Selected Articles for Archive 2022-2023

Timmons tapped for new role at Savannah River National Laboratory

Monday, June 05 2023

USC Aiken provost to lead SRNL office dedicated to industrial and strategic partnerships

Dr. Daren Timmons, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of South Carolina Aiken, has accepted an offer of employment with Savannah River National Laboratory to steward the laboratory's industrial and strategic partnerships. His last day with the university is June 30.

Timmons joined USC Aiken in 2016 as dean of the College of Sciences and Engineering and, in 2019, was named provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, after serving a year as interim provost.

"It is with sincere appreciation for Daren's work to enhance our university's academic portfolio and industry connectivity that I join our campus community in thanking him for his service and wishing him well in his next endeavor," said USC Aiken Chancellor Dan Heimmermann. "Daren has worked tirelessly to advance the university's academic profile, faculty teaching and scholarship, industry partnerships, and many more pivotal initiatives. His time with the university is marked by some of our greatest advances including construction of the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative and pending construction of a South Carolina National Guard cybersecurity facility. His impact will be felt for many years to come."

In addition, Timmons raised nearly $1 million this past year in support of academic programs; was instrumental in USC Aiken obtaining a National Security Agency-designation as a Center of Excellence in Cyber Defense, a National Institutes of Health's Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare Assurance, and its first ABET accredited program; and maintained national academic program accreditation.

Timmons is an active leader of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges; the state-level Advisory Committee on Academic Programs for South Carolina's Commission on Higher Education; the non-profit Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness; the General Education and University Transfer Programs for Aiken Technical College; and the executive steering committee for the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative, Savannah River National Laboratory.

"SRNL leadership has had a very positive work experience with Daren on the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative being constructed on USC Aiken's campus and many other projects," said Dr. Vahid Majidi, director of SRNL. "His knowledge of the AMC, as well as his connections with regional industrial and academic partners, make him a natural best fit to lead SRNL in developing enduring partnerships."

Prior to joining USC Aiken, Timmons was the John C. Allen '62 Institute Professor of Chemistry and head of the chemistry department at Virginia Military Institute, where he developed new liquid crystal materials and metal-organic frameworks alongside his undergraduate research students. He received VMI's Meritorious Service Medal described as "the highest military award [for employees] recognizing exceptionally meritorious service to the Institute," in addition to being recognized with VMI awards in teaching, scholarship, and student mentorship.

Dr. Thayer McGahee, dean of the university's College of Nursing, will serve as interim provost until a replacement is identified through a national search, which is expected to commence immediately. McGahee has served as dean since 2015.

Pacers on the Podium: University of South Carolina - Aiken Claims 2023 USEA Intercollegiate Championship

Wednesday, May 31 2023

By: Shelby Allen

Mill Spring, N.C. (05/31/2023) — The final tally for the seventh annual USEA Intercollegiate Championships came down to the wire, with the show jumping phase proving influential. After the very last fence was cleared, the small but mighty contingent from the University of South Carolina - Aiken came out on the top of the podium.

The Pacers kept the heat on overnight leaders from Auburn University all weekend. However, three double-clear rounds on the last day gave the USC Aiken team the University's first-ever Intercollegiate Championship title on a score of 89.709.

With only five riders in attendance, USC Aiken was one of the smallest schools in the field, but they were quickly assimilated into the bigger intercollegiate community as a whole as riders from all colleges and universities stepped up to make sure every single competitor felt supported.

"I've honestly only seen such friendliness toward other teams in Pony Club. Everyone is just so happy and inviting. Every time I pass someone going to or from a course they'd wish me good luck or ask me how my ride was," said USC Aiken student Carson Langenberg. "It was honestly phenomenal. I can honestly say I'm happy for everyone here-everyone did an amazing job. I'm so proud of everyone."

Langenberg's final weighted score of 33.155 was achieved in partnership with her own Monterrey La Silla, a 15-year-old Thoroughbred, in the Training Rider division.

