USC President – ‘A Career Well-Lived’

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Jun 122019
 

Dr. Harris Pastides – retiring soon as the University of South Carolina’s 28th president – told Capital Rotary on June 12 that he has enjoyed “a career well-lived” in higher education.  Dr. Pastides (at left in photo with Rotarian Tommy Phelps) reviewed USC’s record of high achievement and unprecedented growth including (1) its Honor College ranked No. 1 among similar institutions in the nation; (2) continual top national academic rankings for 56 current programs in undergraduate and graduate international business, public health, engineering, nursing and others; (3) record levels of research funding; and (4) surpassing a $1 billion capital campaign goal.  Dr. Pastides noted his signing of 117,662 USC diplomas over the past 10 years and forming personal relationships with so many students – “just by being yourself” – are among his most satisfying accomplishments.  His retirement goals include travel, more time for friends and family, continued community service and engaging with young people to encourage them to vote. A native of Astoria, NY, Dr. Pastides has led USC’s flagship system of eight institutions in 20 geographic locations since 2008 and served on numerous committees for academic and nonprofit organizations. 

Jun 122019
 

Scholarship recipients Reagan Smith (left in photo) and Kate Chalfant (right) are welcomed to Capital Rotary’s June 12 meeting by Darren Foy, chair of the club’s scholarship committee.  Smith, a recent Dreher High graduate, is bound for The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City to major in chemical engineering.  Chalfant is a rising junior at the University of South Carolina, majoring in public relations with a minor in theatre.  Capital Rotary has been supporting the educational aspirations of local high school graduates for more than 20 years.  Its $20,000 scholarships ($5,000 per year, renewable for four years) are based on a combination of academic performance, extracurricular activity and economic need.   

Jun 052019
 

Capital Rotarians have given a helping hand to a local family and to a local charity as part of the club’s commitment to community service, according to president Philip Flynn.  The family assistance helped Tameika and Jerome Smith and their six children relocate after being displaced from Allen Benedict Court in January due to dangerous gas leaks.  The Smiths had to leave their possessions behind and were in temporary housing until moving into a new apartment in May.  Club members donated time, money and household items – including furniture, kitchenware, bedding and clothing – so the Smiths could get back on their feet and set up house again.  Flynn said Mrs. Smith (at new home’s door in photo) wanted to convey how much the family appreciates Capital Rotary’s support and contributions.  He told the club that Mrs. Smith said: “Everything you did is a blessing!”  Help for the local charity came as a result of the club’s touring Columbia’s Ronald McDonald House on May 29.  The facility needs new signage to better mark its location.  Capital Rotarians have raised over $1,000 toward a goal of $1,200 for this purchase.  Flynn said he’s confident the goal will be met.  “We know the Ronald McDonald House provides a tremendous resource for families needing lodging, food and fellowship while their children receive the healthcare they need,” Flynn added.

USC Prof Touts “Saving the South’s Flavors”

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Jun 052019
 

University of South Carolina professor Dr. David Shields brought a tasty message as Capital Rotary’s June 5 guest speaker.  Shields (flanked in photo by Rotarians Chris Myers at left and Ann Elliott) tries to revive the best-tasting produce and grains from Southern history and bring them back to the dinner table.  He said these essential ingredients of delicious and distinctive foods have become nearly extinct, giving way to crops that are more economical to grow, ship and prepare but not as mouth-watering.  A revival of Lowcountry farming and interest from chefs has created a demand for heirloom grains and vegetables.  Shields has published more than 80 articles and a dozen books based on research into the antebellum South’s crops, meals and the cooks who prepared them.  He also chairs the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation board and the Slow Food: Ark of Taste for the South project, called “a living catalog of delicious and distinctive foods facing extinction.”  A native of Maryland, Dr. Shields received his undergraduate degree from William and Mary and his PhD from the University of Chicago.  He was appointed a Carolina Distinguished Professor in 2014. 

