ROCK HILL, S.C. - A Winthrop University education is exactly the right one for the nation’s troubled times, President Anthony DiGiorgio told faculty and staff who gathered this morning to begin the Rock Hill institution’s 124th year.
DiGiorgio, who is entering his 21st year at Winthrop, challenged the campus community to continue to be creative and “market-wise” in designing and delivering academic programs to meet 21st century students’ needs, while also emphasizing the “values-based” nature of a Winthrop education.
After noting that U.S. President John Adams once said that there are two types of education – “One should teach us how to make a living, and the other how to live” – DiGiorgio added that Winthrop is “proving daily that it is possible to do both and essential to do both,” particularly in an era of economic challenges.
Winthrop is one of just 23 institutions nationally chosen by the Association of American Colleges and Universities to be part of its Leadership Consortium on educating students across the curriculum to develop personal and social responsibility, as well as ethical and moral reasoning.
As a result, DiGiorgio said, Winthrop students “develop habits of service to others and a sense of responsibility to others that continues with them into the next phase of their lives. Never have both goals been higher on our nation’s need list than at present, when sharing sacrifices and considering others has been so important to us as a campus community and as a nation.”
Winthrop in recent years has given all its academic programs a shared foundation that develops capacities students need in later life to deal with rapidly changing events in their work and personal worlds. Such capacities include gathering information from a variety of sources, analyzing it from the perspectives of multiple disciplines, then deciding on a course of action appropriate to the circumstances of the times. DiGiorgio pointed out that such an approach is exactly what current circumstances demand from Winthrop as an institution as well.
Winthrop has had to absorb reductions of almost $6 million (27 percent) of its state appropriation support in the past 13 months, and expects to give up another 4-5 percent (somewhere between $700,000 and $920,000) next month, as South Carolina reels from the impact of both national economic troubles and changes to its own tax policy.
The university is continuing a wide range of administrative cost-cutting steps, including some building thermostat adjustments that saved the institution $500,000 last winter.
While everyone wishes there were greater certainty and predictability in state finances, DiGiorgio said, current circumstances provide little of either. For that reason, Winthrop’s approach to current times, DiGiorgio reported, is to “enable the growth and development of Winthrop for the future, while also managing the demands of the present.”
As an example, construction continues on a new Campus Center due to be completed next summer, and a new College of Business Administration facility, Carroll Hall, will open to classes next week. DiGiorgio said funds were designated long ago for those purposes, and thus aren’t coming from annual operating funding.
The 2009 entering class of freshmen will begin moving into residence halls on Friday. Overall enrollment figures will not be available for some weeks, as some graduate programs are offered off-campus and those schedules vary. Classes on the main campus begin Aug. 25, following Convocation ceremonies on Aug. 24.