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October 22, 2002

USC president visits area

From: Spartanburg Herald Journal, SC
Oct. 22, 2002

By Bridget Winston
The new president of the University of South Carolina has been on the job since July. In the past four months, he has spent as much time learning about the state as he has about the school.

Andrew Sorensen brought his “Bowtie Bus Tour” — named for his signature neckwear — to Spartanburg Monday with stops at the S.C. School for the Deaf and the Blind, Dorman High School, the University of South Carolina Spartanburg and BMW Manufacturing Corp. He ended the day at a USC alumni reception at the Piedmont Club.

“I said to the faculty and staff that I wanted to get the opportunity to meet the people of South Carolina,” Sorensen said. “We do have eight campuses throughout the state, so it’s important for me to visit those campuses, but not just those campuses.”

Sorensen and his staff ride in a 14-passenger bus they call the Rooster Roadster, for the gamecock tail feathers painted on the side of the bus. Monday was the Bowtie Tour’s fifth trip. Sorensen will make three more trips before Thanksgiving.

At the S.C. School for the Deaf and the Blind, Sorensen sat with a small group of high school students in the School for the Blind. They asked the president about the opportunities USC offers for students like them.

Spartanburg resident Katiya Watson, 18, told Sorensen she would like to go to dental school someday.

“Would there be someone, if I came to USC, who could be my interpreter?” she asked Sorensen.

Sorensen told her there would be interpreters on campus to help her in class. He also explained that USC does not have a dental school, but she could get the required bachelor’s degree in one of USC’s pre-med programs.

“Our campus would be a good place to start, or USCS,” Sorensen told her.

Benjamin Flood, 19, told Sorensen he is interested in getting degrees in business and technology.

“We have a major in international business,” Sorensen said. “Every fall, the magazine U.S. News and World Report ranks business schools across the United States. This fall, our program in international business was ranked No. 1 in the United States, ahead of Harvard, Yale and Clemson.”

Several students, like Flood, are interested in studying technology. Sorensen told them that companies look for students who not only know how to use the latest technology, but also know how to adapt to advances in technology.

“When our students graduate … the knowledge they have gained about the hardware and the software, within 18 months, that’s obsolete,” he said.

Barbria Bacon, the director of educational services for SCSDB, said Sorensen’s visit gave the students a chance to ask questions and ease any fears they have about college.

“(They enjoyed) that personal attention, knowing that an administrator of that level and that caliber would be interested in their needs and their interests as future students,” Bacon said.

At USCS, Sorensen spoke to officials from the college, local school districts, the city and Spartanburg County. He spoke of the need for a unified vision for education in South Carolina.

“We have to find a way in South Carolina to work together for kindergarten through Ph.D programs,” he said. “Unfortunately, we have people lobbying for (kindergarten through 12th grade) fighting against higher ed, and we have folks in higher ed fighting each other.

“There is wonderful potential in this state if we can harness our energies to work together rather than fighting each other.”

Sorensen said he would like to develop greater cooperation among the eight campuses, and would even like to develop a single set of admissions requirements. That way, students could complete one application and would be accepted to the campus that best matched their abilities.

©2002 Spartanburg Herald-Journal and