Master plan is a realistic USCL vision

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By The Staff

A landscaped, tree-line entrance to the campus. Decorative fencing enclosing campus buildings. Dorms. Additional parking spaces. New education buildings. These are all part of the University of South Carolina at Lancaster strategic master plan USCL Dean John Catalano recently revealed.

Catalano unveiled the plan to about 100 people in the Carole Ray Dowling Health Services Center on the USCL campus.

Catalano said his goal for the campus to have that "college feel."

"I want this place to feel like a major university," Catalano said.

The goals outlined in the master plan include expanding the number of degree programs, increase the number of full-time faculty, provide on-campus housing and secure more funding. The last major plan was done in 1987.

The recent master plan is coinciding with USCL's 50th anniversary, which is next year. The campus has come a long way since its days at the two-story Williams House on Chesterfield Avenue.

The USCL campus on Hubbard Drive contains Starr and Hubbard halls, Medford Library, the Gregory Health and Wellness Center, the Dowling Center and the Bradley Arts & Sciences building, which houses the Bundy Auditorium.

A master plan is needed to accommodate the increasing enrollment. In 2000, USCL had 800 students. In 2007, there were 1,500.

The school draws students from six counties. Many of the students get their first two years here before going to the main campus in Columbia.

But the school also draws the non-traditional students - often older students who work and have families, yet still want to get a higher education.

One of the most successful programs touted at USCL is its nursing program.

"It's either No. 1 or No. 2 every year," Catalano said.

The growth at USCL is obvious when driving on Hubbard Drive or trying to attend a community event during school hours. The parking lots and side streets are full and vehicles are waiting to pull into spaces when one becomes vacant.

The campus also provides some of the best health services with its Gregory and Dowling centers. About 2,000 people use the health and wellness facilities, which include the weight and Nautilus equipment rooms, swimming pool, diabetes center and cardiology units.

The campus is also a good neighbor, providing its facilities for community events. Catalano said there 300 annual events held at the campus. The Performing Arts Series are held in the state-of-the-art Bundy Auditorium.

While education is the main focus of a college campus, sports are vital to attract and retain young people, Catalano said. USCL already has tennis and golf teams.

A women's softball team is slated to begin soon. The campus also wants to add baseball and soccer.

Attracting more foreign studies and foreign students is another part of the plan.

For USCL to continue its success and growth, it is important to be diverse and expand. The vision to become a college town has merit.

"This is no longer a manufacturing town," Catalano said.

Lancaster County could benefit from a full-fledged four-year college.

An increase in students means an increase in needs for goods and services. Students living in on-campus dorms are going to need gas, food, clothing and other household items. And they would be getting these items from local businesses.

The addition of community events, health-care services, expanded studies, public service programs and sports will attract more people.

USCL is the pride of Lancaster County. But to continue its success and contributions to the community it must diversify to attract people from all walks of life.

For it to remain successful will require commitment from us all.

The four-year college plan is a vision, a realistic vision for the future of Lancaster County.