In the past semester and a half, we’ve all known Dr. Claude Lilly in different ways—as the New President, as Santa Claus at the study breaks in December, and most recently in his groundbreaking role in the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. However, as the semester reaches midterm and preparations begin (yes, even this early) for next year, questions have arisen regarding the future of PC, concerning finances, dormitories, and security, to name a few. After receiving several of your questions and concerns for PC, I sat down with Dr. Lilly on Friday of last week and asked about some of these issues:
Rice: Many students feel as though there has been a decrease in scholarships in recent years, or at least that they have lost money in scholarships. In the past, PC has provided for 70% of the total costs of tuition, as compared with most other institutions’ rate of 50% or lower.
Lilly: “The key word here is sustainability. With the state of finance, it is imperative that we get more in line with the other institutions in the state. What I want to see is a strong and viable PC in 2050, and I think cutting back slowly is going to be one way to get us there.”
Rice: As students may be aware, the Board of Trustees has also recently decided to increase tuition by 3%, which comes to somewhere around $1200. Nationally, there has been a 2-3% inflation rate in the last year, and colleges are increasing tuition for next year from 2 to 5 percent.
Lilly: “I think 5% is far too much to ask, but at the same time, the faculty has not had a significant raise in years and some of our facilities are in need of enhancements. With inflation, the price of nearly everything goes up, and PC tuition has to follow that, with the increases going to these areas in need.”
Rice: There have also been questions about smaller prices, such as the parking permit costs and $300 deposit. Why are there so many of these small costs?
Lilly: “Compared to other schools, these costs are actually lower at PC. In addition, Presbyterian College does not charge significantly higher lab fees like some other schools. Some school charge more than $700 in lab fees.” As far as parking goes, Dr. Lilly has said that “I realize that some of the parking facilities on campus are in need of some attention, and we need to use fees to help with this challenge.”
Rice: Of course, one of the largest and most-mentioned topics on campus is that of dormitories. Many students have voiced concerns about the quality of the dorms buildings themselves—what’s your opinion?
Lilly: “Students may be unaware that an analysis team from Brailsford and Dunlavey has just completed research into PC’s dormitories, and will soon complete a report on strategies for the future, what buildings to refurbish, etc.” For Dr. Lilly, “Dorms are it. For me, students are the #1 priority, and the attention to dorms needs to reflect that. The B&D report has been well-received, and there are fundraising plans that will go into effect very soon. Basically, five million dollars is needed to begin the refurbishing process. It will take a significant number of years to redo all of the dorms.”
Rice: Over the past two semesters, some students have voiced frustration with the virtual bookstore and the Scotsman’s Corner in GDH. Specifically, the delivery system and lack of physical books in the store have been a concern.
Lilly: “We need to look at the bookstore services, and I’m organizing a committee comprised of faculty and students to look at the delivery system, as well as what’s in the store. From that, we should be able to move on with everyone’s concerns represented.”
Rice: Given the current national climate and attention to gun laws, some students had concerns about PC’s attention to safety.
Lilly: “I think we’re doing very well in this area. We have been running risk management drills with the staff, and have discussed the emergency card system in the classrooms with the faculty. We have a good relationship with the Clinton and Laurens County Police. In an emergency, I believe they would be a valuable resource.”
Finally, Dr. Lilly wanted to say that “I think we have truly wonderful leadership team members. With Deborah Thompson, the new addition of Dr. Joy Smith, Dr. Don Raber as Provost, and others on the team, I think we have a group that is excited about students and the mission of PC.”