ROCK HILL, S.C. - While some university campuses are only just now discovering how big a role their residence halls can play in building students’ academic and personal success, emphasizing that link has been an increasingly important part of Winthrop University’s approach for years.
From Winthrop University President Anthony DiGiorgio’s perspective, taking that kind of holistic approach is an important part of why Winthrop frequently garners national recognition for quality, value and good student outcomes.
It’s also why this year, choosing to come to Winthrop automatically means living on campus for freshman year – and next year’s entering students will be choosing to be campus residents for two years. Those residents will have access to 16 living/learning communities and an array of special programming created to be "progressively developmental" for traditional-age students, preparing them for later roles in life, both professionally and as citizens, according to officials.
Winthrop University President Anthony DiGiorgio Wednesday told faculty and staff gathered for his annual opening address that the new two-year residency policy is a key part of an educational plan designed by Winthrop to help students acclimate themselves to college demands while developing the inter-personal skills and judgment necessary to succeed in today’s world.
"Everything we know as educators, studying successful outcomes for students, tells us that this is an important next step for us to take," DiGiorgio said, pointing to research indicating that "even students themselves perceive greater success in their own maturity levels when they live on campus."
While students living with their parents within 50 miles of Winthrop can be exempted from the policy, DiGiorgio said the residential component in a key element in preparing students to become "leaders in their professions and leaders in their communities."
The approach will work in tandem with a distinctive set of foundational academic courses taken by all Winthrop students, preparing them to enter their major courses of study, as well as later roles in life.
Winthrop is using three words to describe what it calls "The Winthrop Experience" to prospective students: "Live. Learn. Lead." That phrase, DiGiorgio said, helps prospective students grasp the full range of opportunities for growth encompassed in a Winthrop education, and also helps Winthrop faculty and staff carry the university message to national meetings, etc.
DiGiorgio also announced that Winthrop will be participating in a national project designed to document its student learning achievements. Underwritten by the Lumina Foundation, the project is known as the Collegiate Learning Assessment Longitudinal Study. Every Winthrop freshman will participate in a baseline assessment for the national study this year, then have their learning studied over four years.
Predicting a "right-size” entering class of "a little over 1,000," DiGiorgio also outlined Winthrop’s aggressive campus facilities building plan, for which all funding is already in place. Major components of that plan, which was developed to create a campus environment that supports both academic and personal student development goals, include:
• The Lois Rhame West Health, Physical Education and Wellness Center, now under construction and scheduled for completion in 2006. At 137,000 square feet, the $24 million West Center will be the largest building on Winthrop's main campus.
• Once the West Center is complete and the building it replaces dismantled, a new $21.5 million Campus Center will be begun. It will be the community center of the campus, providing student service offices, meeting space for numerous student organizations, casual dining options and a new campus bookstore and post office. Completion of the new Campus Center is expected in 2008.
• New Classroom Building: Winthrop is expanding classroom, lecture and seminar spaces via a classically designed new Classroom Building adjacent to its Bancroft Building. This $6 million addition to the campus will be completed in 2007.
• Thurmond Auditorium: Providing the College of Business Administration with a $2.8 million facility to bring students and business leaders together on a more regular basis. Completion is projected for 2007.
The final addition to the new heart of campus, DiGiorgio said, will be a new library that is destined to become the signature building for the main campus, "reflecting the true relationship of a university library to the learning community it serves." Winthrop will be seeking state support of $35 million for that project, DiGiorgio said.
For more information, contact Rebecca Masters, assistant to the president for public affairs, at 803/323-2225.