New SCC President Michael Mikota touts college’s economic impact, ROI
While Dr. Michael Mikota took the helm of Spartanburg Community College during a global pandemic, the new president is laser focused on moving SCC forward to meet the needs of the college and the communities it serves.
“We need to be adaptable and responsive, and make sure we have a safe environment with strong communication,” Mikota said during an interview at center court of the Evans Building, SCC’s campus in downtown Spartanburg.
“In the springtime when I was president at another college, (COVID-19) came out of left field and we had to shut everything down,” he said. “We’re not going to do that this fall. We’re going to continue to move forward, making sure we have synchronous classes focused on our students – safe social distancing, mask wearing and anything we can do to help them succeed.”
A native of Gaffney, Mikota holds a bachelor’s degree from Wofford College, a Master of Business Administration from Gardner-Webb University, and a Ph.D. in policy studies from Clemson University. After several years in banking and a stint as an analyst and senior analyst for the U.S. Government Accountability Office in Washington, D.C., Mikota is excited to be back in the Upstate.
Economic impact and ROI
As a trained policy analyst and economist, Mikota says he wants to effectively communicate SCC’s impact on the Upstate economy and the high return on investment donors receive when contributing to the Spartanburg Community College Foundation.
“If you invest in something that you’re passionate about, you get a good feeling,” he said. “But at the end of the day, Spartanburg Community College is so important to the Spartanburg, Cherokee and Union county community that for growth to occur, you have to focus in on your workforce capacity, and your ability to have higher education meet the needs in an accessible and affordable way.”
An important statistic that points to the area’s workforce need being met is the more than 90 percent of SCC students who find a job in their field upon graduation.
“If you donate to the Spartanburg Community College Foundation, you’re actually affecting the livelihoods of thousands and thousands of people in this region of South Carolina, which to us, improves your life and your capacity to have a vibrant and growing community.
“If you want to see more restaurants, more businesses, more opportunities for employment in the future, when you contribute to the Spartanburg Community College Foundation, you’re actually contributing to the growth and development of the society in which you live in. Plus that up with the opportunity to see the passion and commitment and the heart and celebration of individuals in our community succeeding and going on to live their dreams, I mean, that’s an incredible opportunity.”
Alumni success equals growth
Another focus area for Mikota is a charge to SCC alumni to stay connected to the school.
“It’s amazing to see where our alumni go – to BMW or other area manufacturers, into area healthcare systems or like one student I recently learned about who went through Spartanburg Community College’s transitional studies program and is now a medical doctor serving a fellowship at Yale University,” Mikota said. “Their successes are our successes.”
And alumni success represents real growth potential for SCC, according to Mikota.
“When you know that you can achieve anything by starting at SCC and you have a strong foundation like the SCC Foundation to support you, then the end result is how much do you want to put in? How much do you want to succeed?
Vision for a fast future
While seated at center court, Mikota was asked to use a basketball analogy to describe his vision for the future at SCC.
“In the past, I would say that we were known for running a zone – maybe a 2-1-2 zone – we hit the ball off and we’d pass,” Mikota explained.
“We’re going to be a run-and-gun team. We’re going to be putting up hundreds of points and shooting the lights out of 3-pointers. We’re going to compete in the highest league and we’re going to make sure we bring in the talent.”
And just like the NBA during the pandemic, the season is moving forward at SCC.
“That hope and that dream and that capacity to achieve is still there even in these times where we’re having to be socially distanced,” Mikota said. “We’re not emotionally distant, and we’re continuing to push forward at Spartanburg Community College to meet those needs of our citizens, our students and our communities that we serve.