Jun 052019
 

Capital Rotary president Philip Flynn (center in photo) congratulates Jimmy Gibbs (left) and Bud Foy for earning Paul Harris Fellow Plus-Four honors recognizing their continued contributions to The Rotary Foundation, the international service club’s charitable arm that supports programs for world understanding and peace.  Gibbs and Foy have each made an initial $1,000 donation to the fund, followed by four additional gifts of $1,000 each.  Gibbs, an insurance broker, is a past president and past assistant district governor who joined Capital Rotary in September 1995.  Foy, a retired dentist, joined the club in March 2015 and was a member of the Rotary Club of Monterey, CA for 24 years before relocating to South Carolina.   

Rotarians Tour Ronald McDonald House

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May 292019
 

Capital Rotarians toured Columbia’s Ronald McDonald House on May 29, getting a firsthand look at how it provides a comforting atmosphere for families and children in times of medical crisis.  The 16-bedroom facility on Colonial Drive has all the comforts of “a home away from home” including a well-stocked food pantry and toy room, a kitchen and dining room, relaxed living areas and washer/dryer units.  The staff and volunteers work to ease emotional and financial stress caused by health issues, thus allowing families to focus on supporting their child when it matters most.  The Ronald McDonald House serves families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year, with an 87% average occupancy rate.  The May 29 tour was hosted by operations director Liz Atkinson, executive director Beth Lowrie and marketing/development manager Meghan McMenamy.  As part of its Fifth Wednesday program, Capital Rotary occasionally substitutes field trips to local sites in place of a regular club meeting.         

May 222019
 

Rapid adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) is changing society and culture around the world, according to technology consultant Eric Davis, Capital Rotary’s May 22 guest speaker.  Davis (shown with Rotarian Ione Cockrell) said merging AI, robotics and supercomputing leads to machines that are smarter, better and faster than humans.  Automation is keeping a lid on wages, with fewer high-salary jobs being created, most requiring very high education levels.  Wall Street’s volatility will increase as the labor structure changes.  Companies must respond to rapidly changing consumer income and habits.  Globally, various nations will adjust to digital economic change at different rates.  In smart offices, AI assistants will control a wide range of functions and devices, the same as in smart stores.  Personal robots will become commonplace at home. AI also is changing job recruitment via candidate screening, resume analysis and video interviews.  An Ohio native and Ohio State graduate, Davis has worked as a programmer, systems analyst, systems administrator and consultant in industries such as engineering, light manufacturing, local government and nuclear power.  He’s currently a professional services director for Respect Technology, Inc.      

May 222019
 

University of South Carolina accounting/finance graduate Joel Welch (center), 2018-19 president of the college’s Rotaract Club, was saluted for his service on May 22, receiving a past president’s pin from Capital Rotarian Neda Beal (left) and District 7770 assistant governor Eric Davis.  Rotaract clubs are open to adults ages 18-30 interested in community service, in developing leadership and professional skills, and who enjoy networking and social activities.  USC Rotaract was formed in 2010-2011 under the sponsorship of Spring Valley Rotary.  Capital Rotary assumed sponsorship earlier this year, with Beal serving as liaison to the college club.

May 222019
 

Longtime Rotarian Gene Oliver (left in photo) has been recognized by Capital Rotary for 55 years of membership in the service club.  President Philip Flynn also honored Oliver as a major donor to the Rotary Foundation in support of international programs promoting peace and world understanding.  Major donors are those whose cumulative contributions total $10,000 or more. Oliver – a retired college administrator nearing his 93rd birthday – joined the Capital club in September 2009.

May 152019
 

Patricia F. Dempster (at center in photo) was welcomed into Capital Rotary’s ranks on May 15 by sponsor Ione Cockrell and club president Philip Flynn.  A Columbia native, Dempster is an insurance and financial services advisor who grew up in St. Andrews’ Whitehall area, graduated from Irmo High School and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Limestone College in Gaffney.  For 12 years she held various positions in Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina and its subsidiaries, working in claims processing, records management and systems support/programing.  Since 2011 she’s been a financial planner for individuals, professionals and small business owners.  Dempster is a designated Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow and a member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors of the Midlands.  She is a sponsor for Cancer of Many Colors, a Lexington-based non-profit that helps local cancer survivors with daily living expenses and emergency needs. ​

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