System Institution Leaders
The system's research institution in Columbia joins three additional comprehensive
institutions across the state to provide traditional four-year degree programs, awarding
bachelor's and advanced degrees. Together with Palmetto College, these institutions
and their leaders are dedicated to their students, and to their local communities.
Susan Elkins — Palmetto College
Named chancellor of and chief administrative officer of Palmetto College in February
2013, Chancellor Susan Elkins coordinates the entire university system's degree completion
programs. Elkins is also responsible for the overall planning, resource allocation
and program evaluation of the USC Lancaster, USC Salkehatchie, USC Sumter and USC
Union campuses as well as the online bachelor’s degree completion programs offered
by the four senior campuses — USC Aiken, USC Beaufort, USC Columbia and USC Upstate.
Daniel Heimmermann — USC Aiken
A former university provost and vice president for academic affairs, Heimmermann will
focus on student success of USC Aiken as well as addressing the workforce needs of
the region through the addition of new degree programs. Renowned for its high-quality,
accessible, industry-aligned academic programs, USC Aiken is also committed to transformative,
engaged teaching, compelling research, and partnerships that enrich the lives of students
as well as the region and state.
Bennie L. Harris — USC Upstate
As chancellor, Bennie Harris brings higher education executive leadership expertise
to USC Upstate. He intends to continue Upstate’s commitment to growth by improving
academic programs, creating programs that respond to new employment needs, deepening
the impact of service, adding new facilities, renovating and adapting existing spaces
to emerging technologies and methods, and expanding the permanent resources necessary
for long-term service and success.
Al Panu — USC Beaufort
With a career in higher education that spans nearly 30 years, chancellor Al Panu was
appointed to his current role at USC Beaufort in June 2015. It was the vision for
USC Beaufort that attracted him to the chancellor position including of a distinctive
academic, student-centered and community-engaged education. Passionate about bridging
higher education and community, Panu is eager to expand USC Beaufort's efforts to
provide first-rate, world-class higher education to the Lowcountry region of our state.
Campus Executive Deans
Chris Nesmith — USC Salkehatchie
Professor Chris Nesmith became Regional Campus Dean in spring 2019. Nesmith came to
the University of South Carolina in 2003 as coordinator of the Ronald E. McNair Scholars
Program and instructor of English with Trio Programs. In 2013, he was named assistant
vice provost for Extended University, quickly followed by his appointment as associate
provost of Palmetto College in January 2015.
Walt Collins — USC Lancaster
Professor Walt Collins began his career at USC Lancaster in August 2002 as an Instructor
of French and English. Rising quickly through the ranks to assistant professor and
assistant dean of student affairs, Collins began serving as Regional Campus Dean on
April 15, 2013. He was also promoted to the rank of professor in August of 2015.
Randy Lowell — USC Union
Professor Randy Lowell began teaching at University of South Carolina-Union in 2012
before later transitioning into an administrative role. He currently serves as interim
campus dean. Lowell, a research-focused psychology professor, is the founder of the
campus’ Perception, Attention, Language and Memory Psychology Lab and USCU Research
Michael Sonntag — USC Sumter
Professor Michael Sonntag became Regional Campus Dean of USC Sumter in 2014. A first-generation
college student, he earned his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology in 1997 from the University
of Arkansas. He has served on a variety of community development boards and committees,
and is a member of Rotary International.