One of Sumter's former leaders made a return trip to the city Monday in an unconventional manner.
Former Central Carolina Technical College President Tim Hardee, now the South Carolina Technical College System president, bicycled Monday from …
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Former Central Carolina Technical College President Tim Hardee, now the South Carolina Technical College System president, bicycled Monday from Kingstree-based Williamsburg Technical College to CCTC's main campus on Guignard Drive.
The trip was part of Hardee's Tour de Tech initiative to both promote the state technical college system, which consists of 16 colleges across the state, and raise scholarship money for students, he said.
Hardee is an avid cyclist - a sport he picked up about 10 years ago, he said, while president at CCTC in Sumter. His wife, Tammy, is also a cyclist and made the trip with him Monday.
The initiative's name is a play on the Tour de France, cycling's most-famous race held annually in July.
While the Tour de France consists of 21 days - or stages - and covers about 2,200 miles, Tour de Tech is described as 12 days, 16 campuses and 800 miles across South Carolina.
On Monday morning, the Hardees started in Kingstree and rode in to Williamsburg Tech, before making the 46-mile trek to Sumter and CCTC. He and his wife arrived on the Sumter campus about 1:30 p.m.
After being greeted on the campus by many of his former faculty and staff, current CCTC President Michael Mikota presented Hardee and his wife with a pair of gold-colored medallions - in the spirit of the Tour de France. Those medallions were made in the college's Engineering Design Technology program, officials said.
Hardee said it was nice to be back in Sumter and take part in the initiative, which combines doing something he does for leisure with a way to raise scholarship dollars to benefit all 16 colleges and their students.
CCTC was the 13th of the state's 16 technical colleges Hardee has visited so far on Tour de Tech. The venture will conclude Friday at Horry-Georgetown Technical College in Conway.
As part of the program, Hardee presented Mikota with a check for $5,250 to be used for student scholarships at CCTC. The funds were raised from Tour de Tech's major donors throughout the state, Hardee said, and distributed evenly to all 16 technical colleges.
CCTC has a total enrollment of about 3,600 students, and - in addition to the main Sumter campus - it has sub-campuses in Clarendon, Lee and Kershaw counties.
Total enrollment among the 16 system schools is a little more than 80,000 students, and there are about 17,000 graduates annually, Hardee said. Given the system's mission is to supply the state's businesses and industries with a highly skilled workforce that is work ready, many of those graduates get right to work, he said.
Given that impact, every dollar raised in the initiative is important, Hardee said.
He said even a few hundred dollars can make a big difference for a typical student who might be living on his or her own or have numerous family responsibilities.
"A lot of times, $200 to $300 is the difference in a student being able to attend one of our colleges or not," Hardee said. "We have many students with financial needs - whether it's transportation, child care, paying the electric bill, whatever that looks like - in terms of them having to make those tough choices to do that instead of paying their tuition and going to college."
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