Private Support for Public Education
States support colleges and universities because they are basic to the development and growth of the economy. They provide an educated citizenry necessary to decision making while enriching the quality of life within the community. For these reasons, South Carolina established campuses throughout the state and provides funding for each.
As a result of traditional attitudes and limited missions, combined with public support that was, if not generous, at least adequate through the 1960's, most public institutions in most parts of the country simply did not seek nor receive significant private support until recent years. Philanthropic gifts have become more important as the portion of financial support from the state has declined. In 1983, South Carolina provided 42 percent of USC Upstate's operating budget; by 2003-2004, that amount declined to only 26 percent. Students and their parents shoulder an increased burden with a corresponding increase in student debt. Additionally, the University relies to a greater extent on external grants, contracts and other funds.
As individual institutions grow, they develop unique qualities. Academic programs differ and faculty skills required for these programs vary. In turn, the students attending each campus possess diverse skills and qualifications. Each university reacts to the needs of its local areas while attending to the needs of the entire state. Before long, the needs of each campus differ. To this end, the University of South Carolina Upstate has become a metropolitan university. As a metropolitan university, USC Upstate does more than prepare young people for careers. Industries desperate for engineers, computer scientists and other such professionals must seek closer ties with nearby public universities that can provide needed recruits in adequate numbers. Thus, trends favor not only closer ties between business and public higher education but also between public colleges and universities and their own state governments, which increasingly view them as valuable assets in the competition for desirable economic growth.
Private support for USC Upstate provides scholarships that attract outstanding students and provide special help for those with financial needs. Private support enables USC Upstate to attract faculty who would not otherwise be attracted to the institution. Financial support purchases art, equipment, and supplies; it helps send students abroad for international experiences and pays for performances, events and student activities.