In less than five years, the University of South Carolina Union campus has seen tremendous growth, both with enrollment and athletics. The transformation of campus has also been an asset to the community and economy in Union. The campus acquired three empty buildings on Main Street to be used for Science & Nursing, Fine Arts, and Student Services. The athletic department has reconditioned City Park for their softball team, restored Jonesville football field for their soccer team, and renovated an industrial league ballfield for their baseball team. The athletic department has also added club teams that consist of a women’s volleyball team that will begin competing this fall, a bass fishing team, a rifle team, and an eGaming team. UofSC Union has partnered with UofSC Aiken in order to deliver the UofSC Aiken Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. This expansion will allow students to study all four years in Union and Laurens, including coursework and clinicals. It will attract more nurses to our area in order to impact local healthcare workforce needs.
All of these contributions in the past few years have been because of the strong leadership from campus dean, Dr. John Catalano. Under his leadership, the campus has:
- Set an enrollment record each semester, more than doubling the enrollment
- Reduced financial aid default rates to the second-best among regional Palmetto College campuses
- Drastically improved facilities, adding and remodeling buildings and grounds
- Negotiated an agreement with the Union Carnegie Library that has transformed student library services
- Reapplied for the TRIO/Opportunity Scholars Program
- Seen increased millage from Union County
- Added new sports to the Bantam Athletics program, a BSN program with USC Aiken, student housing through a public-private partnership, and received over $1 Million in gifts and property.
It is with a heavy heart that campus announces his retirement effective August 15, 2020. “I really believe in the future of UofSC Union. I have enjoyed the campus, the town, the people, and the challenge,” he stated in an email to his faculty and staff.
Even though this will be a tremendous loss, he will leave the prosperous campus in the hands of Dr. Randy Lowell, who will step in as interim dean during the search for a permanent campus leader. Dr. Lowell is currently the Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs and Professor of Psychology. He began teaching at UofSC Union in 2012, where he transitioned into the role of Academic Dean in 2016. Dr. Lowell has been instrumental leading students with their independent research on campus. Dr. Susan Elkins, Chancellor of UofSC Palmetto College, stated “I am confident that Interim Dean Lowell will do an excellent job of continuing Dean Catalano’s work, and we will continue to press forward in fulfilling our mission of providing an affordable, accessible, and flexible education to the residents of Union and Lauren Counties and beyond.”
The UofSC Union Bantam family would like to wish a happy retirement to Dr. Catalano and a tremendous heartfelt thank you for all you have done for the campus, students, staff, and faculty during your time.