ROCK HILL, S.C. - With the building’s namesake in attendance, Winthrop University dedicated its new Lois Rhame West Health, Physical Education and Wellness Center on Nov. 2.
The building, which houses academic space for Winthrop’s health, physical education and sport management programs and wellness facilities, opened in August for classes. Lois Rhame West, member of the Class of '43 and former First Lady of South Carolina, helped commemorate the completion of the largest building on Winthrop’s main campus.
Winthrop President Anthony DiGiorgio praised West as a pioneer for women’s rights, for helping pave the way for Winthrop to become a coeducational institution and for helping lead the university’s first capital campaign. Friday was declared "Lois Rhame West Day" by Winthrop's Board of Trustees.
“As a woman who came of age in the mid-20th century, Lois blazed trails for generations of young women who came after her by demonstrating early on the importance of living a life that incorporated commitments to health and wellness, to education and lifelong learning and to leadership and service to the community,” DiGiorgio said before more than 170 people gathered for lunch at the West Center.
During the ceremony, DiGiorgio helped unveil two portraits of West to hang in the West Center – a portrait of West painted when she was First Lady and a photograph of West playing softball as a Winthrop college student.
The $27.4 million West Center covers 137,000 square feet and offers the latest environmentally friendly features. The center’s opening also marks the first bold step in creating a new ambience for the western side of campus and the neighborhood beyond. Its placement at the southwestern corner of the present campus contributes to a city initiative that envisions attracting private investment to help create a classic “college town” atmosphere around Winthrop.