President Glenn McConnell ’69 sent the following message to the campus community on May 19, 2017.
Dear Campus Community:
As you know, last weekend, we held our spring commencement ceremonies. The events were a success, and our graduates and guests had a wonderful time. I extend my sincerest appreciation to everyone who played a role in the planning, implementation, and execution of our commencement weekend. You all have done the College proud.
With graduation completed, another academic year has come and gone. It seems like it was just yesterday that we were holding Convocation in the Cistern Yard. My, how time flies.
The 2016–17 academic year was a remarkable one for the College of Charleston. 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 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 academic and student experience. As you can see, the College was on the move academically, programmatically and philanthropically.
I think it’s important to mark the end of an academic year with a recap of just how much we have accomplished over the past year. Too often, it’s easy to forget all we have undertaken during the course of a year as we hurry from project to project, deadline to deadline.
Below is a list of just a few highlights from the 2016–17 academic year grouped by category (academics, student life, athletics, philanthropy and alumni engagement, 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 that have helped propel us forward as an institution.
· The College and Trident Technical College launched the Charleston Bridge Program, a one-of-a-kind, one-semester residential bridge program that will give select South Carolina high school students a new way to gain admission to the College of Charleston and earn a four-year degree.
· A team of students from the College’s Cybersecurity Club took home the top prize at the Palmetto Cyber Defense Competition in April.
· The Department of English launched an M.F.A. in Creative Writing in fall 2016.
· Three students were named Goldwater Scholars, one of the nation’s highest honors for undergraduates studying science, technology, engineering or mathematics.
· Devon Hanahan (Hispanic studies) was named the top professor in the country by the popular website ratemyprofessors.com.
· The first Collegiate Recovery Program (CRP) in the state of South Carolina moved forward this year with the hiring of Wood Marchant in November 2016. The CRP is designed to provide a structured, healthy community where students recovering from substance and addictive disorders can thrive academically and socially while actively pursuing their recovery. This program is primarily funded through philanthropic support and grants from Transforming Youth Recovery and the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services.
· The College’s Panhellenic Council received the National Panhellenic Council Achievement Award for College Panhellenics (given to only 25 councils in the country).
· Dance Marathon raised $51,000 for MUSC Children’s Hospital. Housed within the Higdon Student Leadership Center, Dance Marathon is the largest student-run philanthropic event at the College.
· The Center for Civic Engagement provided approximately 122 students, faculty, and staff with the opportunity to participate in nine different alternative break service immersion programs throughout the 2016–17 academic year. In 2017, as a part of the Alternative Spring Break program, four groups of students, faculty and staff traveled to Washburn, Tenn.; Miami, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Las Marias, P.R., to complete service related to environmentalism, sustainability, affordable housing and human trafficking. In all, students contributed more than 1,400 hours of direct service with an estimated dollar value of volunteer time equaling $32,984.
· Cougarpalooza, sponsored by CAB and the Office of Student Life, had more than 2,800 students in attendance on the evening of the final day of classes for spring semester.
· Matt Roberts began his tenure as athletics director in January 2017.
· Breanna Bolden set several College of Charleston women’s basketball records this season, including becoming the College’s all-time leading scorer. For the third year in a row, she was named the Colonial Athletic Association’s Defensive Player of the Year.
· Men’s golf won their fourth straight Colonial Athletic Association championship and swept the top conference honors: William Rainey ’17 (golfer of the year), Michael Sass (rookie of the year) and Mark McEntire (coach of the year). Parker Derby ’17 became the sixth all-time men’s golfer in program history to win the conference individual title. The golf team also made their program-best fourth-straight appearance in the NCAA Regionals.
· Laura Fuenfstueck ’17 was named Colonial Athletic Association Women’s Golfer of the Year for the third time of her storied four-year career and advanced to nationals – the first women’s golfer in program history to do so.
· The men’s basketball team had a great year and advanced all the way to the CAA conference finals and earned an at-large berth in the NIT. The team secured many conference honors: Earl Grant (coach of the year) as well as five individual player honors.
