Lander president underscores efforts to reduce costs for students while upholding program quality

September 26, 2012
Lander University President Daniel Ball said there are "no silver bullets" for solving problems created by challenging economic times, challenges that include cuts in state aid to colleges and universities. But, he told his annual State of the University audience on Monday, Lander administrators at all levels are continually looking for opportunities to lessen the financial burden on students without sacrificing the quality of programs.

While tuition for the current academic year was increased 3 percent, Ball pointed out that Lander's tuition ranks sixth among the 12 four-year state colleges and universities. In the last 13 years, Lander's cumulative tuition increase is lower than of any of the other schools.

He applauded the university's Financial Aid Office for providing students and their families the help they need and encouraging students to borrow judiciously. He said Lander's student loan default rate is less than half the state and national averages.

Ball has asked the Commission on Higher Education (CHE) to review the S.C. Tuition Assistance program, which was created in the 1970s to help private colleges alleviate classroom shortages. He said the state appropriates $35 million to the program. Ball said, "I asked CHE if there is still a shortage of classrooms, and suggested the dollars allocated to private institutions could be redirected to help state colleges and universities."

He began his remarks by welcoming 25 new faculty members who have accepted teaching positions in 12 departments. Enrollment totals 3,049 students, down nearly 2 percent from last year.

Ball said Lander's international initiatives have enjoyed outstanding success during the last 12 months. The Office of International Programs established exchange agreements with 11 colleges and universities in China, Korea and Thailand, and Lander has enrolled 40 students from Korea and China since the fall of 2011.

The university's Study Abroad Program celebrated a milestone by exceeding the 100 mark for the number of students who have attended an institution of higher education for a semester or summer study since 2005. Another 60 international students from five continents and Canada studied at Lander in the past year.

Ball listed several capital projects under way, among them adding more than 200 beds at two residence halls on campus, and construction of a field house and intramural field at the Jeff May Complex, Lander's recreation and sports complex on Montague Ave.

Ball outlined a number of priorities for this academic year and beyond. They include maintaining or improving graduation and student retention rates, and enrollment growth consistent with Lander's mission and capacity; establishing an Honors College with active recruitment and programming for the fall of 2013; expanding and enhancing the Montessori Teacher Preparation program; continuing to improve customer service across campus; and expanding the university's equestrian program and partnership with Burton Center.

He said, "At this university, we will continue to hold ourselves and our students to higher standards, to higher goals while upholding the integrity of the baccalaureate degree and what it stands for." He added, "We are convinced the true baccalaureate will lead us closer to the solution of our nation's problems, to the pursuit of a productive and happy life and the ultimate goal that we all seek, but have yet to achieve: peace on earth and goodwill to all people."