times, but it’s also aggressive. It invests in priorities that will make Clemson a stronger, more efficient and more productive university without losing the characteristics that make it special. More importantly, it will enhance the quality of a Clemson education and support the state’s economic development goals.
As we developed this plan, we realized that we also needed a new funding model that fits this economic climate. While state funding will always be a major source of support for Clemson, we can’t fund our plan solely through increased state appropriations. And since families are feeling these same economic pressures, we also can’t fund our plan primarily through tuition increases.
Our new funding model is based on divestments and alternative revenues as well as investments in new programs. It’s responsible for a new catch-phrase on campus – “divest to invest.” Simply put, if we want to add new degree programs, we may need to eliminate others. If we want to add faculty in focus areas, we may need to reallocate positions as people retire.
Let me reiterate: State funding and tuition will always be vitally important sources of support. However, this new model challenges us to find others – through private gifts, revenue from summer school and online courses, increased research or new private partnerships.
Here are just a few specific examples of recent divestment measures:
• We’ve offered early retirement and voluntary severance programs to create opportunities to reallocate or eliminate positions.
• We’ve challenged many support units and research centers to become fully self-supporting as we’ve phased out their state funding.
• We’ve outsourced a number of non-core administrative services.
• We’re reducing waste going to landfills and cutting energy costs.
• Finally, we’re implementing technology solutions that will improve productivity and streamline administrative processes.
But as I said earlier, state funding is and always will be essential to our ability to fulfill our mission, at this time I’d like to briefly share Clemson’s budget request for fiscal year 2012-13.
Our top two priorities include funds to support the first phase of new faculty hires in focus areas aligned with state economic priorities, and funds to increase student participation in engagement programs that I outlined for you earlier that cultivate skills that employers say are critical and often missing in new hires.
Please allow me to thank you for the one-time funding all of us received last year for deferred maintenance through the Capital Reserve Fund. We hope that as the General Assembly works through the budget process that a similar approach will be considered, as maintaining a safe and efficient campus infrastructure is vital to our ability to provide a quality education experience for our students. We are also asking for funds to continue to leverage federal and private investment in our wind-turbine drive train test facility and our research efforts in testing needs of the state’s electric power utility companies at the Clemson Restoration Institute in North Charleston.
I know my colleagues will address your questions specifically for their institutions as well as present our collaborative research and legislative efforts so it gives me pleasure to turn the presentation over to Dr. Pastides.