philanthropia FALL 2020
Donors Making a Difference
t is my privilege to present the Fall 2020 edition of philanthropia, formerly known as Donor Digest. We changed the name to the Greek translation of philanthropy to reflect the Classics, which have been at the core of our liberal arts and sciences curriculum since we were founded 250 years ago. One thing remains the same: This publication is about you — our donors — who are making a difference at the College of Charleston. The stories told on these pages represent the impact of philanthropy on our faculty, staff, students and alumni. These achievements are possible only because of your commitment to the College. I am honored to serve as your president and am fortunate to have the opportunity to spend time with many of you. I look forward to many years on this campus so that I can meet more of you and thank you for your generosity and commitment to the College of Charleston. Your unwavering support of our living and learning environment helps us build a stronger university that offers transformative experiences, innovative ideas, groundbreaking discoveries and unlimited potential. The impact of your giving is felt throughout the classroom and beyond, and I am profoundly grateful to you for making the College of Charleston what it is and what it promises to become. Sincerely,
Andrew T. Hsu, Ph.D. President
TABLE OF CONTENTS College of Charleston philathrophia Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Contact: Carin Jorgensen, executive director Stewardship, Donor Relations & Communications firstname.lastname@example.org 843.953.5859 4 /philanthropia
6 | COFC DAY: REACHING NEW HEIGHTS AND CREATING NEW TRADITIONS
January 30, 2020, commemorated the 250th anniversary of the College’s founding. It’s also the day the College held CofC Day — 24 hours of giving and engagement that made history and established a new tradition on campus.
11 | THE CRITICAL ROLE OF COLLEGE LIBRARIES 12 | THE STERNS’ LASTING LEGACY 14 | FULFILLING THE DREAMS OF THEIR ANCESTORS 16 | M.F.A. PROGRAM LAUNCHES DOROTHEA BENTON FRANK WRITING SERIES, FELLOWSHIP
Just as her novels give unforgettable impressions of the Lowcountry, the impact of the late bestselling writer Dottie Benton Frank on the M.F.A. Creative Writing Program will live on through new programming made possible by her family and close friends.
18 | INVESTING IN OUR FUTURE LEADERS 19 | A HISTORY OF RESILIENCE 20 | A PASSION FOR THE WRITTEN WORD
Known as the teacher you took if you wanted to challenge yourself, Nan Morrison’s friends and former students are paying homage to her passion with a scholarship to help future generations of English majors.
22 | EXPANDING THE SCOPE OF HOSPITALITY AND TOURISM MANAGEMENT 23 | MACE BROWN MUSEUM CELEBRATES A DECADE WITH A NEW RESEARCH FELLOWSHIP The 10-year anniversary of the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History is celebrated with a new gift from the museum’s namesake to ensure research activities and community outreach continue for years to come.
24 | EMMETT ROBINSON, “RENAISSANCE MAN” 27 | CHAMPION FOR WOMEN IN BUSINESS 28 | OPERA TO TAKE CENTER STAGE AT COFC 30 | ON A MISSION TO PRODUCE LIBERAL ARTS-MINDED ENGINEERS 31 | PRESERVING THE HISTORY OF SOUTH CAROLINA’S LGBTQ COMMUNITY 33 | NOAH T. LEASK DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR OF INFORMATION MANAGEMENT AND INNOVATION 34 | BY THE NUMBERS 5 /philanthropia
COFC DAY: REACHING NEW HEIGHTS AND CREATING NEW TRADITIONS
anuary 30, 2020, will be remembered as a historic day at the College of Charleston for many reasons.
It’s the day the campus commemorated the 250th anniversary of the College’s founding. It’s also the day that kicked off the Drive for the 250th, the effort showcasing priorities and activities that excite our alumni and friends to make investments, engage with the College and inspire campus pride. Most importantly, January 30, 2020, marked CofC Day: 24 hours of giving. And the donors who supported the College on CofC Day made it very memorable, indeed. With a donation goal of $1 million — originally assumed as a stretch — CofC Day saw $5 million in donations at the end of the day! In fact, more than 1,400 alumni, friends, faculty, staff and students rallied to make the first-ever CofC Day a success — setting a College record for the number of donations in 24 hours. “January 30 was a historic day not only as the anniversary date of our founding in 1770, but also as a record-setting day for engagement and philanthropy,” says President Andrew T. Hsu. “I am so proud of and thankful to the College of Charleston community for their investment in this great university. Their gifts will make a difference in the lives of our students, faculty and staff for years to come.” The unprecedented level of support and engagement was fueled by 16 challenges issued by donors, including the School of the Arts Young Alumni Challenge by Susan Bass and Tom Bradford, the Class of 1986 Challenge by Mitsy Mangum ’86 and the Call Me MISTER Challenge by an anonymous donor. The College met or exceeded 11 of the 16 challenges.
