As one of the oldest higher learning institutions in the country, the College of Charleston holds a special place in the heart of the Holy City. In 2019, CofC welcomed a new President, who has been revamping school spirit across campus — and the community.
Dr. Andrew T. Hsu sat down with us this past month to discuss his life in Charleston so far and the future of the College.
What made you want to come to Charleston?
I was attracted by the College and its great programs, people, students, and traditions.
Did you ever visit Charleston before accepting the position?
My first visit was probably 20 some years ago as a tourist. My family would come to Kiawah for my daughters’ spring break while living in Indiana.
What student inspires you the most to meet on campus and interact with?
The students who are curious and serious about learning. We certainly have a lot of that.
What direction do you see the College going in the next few years?
The College is doing really well with more and more students wanting to come here. I have a feeling this will only continue to increase in the next few years.
The amount of students applying has more than doubled over the last 4 years from when I joined in 2019 to this fall in 2023. Our application numbers went from 12,000 to now 26,000 applications.
What initiatives are you the most excited for?
We want to become a National University and we are moving in that direction by adding doctoral programs to qualify for the US News & World Report classification as a National University.
In December we got our first Doctoral Program approved, after lobbying for two years to the State to change their law to allow us to offer Doctoral Programs.
We will be offering a PhD in Mathematics and Computing. This degree will fit well with our local high tech industry in the Lowcountry.
If you weren’t the President of the College of Charleston what would your dream job be in the city?
I would still pick to work for the College and would be happy being a custodian. I would be excited to clean the Cistern Yard.
How would you spend a perfect weekend in the Holy City?
That would be walking our golden retriever Hoosier on Isle of Palms or the Battery.
Entertainment-wise, walking around and people-watching is a lot of fun. The Spoleto concerts are some of our family’s favorite arts events offered in the city.
How would you like to see Charlestonians taking part in the College?
We have a lot of events open to the public through seminar series, workshops, and town hall meetings.
This was also one of the most exciting seasons for the basketball team.
What role does the College play within the community?
The campus is a part of the community being located in the middle of downtown. I think COVID-19 really showed the importance of the presence of the students. When we sent everybody home, the city noticed and missed their company.
Do you see your family making a long term home in the City?
In fact, I was talking to my college-aged daughter and asked her “of all the cities we have lived in, what is your favorite?” Her answer was Charleston.
The largest impact I saw as a student on campus was your revamp of a sense of school spirit. With that being said, how did you come up with your idea for the finals week playlist?
I was watching my kids and they all have ear plugs in when they study for their exams. It made me think maybe the students at the College would like this as well. This led me to ask my daughters to put together a list of their favorite songs which I shared as a playlist to the CofC students.
Do you think this playlist tradition will continue to carry on?
Yes we are continuing — since the first one many students have volunteered to offer songs. We have worked with students to collect their favorites and that’s why it is so eclectic.