Winthrop University, often referred to as Winthrop or WU and formerly known as Winthrop College, is a public, coeducational, liberal arts university located in Rock Hill, South Carolina, United States. It was founded in 1886 by David Bancroft Johnson, who served as the superintendent of Columbia, South Carolina, schools. He received a $1,500 grant from Robert Charles Winthrop, a Boston philanthropist and chair of the Peabody Education Board in Massachusetts. The school was originally established in Columbia to educate young women to teach in the public schools.
Winthrop has developed into a full university, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees through five colleges and schools. It has enrollment of about 6,000 students. The 100-acre (40.5 ha) main academic and residential campus is located in Rock Hill, 25 miles (40 km) southwest of Charlotte, North Carolina and 71 miles (114 km) north of Columbia, South Carolina.
Fielding athletic teams known as Winthrop Eagles, the university participates in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) at the Division I level as a member of Big South Conference. The athletic program is known for its success in basketball, soccer, and tennis. The majority of Winthrop’s students are from South Carolina, with out-of-state and foreign students accounting for 13% of undergraduate enrollment. The university offers a number of extracurricular activities to its students, including athletics, honor societies, clubs and student organizations, as well as fraternities and sororities. Alumni and former students have made prominent careers in government, business, science, medicine, education, sports and entertainment.
Winthrop University was founded In 1886, when the Peabody Education Board of Massachusetts, headed by Robert C. Winthrop, provided $1,500 to form the “Winthrop Training School” for white women teachers. That year the school opened its doors to twenty-one students in Columbia, South Carolina. Nine years later in 1895 it moved to Rock Hill. The school’s name had changed in 1893 to “Winthrop Normal and Industrial College of South Carolina”, reflecting its mission to prepare some students for industrial jobs.
The college was segregated until 1964. It became fully coeducational in 1974. Evolving from a training school to a college with a four-year full curriculum, it also developed a graduate division. By 1992 it reflected this development, changing its name to Winthrop University.
The university’s campus is in the city of Rock Hill, South Carolina. The Winthrop College Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), as are Tillman Hall and Withers Building. The Winthrop University campus has its own zip code of 29733. Rock Hill has a total of five historic districts listed on the NRHP.
Winthrop’s campus is divided into two distinct areas: The main campus which houses the academic buildings, residence halls, library and campus center, and the more recently constructed 317-acre (128.3 ha) Recreational and Research Complex, located about one mile northeast of the main campus.
Winthrop’s main campus has had extensive development since the late 20th century. A $12 million Dalton Hall opened in 1999. The Courtyard at Winthrop, which features apartment-style residences for students, opened in 2003. The Lois Rhame West Health, Physical Education and Wellness Center opened in 2007; it is the new home of the University’s physical education department and intramural sports. The most recent addition, in 2010, is the DiGiorgio Campus Center, which added a 128,000-square-foot (11,900 m2) multi-purpose campus center. This features a 225-seat movie theater, food court, campus bookstore, post office, and casual dining. The DiGiorgio Center is connected to the West Center via an open-air plaza.
Ninety-one (91%) percent of freshman and forty-five (45%) percent of all undergraduate students live on-campus.
The Research Complex hosts the Piedmont Wetlands Research Project, a golf course (open to faculty, students and alumni), and a world-class disc golf course. (This has been the site of the United States Disc Golf Championship since its opening in 1999).
In 1943 First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited the university. It has become common for presidential candidates to visit the university during election season. In 2015, a forum for the Democratic party was held on campus, which included candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. President Barack Obama spoke at Winthrop in 2008 when he was first a presidential candidate.
Winthrop’s campus has served as the site for filming of numerous movies, television and other video productions, including the 2008 film Asylum (starring Sarah Roemer), and the 1999 film The Rage: Carrie 2. Additionally, the Winthrop Coliseum has hosted numerous television tapings of various syndicated television programs.
The university grants undergraduate degrees through four colleges: the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Business Administration, the Richard W. Riley College of Education and the College of Visual and Performing Arts. In all the university offers 43 undergraduate and 27 graduate degrees. Winthrop University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award baccalaureate, master’s and specialist degrees. Currently, the student-faculty ratio is 14:1.
