Spartanburg Community College, elected officials, SCC students and community residents came together Thursday, August 25 to celebrate the opening of the College's fifth campus - the SCC Union County Campus. The event signified the collaboration of many in the Union community who have come together in support of future opportunities for all area residents.
"Today marks a momentous occasion for Spartanburg Community College. The Union Campus of SCC provides a clear and distinct message to the people of Union that this College is committed to serving the citizens of Union County through quality educational programs and services, both on our central campus in Spartanburg and here at the Union Campus," said Henry C. Giles, Jr., SCC president. "Union has always been a part of the College's service area since our beginning in 1963. However, not until now has the College had a permanent location in Union to offer our full array of programs, other than the associate of arts and associate of sciences degree programs."
Giles went on to explain that the Union campus will focus on two programs - mechatronics and welding - and that both programs prepare graduates for careers that are and will be in high demand. Graduates of these programs should be able to obtain high paying jobs close to their homes, which will empower Union residents to live and work in their community.
"Effective this fall, the Union County Adult Education Program will now be a part of SCC and has moved from its previous location on Main Street (part of the old Union High School) to the SCC Union Campus. What could be better for the citizens of Union who want to start a new life by earning their high school diploma or GED, than to be able to attend classes in a new location on the Union Campus of Spartanburg Community College," added Giles. "Our second partnership with Union High School to allow students to get an early start on college before graduating from high school. Students may take courses at the high school that will earn both high school and college credits. This fall we are offering these dual credit courses in health careers, mechatronics and welding. Students taking these dual enrollment classes are learning critical skills needed by local employers in state-of-the-art labs."
Kathy Jo Lancaster, site coordinator for the SCC Union County Campus expressed thanks to everyone in attendance. "Our campus is alive and vibrant. Our students not only receive classroom and lab instruction but they are advised, they are tutored, they engage in creative activities and they are integrated into the next generation of jobs - what we refer to as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) opportunities. Our students are prepared to compete for high tech, high demand and high paying jobs in fields such as advanced manufacturing, health care, information technology and logistics."
Lancaster continued by adding, "I am motivated each day as I walk around this beautiful facility; I am surrounded by students, faculty, staff and business/industry professionals who keep our enterprise system going. In this building we are all one, working together to enrich the lives and futures of our students and community. The positive energy level is here is truly amazing! Thank you for celebrating with us today as we bring together many different elements to make our county, region and state more viable and better positioned to compete for jobs of today and careers of tomorrow."
In addition to Giles and Lancaster, other speakers who welcomed the 150 event guests included Rep. Mike Anthony, a member of the S.C. House of Representatives for Union County District 42; Harold Thompson, mayor, City of Union; Frank Hart, supervisor, Union County; Bob Hart, plant manager of the Union Timken Company; and Earl Petty, SCC welding student from Union. President Giles and all speakers participated in a ribbon cutting designating the facility as the official SCC Union County Campus.
Representative Anthony told attendees, "We are developing human infrastructure here, we are giving our kids, our grandkids and adults the training and education they need to get a job. Opportunities are here - now we just have to use them."
County supervisor, Frank Hart, added, "I do believe this is truly a red-letter day for Union County. What we're here to celebrate today is an example of a coordinated effort of a lot of people which involved the community college, the delegation and private industry. It is an example of what we can all achieve when we're all pulling in the same direction. This is an investment in our people that will pay dividends for generations to come. The campus will play a key role in the development of skilled workforce we need to support our existing industry as well as economic development of our community. This campus along with our community scholarship program will provide opportunities for our kids and access to higher education that were not previously accessible. Today I am proud of our community and the steps we are taking to improve the quality of life for all citizens of Union County. Working together we are truly building a better Union."
Union Mayor Harold Thompson added, "Thank you SCC for a job well done. The Union County Campus represents the value we put on education. This College continues to take great responsibility in our community as our people gain an education and take responsibility in our community and our state."
As part of the presentation, Bob Hart, with Union's The Timken Company, presented Pres. Giles with a $135,000 check to the SCC Foundation for equipment at the College's Union Campus. Giles expressed a his appreciation for the generous donations from the Timken Foundation and the Timken Union Plant, "I want to especially thank Mr. Bob Hart for his leadership and support."
Giles added, "The College is proud to be a part of Union. Our partners here are great. Mayor Harold Thompson and Town Council have been supportive of the College from day one. County Council has embraced the College's presence here. In fact, the College could not open this campus today if it were not for Supervisor Frank Hart and County Council. They have a vision of a renewed, vibrant County, a preferred place for people to work and live. They are making bold, creative steps to return Union to the place of prominence it deserves. As Union residents discover our presence, I expect to see the programs we offer here to grow and expand quickly. I feel we are and should be the door to higher education for all interested Union citizens. We are ready to be that for you."
The 14,000 square-foot facility opened in December 2009 as the Union County Advanced Technical Center in an effort to help reduce Union County's unemployment rate by providing corporate and community education classes in partnership with SCC, the University of South Carolina Union, the City of Union and Union County.
Photos from the event can be downloaded at the following link: