Carter: We need to help qualified students get to FMU

By Melissa Rollins, Editor,

Last week the Francis Marion Board of Trustees voted to extend President Dr. Fred Carter’s contract. Already the longest serving president in FMU’s history, as well as the longest-serving president at a South Carolina public college or university, that means Carter will remain at the helm until at least July 1, 2023.

Carter assumed the role of president in 1999 and has taken the university on a whirlwind ride ever since, overseeing the addition of 17 new academic programs and greatly expanding the campus footprint, both at the East Palmetto Street location and in downtown Florence.

Trustee George McIntyre made the motion extending Carter’s contract after a short executive session.

“On behalf of the board, I think this signifies that the board approves very strongly of the direction the university has been going under Dr. Carter’s leadership,” McIntyre said. “We look forward to continuing that through 2023.”

The vote was unanimous.

Dr. Carter said that he and his wife have loved their time at Francis Marion and are pleased that they will be able to continue their work at the university.

“Folly and I talked about it and there is really no place else we’d rather be and there is no group of people with whom we’d rather work,” Carter said. “This job is a unique privilege. You not only get to live in the Pee Dee, which we dearly love, but we get to work with the men and women who are on this campus, either as students, faculty, or staff. I know it sounds corny but it is true: this is a dream come true. Every day we are privileged to understand that we get to live that dream. We are very happy.”

During the President’s Report, Carter told trustees that the university will be launching a new fundraising campaign for a “First Generation Fund” intended to help students get a college education who, if not for scholarships, might not find themselves in the classroom.

“We have been talking about that fund, doing something specifically for that fund, for a while but we were raising money for buildings and other kinds of things,” Carter said. “We wanted to get those nailed down but now is the time to go full board after needs-based scholarships. That is principally what this fund will do.”

Carter said that any student who qualifies for needs-based scholarships would be considered.

“We are calling it the First Generation Fund because the principal beneficiaries will be first-generation college students but it won’t be exclusively for first-generation students; it will be exclusively for needs-based scholarship participants, those men and women who likely wouldn’t be able to get here if there wasn’t more institutional money put on the table,” Carter said.

“We are ambitious in regard to what we think we’ll be able to raise for this fund.”

This fund has a special place in his, and the university’s, heart, Carter said.

“Many of us here, myself included, are first-generation college students,” he said. “That is a unique characteristic of this institution so this is a fund that we are very enthusiastic about.”

Carter said that it is often a lack of money that keeps students who are highly capable from furthering their education.

“They come to us well qualified and well motivated but they can’t get here if they don’t have the funding for that door to open as they come in,” Carter said. “Some of that funding comes from direct family; we’ve all seen our graduations. Some of it comes from aunts, uncles, grandparents and parents. More of it needs to come from us. We need to help them get here.”

Author: Stephan Drew

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