The university employs 286 full-time and 222 part-time faculty members, 59 of whom are classified as minorities and 290 of whom are women. Of the 286 full-time faculty members, 248 have earned their terminal degree, 34 have a non-terminal master’s degree and one has a non-terminal bachelor’s degree.
Winthrop has been ranked in numerous college rankings. U.S. News & World Report has included Winthrop in its listings 21 straight times. The university has been recognized as South Carolina’s top-rated university according to evaluations conducted by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education. Winthrop has been rated by the Commission as “substantially exceeding standards” every year since that classification was created in 2003. The university was also named by the John Templeton Foundation as a University that “encourages character development”. In addition, Winthrop has received numerous Top-10 Regional Public University (South) rankings by U.S. News & World Report and has been rated among the Princeton Review‘s “Best Southeastern Colleges.” The university has also been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a top school for veterans.
Winthrop’s tuition for the 2017–18 academic year is $28,530 per year for out-of-state undergraduate students and $14,870 for in-state undergraduate students. Room and board is $5,440 (per year) for on-campus suite-style and $5,290 (per year) for on-campus hall-style.
Of the student population, 5,014 are undergraduate students and 1,059 are graduate students. The student body is 29 percent male and 71 percent female. The student body is 28 percent African-American and 60 percent white, non-Hispanic.
The university’s average size of undergraduate lecture courses is 22 students. All freshman and second-year students are required to live on campus, unless they live at home with their parents or legal guardians.
Winthrop’s DiGiorgio Student Union Program Board has been ranked the best Program Board in the nation three times for the quality and variety of programming, including both lecturers and entertainers. The trade publication Campus Activities Magazine has ranked the university as having the “Best Campus Program” in the nation in 1995, 2002, 2004 and 2013. Winthrop is the only university in the nation to be on the ballot every year since this award was inaugurated in 1995.
In addition to completing the academic requirements of their chosen degree, full-time Winthrop undergraduates, in order to graduate, are required to attend three cultural events for every 20 semester hours. The university maintains an extensive calendar of events that qualify as being “cultural events”.
Cultural events are typically on a wide variety of subjects, and have included in the past:
- Films (both in English and foreign languages)
- Concerts (Chamber, jazz, orchestral, cand on the university’s Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ)
- Sculpture and art exhibitions
- Lectures and discussions
The university has more than 180 student organizations. It has eight campus ministries, 11 club sports teams, seven cultural organizations, 19 clubs associated with an academic department, 19 Greek organizations, 19 Honor Societies, 19 special interest clubs and groups, three political groups, 23 professional groups, seven non-ministry religious groups, nine university representatives, seven residence hall councils and 10 service groups.
The university recognizes 19 chapters of national fraternities and sororities with over 700 students members. Fraternities include Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma, Pi Kappa Alpha, Pi Kappa Phi, Phi Mu Alpha, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and Tau Kappa Epsilon. Sororities include Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Chi Omega, Delta Sigma Theta, Delta Zeta, Sigma Gamma Rho, Sigma Sigma Sigma, Zeta Phi Beta, Zeta Sigma Chi, and Zeta Tau Alpha.
The Johnsonian, Winthrop’s independent weekly student newspaper, has been published since 1923. It’s available in print on campus and digitally on MyTJNow.com. In 2016, it was voted as the top student newspaper in the state of South Carolina by the S.C. Press Association.
The university sponsors 18 intercollegiate teams (eight men’s and 10 women’s) in baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis and track on the men’s side, and basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis, track and volleyball on the women’s side.
The university has labeled itself “The Campus of Champions” as its intercollegiate athletic teams have experienced success in recent years. Specifically, the university has won numerous Big South Conference championships in the following sports: baseball (three since 1995), men’s basketball (eleven since 1988), men’s cross country (two since 2000), men’s soccer (six since 2002), men’s tennis (four since 1997), women’s tennis (20 since 1994), softball (three since 1989) and women’s volleyball (four since 2002).
At the heart of the University’s athletic facilities is the Winthrop Coliseum. In addition to serving as the home venue of the men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball teams, the university’s athleticd department offices are located in the Coliseum. The arena features 6,100 permanent seats and hosts numerous non-university shows and events in addition to Winthrop athletic contests. The Coliseum also served as the temporary practice site of the NFL‘s Carolina Panthers until completion of the team’s facilities in Charlotte.
