SCC Announces New Mascot in Record Enrollment

Article by: Colton Grace | SCC

Today, leadership of Spartanburg Community College, alongside representatives of strategic partners OneSpartanburg, Inc. and Spartanburg Academic Movement, gathered on the SCC Giles Campus in Spartanburg to provide an update to the Free Tuition Initiative and host a celebration to reveal the college's very first mascot.
 
SCC is proud to announce a 32 percent overall increase in enrollment versus 2019, marking the highest enrollment in college history with a total of 6,097 students enrolled in classes. Furthermore, a 66 percent increase among students aged 24 and older speaks volumes towards the success of the initiative to reengage students with among the adult population.
 
Enrollment from Spartanburg, Cherokee, and Union Counties increased 24, 37 and 35 percent, respectively.
 
"When we announced this initiative in May, we envisioned a unique opportunity to give back to the community and reengage those who may have seen their education and career advancement opportunities be placed on hold. While we anticipated a positive response, we have truly been amazed by the results," said Dr. Michael Mikota, president of SCC. "We have record enrollment at a time when other colleges and universities are seeing anemic enrollment numbers, but more importantly we have seen significant increases in the number of adults who are now taking this opportunity to chase their dreams of educational and personal achievement. We eliminated barriers to success and their lives will be forever changed because of it."
 
One stated goal when the free tuition initiative was launched was to reengage students who at some point paused their pursuits in higher education by eliminating financial barriers and opening access, specifically for adults. The unprecedented 66 percent increase among those aged 24 and older is proof-positive of the success of this initiative and overwhelmingly exceeds expectations.
 
A strong “talent pipeline” consisting of educational opportunities from early childhood programs all the way to workforce development services is a crucial factor in connecting individuals in Spartanburg county to the ever-growing economic opportunities that present themselves locally. Furthermore, one of the foremost goals for strategic partners in the area is for 40 percent of the residents of Spartanburg county aged 25 or older to have earned an associate degree or higher by 2030. As shown by the enrollment numbers, SCC’s free tuition program is significantly contributing towards the completion of this goal, strengthening the county’s talent pipeline and improving educational outcomes overall. 
 
"During unprecedented times, Spartanburg Community College stepped up to meet the needs of our community, its employers and most importantly – its students," said Allen Smith, president and CEO of OneSpartanburg, Inc. "These students are preparing to fill technical and knowledge-based jobs, and upon completion, will become critical players in Spartanburg’s talent pool, enabling our existing industries to continue successful operations. Simultaneously, increased educational attainment levels make Spartanburg more attractive as a destination for employers offering new and diversified job opportunities. As our people succeed, so does our community."
 
Significant increases were also realized amongst the college's minority population, with a 55 percent increase in African American enrollment, a 44 percent increase in Hispanic enrollment, a 10 percent increase in Asian enrollment and a 37 percent increase amongst all other races. These increases are significant, as SCC is dedicated to closing the gap on degree attainment among minority communities.
 
"These enrollment numbers are significant, particularly for our adult population. Let us not forget that these data points represent real people who are seeing the value furthering their education for a number of reasons," said Dr. Russell Booker, executive director of Spartanburg Academic Movement. "It is clear that when financial barriers are removed, opportunities abound. SAM is committed to supporting SCC and its students as we work to ensure their success moving forward."
  
The rapid growth in SCC's enrollment as part of this free tuition initiative embodies the fact that the SCC family is made up of a student population that dreams of a brighter future, chases down their goals and lives out their dreams.
 
To cement this mentality of "Dream It, Chase It, Live It,” SCC is proud to announce that SCC students, faculty, staff and alumni will now be officially known as the Spartanburg Community College Chasers, with Spartanburg’s own Chaser the Border Collie serving as the first mascot in college history.

"Being a Wofford College graduate familiar with the work of Dr. John Pilley and his beloved dog, Chaser, we could not have chosen a more perfect mascot," said Dr. Michael Mikota. "Much like Chaser, the stories and successes of SCC's students shine a light on the ways in which learning unlocks the limitless potential in us all. Chaser’s learning capability and her work ethic to chase and go after what she wanted is the perfect model for what we want our students to do and what we will showcase."
 
“Chaser is an icon. She is here to inspire dreams, encourage students to follow their bliss, and to think outside of the box,” said Deb Pilley Bianchi, daughter of Dr. John Pilley. “My sister, Robin, and I took this as this as an opportunity to deepen the connections not only between Wofford and SCC, but with the Spartanburg community as well. We left it in the hands of the two presidents—just as parents must let go their children out into the world—highlighting what our father frequently espoused, that “knowledge is for everyone”. 
 
Known as the "world's smartest dog" and regarded as "the most scientifically important dog in over a century," Chaser was the beloved canine partner of Wofford Professor Emeritus of Psychology, the late Dr. John W. Pilley. Through her lifetime, Chaser defied expectations and inspired millions by showcasing her ability to learn over 1,000 unique words, forever changing the way we view canine intelligence and learning.
 
For more information about SCC and the SCC Chasers, visit ChaserTheMascot.com

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