Greenville Technical College Wins a Second Time and is Still the Only SC Educational Institution to Ever Receive a Governor’s Quality Award

Henry McMaster

GREENVILLE, SC—Two years ago, Greenville Technical College was named a South Carolina Governor’s Quality Award Bronze Achiever, becoming the only educational institution in South Carolina to ever win at any level. This year, the college jumped up two notches to receive a Gold Award, and remains the only educational institution in the state to ever be recognized.

Why would a college institute quality practices? Greenville Technical College began using Baldrige criteria in 2012 to achieve service excellence through continuous improvement of operations. Many of the companies the college partners with to develop the workforce also rely on Baldrige criteria to improve their businesses and achieve results.

This award, sponsored and administered by the South Carolina Quality Forum, an affiliate of the South Carolina State Chamber of Commerce, is designed to promote performance excellence. The forum was created in 1991 to recognize and encourage improvements and excellence in quality, productivity, efficiency, effectiveness and competitiveness by organizations throughout South Carolina.

Past recipients of the SC Governor’s Quality Award include Charleston Water System (2014 and 2011), Self Regional Healthcare (2014 and 2010), Bon Secours St. Francis Health System (2008), and Wackenhut Services, Inc. – Savannah River Site (2004).

The award process is consistent with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award process, depending upon a trained, volunteer board of examiners and judges who evaluate candidate organizations and recommend award recipients. In South Carolina, Milliken & Company is one of 106 companies to have been recognized (1989) since the Baldrige Award for Performance Excellence was established by Congress in 1987 and the only South Carolina-based organization to have won at the national level to date. Industry giants including Motorola (1988 and 2002), Boeing (Boeing Mobility 1998 and Boeing Support Systems 2003), Cargill Kitchen Solutions (1999 and 2005), MidwayUSA (2009 and 2015), and The Ritz-Carlton (1992 and 1999) are multiple year award recipients at the national level. Only two institutions of higher education have achieved national award recognition: Richland College (2005) and University of Wisconsin, Stout (2001).

To compete for the SC Governor’s Quality Award, organizations submit a written application that includes a business overview and a description of the organization’s quality management system. The application is first reviewed by individual examiners. As a team, these examiners reach a consensus evaluation of the application and may recommend a site visit. During site visits, examiners verify and clarify the information in the application. All award applicants receive a feedback report including strengths and areas for improvement.

There are four award levels. A Bronze Achiever award is given for progress worthy of recognition toward implementing Baldrige criteria. A Silver Achiever award indicates significant progress toward the criteria, while a Gold Achiever award indicates outstanding progress. A capstone award – the South Carolina Governor’s Quality Award – goes to those organizations that demonstrate excellent performance through their quality management system based on the Baldrige Criteria.

“Our quality journey began in 2012, and since that time, the use of Baldrige criteria has transformed our organization. Jumping up two notches since the last award is an indication of the progress we have made, and by using the feedback we received during the most recent site visit, we will continue to make changes that impact the service we provide to students, business and industry, and the community,” said Dr. Keith Miller, president of Greenville Technical College.