COFC DAY IN PHOTOS 1.Students awaiting a piece of the Randolph Hall 250 celebration cake. 2. Karen Chandler, arts management director and associate professor, joined 80 members of the College community at the Cougar Call Center to speak with alumni. 3. Sixteen CofC Alumni Clubs participated in CofC Day, including the Charlotte CofC Club.
Another significant challenge launched during CofC Day was the Planned Giving Challenge, which encouraged donors to make a planned gift in support of the College. Thanks to messaging and personal conversations about the advantages of making charitable gifts through donors’ estates, 10 donors either committed new gifts or increased their existing estate intentions, thereby meeting the Planned Giving Challenge. Among the donors who stepped up for the Planned Giving Challenge were Michael ’05 and Melissa ’06 Tecosky, who — encouraged to participate by Michael’s fraternity brother, Johnnie Baxley ’92 — included provisions in their will to support the College; and Ann Horner ’77, who created the Herchak Horner Families Endowed Scholarship 30 years ago, but chose to increase her planned gift on CofC Day. “I am so grateful for my education at the College of Charleston,” says Horner. “In the ’70s, I could work part time and, with additional help from my mother, pay the tuition and eventually live on campus. After my mother died, I established the scholarship in her memory to help the College attract bright students who may not be able to afford all the costs.
“I realized that the original commitment would not go very far in today’s economy, so it made sense to plan an increase from my estate, and CofC Day was a perfect time to commit to the increase,” Horner continues. “I hope that the scholarship will make a difference to a future deserving student, as well as motivate other alumni and friends to include the College in their philanthropic plans. I am so impressed with President Hsu’s leadership, which also motivated me to make this additional gift.” Also motivating gifts were the more than 80 faculty and staff from across campus — including President Hsu, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences Gibbs Knotts, Chair of the Department of History Phyllis Jestice and Sailing Director Kevin Jewett — who made calls from the Cougar Call Center to help meet the CofC Day goal. “I really enjoyed the experience of calling alumni on CofC Day — much more than I had expected to,” says Jestice. “Every person I reached was willing to give money to the history department. More important for me, though: They were all delighted to have the chair of their own major department reach out to them. I asked each to share a memory of their time at the College of Charleston — these were people who had
graduated 30 or 40 years ago — and got some very touching stories. I’d love to do something like this again.”
Andrew Hsu made everyone in the room proud and confident that he is at the helm guiding our legacy into a new era filled with growth and prosperity.”
Jestice’s experience was exactly why CofC Day was created in the first place: to instill pride and spirit into the hearts and minds of the College’s 90,000 alumni. In fact, the Alumni Association worked to engage alumni around the world to participate in the day — and 16 Alumni Clubs gathered between 600 and 700 Cougars in locales like London, England; Washington, D.C.; Boston, Mass.; and Atlanta, Ga. — not to mention Greenville, Columbia and the Lowcountry.
The Alumni Club events were all unique to their specific location, but each included a personalized video message from President Hsu that inspired even more energy and kept momentum going throughout the day — raising nearly $40,000 for the College.
“Being a proud College of Charleston alumna and Boston CofC Club leader took on a completely new meaning the evening of our 250-year anniversary celebration,” says Gabrielle Guagliano Baron ’96. “Celebrating our big milestone with old and new alumni from around the state and knowing that hundreds of other alumni were doing the same across the globe was so fun and memorable! The personal and inspiring message from President
While the College’s 250th anniversary is a once-in-alifetime milestone, CofC Day is a tradition launched in 2020 that will continue well into the future. Plans are already in place for CofC Day 2021 — Thursday, January 28. By Carin Jorgensen
SCHOLARSHIP SPOTLIGHT Samba Ndiaye ’21 Dakar, Senegal hospitality and tourism management major 2019/2020 Tap and Jean Johnson Men’s Basketball Scholarship Recipient
“When I think of the power of philanthropy, I think of someone who aims to improve the lives of others, someone who gives others a chance or opportunity to succeed in education, and life in general. My donors’ philanthropic action has allowed me to become a studentathlete at the College of Charleston and graduate this coming May. I am so grateful for their support, and I hope my success encourages them to continue their awesome support for the school!” By Emily Padgett ’12
The Critical Role of College Libraries
Prior to the move to hybrid learning, the Libraries’ DEF supporters have long been moved by its impact and transformative power.