The Pacer's best result came from Sydney Shinn with her own HSH Crypto. Shinn not only had the lowest intercollegiate finishing result in the entire competition (23.290), but she also won the Open Preliminary division in her own right.

"I couldn't have been more impressed with Crypto all three days. He did a personal best in the dressage, finished double-clear in the cross-country for the first time at the level and double-clear in the show jumping, so I couldn't have been happier with how he was all weekend," she said.

Heidi Gyselinck finished on her dressage score to support the USC Aiken squad with a weighted result of 33.264 aboard her own 6-year-old Thoroughbred Bricktop JHF.

"My horse is pretty young, so to see him come into a busy environment like this and just give me his all every day, especially in the rain and in a strange place, it's amazing," Gyselinck said. "This is my third or fourth time coming to champs, and this is the best we've ever done. The way that the teams all came together to support the smaller schools, given that it's such a fierce competition, they all just want the best for everyone and the horses. It's really great to see that kind of teamwork."

Recent graduate Alexa Duncan, this championship result was especially sweet. "I'm a senior, and this is my first and last championship, so this is really quite exciting to win, but I think it was awesome to see everyone showing up and showing out," Duncan said.

She had one rail down with Deborah and Sarah Kuhn's Ringfort K Special.

USC Aiken receives $830,000 to bolster STEM education infrastructure

Thursday, May 25 2023

The funds will support university engineering, computer science and communication programs

The University of South Carolina Aiken ("USC Aiken") has received $830,000 in Congressionally Directed Community Project Funds ("CDCPF") for the purchase of equipment and technology to support growth of STEM and communication programs, and external partnerships with the Departments of Energy and Defense.

The funds, which were secured with the help of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), will be used to purchase engineering equipment; augmented reality, virtual reality and cybersecurity equipment; and analytics and media technology.

"We're grateful to Sen. Graham for his efforts and advocacy on behalf of the University of South Carolina Aiken and communities across our state," said USC Aiken Chancellor Dan Heimmermann. "These dollars will enhance South Carolina's competitiveness in STEM fields by providing the necessary equipment and professional experiences to make students workforce ready upon graduation."

"I believe it is important that elected officials have a say in how taxpayer money is spent and not rely on bureaucrats in Washington to protect South Carolina's interests. This funding for University of South Carolina Aiken helps to advance their STEM program and continues to build a robust and highly skilled workforce," said Sen. Graham.

Growth of the university's STEM infrastructure is necessitated by construction of the Department of Energy's new $65 million Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative on the USC Aiken campus, along with planned $35 million cybersecurity and readiness facilities in partnership with the South Carolina National Guard - priorities requiring an investment in facilities and in educating the future workforce.

"The university is dedicating new faculty lines and some existing spaces in support," said USC Aiken Provost Daren Timmons. "Industry partners have provided much of the existing equipment, but additional equipment is required in order to continue to improve our STEM infrastructure and meet the education and training needs of our students."

The monies will be used to purchase equipment and technology to outfit a new engineering laboratory in the AMC and existing laboratories at USC Aiken; a new makerspace / machine shop in support of the mechanical engineering degree program; and a newly established media learning and research lab.

The funds also will be used to support increased student enrollment and expanded professional experiences for students enrolled in programs including engineering; applied computer science; cybersecurity; game and simulation development; and communication and emerging media.

"A well-educated workforce with the technology and cognitive skills to meet the needs of 21st century employers is essential to the future of South Carolina," Timmons said. "This investment will fill a significant equipment need, allowing USC Aiken students to complete their degrees containing significant professional experiences."

Enhanced tools and technologies help deepen student learning through practical, hands-on instruction and ensure students have competitive and employable skills, Timmons said.

The projects are expected to become operational between 2024-2026.

Call Me MISTER: USC Aiken School of Education initiative develops leaders for the classroom and beyond

Monday, May 22 2023

The University of South Carolina Aiken School of Education is increasing teaching opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds through its Call Me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) program. In partnership with Clemson University, the program offers scholarships to young men from underserved socioeconomically and culturally diverse communities.

