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Alumni Spotlight: Stephen Osborne ’73

Posted by: andrewst | May 8, 2019 | No Comment |

Interim President Stephen Osborne ‘73, or President Oz as he likes to be called, brought a unique perspective to his role as President as both an alum of the college as well as a former administrator. As he prepared to end his time as president and turn the reins over to incoming President Hsu, he reflected on his time at CofC, both as a political science major and as a long-serving administrator.

Osborne graduated from CofC with a bachelor’s in political science in 1973, a time when the College was a very different place from what it is now. “The College has grown significantly in scope and size since my days as a student,” Osborne explained. “Our enrollment has grown as well as our campus footprint, the number of course offerings and academic programs. Although many of the historic buildings from my time as a student still exist, the changes to today’s College of Charleston are enormous from that of the past – and that’s a good thing.”

After his time at CofC, Osborne went on to receive post-graduate degrees from Western Kentucky University and University of South Carolina. He finally found his way back to the College in 2006 where he became the Executive Vice President for Business Affairs. Despite not having a politically oriented career path, Osborne considers his time as a political science major incredibly formative for his career.

“I would say there were two skills that have been helpful to me: communication and understanding how power operates in society. In any job you do, you have to be able to communicate with people in order to accomplish goals. And in understanding how power operates in society, I learned how to navigate tricky issues and problems. I attribute my ability to successfully deploy these skills throughout my life in part to Professor Bill Moore, a former political science professor here at the College.”

Osborne has been successful – and busy – in his time as interim president. “The toughest challenge has been to try to advance a great number of initiatives in a short period of time,” Osborne noted. “When I was first approached about becoming interim president, I sat down and made a list of things I would like to accomplish in order to sustain the College’s momentum and set the table for the next president. Before I knew it, what I thought would be a list of five to ten items turned into something much longer.” It’s easy to get caught up in all those initiatives and the various duties of the president, but for Osborne time spent with students on campus made it all worth it. “My wife Mary and I have been having various student groups over to the President’s House this past year for refreshments and conversation. I have tried to be very visible to our students and attend as many student events as my schedule would permit. I have learned so much by speaking with these students, and am excited for all they will do in the world with a College of Charleston degree.”

President Osborne has one prominent piece of advice for students: “Meet as many people at the College and in the community as possible and immerse yourself in College life to have a total student experience. Interacting with people you don’t know widens your world view and exposes you to new and exciting thoughts. In addition, you begin to build a network of friends, mentors and people you can call on throughout your life and career.”

Though his time as interim president is ending, Osborne will stay connected to the college. “I love the College very much,” Osborne said. “It is really a special part of me. To be able to give back to an institution that has given me so much, including many wonderful friendships, has been a great privilege and joy.”

under: Alumni

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