From the laptop lending program to research help for students and instructional support to faculty for online classes, the Libraries are dedicated to serving the CofC community — no matter the medium.
“The Deans Excellence Fund is vital because it supports both students and faculty, ensuring the Libraries and their facilities are able to provide essential resources to every patron,” says A. Foster Thalheimer, a stalwart supporter of the DEF and committed advocate of the Libraries.
The Libraries’ decision to pursue online avenues of research, instruction and accessibility aggressively long predates COVID-19. In 2014, before many of their South Carolina higher-ed peers, the Libraries embraced emerging digital technologies and pedagogies — e-books, streaming video services, mandatory distance education training for librarians and more.
For many Cougars, these resources are fundamental. Nearly a third of students lack consistent access to a personal computer. It is surprising how many students completed their spring 2020 coursework — Zoom lectures, writing papers, navigating OAKS — via their smartphones out of necessity.
he College Libraries make up the nexus of CofC, and with hybrid learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, their critical services are needed now more than ever.
These innovations are made possible through the Dean’s Excellence Fund (DEF), but the current supply of laptops and other technology is insufficient to meet student demand. With an ever-increasing reliance on digital resources, the DEF is pivotal for students’ academic success.
Regardless of the circumstances, the Libraries remain steadfast in their mission to provide premier resources and information literacy to every user — in person or online. Learn more about supporting the DEF at give.cofc.edu/Library.
By Vincent Fraley
A visionary who knew how to make the College grow, Stern transformed the College from a small, private, financially insolvent institution of 481 students to a public liberal arts college of more than 5,000 undergraduates by the time he “retired” in 1978. During his 10 years in office, Stern grew the annual operating budget from $700,000 to more than $13 million with an annual impact on the region’s economy of $38 million. Stern’s ability to transform the College comes as no surprise to his daughter, Tippy Stern Brickman. “My father saw everything as a challenge, so he took on growing and diversifying the College with gusto; he was the quintessential change agent,” she says. “He led by example and encouraged people to accomplish and achieve. By inspiring others, he was able to grow the College.” It was her father’s upbringing that gave him the chops to succeed. He grew up in New York City in a time of antiSemitism in a neighborhood with what he described as “ruffians.” Stern went on to join the Navy, where he met people from all walks of life, giving him a better understanding of others. It also helped that he played a key role in the construction of two naval bases in the western Pacific. He wanted College of Charleston students to be exposed to the same breadth of experience and varying perspectives that he’d been. “My father wanted to make sure students were scholars and interested in the community,” says Brickman. “He wanted them to be well-rounded and leaders — people who would be comfortable in any situation.”
When Theodore “Ted” S. Stern became the College of Charleston’s 16th president in 1968, the College was integrating the campus and facing a financial crisis. Stern proved to be just the right person to get the College through the challenges and move it forward.
Up until his death in 2013, Stern kept the importance of civic contribution and societal equality top of mind. To continue his legacy of creating well-rounded leaders at the College, he and his wife established the Theodore S. and Alva D. Stern Endowed Scholarship. Dylan Vaughan ‘19 received the first scholarship in 2017, with two Class of 2020 students following him — and all three recipients have been impacted by Stern’s life lessons in leadership and the value of giving to others. In life, Stern took every opportunity to have a teaching moment with people. He encouraged active disagreement and would give guidance often without people knowing it. To this day, Erna Womble ’78 (M.Ed. ’81) often thinks back on President Stern’s personal visionary leadership and his style of extraordinary problem-solving and decisionmaking. She remembers his drive and determination to expand the College’s campus and engage in wide-ranging discussions to absorb divergent views while staying laserfocused on achieving goals for the College of Charleston and the state of South Carolina.