Participants receive training, support and mentorship throughout their education, and in return, they teach in public schools for the number of years that they received the scholarship. Each year the program culminates in a summer internship opportunity, where "Misters" join together at a statewide institute to work with children on reading, writing and math enrichment.

As USC Aiken's Call Me MISTER coordinator, Rashad Paige leads participants through the tenants of the program, which encompass brother's keeper, ambassadorship, teacher efficacy, servant leadership and personal growth. He is well-suited for this role, having been a Mister himself while attending Claflin University and tutoring middle school students through the AmeriCorps program.

"Call Me MISTER was the perfect complement to AmeriCorps because it had the professional development aspect," he says. "Since then, it has always been a part of my life."

After graduating from Claflin, Paige accepted a full-time job with AmeriCorps at USC Aiken, where he met School of Education Dean Dr. Judy Beck. After working with AmeriCorps for three years, he went to Benedict College in Columbia for a role in STEM education. Soon after, he received a call from Beck that USC Aiken would be launching Call Me MISTER and needed someone to lead it.

Paige says, "I've come full circle. I remember being a freshman, trying to figure out my path and struggling with the process, and it reminds me of my responsibility to help these students. I take that responsibility very seriously and will be there for them from when they get here to when they graduate."

With USC Aiken's program now in its fifth year, the first graduate walked across the stage last fall and is now a teacher for the Aiken County Public School District. Participants enter the program as freshman or complete their first two years at Aiken Technical College and then transfer. After graduation, most enter the classroom in K-12 settings.

Senior Melvin Archie is one of four students currently enrolled in the program. Because of his engagement with and dedication to students at last year's internship institute, he was awarded the honor of Distinguished Mister of the Summer.

"I love working with Melvin," Paige says. "He showed so much potential that I encouraged him to do the internship after his first year. After just his second year, his hard work earned him the Mister of the Summer award."

Archie was awarded a trip to Greece this summer with other participants from across South Carolina, where they will visit schools and have opportunities for cultural exploration. He is looking forward to visiting another country, his first flight and connecting with other Misters.

"I was so surprised about this award, but it shows that hard work always comes to light," he says. "Misters have a tight brotherhood; we have the same goals. We're going to call each other out when we're wrong and praise each other when we're right."

After he graduates in the fall of 2024, Archie will go straight into the classroom. He later plans to earn his masters and doctorate degree, with the goal of one day becoming a principal. Wherever he lands, he will dedicate his career to education.

"It is so important to have someone supporting you in getting an education," he says. "An education lasts forever, and no one can take that way. I want younger generations to succeed and look up to me, and the MISTER program has given me an outlet to connect with students and be a role model." 

USC Aiken School of Education Alumni Reach Teacher of the Year Status in High Numbers

Monday, May 22 2023

The University of South Carolina Aiken School of Education is proud to call local teachers their own. Each year, approximately eight to 10 alumni are named Teacher of the Year or First Year Teacher of the Year by the Aiken County Public School District.

Dr. Judy Beck, dean of the School of Education, says, "We keep track of our alums to see how they're doing in the classroom. It's always great to see the names of former students on Teacher of the Year lists."

Kimberly Mitchell and Matthew Drayer are two such alumni. For the 2022-23 school year, they were named Teacher of the Year and First Year Teacher of the Year, respectively, for Aiken Elementary School.

Mitchell is in her fourth year of teaching 4K for Aiken Elementary's Child Development Education Program. Prior to 4K, she taught first grade for 24 years. She says that USC Aiken's small campus and class size allowed her to feel part of a community and supported by professors.

"The individualized attention I received from professors helped with my own personal growth," she says. "They helped me develop self-awareness that allowed me to discover where my interests in education were-the primary grades."

Beck credits the School of Education's record of producing high-quality educators to the fantastic faculty and staff. "We support teacher candidates throughout their collegiate career. They also have a heavy dose of in-class experience with great mentoring from teachers and faculty who mentor and support them," she says.

