President McConnell sent the following message to the campus community on Dec. 15, 2017:
Dear Campus Community:
As you know, this weekend, we will hold our winter commencement ceremony. I offer early congratulations to all of our students who are graduating and wish them the very best in their future endeavors. I hope our graduates will represent the College well, continue to Know Thyself and visit our campus often. Remember, graduates, you are always welcome home.
Seeing as we are in the midst of the holiday season and the closing of the College is only a week away, I want to take some time to touch on all that we have to be thankful for as an institution and to reflect on our many accomplishments from this semester.
First, thank you – our outstanding faculty, staff and students – for all that we have achieved together this semester. We are a remarkable institution because of all of you. You challenge us on what it means to be a Cougar and on ways to improve as an institution as well as remind us to never be complacent – to always strive for even greater heights. You make this an exciting and dynamic place to learn, work and live.
Second, thank you to our alumni, donors and friends. Your passion for the College and dedicated support of our academic and student experiences help us empower our students and produce graduates who are ready to tackle the most pressing issues facing our world. You are important partners in helping us fulfill our public mission. We are so appreciative of your generosity.
Oftentimes, lost in the day-to-day shuffle of our work and project deadlines, we forget to take a step back and appreciate all of the many good things that have transpired at our beloved university. This fall semester, our faculty and students continued to gain national and international recognition, excelling both inside and outside of the classroom; our university was again ranked on many lists in national and international publications highlighting our academic excellence, student focus and special programming; our student-athletes competed at the highest levels; and our donors continued to invest in our bright and boundless future.
What follows is a list of just a few highlights from this semester grouped by category (academic affairs, student affairs, institutional diversity, athletics, philanthropy and alumni engagement, business affairs, and institutional). This list, clearly, is not meant to be comprehensive, but more of a touting of just some of the many, many great things that have taken place and have helped propel us forward as an institution.
- The College’s Board of Trustees and the Faculty Senate approved a new Bachelor of General Studies, the College’s first fully online degree program. The College plans to begin offering the degree in Fall 2018 after receiving approval from the Commission on Higher Education and the College’s regional accreditor, SACSCOC, in early 2018.
- The College’s international business undergraduate program was ranked 2 in the nation on the Schools.com list for Best College for International Business Degree Programs. The College preceded Georgetown University and the University of South Carolina on the list.
- The Institute of International Education ranked the College No. 3 in the U.S. among master’s-level institutions for the total number of students who study abroad.
- Computer Science students Tyler Newman and Ben Muldrow won “Best of Summit” as well as the top prize in the college category at the Charleston Defense Contractors Association Mobile App Competition.
- The Sea Change exhibit at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art was a resounding success. The exhibit about plastic pollution was meant to engage viewers on a visual, emotional and intellectual level.
- The College’s Race and Social Justice Initiative released its Racial Disparities Report, which discussed inequalities in the lives of Charleston County’s black and white residents.
- The Honors College celebrated its 50th Anniversary in September.
- The College launched several new academic programs this fall, including a new master’s degree in community planning, policy and design as well as the first undergraduate commercial real estate finance degree in South Carolina.
- Residence Life staff led Cougar Move-In and successfully moved in approximately 3,400 students with the help of faculty, staff, alumni and student group volunteers (more than 100 volunteers).
- We kicked-off the semester with the total solar eclipse viewing event in Rivers Green. This was a remarkable event that was made possible by many campus partners.
- The Career Center continues to manage a $25,000 competitive internship award program, with an emphasis on supporting summer internships for students.
- The Career Center was ranked No. 18 nationally and No. 1 for all public master’s-level institutions by The Princeton Review.
- Our Collegiate Recovery Program and our Counseling and Substance Abuse Services Office brought former congressman Patrick Joseph Kennedy II to campus to speak about the importance of mental health care.
- The Multicultural Student Programs and Services team re-invigorated our Safe Zone Training program this fall semester and trained 68 Teaching Fellow scholarship recipients in the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance. They also conducted four one-hour refresher sessions for 25 faculty and staff.
- The Office of Institutional Diversity awarded 20 $500 scholarships.
- The Office of Institutional Diversity launched the Crossing the Cistern program, which is a new one-year scholarship program for rising sophomores and juniors that awards up to $4,000.
- Approximately 80 people attended Office of Institutional Diversity workshops, with 10 students receiving Diversity and Inclusion Certificates (recipients had to attend six of the eight sessions offered this fall).
