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Inside Furman is published monthly during the school year by the Furman University Department of Marketing and Public Relations. For story ideas, e-mail John Roberts, editor.
Derrick brings energy, enthusiasm to student activities
It was hormones that led Scott Derrick down a career path in student activities.
Derrick was a sophomore at Furman in 1985 when a friend suggested he join FUSAB (Furman University Student Activities Board)
"My response was, 'What is a FUSAB?'" says Derrick.
It was a group, his friend explained, that helped organize concerts, lectures and other entertaining events at Furman.
Derrick was still not sold on the idea.
"But then he told me that I would be one of only a few guys on the board, along with a large group of women" he recalls.
Derrick signed up the next day, went on to chair the organization and discovered a passion for event organizing and promoting. During the next two years he played a part in re-energizing the student group. In 1987, FUSAB sponsored a wildly popular on-campus concert by the Romantics and started the tradition of closing down the mall during Homecoming week for student activities and float construction. By Derrick's senior year (1988), everyone on campus knew about FUSAB.
A math major, Derrick was unsure what he would do after college until he attended a National Association for Campus Activities Conference in Birmingham, Ala., with other FUSAB members.
"A bright light went off," he says. "I realized that I could make a living doing this."
When Derrick graduated, he told Harry Shucker and Carol Daniels of the Student Services staff that he would return to Furman one day as an employee. Eventually, his career would lead him back to his alma mater.
But it would take a few detours first.After earning a master's degree in student personnel services from the University of South Carolina, Derrick, a native of Irmo, joined the University of Richmond staff as the assistant director of student activities. He remained there for two years until an opening at the College of Charleston brought him back to his native state.
Derrick became the Charleston school's director of student activities and student center director in 1992. He was later promoted to director of student life. Derrick gained valuable experience at College of Charleston but grew increasingly frustrated over the school's failure to address facility needs at the student center.
After six years, a "burned out and stressed out" Derrick resigned his post at the university and began a short-lived career as an independent insurance agent.
He later started a Charleston landscaping company with a friend. Derrick enjoyed the work outdoors but did not want to make a lifelong career of it.
In 1999, he and his wife, Deborah, whom he met at C of C, moved to Columbia where Derrick took a job as director of student affairs at Columbia Junior College.
A few months later, he says, he "got the phone call." It was Carol Daniels.
"She told me that Furman was accepting applications for director of student activities," says Derrick. "I was elated and was beginning to wonder if the call was ever going to come."
Derrick got the job and later transitioned into the role as director of the University Center. In less than two years, he has focused his energy on developing creative programs to enliven student life. He has also worked to make the renovated University Center the focal point of campus social life.
"During the school year, there's something going on down here every night," he says. "That's the way it should be. We have a great facility here and we need to use it. Very rarely will you see anyone turned down to use this building."
Among his successes has been Thursday Alive @ the UC!, a popular lunchtime activity that attracts students, faculty and staff to the University Center patio once a week to eat lunch, socialize and enjoy live music. He hopes to resurrect the program this fall.
Using the old Coffeehouse program as a guide, Derrick also created Mainstage, a program that features regular student performances on weekends, during lunch, and in the Tower Cafe.
Sitting in an office festooned with Star Trek and Three Stooges memorabilia, Derrick says the most rewarding aspect of his job is working with students to help plan, coordinate and promote a successful event - just like he did as a Furman student.