COLUMBIA, S.C. (courtesy Facebook pages – Allen University and WACH) – On December 13, Allen University President Dr. Ernest McNealey and other South Carolina higher education leaders joined Senator John Scott (D-Richland) in a news conference announcing the formation of the South Carolina Institutes of Innovation and Information (SCIII), a collaboration of South Carolina’s seven historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
“The goal of the institute is to assist the state in diversifying and improving its workforce while encouraging our students to pursue and increase exposure to industries and careers,” said Dr. Gwynth Nelson, the executive director of the newly-formed SCIII.
“The Commission on Higher Education is proud to work with Senator Scott on this transformative initiative to elevate South Carolina’s HBCUs,” said Dr. Rusty Monhollon, president and executive director of the South Carolina Commission of Higher Education. “It is our goal to to have at least 60 percent of South Carolina’s working-age population holding a high-quality, post-secondary credential by the year 2030. We currently stand at about 48 percent. The only way we can get to that 60 percent mark is to reduce dramatically all achievement gaps, whether it’s by race, ethnicity, income, or geography. We feel that this initiative can be an essential element in our efforts to increase educational attainmnet for all persons statewide.”
“What I find most exciting about this effort is that it is based upon collaboration among institutions to achieve common goals and objectives,” Dr. Monhollon continued. “The state’s seven HBCUs – Allen University, Benedict College, Claflin University, Clinton College, Morris College, S.C. State University, and Voorhees College – share similar traditions and missions of educating low-income, first-generation African American, and African American students. Collaborating to address their shared challenges of increasing enrollment, persistence, and graduation rates make a consortium approach such as this not only feasible, but also very viable and sustainable as we are really entering a new age of higher education. The lessons learned from this work and the success that I have no doubt that the institutes of innovation will produce will become a model for other South Carolina institutions to replicate for understanding and serving underrepresented and underserved populations.”
Implementing the Institutes on Innovation and Information has been one of Senator Scott’s goals for a long time. He told news conference attendees that they would hear a lot more about the new program. “It’s our responsibility to make sure that we educate our young people and have them ready for the workforce,” Scott said. He hopes that manufacturers and major companies will partner with the institutes as the collaborative intiative moves forward.
“In addition to the institutes that are under development, the important thing about the support that HBCUs receive is the return on investment that our cities, counties, and the state receive,” said Dr. Ernest McNealey, Allen University president. “But more specifically, the Institute on Civility that Boeing is sponsoring will create not only a climate for dialogue but also training in areas like diversity and inclusion. We salute Senator Scott for seeing this initiative to fruition.”
Please click here to watch a video recording (courtesy WACH) from the Dec. 13 news conference.