· Three College of Charleston sailors competed in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games, including Enrique Arathoon ’17 in the Men’s Laser Class.
· Fifty-four current and former student-athletes graduated in May. Of the fifty-four students, 11 of them graduated with honors and two of them graduated with master’s degrees.
Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement
· On June 30, 2016, the College completed BOUNDLESS: The Campaign for the College of Charleston. BOUNDLESS raised $138.7 million from nearly 24,000 donors, including more than 10,000 alumni. It is the most successful philanthropic and engagement effort in the College’s 247-year history.
· This fall, the College received a $1 million endowment in support of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. The donation is a gift from Deborah Chalsty, a member of the Halsey’s Advisory Board.
· Google invested another $200,000 in the College’s Race and Social Justice Initiative. This initiative has had transformational reach for our students and our community at grassroots levels, including K-12 schools. Google’s generous gift supports community outreach programs that foster dialogue surrounding social inequities. One such example of the programming was in March, when MacArthur Fellow and best-selling author Ta-Nehisi Coates spoke to an audience of almost 3,000 in TD Arena.
· Eight Houston-based alumni established the Geology Alumni Endowed Award. The award supports undergraduate research, field studies and travel to national and international conferences. To date, these donors, along with their corporations’ matching gift programs, have raised $313,173 of their $500,000 goal.
· For 36 hours, on August 22–23, all Cougars (alumni, parents, faculty, staff, friends and even students) came together and welcomed our new and returning students to campus by participating in #CougarWelcome with a gift of any size to the College of Charleston Fund. 370 donors invested in the CofC experience by giving back to the fund, which supports all aspects of the College campus. Through this annual tradition, our community shows love for our school, its programs and, most importantly, its students returning to campus for another successful year. I hope everyone will join me in supporting the third annual #CougarWelcome this August 21–22!
· Fall Alumni Weekend was re-established in 2016 as an opportunity for engagement among alumni, students and faculty. More than 1,000 alumni and guests participated in events in November, including the annual Alumni Awards Gala. Spring Alumni Weekend was held two weeks ago and brought over 4,000 alumni and guests to the College, including an alumnus living in Hong Kong, for a weekend filled with events that culminated in A Charleston Affair.
· In May 2017, Alumni Affairs launched a new webpage called Commemorating the College’s Milestones in Diversity. The page features notable minority alumni and details their accomplishments. You can check it out here: https://alumni.cofc.edu/milestones-in-diversity.
· Professor Rénard Harris was named the College’s permanent Associate Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer.
· The College had a successful on-site SACSCOC visit. We expect to have our accreditation reaffirmed at the SACSCOC December meeting.
· Construction is nearing completion on the Rita Liddy Hollings Science Building. The expected move-in date is late June.
· The College is completing its renovation of the 176 Lockwood Blvd. property (near the Ashley River). The offices of Procurement and the Controller as well as the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Center for Livable Communities will move into this space this summer.
· Towell Library will become the College’s Alumni Center in August 2017. The Office of Alumni Affairs will move in this summer and will hold a grand opening celebration during Fall Alumni Weekend (Nov. 17–19).
· The College held the German American Business Summit, a full-day career, panel and networking event for community partners providing an opportunity to discuss German business relations, with the College and in Charleston and the U.S. Approximately 500 people (including 186 students) attended the various events throughout the day. This event was organized by the College’s Department of German and Russian Studies, the Career Center, the School of Business, and the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs, in partnership with the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern United States.
It is an honor to report on the many significant achievements and milestones of a tremendous year. Our successes are made possible because of all of you. It’s the strength of the College of Charleston family that is behind our momentum. It’s also a testament to what we can achieve when we work together.
By remaining true to our College identity, which calls on us to “Know Thyself,” we can build on the solid foundation of the 2016–17 academic year and accomplish even more remarkable things in the next school year and beyond.
I thank you for all you have done and will continue to do for the College, and I wish you a wonderful and productive summer.
Glenn F. McConnell ’69
College of Charleston