Winthrop University: Andrew Besmer Tapped as 2022-23 Thompson Scholar
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Andrew Besmer Tapped as 2022-23 Thompson Scholar

June 27, 2022

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Andrew Besmer, an associate professor of computer science, was selected as the 2022-23 Thompson Scholar.

  • The monetary award, generated through the Robert and Norma Thompson Endowment, was established during the university's first capital campaign.

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – Winthrop University has selected Andrew Besmer, an associate professor of computer science, as its 2022-23 Thompson Scholar.

The monetary award, generated through the Robert and Norma Thompson Endowment which was established during the university's first capital campaign, is given to support work on projects that strengthen the academic, intellectual and co-curricular life of the university. 

Besmer plans to use this time to restart the hack-a-thon computing competitions that he coordinated before the COVID pandemic started in 2020. He worked with several local companies to sponsor the contests involving Winthrop students, York Tech students, high school students and community members. Winthrop was able to retain equipment used in the contests sponsored by Comporium and 3D Systems.

Provost Adrienne McCormick praised Besmer for the many projects he has been involved in for Winthrop, from organizing the hack-a-thons to developing a new bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity to helping design criteria as Winthrop becomes a laptop campus and creates the next generation of classrooms. “In the nearly 10 years since Andrew joined our campus, he has created many opportunities for our students to succeed. He was our Outstanding Junior Professor in 2018 and has continued to help Winthrop embrace the technology needed for our students to navigate their career paths,” she said.

Stephen Dannelly, chair of the Department of Computer Science and Quantitative Methods, said Besmer spent countless hours on developing the cybersecurity degree. After consulting with his Winthrop colleagues and the College of Business Administration’s industry partners, he designed the curriculum based on standards from the National Security Agency. That involved designing six new courses and developing a plan to grow the necessary computing infrastructure. Besmer’s efforts are already paying off with the degree as more students are drawn to Winthrop.

During the pandemic, Besmer worked with four students to analyze how well companies keep their web site security protocols up to date. This involved using Amazon servers and an Amazon grant to process massive amounts of data. The project resulted in two student honors projects, while scholarly publications are in the works.

Other recent projects have included co-chairing the committee that derived the new standards for student laptops and working for countless hours on how to best spend federal relief money to upgrade campus classrooms with technology.

The Thompsons are delighted by Besmer’s selection: “We congratulate Dr. Besmer on his selection as our latest Thompson Scholar. In addition to his stellar work in the classroom, he has dedicated himself to ensuring that Winthrop is meeting the needs and demands of the current workforce by creating a new degree in cybersecurity. He also has proven time and again to be a wealth of knowledge as the campus transitions this fall to a laptop campus. We appreciate his commitment to Winthrop and its students.”

Bob Thompson, retired vice president of Springs Industries, formerly served on Winthrop’s Board of Trustees from 1992-05 and 2008-14, including a term as chair. His other civic commitments include serving as chair of the Winthrop Foundation and on the Board of Visitors. He received the College of Business Administration’s Pinnacle/Summit Award in 2011, which recognized him for his leadership and support of public and higher education. His wife, Norma Thompson, has dedicated her life to the community as a homemaker, former elementary school teacher and civic volunteer.

For more information, contact Judy Longshaw, news and media services manager, at 803/323-2404 or longshawj@winthrop.edu

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Last Updated: 7/13/22