Sanford wants to close county’s greatest asset

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By The Staff

I am writing in regard to Gov. Mark Sanford’s proposal to close the University of South Carolina at Lancaster. I was born and raised in Lancaster County, attended Lancaster County Public schools and graduated from Lancaster High School.

I enrolled in the fall of 2000 at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster as a freshman.

As a junior in high school I was given the opportunity to take a college level logic class at the university. Dr. John Catalano was my professor for that class. Dr. Catalano was a inspiration for me and for many other students as well for the university.

I started my college years here at Lancaster because it gave me the same opportunity as the big campuses but with smaller classes. It was also more cost effective because I lived in Lancaster and did not have to pay rent or spend extra money on gas.

I also was able to take summer courses while working a full-time job – again still here in Lancaster. While going to my classes I noticed those students attending were from Great Falls, Fort Lawn, Richburg, Chester, Heath Springs, Kershaw, Pageland, Jefferson and Camden. USCL was a pillar for many people all around us and still is, to double its size in eight years.

In May 2002, I graduated from USCL with an associate’s degree. In August I had to transfer to USC Columbia which was not an easy transfer.  I had to find somewhere to live, fill out a bunch of paperwork, make numerous trips to Columbia to meet with advisors and professors and visit apartment complexes. When I did transfer I only had one year left because I was able to get almost all my education here.                        

While attending USCL, I had the opportunity to take many classes from Dr. Catalano and got to know him well. I was glad for him when he became dean of USCL. The university needed that breath of fresh air, inspiration, new guidance, etc. It has come a long way since I started there and finished in Columbia.

This university has helped many people in the local community such as returning adults taking a few courses to better their education; people who work full time and try to go to school at night; young adults who have children and can only take a few classes because of family obligations. It’s the one thing that Lancaster has left and Sanford wants to take it away. If USCL was run inefficiently the school wouldn’t be increasing students, faculty and adding sports as it has in the past few years.

When my father had his heart attack he was able to utilize the therapy program at the Gregory Health & Wellness Center in which he was a contributor and donor when the building was built. This center also provides swimming lessons for all ages. When I worked there we provided swimming lessons to Lancaster County elementary kids funded by a J. Marion Sims Foundation grant.

USCL has a lot to offer to everyone of all ages. To close it is just plain greed. I encourage you to contact your legislators and let them know how you feel about closing USCL.

Travis Snipes is a Lancaster County