Claflin University, Local Business Community Gather for Annual Alliance Luncheon

Oct 24, 2014
Networking and sharing information were just two of the items on the menu at Claflin University’s 16th annual Business Community Alliance Luncheon, held Thursday in Ministers’ Hall.

Dozens of Claflin students, faculty and staff, business owners and community leaders attended the event, which affords an opportunity for individuals to network and hear high-profile speakers and panelists discuss a range of current issues, said Dr. Tara Saracina, interim dean of the School of Business.

“Another important purpose of this luncheon is to really showcase our University and the School of Business and some of our students, as well as to share some of the needs we have in the School of Business,” she said.

Claflin University’s School of Business offers degrees in management, marketing, business administration and organizational management, as well as MBA. All programs are nationally accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

Sylvett Porter, a senior in the organizational management program, decided to return to school after being passed over for promotions because she lacked a degree.

“So I said to myself one day, ‘Am I going to continue to complain about it, or am I going to do something about it?’ I chose the latter,” she said.

Porter said she chose Claflin because she thought it would best help her advance her career the way she wanted to.

“My professors, collectively and individually, advocate for their students,” she said. “They really want to see you do well, and I really believe the relationships that I forge with them will transcend any educational experiences that I’ve had.”

Receiving Henry N. Tisdale Excellence Awards at the luncheon for their support were Valeria Green, assistant director of career development at Claflin University, and South Carolina Electric and Gas. Luncheon sponsors included First Citizens, Cox Industries Inc., the Regional Medical Center, South State Bank, The Times and Democrat and the Orangeburg County Development Commission.

The speaker at this year’s event was Greenville Health System President and CEO Michael C. Riordan, who joined GHS in 2006, and leads one of the largest not-for-profit healthcare providers in the Southeast. His topic was “The Affordable Care Act and the Impact on Business.”

During his presentation, Riordan shared his predictions about the future of health care in South Carolina, and what GHS is currently doing to fulfill its vision “to transform health care for the benefit of the people and communities we serve.”

“There’s never been a more dynamic time in health care than right now,” he said. “We say ‘heal compassionately’ … everything else we do drives that forward.”

Riordan said what the Affordable Care Act does for Americans is offer them options – perhaps the most important of which is they can change jobs without fear of losing health benefits. 

A couple of Riordan’s predictions about the future of health care included:

  • South Carolina will eventually opt in to Medicaid expansion – “I just think the dollars and the history are too much for us to walk away. It happened with Medicare, so this is not unprecedented,” he said. “Not every state joined Medicare in the 1960s. The last state to join was in the 1980s.”
  • The end of employer-sponsored insurance – “When I talk about the end of employer-sponsored health care … it may be more of a voucher system,” he said. “It’s only going to take one or two major, high-visibility, high-quality businesses to flip their employees to the exchange before I think we’ll see a whole bunch” of businesses do it.

To address the changing landscape of health care and the aging population of providers in the state, Riordan said GHS has partnered with universities statewide in a number of ways. GHS is currently developing an agreement with Claflin University to encourage students to enter the health care field.

“We think workforce development is really important,” he said. “There is real data out there that access and care in the community improves if the caregivers closely resemble the patients. Claflin will help because it will broaden access, it will broaden caregivers.”

“We think new health care workers are needed for the future, and we think how we connect with universities is really important,” Riordan said.

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