Outgoing USC Aiken chancellor honored with musical tribute

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Bill Bengtson, Aiken Standard, S.C.
·2 min read
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Apr. 27—Ben Lacy, Austin Bowers, Erica Bennett and several of their fellow musicians helped provide a soundtrack of gratitude Monday afternoon at USC Aiken, with dozens of university boosters on hand for a salute to the chancellor.

Dr. Sandra Jordan, who has been at USCA's helm since July 2012, was the guest of honor at an event outside the Student Activities Center, and the university's jazz ensemble and Lacy (as a soloist) set the occasion to music, with a "traveling" theme, as one observer noted.

Jordan, who was seated with her husband, Michael, addressed the gathering, and borrowed a concept from President Theodore Roosevelt. "He said something to the effect of, if you can do work that you find meaningful, then that's how you built a really rich life," Jordan said. "My life has been so enriched by being here with you at USC Aiken."

High-profile visitors for the occasion included Bob Caslen, president of the University of South Carolina, who readily acknowledged Jordan's experience and wisdom. He has been at his current post since August 2019.

"I was not going to be teaching. I was going to be learning," he recalled, with a laugh. "Sandra ... was the one that knew everything, and I recognized that right away."

Caslen cited such recent USCA accomplishments as being named by U.S. News and World Report as the South's best regional college, and having undergone an enrollment increase of 20% since 2012 and a 22% increase in "the number of underrepresented students."

He added, "Sandra, I envy what you have accomplished, and one of these days, we want to be like that, so thank you so much."

Caslen, a retired Army officer who was in the Pentagon during the terrorist attack on 9/11 and served for five years as the superintendent of West Point, also expressed his appreciation for USCA's steps to improve services for "veterans and military students."

The chancellor's husband, Michael (an architect), also spoke to the gathering, expressing his appreciation for Aiken.

"It has history. It has economy. It offers a great place for worship and jobs and making a career, and we have truly enjoyed being here," he said.

He acknowledged his wife's track record at the university and also expressed thanks for "so many fine people who've gotten behind the locomotive and been involved and pushed to make it all successful."