“Throughout the time I was an undergrad, grad and employee of the College, I learned much from the way he elicited sophisticated reasoning and encouraged articulate and civil expression of complex, emotional and controversial topics,” says Womble, who came to the College from a cosmopolitan town in the pristine Himalayas. Womble fondly recalls Ted and Alva Stern’s generosity of spirit. “The Sterns were exceedingly kind to me throughout my time at the College and afterwards. Both President and Mrs. Stern were each very strong in their own right and served as mentors in many ways. They encouraged anyone, no matter how young or seemingly insignificant, to relax with or ‘take on’ the President or First Lady of the College in expressing disagreement as freely as agreement on any topic.” Long after her days on campus, Womble enjoyed a close friendship with the Sterns — and remembers President Stern’s 100th birthday celebration: “His bear hug was as strong as ever, and his eyes twinkled with joy!” Gus Gustafson ’75 also benefitted from Stern’s influence. A student-athlete, he remembers how the Sterns opened their home to students and faculty. Twice, when he had to stay on campus over Thanksgiving because of a basketball game, the Sterns hosted the entire team and coaches for a meal. And, when it was time for Gustafson to graduate, he received the Alva Stern Award, which went to her favorite basketball player. “My reward was to sit up on the Cistern for graduation. My mother was so proud that I didn’t have the heart to tell her why I won,” he chuckles. “Ted was and is to this day the most dynamic man I ever met,” says Gustafson. “He was a forward thinker with a gift at forming strong relationships and getting everyone on board.” He remembers often seeing President Stern and a politician in hard hats standing in the back of the College dump truck. With his hands flying around, Stern would share his vision to build and expand the College. It always seemed that, after one of these tours, the College would be breaking ground on a new building. When Gustafson looks at the College today, he knows President Stern would be very pleased with the highquality faculty, students and programs. His vision became a reality. Now, Stern continues his legacy through his scholarship, which gives students the opportunity to take advantage of all the College has to offer — opportunities for friendship and a quality education. He was a strong proponent of gaining experience dealing with others and accomplishing things for the good of all.
As President Stern once said, “I look forward to doing something to help others because I think that’s the only real joy you get in life — by giving of yourself to benefit others.” His endowed scholarship will give him the opportunity to do so in perpetuity. By Darcie Goodwin
During the Drive for the 250th, the College is focusing on the following fundraising priorities: The 1967 Legacy Program will empower African American students to succeed by preparing them to be leaders and contribute to a global society. The 21st Century Library project will expand the Libraries’ infrastructure to make it a central hub for media production, experiential learning and creative cooperation. The Campus Preservation Fund will preserve, refresh and renew the campus’ historic homes and buildings. The Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry will bring students and faculty together for high-level intellectual collaboration and high-impact results. CofC Opera will give students the opportunity to participate in full-scale opera productions and will make opera available to the Charleston community beyond Spoleto Festival, USA. Engineering at CofC will bring the best of a liberal arts and sciences education together with the technical literacy needed to thrive in our increasingly technology-driven world. The Global Leadership Institute will use international experiential learning to prepare students for living in a globally connected world. Merit Scholarships will help the Honors College attract and retain highly engaged, intelligent and diverse students. The Student Success Center will create a home for student success resources at the College, including career development, civic engagement and undergraduate research.
Please visit 250drive.cofc.edu to learn more about the College’s fundraising priorities. For more about the College’s 250th anniversary, visit 250.cofc.edu.
FULFILLING THE DREAMS OF THEIR ANCESTORS
he 1967 Legacy Program will help ensure the success of future African American students while honoring those who came before.
Although African American students are only included in a little over 50 years of the College’s “official” 250year history, in reality the Black community’s ties with CofC go back to the beginning. Not only did enslaved people help build some of the buildings found on campus, their forced labor helped generate the wealth of plantation owners who made donations to fund the start of the College. And with the skills they brought
but still moving on and embracing the whole legacy of the College.” With a full-time director, a dedicated gathering space on campus and alumni mentoring, the program will focus on African American student attendance and matriculation. Each Legacy Scholar will receive $10,000 ($5,000 for tuition and $5,000 for resources) and participate in a prestigious, four-year platform of academic, personal and career-ready enrichment to become the next generation of African American leaders. (The goal is to have 10 students, including two Sankofa Scholars from Africa and another from the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, which extends from Wilmington, N.C., to Jacksonville, Fla.) Personalized enrichment activities like studyabroad experiences and networking and internship opportunities will help them thrive pre- and postgraduation. Perhaps more than anything, the College wants to make sure the students feel a true sense of belonging.
here in medicine, art, teaching, cooking and many other areas, they contributed to the Charleston community at large and are a big part of its heritage.
