The COVID-19 pandemic curtailed blood drives across the Midlands, but the need for lifesaving donations remains critical, according to Kristen Boyle, a donor recruitment representative for the American Red Cross. Boyle was guest speaker at Capital Rotary’s biweekly meeting via Zoom on July 1. Closed colleges and businesses shrank student and employee donor pools in the spring, Boyle noted, plus a number of churches and civic groups (including the Rotary club) cancelled planned drives. Meanwhile, demand is up as much as 30 per cent while hospitals are beginning to reschedule elective surgeries. The Red Cross has safety steps in place, Boyle said, including mandatory face masks, temperature checks, gloves, rigorous sanitizing and social distancing at donor sites. Blood is now being tested for coronavirus antibodies; results are anticipated in 7 to 10 days. A positive test means the donor has previous virus exposure, but “that doesn’t mean we can’t use the blood,” Boyle explained. “COVID-19, or any respiratory illness, isn’t transfused through blood donations. Having antibodies means you can apply to the convalescent plasma program and potentially help a patient who’s battling a severe case of COVID.” Since the country has a blood need every two seconds – and every donation can help save up to three lives – Boyle declared: “Giving blood is an essential service.”
Columbia’s Capital Rotary began its 2020-2021 year July 1 by inducting a new president, saluting the Rotarian of the Year and announcing Paul Harris Fellow honors in a biweekly Zoom session. Capital’s new president is Ben Carlton (in photo), a member since 2015, who practices corporate law with the Columbia firm of Richardson, Plowden & Robinson. Carlton is a graduate of North Carolina State University and the University of South Carolina’s Law School. He was a club director and secretary before serving as president-elect in the past year. Earning Rotarian of the Year honors for the second time was Neda Beal (left in photo below with Sophia Bertrand of the University of South Carolina’s Rotaract Club). Beal – cited in 2016 for her work with several projects – was recognized anew for serving as liaison to the student group. Rotaract clubs are for adults ages 18-30 interested in community service, in developing leadership and professional skills, and who enjoy networking and social activities. USC Rotaract formed in 2010-2011; Capital Rotary became its host in 2018-2019. New Rotary Foundation donor honors went to Jack Williamson, Philip Flynn and Pete Pillow – all named Paul Harris Fellow Plus-Two givers (signifying an initial $1,000 donation with an additional gift in the same amount). The Foundation is Rotary International’s charitable arm to support world understanding and peace programs. Williamson, a former sergeant at arms, joined Capital Rotary in 2008, as did Flynn, a past president and current director. Pillow joined in 2006 and was Rotarian of the Year in 2018. The club is holding remote meetings currently in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
University of South Carolina president Bob Caslen updated Capital Rotarians on a host of items June 17 at the downtown club’s biweekly Zoom meeting. Topics ranged from possibly renaming iconic buildings to resuming fall classes on campus, and from football season prospects to strategic planning for the future. Caslen (in photo), a retired Army general who’s a graduate and former superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, became USC’s 29th president last Aug. 1. He told Rotarians that: (1) renaming Sims Hall on campus – a building named for a man who performed medical experiments on slaves – has been reviewed by a special committee, but the state’s Heritage Act requires a two-thirds vote in the General Assembly for such changes; (2) resuming onsite classes is based on mitigating health risks through COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, social distancing, wearing masks in class and “responsible measures” to avoid disease spread to the community at large; (3) the slate of Southeastern Conference football games likely will be played, but non-conference games may be decided on an individual team basis, and social distancing will impact stadium seating; and (4) USC’s strategic vision is to become the nation’s premier flagship university, serving the needs and transforming the lives of the people of South Carolina. Caslen said he and his executive team will work to recruit the best students, employ world-class faculty and staff, boost the school’s research status, improve systemwide integration of programs and campus infrastructure, and prioritize economic development.
Capital Rotary announced new Paul Harris Fellow honors and elected its slate of 2020-2021 officers and directors during a Zoom meeting on June 17. Neda Beal (in photo) was cited for her continuing donations to the Rotary Foundation in support of world understanding and peace programs. She is now a Paul Harris Fellow Plus-Six giver (signifying an initial $1,000 donation with six additional gifts at the same amount). Paul Harris Fellow recognition memorializes the Chicago attorney who helped found Rotary International in 1905. A Capital board member for several years, Beal was named club Rotarian of the Year in 2016.
New club officers and directors are: President – Ben Carlton; President-Elect – Austin McVay; Secretary, Membership – Lee Ann Watson; Treasurer – Bryan Goodyear; Sergeant at Arms – Andy Markl; Immediate Past President – Abby Naas (Foundation); Directors at Large – Catherine Mabry (Community Service); Neda Beal (Rotaract); Le Frye (Blood Donations); Philip Flynn (past president); and Ione Cockrell. Terms of office are July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2921.
Over the past seven years, the Office for Innovation, Partnership and Economic Engagement has become a focal point for industries melding the University of South Carolina’s resources with doing business in the Palmetto State. The result has been nearly $800 million worth of economic development, 620 jobs and $86 million in job-related impact, according to Bill Kirkland, the office’s executive director (in photo) and guest speaker for Capital Rotary’s June 3 meeting via Zoom. Kirkland said the engagement office’s work includes (1) corporate outreach; (2 help in licensing intellectual property; (3) innovation assistance for entrepreneurs; (4) support at the Innovista research campus in downtown Columbia; and (5) recruiting companies to the state. In the past six months, over $7 million in small business research grants have come as a result of the university’s “strategic creative partnership with corporate America,” Kirkland reported. For the past eight years, South Carolina has been among the top 100 universities granted U.S. patents. “We’re also the fifth fastest-growing manufacturing state in the nation,” Kirkland said. A former head of the university’s Columbia Technology Incubator, Kirkland also held executive management positions with IBM and Pfizer and was a managing partner for South Carolina-based LK Global Consulting. Capital Rotary has been holding biweekly video meetings as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.