Mitchell echoes the significance of the in-class experience. "Teaching assignments to a classroom full of children helped me understand that what an educator plans for may or may not happen the way the educator planned," she says. "These experiences made me realize that being an educator is a life-long learning career that gives us the opportunity to self-reflect and to take a self-directed approach to our teaching."

A large number of USC Aiken alumni are recognized with First Year Teacher of the Year awards, with Beck estimating 42 in the last five years. "We prepare them for the classroom," she says. "They hit the ground running as soon as they get started."

First-year teacher Drayer teaches in the Early Learning Special Education classroom at Aiken Elementary. Having worked full time as an Applied Behavior Analysis therapist while pursuing his teaching degree, the program's flexibility was key to reaching his goals. At that time, the School of Education had recently implemented a program that allowed students to take special education courses online.

He says, "This program was instrumental in allowing me to continue to work in the school system while also working toward my degree. Without this program, I do not know financially how I would have been able to attend university."

While it was a busy, challenging time in his life, the support from the School of Education faculty also helped him achieve his dream of being a teacher. "Teaching has been something I wanted to do since I was a child," he says. "As a person with several disabilities, it was a very hard path to get to where I am today. Throughout the process, Judy Beck was so encouraging and greeted me with a smile whenever she saw me. Melissa Martin was also very supportive of me. Her positive attitude and focus on doing what is best for the students always encouraged me to keep pressing on and working hard for my students."

Year after year, the large number of teaching awards presented to USC Aiken alumni demonstrates the School of Education's dedication to putting outstanding teachers in local classrooms. Many of them are proud to call Aiken home.

"Our alumni stay close because many are from this area. While they're with us, they spend a lot of time in Aiken County Public Schools for their in-classroom experience. They get to know them. They feel at home and want to stay." 

USC Aiken Eventing Team Competes in National Championship

Wednesday, May 10 2023

Eventing president Carson Hiler Langenberg heads up her first national event

When Carson Hiler Langenberg takes to the field at the United States Eventing Association 2023 Intercollegiate Eventing Championship on May 26 to 28-the sport's national championships for collegiate teams-it will be her first time competing. It will also be her first as president of USC Aiken's eventing team.

Langenberg, who graduates in fall 2024, is a multiple area 6 championships winner who "was handed the reins," as she puts it, as president of USC Aiken's eventing team in January 2023. With six riders and horses set to compete, it will be USC Aiken's largest showing at the national championships within at least the past three years. And the importance isn't lost on Langenberg. "We're competing against college teams from across the U.S.," she said. "It's a huge, huge deal."

The eventing team has had its challenges over the past several years. Horses have been injured or not ready to compete, and fees have been a hurdle for the small program at USC Aiken. Still, it has consistently placed in the ribbons at nationals, even with sending only one or two team members in past years,

But this year, the stars aligned. "Truly, it's just the timing of it all," said Langenberg. "Everyone's horses are finally ready to go, and everyone has enough funds to cover entry fees to actually compete, which we haven't been able to before."

Under Langenberg's and previous president Alexa Duncan's leadership, the team has worked hard this year on raffles and bake sales as their primary fundraisers and is continuing to reach out to interested supporters and donors.

While not a National Collegiate Athletic Association sport, USC Aiken's equestrian opportunities-which include eventing, polo, dressage and Intercollegiate Horse Show Association teams-attract tends to attract students just like Langenberg, looking for a smaller program that-perhaps surprisingly-offers richer opportunities than at other larger programs, said Michelle Hodge, equestrian coordinator and advisor for eventing and IHSA. That's especially for those students who plan to pursue a career with horses after graduation.

"They're able to work with some of the top trainers in their sport, while still pursuing a college education at top-ranked school," said Hodge. "Also, unlike at larger programs, every student on our equestrian club sport teams gets to ride at shows and competitions."

