ORANGEBURG, S.C. – Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley toured the South Carolina State University campus. Guided by University President James E. Clark, the tour was the result of a personal invitation extended to the former governor. Haley accepted the invitation to see the institution’s progress firsthand.
“I went to school here (in Orangeburg), so being able to come and see, one– how its changing overtime for the better, but to also see the rollercoaster that it’s been on, it’s a real pleasure,” Ambassador Haley said.
Followed by a group of news reporters and university representatives, the two walked across campus and viewed various building improvements and ongoing projects, including the Smith, Hammond, Middleton Monument, Wilkinson Hall, Washington Dining Hall, the Student Center, Engineering Building and the Presidents’ State Room.
It’s been about six years since Haley last visited the campus, but she recalled the time spent and relationships made when she was a youth who visited the campus frequently to take part in various programs and activities.
“We’ve been building facilities, we’ve been getting things back in order, we’ve been growing the institution’s capabilities and fostering valuable partnerships,” President Clark explained.
Clark also shared plans for SC State to invest in a new student success and retention center that will focus on tutoring, mentoring, advising and veteran support.
“Any parent in South Carolina could be proud sending their kids to this school because you’re seeing academics that’s excelling, you’re seeing new buildings go up, you’re seeing quality of life for the students — this university is truly exceptional,” Ambassador Haley said.
Prior to President Clark’s appointment to the Board of Trustees, SC State was struggling financially, and its public image had been tarnished. The university was also in jeopardy of losing accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Shortly after Clark was named president in 2016, SACSCOC removed SC State from probation resulting in the reaccreditation of the state’s only publicly supported institution.
“We didn’t know if this school was going to survive in 2015. I am so very proud of the work that has happened on this campus, the hard decisions that they have made on this campus—the biggest issue is fiscal responsibility, they have recovered from that; and the vision, it hasn’t had this kind of vision in a long time,” Ambassador Haley said.
While congratulating President Clark on his accomplishments with the university, Ambassador Haley also encouraged the SC State faculty, staff and alumni to stay the course and be consistent with the positive initiatives the university has set in place.
“I absolutely have confidence in President Clark. I would love to see what five more years of President Clark would do, because I think it would be magic,” Haley said.