Francis Marion University President Luther Carter recently told a South Carolina Senate study committee that the state’s public universities play a vital role in higher education, as he defended steadily-rising tuition that lawmakers worry is making higher education unaffordable.
“We teach the most in-state students and we probably teach as a group, the most first-generation college students in the state of any of the universities,” he said.
Carter testified before the Senate Joint Education and Finance Study Committee last week. The committee is reviewing a proposal that would try to control tuition increases at the state’s public universities. The committee is scheduled to meet again Tuesday.
Francis Marion University is a public liberal arts university outside Florence.
Carter said colleges like Francis Marion are very much part the of the communities they serve. “Our comprehensive universities are closely connected to the regions of the state. We meet with chambers of commerce presidents. We essentially interact with county economic development directors on a recurring basis. We’re pretty much in touch with the community we are vitally a part of.”
A proposed bill drafted by State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw, would freeze college tuition for a year and, in exchange, establish a $125 million trust fund to increase college funding and offer an incentive for them to enroll more in-state students. The trust fund would use newly-projected revenue from applying the state’s sales tax to online sales.
Carter said the way his institution deals with students is a hands-on approach. “Parents walk in our offices and expect to talk with the president, as they should.”