Many also rank nationally. For example, polo captains Shona Adams and Kaylin Bender compete against Division 1 equestrian schools as part of the Intercollegiate Quarter Horse Association and often win, despite the team's small size and the fact that it is a club sport as opposed to a NCAA-sanctioned team.

"These are sharp kids," says Hodge, "who love the sport and are very active on these teams. For them, Aiken is a nationally recognized mecca for horses and riders."

Although she's originally from San Diego, Langenberg's family has Southern roots. A rider since the age of 5, Langenberg says USC Aiken was her top choice to help her further her riding experience. It was also the only college she toured. "I just fell in love with the small town aspect," she said. "The wonderful thing about Aiken is that there are so many show venues near by, as well the barns being so close to school. [In San Diego,] I used to be about 40 minutes from my barn, and at least a good two hours away from most show grounds."

She adds: "I'd love for us to do really well at this championship, and then next year with more people riding, more support and more recognition, I'm confident we'll be able to get at least second or first place in nationals."

Anderson named dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at USC Aiken

Wednesday, April 05 2023

The University of South Carolina Aiken (USC Aiken) is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Forrest Anderson as the next dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Anderson's appointment is effective July 1 and follows the pending retirement of Dr. Mark Hollingsworth, who has served as dean of the college since 2016.

Anderson joins the university from Catawba College, where he served as vice provost, dean of humanities, and professor of English. Prior to joining Catawba, Anderson served as assistant professor of English at Arkansas Tech University.

At Catawba, Anderson led many outstanding efforts on behalf of the College of Humanities, including spearheading several strategic planning initiatives, including a grant-funded integration of the humanities across all disciples that resulted in programmatic growth and students' deepened understanding and engagement. He also has extensive experience collaborating with community partners; soliciting external grants and donations; leading SACSCOC accreditation processes; facilitating student retention, progression, and graduation initiatives; and sponsoring faculty development opportunities.

He received his PhD in English from Florida State University, his MFA in creative writing from the University of South Carolina, and his bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication & political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Construction to start for Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative on USC Aiken campus

Wednesday, March 22 2023

The 60,000-square-foot facility will drive sustainability of the U.S. manufacturing sector.

Site preparation for the 60,000-square-foot Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative facility planned for the University of South Carolina Aiken (USC Aiken) campus begins this week, with construction expected to start thereafter. The project is a partnership between USC Aiken, the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) and North Wind Construction Services, LLC (NWCS).

The AMC will combine the unique capabilities of the DOE National Laboratories, industrial enterprises and educational institutions to drive practical, cost-effective solutions to many of the nation's most challenging environmental cleanup and energy security challenges while facilitating long-term sustainability of the U.S. manufacturing sector.

"The Department has a critical need for safer, more cost-effective technology, facilities and expertise to complete the safe cleanup of Cold War legacy waste," said Tony Polk, director, Savannah River Laboratory Office. "The Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative will provide a manufacturing development venue for DOE mission work and facilitate academic and industry partnerships in state-of-the-art laboratory space."

An innovation hub for manufacturing, the AMC will foster modern industrial practices, advancing new technologies and providing grounds for training the future manufacturing workforce with a focus on chemical and material manufacturing.

"We're excited to now make the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative a reality for our campus and the surrounding community," said Dr. Daren Timmons, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at USC Aiken. "Our students will soon benefit from outstanding research and development opportunities, as well as hands-on learning experiences that will provide them with a clear advantage when entering the workforce."

Plans include new laboratory, office and conference space suitable for advanced manufacturing research and development, and innovation space adaptable to collaborative ventures with academia and industry for commercializing new technologies.

The facility will be located on USC Aiken's campus, adjacent to the proposed National Guard Cybersecurity Readiness Center and collaboration space.

The facility is expected to be completed in 2024 and will be managed and operated by the Savannah River National Laboratory.

