ROCK HILL, S.C. - Health care administrator Ken Carroll will dare new students to do their best as part of Winthrop University’s Convocation ceremony on Aug. 22.
The 4 p.m. event in Byrnes Auditorium, traditionally held the day before classes begin, will be followed by a community picnic on the campus front lawn at 5 p.m. The rain location for the picnic is McBryde Hall.
Since February, Carroll has worked with Generations Healthcare to run a 200-bed facility in Canoga Park, Calif., that is the company’s newest acquisition. He is working to rebuild a management team, relicense the facility with state and federal agencies and grow the business.
"I love my job now more than I ever had in my career. I can’t wait to let the freshmen know what can and does await them if they dare to try," said Carroll, who now lives in Valley Village, Calif.
Carroll’s family moved to Rock Hill when he was in the fifth grade. Two weeks before he left for college, he suffered a spinal cord injury in the family pool. It didn’t stop him from entering college, interning with Piedmont Medical Center his senior year at Winthrop and from obtaining a bachelor of science degree in business administration in 1993.
Upon graduation, Carroll worked for Beverly Healthcare in long-term care facilities in Ohio and later at an assisted living facility in Rock Hill. He returned to Ohio and in 2000, moved to his largest facility yet with 240 beds and 250 employees in the Cleveland area. The next year the company moved him to Burbank, Calif., to manage a 188-bed facility, three blocks from Jay Leno’s studio at NBC.
Beverly Healthcare sold most of its holdings in California in late 2003, and Carroll left the new company in February to work for Generations Healthcare. Throughout the moves, his confinement to a wheelchair has not slowed him down.
"My disability has only been a barrier when I chose to make it one," Carroll said. "Sure, I get an ignorant person here and there but most of my colleagues see it as only one subsection of who Ken Carroll is."
Joining Carroll in welcoming freshmen to Winthrop during Convocation will be President Anthony DiGiorgio, Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols, Board of Trustees Chair Karl Folkens, faculty member Tim Daugherty and Council of Student Leaders Chair Willie Lyles.
Immediately following Convocation, President and Mrs. DiGiorgio will lead students out of Byrnes and to the sidewalks of Tillman Hall. Called the Blue Line Procession, it is among Winthrop’s most cherished traditions.
Both the Blue Line and Convocation date to the presidency of founder David Bancroft Johnson. He gathered Winthrop’s student body at the beginning of each school year to welcome students to the institution and to offer words of encouragement.
Concerned about the spiritual development of students, Johnson formed what was commonly known as the Blue Line. He led a double column of female students dressed in blue and white uniforms down Oakland Avenue to church services the first Sunday morning of each new academic year.