My Winthrop Experience

Name: Cheryl Fortner-Wood
Position: Psychology professor, McNair Scholars director
College: Arts and Sciences
Department: Psychology

Serving as the McNair Scholars director has made Psychology Professor Cheryl Fortner-Wood a better teacher.

She believes that working with each of the McNair Scholars has fine-tuned her ability to match the university's resources to individual students' aspirations.
"McNair has trained my brain to think about each student's path," said Fortner-Wood, who was honored at the December Commencement with the 2017 James Pinckney Kinard and Lee Wicker Kinard Award for Excellence in Teaching Award.

The Kinard Award is given annually to a faculty member who has demonstrated a dedication to teaching and is highly regarded on campus by faculty and students. Established by the Kinard family, it honors former Winthrop President James P. Kinard and his wife, Lee Wicker Kinard.

Fortner-Wood joined the Winthrop faculty in 1998 after earning a bachelor's degree in psychology from the College of Charleston, a master's degree in psychology from Western Carolina University and a Ph.D. in child development and family studies from Purdue University. She was promoted to associate professor in 2004 and then professor in 2016.

In addition to teaching graduate and undergraduate courses, Fortner-Wood has directed the university's McNair Scholars Program since 2009. The job has earned her the nickname "Mama McNair" due to the level of nurturing and support she has extended to participants, who come from low-income families and are first generation college students and/or who come from underrepresented backgrounds.
Fortner-Wood has authored all three successful McNair grants and has directed the program since its inception.

The program has been very successful in promoting outstanding undergraduate research and in preparing the 30+ McNair Scholars selected annually for graduate school. Winthrop learned last fall that the program's federal grant has been renewed for the next five years.

Fortner-Wood said she and the McNair Scholars go through a lot together as she helps prep them for graduate school applications and interviews. "I give them my different Mama speeches about professionalism," she added.