USC Aiken Ranked Nationally for Veterans and Military Students

Thursday, March 16 2023

The Office of Veteran and Military Student Success at the University of South Carolina Aiken was recently awarded the elite Military Friendly Schools Gold Award by Military Times. While the university remains ranked first in South Carolina, this is a considerable jump to number eight in national rank among small public universities.

According to the organization's website, institutions earning the Military Friendly Schools award designation were evaluated using public data and survey responses. Over 1,800 schools participated in the 2023-2024 survey, and 250 were selected for the "Gold" award status based on their leading practices, outcomes and effective programs. When considering award status, much attention is given to an institution's ability to meet thresholds for retention, graduation, job placement, repayment, persistence, and loan default rates for all students and, specifically, for student veterans.

Robert Murphy, director of the VMSS, expressed his gratitude to the center's supporters. "We're fortunate to be on a campus that values the contributions of our veterans, military service members and their families, and is committed to their individual and collective success," he said. "This distinction is evidence of that commitment, along with the support and advocacy of our community, donors, alumni and partners."

The mission of the VMSS is to champion veterans, service members, and family members of the United States Armed Forces in their educational pursuits as they transition from military service through the university and on to becoming vital community members. The VMSS aims to provide nationally recognized education and holistic transition support that will deliver to the local, national, and global workforce a generation of military veterans who are solid thinkers and leaders.

"USC Aiken is best positioned to help veterans and military-affiliated individuals achieve their education, career, and life goals," Murphy said.

For more information about the VMSS, visit 

USC Aiken receives $2,000 to bolster support for veterans and active service members

Monday, February 13 2023

The University of South Carolina Aiken's Office of Veteran and Military Student Success was presented with a $2,000 donation from the North Augusta Cultural Arts Council on Monday, Feb. 8, to further the office's mission of greater educational attainment and holistic transition support for veterans, service members and their families.

The center helps ease the transition back to civilian life for active and former service members and their families by connecting them with vital academic and financial resources, professional and vocational support, and a community of students with similar backgrounds and experiences.

"We're honored to receive this generous donation from the North Augusta Cultural Arts Council in support of our veteran and military students," said Robert A. Murphy, director of the Center for Student Success at USC Aiken. "These funds bolster academic and professional support services for service men and women and their families through the cultivation of community and personalized outreach."

As a nationally ranked university in veteran and military educational support services, approximately 10% of the university's students are veterans, active members of the military or possess a military affiliation. In 2022-2023, the university was named a Top 10 Public School by Military Friendly. 

Longenecker & Associates signs strategic agreement with University of South Carolina Aiken

Monday, February 13 2023

Longenecker & Associates (L&A) has established a strategic agreement with the University of South Carolina Aiken (USC Aiken) to help attract and prepare students for careers that can support the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) national security, environmental remediation and scientific research missions.

Through this partnership, L&A will provide $10,000 to fund scholarships for USC Aiken students and provide internships at L&A supporting our work at the Savannah River Site and Savannah River National Laboratory as well as other projects across the country. This partnership will further L&A's successful efforts to provide internships and job opportunities to USC Aiken students over the last several years.

"We're excited to take this next step to provide increased opportunities for students at USC Aiken, located near one of DOE's largest sites and one of L&A's largest offices," L&A CEO John Longenecker said. "L&A is proud of our efforts to partner with universities across the country to help provide opportunities to students who are interested in helping DOE tackle some of the nation's largest challenges."

Two recent USC Aiken graduates who participated in internships with L&A -- Heather Thomas ('21) and Monica Ruffin ('22) -- have since been hired as full-time L&A employees and are currently supporting DOE and SRNL.

"I had an incredible experience as an intern at L&A and, in my first year with L&A as an employee, I've been able to get involved in a number of important L&A projects," Thomas said. "My time at USC Aiken and my internship at L&A prepared me extremely well to support these important DOE and National Nuclear Security Administration missions, and I'm proud to see that this approach has been formalized into a strategic partnership that will enable future students to follow the same path."

