Travel Back in Time Through Professor Eddie Lee's Winthrop History Course

May 07, 2020


  • “Winthrop University: The Defining Events” will be offered July 13-Aug. 13. 
  • The course examines the history of our university from its founding in Columbia in 1886 until the present day.

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – People know Professor of History Eddie Lee ’83 for his expertise on South Carolina’s history. This summer he shares another of his history passions with his course, “Winthrop University: The Defining Events.” 

“The course examines the history of our university from its founding in Columbia in 1886 until the present day,” Lee said. “Defining events such as the move to Rock Hill from Columbia, integration and co-education are discussed.” 

“History 550 will appeal to a wide cross-section of people: alumni, friends, the Rock Hill community and summer learners,” he added. The course will be offered in Summer Session D, July 13-Aug. 13. 

Lee, a third-generation Winthrop graduate, can trace back his own history with Winthrop for more than 100 years. His grandmother was part of the Class of 1897; his mother, the Class of 1936. He joined the faculty ranks in 1994 and directs the history graduate program. 

But why study Winthrop’s history? 

“Winthrop’s first president, David Bancroft Johnson, used to say, ‘The sun does not set on Winthrop graduates,’” Lee said. “That meant, in his time as president (1886-1928), we were everywhere. Certainly, it is more true in 2020.” 

What does Lee consider the most significant event in the university’s history? 

“The most significant event in our university’s history was the move from Columbia to Rock Hill,” he said. “Winthrop President [at the time] Henry Sims called it the ‘best investment Rock Hill ever made.’ Certainly, this move was good for the community, the state and the institution.”    

In any discussion with Lee, he’s quick to point to his surroundings and remind you, “History’s happening all the time. History is what we said five minutes ago.” 

Lee's love of history started at an early age and was stoked by relatives who loved learning about the country's capital. He spent many of his childhood summers visiting historic sites such as Mount Vernon, the Smithsonian, the Jefferson Memorial and the Capitol Building. 

He’s the former mayor of York, an elected position in which he served for more than 16 years, former president of the South Carolina Historical Association and author or co-author of 15 books. He’s also a past recipient of the Palmetto Trust's Historic Preservation's Elected Official Award in 2015 for leading the efforts to save the historic York County Courthouse. 

For more information on the course, contact Lee at

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