Opened in 2005, the university’s track and field teams compete on the $2.8 million Irwin Belk Track Complex. The facility hosts numerous Division 1 meets.
The university’s soccer teams compete at the recently completed Eagle Field. The facility, considered by many to be one of the top intercollegiate facilities in the country, features 1,800 permanent seats, a press box, field house and a Daktronics LCD scoreboard. In addition, the playing field is a Tifway 419 hybrid Bermuda grass with Eagle Blend and Sun Star.
The softball team competes at the Winthrop Softball Complex, which opened in 2001. The facility includes four fields, locker rooms and an indoor batting cage.
The tennis teams compete at the Winthrop Tennis Complex, which opened in 2003. The complex includes 12 lighted courts, seating for 300 and a clubhouse with public restroom facilities, locker rooms and offices.
Perhaps the university’s most well-known athletic team is the men’s basketball team, which has earned a berth in ten NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournaments since 1999. Additionally, it has won the Big South Conference Championship eleven times (1988, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2017). Winthrop has won more Big South Conference Championships than any other school in the conference.
On March 5, 2007, the Winthrop Eagles men’s basketball team was ranked in the Top 25 of both major college basketball polls for the first time in school history. The Eagles ranked #22 in the USA TODAY/ESPN Top 25 poll and #24 on the Associated Press (AP) Top 25 poll. Later that spring on March 16, 2007 the Winthrop Eagles defeated Notre Dame for the first NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament win in school history.
Seven men’s basketball championships came during Gregg Marshall‘s tenure as head coach. He left Winthrop to become the head coach at Wichita State University. Marshall’s assistant at Winthrop, Randy Peele, was named as his successor and led the Eagles to win Big South Championships in 2008 and 2010.
In March 2012, Winthrop named Pat Kelsey as the new head coach of the Eagles. Under Kelsey, the program has a record of 139-83. In 2017, the Eagles earned a #13 seed in the NCAA tournament but lost to #4 Butler, 76-64.
Since the mid 1990s, the Winthrop’s women’s tennis team has become the dominant force in the Big South conference, winning 20 out of 25 conference tournament championships since 1994. In the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship, Winthrop beat Auburn to make it past the first round for the first time in school history. Lauren Proctor rose to no. 14 in national rankings during that same season.
- Melissa Reeves, former president of the National Association of School Psychologists
- Scott Huffmon, political scientist and director of the Winthrop Poll
- Steven Dillingham (1973), Director of the United States Census Bureau
- Mary Gordon Ellis (1913), first woman elected to the South Carolina legislature
- Martha Thomas Fitzgerald (1916), first woman elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in a general election
- Chip Huggins (1987), member of South Carolina House of Representatives
- Terence Roberts, Mayor of Anderson, SC
- Gary Simrill, member of the South Carolina House of Representatives
- Linda H. Short (1984), former South Carolina State Senator
- Lois Rhame West (1943), First Lady of South Carolina (1971–1975); first woman to chair the Muscular Dystrophy Association; co-chair of Winthrop’s first capital campaign
- Kate Vixon Wofford (1916), first woman to hold elected office in South Carolina
- Cathy Smith Bowers (BA, 1972; MA, 1976), poet and professor; North Carolina Poet Laureate (2010–2012)
- Leigh Chapman, screenwriter, television writer and actress
- Matthew Cordell, Caldecott-award-winning children’s book illustrator
- Bob Crawford, jazz guitarist; bass player for The Avett Brothers
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- Craig Bradshaw (2007), professional basketball player for Australian team, Brisbane Bullets
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- Otto Loewy (2009), professional soccer player with MLS’s New England Revolution
- Michael Luk (2009), professional soccer player in China
- Stephen Nsereko (2010) professional soccer player with USL’s Richmond Kickers
- Marco Reda (2000), professional soccer player with MLS’s Toronto FC
- Kevin Slowey (2003), professional baseball player with the Philadelphia Phillies
- Chad Steele, Vice President of Public Relations for the Baltimore Ravens; NFL media liaison
- Matt Stinson, professional soccer player with MLS’s Toronto FC
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