"In this rapidly changing job market, partnerships like this provide our students a competitive edge and empower them to take charge of their careers," said Corey Feraldi, Director of Career Services at USC Aiken. "We look forward to capitalizing on our relationship with L&A and local DOE partners to provide enhanced career development and training opportunities benefiting our students and the communities where they work."

Along with USC Aiken, L&A has also established a relationship with South Carolina State University, a Historically Black College and University, to provide scholarship and internship opportunities. 

SRP Federal Credit Union sponsors student section at USC Aiken

Multi-year commitment expands on longstanding relationship

SRP Federal Credit Union announced this week that it would serve as the student section sponsor for the next three years at the University of South Carolina Aiken's Convocation Center - home of the Pacers.

The multi-year investment expands on SRP's longstanding relationship with USC Aiken and its athletics programs, including a significant contribution to help fund the construction and 2007 opening of the $17 million, 100,000-square-foot Convocation Center.

"We are extremely proud to continue to invest in USC Aiken and its collegiate sports program," said Eric Jenkins, CEO of SRP Federal Credit Union. "USC Aiken alumni and Pacer fans have supported us across the region as we've expanded our reach in the market. This is a way for us to show that same support through a key sponsorship of USC Aiken athletics."

Today, SRP is recognized as the sponsor of the Convocation Center's Athletic Study Area and uses the center to host its annual membership meeting each spring.

A component of its multi-year agreement with USC Aiken enables SRP to support Pacer athletics with signage in the Convocation Center, use of the facility for events and meetings, and gameday giveaways during collegiate sports seasons.

USC Aiken will use sponsorship proceeds to support the development of its student-athletes, upgrade its athletic facilities, and improve the branding of its ten collegiate sports.

"SRP Federal Credit Union is a forward-thinking industry leader, and we are proud to welcome them as the student section sponsor at the Convocation Center," said Dr. Daniel Heimmermann, USC Aiken Chancellor. "We look forward to furthering the relationship between SRP Federal Credit Union and our partner institutions to cultivate a culture of stewardship and support for our students and university athletes."


SRP Federal Credit Union is headquartered in North Augusta, S.C., and provides financial services to more than 180,000 members. For more information on SRP Federal Credit Union, visit

About USC Aiken

USC Aiken is a regional comprehensive university that consistently ranks as one of the top public colleges in the South by U.S. News & World Report. Approximately 3,700 students attend the university, which provides bachelor's and master's degrees in more than 70 programs of study while offering intimate class sizes and personal attention on its 453-acre campus. Boasting a diverse student body, individuals from 35 states and 36 countries benefit from a high-caliber education at a net tuition far lower than the national average. 

Engel Named Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications and Chief of Staff

Friday, January 20 2023

USC Aiken welcomes Higher Ed Executive to Newly Created Role

Following a national search, Christen Engel has been named vice chancellor for communications and marketing and chief of staff at the University of South Carolina Aiken.

A seasoned higher education executive with experience leading and developing strategic marketing and communications strategies to increase student enrollment and campus and community engagement, Engel will assume her duties on Feb. 1.

In her new role, Engel will lead and directly supervise the areas of university marketing and communication and special events and will be responsible for a diverse portfolio of executive initiatives in support of the Office of the Chancellor.

"I am extremely pleased to welcome Christen Engel to USC Aiken as our first vice chancellor for communications and marketing and chief of staff," said USC Aiken Chancellor Dr. Daniel Heimmermann. "Christen will serve as the university's chief communication officer and marketing and brand champion, working to build campus and community awareness, and increase enrollment and community engagement through a cohesive brand strategy and storytelling platform representative of our top-tier educational offerings and university experience."

Engel's previous experience includes roles as vice president of marketing and communications for Augusta University and Augusta University Health, where she led and developed strategic communications in support of Georgia's first university consolidation and three successful institutional rebranding efforts resulting in increased name recognition, enrollment, and engagement.

