Gov. Mark Sanford said earlier this month that his new state budget proposal includes plans to close the university, along with USC-Lancaster and USC-Salkhatchie.
USC-Union Dean Dr. Hugh Rowland said he met with State Rep. Mike Anthony Friday to discuss ways to fight to save the university. Anthony suggested a letter campaign.
“He encourages everyone to write letters to state legislators,” Rowland said. “It is critical for the House of Representatives and the Senate to know just what role USC-Union plays in the lives of the people of Union and surrounding counties. There is no doubt these are trying economic times that test taxpayers against the benefits of state institutions of all sorts, but for Union County and other rural counties, the role education plays in economic development cannot be overstated. Without educational opportunities, many of our people simply will not be able to drive 30 to 50 miles to go to college. Ten to 20 years from now the economy of Union and other rural counties will be worse than it is now if the university closes.”
For those who have trouble expressing themselves in words, Rowland has a template to make it easier to begin a letter. For more information, call the university at 429-8728.
The letters should be concise and to the point, but also should come from the heart about the importance of the university personally or to a family, Anthony said.
“I have so many parents tell me that there children never would have had an opportunity to go to school if it hadn’t been for USC-Union, because of the fact initially coming out of high school they are not able to meet the standards of a GPA or SAT score because the competition is so great at the main campus,” he said.
Anthony said both he and USC President Harris Pastides addressed the House subcommittee writing the House budget two weeks and spoke against closing the schools.
“USC-Union only gets around $850,000 from the state,” he said. “When you are talking about a 5.8 billion budget, that’s a drop in the bucket in comparison for what it does for the area, serving seven or eight counties.”
Anthony said the fact that USC-Union operates a satellite campus in Laurens will be a plus in the fight to keep it open.
Anthony said he doesn’t think the governor understands the economic impact the school has on Union County and the area. He promised to fight to keep the school funded and said he has the support of the other representatives and senators who represent parts of Union County.
“If we get a House version and a Senate version (of the budget) that keeps them (the three campuses) in there, even if the governor vetoes it, we can override it,” he said.