- The Office of Institutional Diversity and Multicultural Student Programs and Services partnered to host a Building Bridges event at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. The event benefited Save More Kids, a nonprofit organization created to help children in Liberia who have been affected by war, sexual abuse, abandonment, child labor and poverty.
- Staff from Multicultural Student Programs and Services and the Office of Institutional Diversity presented a session titled “Reframing the Conversation of Diversity and Inclusion on Campus” during the NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) Multicultural Institute in New Orleans, La in December. Presenters included Renard Harris, Teresa Smith, Rochelle Johnson and Kimberly Gaillard.
- Numerous diversity and inclusion initiatives are being worked on from many campus partners in an effort to make the college more welcoming, inclusive and safe for all.
- Our volleyball team was the Colonial Athletic Association’s Regular Season Champions. They also became the first program in the CAA to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. In addition, senior Krissy Mummey was selected as the Player of the Year, junior Allison Beckman was named the conference’s Setter of the Year and head coach Jason Kepner was honored as the CAA Coach of the Year.
- The men’s basketball team was named the pre-season favorite to win the CAA and senior Joe Chealey was named pre-season Player of the Year.
- The Cougar Club hosted the first-ever Tip-Off Dinner with guest speaker, Seth Greenberg from ESPN.
- Student-Athlete Academic Services launched Pathways to Success, a student-focused career and personal development seminar series specific to our student-athlete population.
- Student-Athlete Academic Services and Sports Medicine collaborated to enhance our Return-to-Learn protocols for student-athletes who sustain head injuries.
Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement
- During fiscal year 2017, which ended June 30, 2017, the College raised approximately $13.5 million in new philanthropic commitments. This total was made possible by 5,765 donors who made a new commitment last year, including 2,352 alumni who contributed $3.6 million to the College. These results mark the second year in a row that alumni have led in both new gifts and new donors to the College.
- Approximately $2.3 million of the $13.5 million was received in cash receipts to the 13 campus-wide Annual Giving Funds. This includes $870,737 directed to the College of Charleston Fund and Parents’ Fund.
- By working in partnership with the College of Charleston Foundation, the College awarded nearly $4 million to students in the form of scholarships and awards for 2016-17.
- We currently have 35 alumni chapters: 32 in the U.S. and three international chapters in London, Beijing and Hong Kong.
- Towell Library officially became the College’s Alumni Welcome Center this fall, with a grand opening celebration that took place during Fall Alumni Weekend.
- The 2017 Spring and Fall Alumni Weekends engaged more than 5,000 alumni and guests at dozens of events.
- The College has been working hard to make more long-term temporary employees permanent employees. By the end of this semester, all full-time temporary employees who have been continuously employed in their positions for over 5 years will be moved into permanent lines.
- The College received zero material findings in its annual external financial audit. Note: That is a good thing!
- The College launched a new HR program called LEAP (Leadership Education and Advancement Program) to further the professional development of its employees.
- Employees in the Division of Student Affairs and Alumni Affairs Office are working to address Food and Housing Insecurity at the College. The Swipe Away Student Hunger Campaign, led by the Student Alumni Associates, inspired 1,381 students to donate 6,954 meal swipes and $485.02 in Dining Dollars. More than 100 alumni, parents and students donated an additional $7,490 online to the initiative. Student Affairs professionals are working to ensure students in need have access to meals in the dining halls through the funds raised in the campaign.
- New street signs featuring the College of Charleston logo are up at intersections around campus. This was a collaborative effort between the College and the City of Charleston.
- The College was named Travel + Leisure’s Most Beautiful College Campus.
- The College of Charleston has been named one of the top “Green Schools” in the nation by The Princeton Review. The Princeton Review specificallypraised the College of Charleston’s Office of Sustainability in the report.
- The College launched a new holiday tradition called Cougar Night Lights.
- The College facilitated another successful hurricane evacuation. This was a pan-campus effort, which included nine staff from the Division of Student Affairs traveling and staying on-site at Winthrop University to assist our students who were evacuated there.
- The College had its accreditation successfully reaffirmed by its regional accreditor, SACSCOC.
It is an honor to report on the many significant achievements and milestones of a tremendous semester. I am deeply grateful for your hard work and commitment to excellence, which made these accomplishments, and so many others, possible.
So as the fall semester wraps up, let me wish you a joyful and restful holiday season. You deserve it. I hope you are able to spend time with family, friends and loved ones; to reflect on 2017; and to find much to be thankful for as we end another year. I wish you all the best in these final weeks of December and in the coming new year.
I look forward to resuming our important work together in January. Truly, it is a special time to be at the College of Charleston.
Glenn F. McConnell ’69
College of Charleston