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Cougar Tales: Director's Cut (September 2015) 

My parting thoughts...

This is my last Director’s Cut. I retire in early October after ten years as your Director of Alumni Relations. It’s been a great run. I will begin my third career selling real estate here in Charleston with one of my CofC classmates and fraternity brothers. This is not a shameless plug. It’s simply an example of how CofC friendships and networks last a lifetime. 

I’m asked all the time what I think the College of Charleston should or might look like in the future. For ten years I’ve been kicking our tires, assessing our potential, measuring engagement, monitoring resources, analyzing feedback from alumni and importing best practices from other universities.  

My opinion can be summed up with one simple conjecture: we are the state’s premier liberal arts and sciences university. Let the University of South Carolina continue to broadly educate the majority of our state’s citizens. Let Clemson create our state’s engineers, agriculturalists and architects. At the College of Charleston, we’re developing global disrupters in the fields of entrepreneurship, supply chain management, applied science, computer engineering, social innovation, sales and marketing, economics, education and mathematics – all trained to question EVERYTHING! 

Most states have one university that is highly selective, extremely rigorous, holistic in its educational approach, the most experiential and whose out-of-state/in-state student ratio is viewed agnostically. The College of Charleston is that university for us, and to realize its full potential for our state, I believe first its liberal arts and sciences curriculum needs to be embraced by all South Carolinians. 

The College should be considered an aspirational place for learning by the parents of the very best students destined to excel in our environment. That environment is a tough liberal arts and sciences education in an exciting and inclusive world-class city. It’s not for everybody, but it’s perfect for 10,000 with the proper propensity.

Look, we know we’re a little different than the rest of the state.

How different? Well, we easily have the best sailing team in the Southeast. We don’t need football for visibility. Bill Murray lives here. We send tons of Cougars into the Peace Corps. We sunbathe on Marion Square (even though we’re only minutes from world-class beaches). Our library is the center of our campus life. We study abroad routinely. We field a sand volleyball team. We question the long-term wisdom of anything, everything. We have a marine biology lab – on an actual body of water. We read about subjects outside our comfort zone to better understand the world around us. Heck, our entire CofC experience is outside our comfort zone. And you know what? We like it that way.

Consequently, College of Charleston is not a S.C. institution of higher learning whose experience needs to be defended. The College of Charleston is a S.C. institution of higher learning that complements the other options our state has to offer.  

Much like in the state of Virginia, where Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia and the College of William & Mary are viewed jointly as three equally important delivery systems, so should we consider S.C.’s options. In my opinion, when Clemson, the University of South Carolina and the College of Charleston stand as equal partners, conjoined by purposeful mission, with resources likewise apportioned, only then will our state be best served.

But, of course, I’m trained to question everything.

Jack Huguley '72 
Director of Alumni Relations
College of Charleston