As chief communications and marketing officer at Augusta, Engel led a team who captured 90% of the media market, making Augusta the most featured university in the media among its competitors. Further, Engel provided leadership for the university's first student recruitment and institutional advertising campaigns, resulting in increased applicants, as well as improved engagement and retention of current students.

A member of the president's cabinet, Engel served as chief communications counsel to two university presidents and three hospital CEOs, providing executive-level support for executive messaging, stakeholder engagement, statewide tours, fundraising and capital campaigns, and institutional crises, including serving as chief spokesperson for the university and its affiliated health system and Level-I Trauma Center.

"I am passionate about creating a unique university experience for current and prospective students while paying homage to our rich history and vibrant community," Engel said. "In today's digital world, marketing serves as the front door of our university, and I look forward to working with Chancellor Heimmermann and university leadership to ensure our institutional voice is representative of who we are and the communities we serve."

Prior to joining USC Aiken, Engel also served as senior vice president of public relations at Poston Communications, a national public relations and crisis communications agency providing strategic communications counsel to non-profit and professional services clients. At Poston, Engel led public relations and business development activities for Fortune 500 clients and national non-profit organizations, including support for organizational and executive crises, mergers and acquisitions, and other change management events.

An alumnus of USC Aiken and a resident of Aiken, Engel is passionate about improved access to higher education, particularly in South Carolina, and strategic public-private partnerships to further student opportunities, workforce and economic development, and community relations.

Engel was named the Nonprofit Communicator of the Year by PR News in 2022 and a Top 10 in 10 Young Professionals to Watch by the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce in 2019. Also, in 2022, Augusta University's brand campaign, "An Experience Like No Other," developed under Engel's leadership, was named one of the world's best university marketing campaigns.

She is a member of the executive committee of the Public Relations Society of America's Counselors to Higher Education and former chair of the University of Georgia's Public Relations Advisory Council. She is also a 2015 graduate of Leadership Augusta.

Engel received her bachelor's degree in business administration from USC Aiken, and her master's in higher education administration from Georgia Southern University. 

USC Aiken's Family Fund Campaign Exceeds Gift Goal

Monday, October 24 2022

The University of South Carolina Aiken (USC Aiken) wrapped up its annual 2022 Family Fund giving campaign on October 1, celebrating one of the most successful internal campaigns for the faculty and staff.

Over the last five years, USC Aiken averaged an 86% participation rate, but this year the campaign topped a 91% participation rate!

Not only did the campaign surpass the 90% participation goal, it exceeded the $50,000 gift goal. The total gifts raised were $76,117, and $27,951 of these gifts came from the generous donations of retired faculty members.

Dr. Montey Fetterolf, a retired chemistry professor, was one of the retirees that gave to the 2022 Family Fund.

"I was one of the first three faculty members to contribute to the Chemistry Department Program Endowment, and my wife Cathy Cobb and I have continued to give over the years," said Fetterolf. "We don't give a lot, but it adds up and participation is what counts."

A long-standing tradition of the Family Fund is some friendly competition among the departments. If everyone in a department gives, they are considered a 100% club. This year, over 30 departments joined the 100% Clubbers, including 17 departments that reached this status for the first time.

"Reaching those 100% markers says to the community and our donors that we are an actively engaged campus," said Elizabeth Webb, faculty co-chair for Family Fund. "Full participation is a demonstrable outpouring of the genuine love faculty and staff have for this university and its students."

Students benefit from private contributions through scholarships and faculty, staff and department development. Donors can designate where their donations are spent which provides those that donate with the opportunity to contribute to the areas of the university that they feel passionately about.

Over the years, Family Fund has raised more than $1.4 million to help the university attract quality students and provide support for current students enrolled in programs at the university.

"I think it's really important for faculty and staff who work here to demonstrate that they believe in our mission," said Dr. Thayer McGahee, dean of the USC Aiken School of Nursing. "The success of this year's Family Fund campaign sends a positive message to those looking to support the university."

Giving back continues to be a tradition for USC Aiken faculty and staff. To donate to USC Aiken please visit