Originally created 01/11/00

College chancellor announces retirement



AIKEN -- Robert E. Alexander, chancellor of the University of South Carolina Aiken, is stepping down after 17 years at the local campus.

His retirement is effective June 30, but he said he plans to continue to work part time as a teacher and consultant.

"I find that my 17 years as chancellor of USCA have allowed me the chance to make a difference and to accomplish all of my major goals for this campus with the help of a great staff, fine faculty and very supportive community," he said in a statement released Monday.

Dr. Alexander's chancellorship has been marked by rapid campus growth in new facilities, student population and endowment.

"The phenomenal growth and success of USCA is directly related to Bob's leadership," said state Sen. Tommy Moore, D-Clearwater. "He has been aggressive in reminding us all of the value of higher education, and his work has benefited the whole community."

Beginning with the expansion of Gregg-Graniteville Library, the campus has grown to include Etherredge Center for the Fine Arts in 1986, a children's center and the Ruth Patrick Science Center in 1991, the Business and Education Building in 1994, DuPont Planetarium in 1995 and completion of the natatorium in 1997.

In addition, private giving and grants have grown from about $40,000 in the 1980s to more than $3.5 million. The campus' endowment is more than $6.8 million, with an additional $2.5 million in endowed professorships for a total of 13 endowed faculty chairs, university spokeswoman Deidre Martin said.

"When I joined the University of South Carolina in 1966, I had high hopes of making a difference in the lives of students in our state," Dr. Alexander said.

He began his career at the university's main campus in Columbia as a Methodist associate chaplain shortly after graduating from Duke University with a master's degree in divinity. In 1975 he became dean of students, and in 1978 he was named associate vice president for two-year campuses and continuing education.

Since he arrived in Aiken as chancellor, undergraduate enrollment has grown from 1,818 to 3,077 with degree programs in more than 40 majors and concentrations as well as graduate programs in education and a master of science in clinical psychology. The campus is in a major capital campaign with a goal of $63 million to support scholarships, endowed faculty chairs, academic programs and facilities.

USC Aiken has proven an important asset for economic growth, said Ronnie Young, Aiken County Council Chairman.

"Dr. Alexander and USCA make our job in bringing business and industry to Aiken County easier," Mr. Young said. "He has brought a vision to the county and he has been a very positive aid in the economic development of the county."

Reach Pat Willis at (803) 279-6895.

Robert E. Alexander

Born: Kinston, N.C.

Education: Duke University, bachelor of arts, 1962; master of divinity, 1966; University of South Carolina Columbia, doctor of education, 1977

Family: wife, Leslie; son, Robert Jr.; daughter, Lara; two granddaughters

Tenure: University of South Carolina Columbia, 1966-1983; University of South Carolina Aiken, 1983-2000