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Personal Experiences

Dr. Ronald Keith ParksDr. Ronald Keith Parks
Associate Professor of Music
College of Visual and Performing Arts

2004-05 Aaron Copland Award Recipient
2005 Outstanding Junior Professor Award

I believe that preeminent educators and artists are life-long learners. They possess a restlessness that compels them to create art and music, to teach, and to explore new artistic and educational methods and techniques. Winthrop has provided me with ample resources, support and space to grow as both a composer and as an educator. My colleagues and the administration have demonstrated unwavering support for my composing endeavors and my creative and scholarly activities, including my pursuit of off-campus performances of my music, paper presentations at professional meetings and attendance at music festivals. I have written music for my colleagues, collaborated with artists from other disciplines, and enjoyed exceptional cooperation and support from faculty, students and staff in mounting performances of my music as well as hosting concerts and conferences of new music.

However, of equal importance to financial support, facilities, and room and space for creative activity is the sense of community I have experienced at Winthrop. This, perhaps as much as anything, is what keeps me here. People have welcomed my family into their homes and have gone out of their way to make us feel welcome in the community. My colleagues go on fishing trips together, travel to professional conferences together, and frequently host gatherings in their homes. My family and I have come to think of the Winthrop community as extended family and the Charlotte area as home.

Dr. Jennifer Leigh DisneyDr. Jennifer Leigh Disney
Associate Professor of Political Science
College of Arts and Sciences

Director of the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards
President of the Board of Directors of A Place for Hope
2006 Faculty Service Learning Award
2007 Outstanding Jr. Professor Award
2008 Faculty Student Life Award

Winthrop University is a campus community that prides itself on three things: a pedagogical commitment to student-centered learning; the creation of a learning-centered environment; and respect and support for faculty autonomy. Each of these three components is critical to a successful teaching institution of higher learning, and each reinforces the other. I will never forget when my then Dean Tom Moore said in a new faculty workshop, “When you walk into the classroom, do not ask yourself, ‘What can I teach my students today.’ Ask yourself, ‘What can my students learn today.'"

Several things struck me immediately about Winthrop University: the beauty of the campus, the proximity to Charlotte, but most importantly, the sense of community. I was in a very serious car accident this summer after my first year at Winthrop, and I was overwhelmed by the way my colleagues were immediately and consistently there to offer me the emotional and material support that I needed to return to work in the fall semester, including moving me into my new house! Fifteen of my colleagues both in and outside of my department showed up to move me in and unpack my boxes because I was not physically able to do so. I am truly blessed and lucky to be a part of a place like Winthrop that has such an amazing sense of community.

Dr. Keith BensonDr. Keith Benson
Associate Professor of Management and Marketing
College of Business Administration

Director of Leadership Studies and Development
2002 Outstanding Junior Professor Award
2003 Faculty Service Learning Award

When I think of what brought me here and what keeps me here, two words come to mind – people and balance. I can say that I enjoy the people I work with and the students I teach. Senior faculty are encouraging and eager to help me grow as a faculty member. The majority of my students have a true desire to learn.

But most important to me is balance. I am able to focus on my teaching, yet have a viable research agenda. I am allowed and encouraged to pursue service activities relevant to my profession. And most of all I am expected to still have a “life.” I have four children, and I am able to be involved in their lives. In summary, Winthrop allows me to fulfill my professional goals and supports my personal goals. It really is a great place to grow and learn.

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