The staccato high pitched squeaks of sneakers on the polished floor of the basketball gym, and the pounding of the ball against the backboard, is all music to Mark Ritter’s ears. Ritter is the new director for fitness and campus recreation at the Wellness Center in the newly-opened Health Education Complex, and he smiles as he watches droves of students come in to use the gym.
“About 1,000 people a day are using the Wellness Center,” said Ritter who adds that the basketball courts receive the most foot traffic since the Center’s widely-anticipated opening on February 23. “The students are in awe of all the space, and of all the things there are to do here,” he says.
Over the course of the past year, the University of South Carolina Upstate has been confronted with a major reduction in state funding. After three mid-year budget reductions and possibly another at the end of the fiscal year in July, the University, which relies on student tuition and fees for about 73% of its operational budget, had its state appropriations cut by a total of nearly $3.9 million. However, University leaders have faced this decrease with a positive approach, refusing to refer to the 6% loss in appropriations as a crisis.
“We continue to be very positive about the growth of our University, even as we face budget challenges,” said Bob Connelly, vice chancellor for business affairs. “I strongly believe that USC Upstate will avoid the extreme measures that other institutions and agencies have already turned to in order to stabilize their budgets.” Connelly attributes his optimism to the fact that USC Upstate made a number of strategic cuts throughout its budget, instead of cutting the entire budget across the board.
Remember when a chalkboard was a common classroom fixture? The classroom as you may remember it, with a chalkboard and a projector and a couple of no. 2 pencils, has experienced significant changes.
If you were to search every room of the new Health Education Complex at USC Upstate, you would not find a single chalkboard. You would find numerous Promethean marker boards, which e-mail notes written on the boards directly to students, whose desks are no longer covered by pencils and paper, but instead by laptops with wireless Internet connections. Students access their syllabi and assignments online, where they participate in discussion groups with their peers across campus and all over the world.