The Man Behind the Curtain

Stephen C. Osborne, class of ’73, was named College of Charleston’s interim president in July. His last name may be Osborne, but you can call him President Oz.

President Osborne used to be known to his peers as “Oz” during his time at the College of Charleston and it seemed fit that as president, students refer to him as Oz too.

He attended College of Charleston right out of high school, majoring in political science. From Charleston, Osborne went on to get his master’s in public administration from Western Kentucky University. Finally, he got his MBA in finance from the University of South Carolina.

After school, Osborne went on to work for the South Carolina state government on the Budget Control Board. Upon leaving his position in 2006, he returned to the College of Charleston as the Executive Vice President for business affairs and the chief financial officer. Osborne has since been at the College of Charleston for 12 years.

With both a student and faculty perspective, he has his fair share of experience at the College of Charleston.

Osborne has a calming presence. With his dusty white hair, a crisp suit, glasses resting gently on his nose, calming tone of voice and infectious smile, Osborne makes those around him feel at ease. He has a sparkle in his eyes that smiles even when his mouth isn’t.

Although he has only been interim president since July, He makes it a priority to interact with as many students and organizations as he possibly can. He also encourages students to introduce themselves to him.

Osborne says the best part of being interim president at the College of Charleston is the students. “Getting around to meeting all the students, meeting all the student organizations—it’s just been terrific” said Osborne. “I like the interactions and I would greatly encourage the new president to be as involved with the students as possible.”

From sending encouraging emails and inviting students meet him over coffee to waving at everyone on campus and doing his best to meet with every organization, Osborne has established himself as a welcome presence on campus.

While it is his goal to be as involved with the College of Charleston as possible during his time here, Osborne also has goals and a legacy he wants to leave.

Osborne has goals in four main areas of focus as interim president. First, he wants to improve academic and campus experiences for students. Next, Osborne wants to develop philanthropy for the College of Charleston and work on plans for The College’s 250th anniversary.

“One of the first things I told the board of trustees as an interim president, was that I do not want to be a caretaker by any means, I wanted to move the college forward,” said Osborne.

Osborne has the college and its students best interest at heart. Even though he won’t be here for a long time, he is here to improve the college as best he can during his time as interim president.

Osborne is set on encouraging every student to make the best of their college experience. Because he had such a successful experience at the College of Charleston himself, he wants students to have a successful experience as well and knows what it takes to get that experience.

“I think that the key to happiness and success in college is becoming immersed in the total college experience,” said Osborne.

His biggest piece of advice to anyone is to become immersed—to surround yourself with every last drop of experience there is to offer where you are at in life. Students should take their studies seriously, but getting involved in student activities and getting to know peers is just as important.

“These are the formative years for you. They’re great years that were great years for me,” said Osborne. “I would just encourage the students to experience the full total life here at the college.”

Becoming immersed at the College of Charleston means joining clubs, going to every college-sponsored event, attending workout classes, going to sports games, participating in intramural sports, going to class—anything that enables students to squeeze every last drop of college life during their time here. As formative years for students, it is incredibly important they are able to take advantage of every opportunity College of Charleston offers, and Osborne aims to promote that as much as possible.

Osborne even thinks it is important that the next president of the college immerse themselves in all the college has to offer as well. As he has greatly enjoys his time meeting students and visiting student organizations, he hopes the next president chooses to do so as well.

Osborne has a love for the College of Charleston that is infectious, plus he genuinely cares about the students. The passion behind him as he talks about initiatives and the legacy he wants to leave reflects the progress he hopes he can guide the college to. As College of Charleston comes up on its 250th anniversary in 2020, Osborne hopes to guide the college to keep moving forward.  

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