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Center for Academic Innovation and Faculty Support

Dr. Celena Kusch, Executive Director

The Center for Academic Innovation and Faculty Support (CAIFS) offers a broad, holistic approach to faculty development that fosters and rewards academic innovation, in the classroom and beyond. The Center coordinates the university's initiatives in active learning, learning technologies, inclusive pedagogy, distance education and hybrid learning, and service-learning and community engagement. 

USC Upstate offers 15 programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels through online and hybrid learning formats. USC Upstate ensures that all online and hybrid courses and programs meet the highest standards of quality, based on the Open SUNY Course Quality Rubric (OSCQR), and employ the most up-to-date pedagogical strategies and innovative technologies, including the Blackboard LMS, to engage the learner. CAIFS offers regular online teaching certification courses and validates online teaching certification from previous institutions.

CAIFS also provides a centralized hub for faculty development needs, from adjunct faculty members and new faculty to leaders in faculty governance and academic units. The Center hosts regular workshops on the latest innovations in teaching, learning, and faculty development, and it coordinates consultations for classroom observations, and course and curricular design improvement with a team of Learning Experience Designers.

Office of Transformative and Inclusive Pedagogy

Dr. Toni DiMella, Director

The Office of Transformative and Inclusive Pedagogy provides vision and strategic leadership to guide institution-wide conversations about and implementation of principles of transformational learning and inclusive pedagogy. The Director of Transformative and Inclusive Pedagogy collaborates with academic units and individual faculty members to facilitate campus-wide inquiry and innovation in order to build academic resilience by design. Applying research-based best practices in the evolving field of higher education, the office determines needs, advises, and supports faculty members and academic leadership in designing and assessing a range of program and classroom strategies, including inclusive pedagogy, active learning, technology- and media-enhanced instruction, experiential learning, and outcomes-based instruction. 

Office of Service-Learning and Community Engagement

Dr. David Marlow, Director

The Office of Service-Learning and Community Engagement (OSCLE) is a forum that cultivates strong reciprocal relationships between USC Upstate faculty, students and community organizations. For faculty, the OSLCE builds individualized connections to viable community partners for service-learning course placements and offers learning opportunities in course development and implementation. For community partners, the OSCLE recruits and prepares students to participate in meaningful service-oriented activities. For students, the OSCLE provides information about service-learning courses and creates opportunities to engage the community through service-based organizations such as IMPACT and Alternative Break.


Dr. Frieda Davison, Dean

The USC Upstate Library offers a range of services to support faculty in delivering their courses, providing students with information literacy instruction, and expanding access to research materials. The library's Affordable Education and Open Educational Resources (OER) program helps faculty members reduce textbook costs in their courses without compromising on the quality of required instructional materials. Use the Book a Librarian link on the Ask a Librarian page to request a synchronous online library instruction session, or use eReserves to provide library materials embedded in your Blackboard course site. The library's 24/7 Ask a Librarian service is available to you, as well as to your students, and the 24/7 library computer lab provides stable internet access while following safe, social distancing guidelines. Click on Library Guides and Resources for Faculty & Staff to find out more.


TAPS (Teaching and Productive Scholarship) Grants

The purpose of the USC Upstate Teaching and Productive Scholarship (TAPS) Fund is to promote good scholarship including original research projects, programs that support curriculum development and travel for presentation of scholarship. Funded projects support faculty scholarship with the goal of formal presentation and/or publication, improve pedagogy and curriculum development to contribute to the USC Upstate mission and/or enable major service projects that require application of scholarly and/or professional knowledge.

Sponsored Awards and Research Support (SARS)

Elaine Marshall, Director of Sponsored Awards

The Office of Sponsored Awards identifies grant opportunities, assists with grant proposal preparation and submission and provides post-award training and assistance with grants management.

Dr. Melissa Pilgrim, Director

The Office of Research Support provides, on a competitive basis, logistic and monetary support for the pursuit of undergraduate student projects performed under the guidance of USC Upstate faculty, staff and/or community professionals from throughout the Upstate region. The office also assists students in traveling to professional meetings to present their work/findings, assists faculty/staff who involve students in their research programs and assists in arranging internships and directed studies for students in order to better prepare them for their future professional careers.

Resources for Supporting Your Students

Office of Disability Services

Disability Services supports the ongoing development of an accessible university that embraces diversity through educational programming, services, resources and facilities that are usable by all members of the campus community.

Recommended accessibility statement for use in USC Upstate course syllabi:

USC Upstate supports the ongoing development of an accessible university that embraces diversity through educational programming, services, resources and facilities that are usable by all members of the campus community. In keeping with University policy, any student with a disability who requests academic accommodations should contact Disability Services at 503-5199 to arrange an appointment with a Disability Services staff member. Students are encouraged to seek an appointment as early in the semester as possible, as accommodations are not provided retroactively.

Office of Counseling Services

Counseling Services at the University of South Carolina Upstate works to support personal, educational, and career goals through individual and couples counseling, distance counseling, group counseling, crisis intervention, and psychiatric services. USC Upstate faculty members may complete the Mental Health First Aid course to gain the tools to identify when a student might be struggling with a mental health or substance use problem and how to connect them with appropriate support and resources when necessary.

Spartans Care

Spartans Care programs provide Basic Needs support, including the Spartan Pantry and R U Ok? form. The Spartan Student Emergency Fund assists USC Upstate in overcoming unforeseen circumstances to avoid educational interruptions.   

Student Success Center

Susannah Waldrop, Director

The Student Success Center exists to help students to succeed in their studies, graduate from USC Upstate in a timely manner and begin a career or graduate study. Within the Center, four main areas are supported:

  • Academic Support and Tutoring
    The primary student retention unit on campus, responsible for most campus tutoring services, supplemental instruction and University 101 classes to provide students with the tools and resources needed to make a smooth transition into college. The EIP or Early Intervention Program administered through Starfish through surveys, "flags," and "kudos" allows faculty to report students who are not performing satisfactorily in their classes or who have excessive absences so that the Center may follow up with these students to provide the necessary support services.
  • Advising Services
    Provides outreach, assistance and academic advising services to most first-year students, all undeclared students, students on academic probation and those in danger of losing scholarship funding. In collaboration with Student Life and Residential Life, Advising Services also provides academic programming to residential students. For more information, call 864-503-5392.
  • Career Management
    In collaboration with faculty and area businesses, Career Management aims to provide career fairs and internship opportunities for students, as well as employment resources and prospects upon graduation. Resources include the Career Closet and the Handshake online career management network.
  • Testing Center
    Provides make-up testing and standardized testing services. 

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