Originally created 01/05/02

College funding sought



GREENVILLE, S.C. - Some business groups are pushing for lottery proceeds to fund professorships at the state's three research universities.

The business advocates want funding for more research at Clemson University, the University of South Carolina and the Medical University of South Carolina in hopes of spawning startup companies and high-paying jobs.

Gov. Jim Hodges has backed such a proposal.

Funding college scholarships remains the governor's top priority for lottery money, Mr. Hodges' spokesman Jay Reiff said.

"After we do that, there is likely to be additional lottery funds available, and the governor certainly supports the concept of endowed chairs at the universities," Mr. Reiff said.

He said Mr. Hodges would disclose his other priorities for lottery money in coming weeks and that the new professorships are "likely to be on that list."

The first lottery scratch-off tickets are set to go on sale Monday.

The research proposal is the first solid recommendation from the Technology Transition Team created by Mr. Hodges in April to explore ways of fostering high-tech growth in South Carolina.

The technology team will advocate using up to $40 million a year in lottery money for the professorships, said Harry Lightsey III, the team's leader and the president of BellSouth South Carolina operations.

The technology group will present the proposal at a news conference Tuesday in Columbia, where representatives of statewide business advocacy groups and former Govs. Richard Riley and James Edwards are scheduled to appear.

Mr. Lightsey said his group wants the endowed professorships to be the state's second-highest priority for lottery money, behind college scholarships, receiving $20 million to $40 million a year plus matching private donations.

"Over five years, that creates $200 million to $400 million to invest in research in the state," Mr. Lightsey said. "That's an incredible investment that could pay dividends in terms of new jobs, better-paying jobs and a better quality of life in South Carolina."

Lottery officials estimate the games initially will generate about $65 million for education, lottery spokeswoman Tara Robertson said.

"Over five years, ($20 million to $40 million in lottery funding plus matching private donations) creates $200 million to $400 million to invest in research in the state. That's an incredible investment that could pay dividends in terms of new jobs, better-paying jobs and a better quality of life in South Carolina." - Harry Lightsey III, leader of the Technology Transition Team, on lottery proceeds