“It’s about fitting in,” says CofC’s Chief Diversity Officer Rénard Harris. “One thing is to recruit and get them here, but the other is feeling at home here. We want to make sure the students feel comfortable with the
It’s only fitting, then, that the 1967 Legacy Program (named after the year the College integrated) is one of the nine priorities of the Drive for the 250th — the College’s big philanthropic and engagement effort that launched this year. With a fundraising goal of $1.2 million, the 1967 Legacy Program is a multiyear initiative that aims to improve the recruitment, retention, graduation and workplace success of African American students through scholarships, enhanced and extended education support, and professional preparation, as well as research experiences around African Americans’ contributions to the College. “This is the College of Charleston’s story, not just the African American story,” says Valerie Frazier ‘91, associate professor of English and a member of the Black Alumni Council, who will have a key advisory role in the program. “That’s one thing we’ve seen with President Hsu, that he’s not shied away from telling it. In almost every speech that he’s given, he’s talked about trying to deal with that pain, acknowledging it
right financial, emotional and relationship support — all those things that a human being needs to feel full and complete when he or she is existing in space for four, five, six years. It’s a healthy thing.” One of those providing financial support to the program is the Charleston law firm of Willoughby & Hoefer.
“Willoughby & Hoefer contributed to the 1967 Legacy Program to support the initiatives of improving the recruitment, retention and graduation of African American students at the College,” says partner Randy Lowell ‘00, who is a member of the College of Charleston Board of Trustees. “We recognize the importance of diversity on campus and in the community at large, and wanted to demonstrate our support for this program.” Connecting the present to the past will be a key part of the program, too. Through the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, the Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston and the International African American Museum — the scholars will engage in historical research projects about the African American story and the people who came before them. And that story is about not just the integration of the College, but the whole African diaspora in the region, as well — the real people who were doctors, teachers, artists, mothers and fathers. “It’s carrying the legacy of those Africans who were brought here to support this institution, to build this institution,” says Charissa Owens, director of diversity education and training in the Office of Institutional Diversity. “We don’t want them to see slavery only as the horrific experience, because we understand that. We also want to put a lens on their strength, their resiliency, their intelligence and ingenuity. Many of these
individuals had skill sets that continue to permeate our community to this very day.” The program, which will launch in the fall of 2021, ties in perfectly with President Hsu’s philosophy of tradition and transformation. “This project is not supposed to be the same old same old,” says Harris. “It’s pretty innovative to play in this space. It’s very exciting. For me, it’s about identity and purpose. There’s a real sense of ownership and empowerment. These 10 students get to tell their own story and how you should engage with them as opposed to someone telling them how they should engage. They take complete control, and that’s the beauty of life.” That sense of ownership and empowerment was on display last December, when 15 Black medical students from Tulane University posed in white doctor coats in front of slave quarters at the Whitney Plantation in Louisiana. The social media posts with the caption, “We are our ancestors’ wildest dreams,” went viral. “That encapsulates a little bit of what we want our students to feel,” says Frazier. “There’s an emotional component in terms of how people see this legacy being built, and this program is one major step in that direction here at the College.”
By Tom Cunneff
M.F.A. PROGRAM LAUNCHES
DOROTHEA BENTON FRANK
WRITING SERIES, FELLOWSHIP
orothea Benton Frank (Dottie to everyone who knew her) had a strong connection to the College of Charleston. The New York Times–bestselling author of 20 novels set in the Lowcountry even spoke at the College’s 2010 Winter Commencement, where she encouraged graduates to “dream a dream that is as big as you can imagine, but be reasonably certain that it’s one you have a good chance to fulfill.”
“Angelica is an amazing writer and student,” says Anthony Varallo, professor and director of undergraduate creative writing. “Her stories often blend the surreal and the real, the everyday and the outlandish, in such a seamless way, that the reader comes to see the ordinary as extraordinary, and the extraordinary as ordinary. Angelica’s work is relentlessly surprising and innovative, and always a total pleasure to read.”
Frank certainly did her part to help students — particularly those in the College’s M.F.A. Creative Writing program — fulfill those dreams. During her life, she hosted dinners for students at her home on Sullivan’s Island, and her legacy has continued to support the program and its students even after she passed away in 2019.
“We value writing above all else in our students,” Lott says. “We’re looking for writers who want to make artful work that will be read by real people, and not for a select coterie made up of those ‘in the know’ about what writing should be. We want to give help to writers who want to write good books that will be read, and not shelved. That’s what Dottie wanted to make — and did so very, very well.”
Through her family’s generous gift in her honor, the Dorothea Benton Frank Writing Series and Fellowship (DBF Fellowship) aims to distinguish the College’s M.F.A. Creative Writing program by offering a balance of artistic and professional approaches to a writer’s life and work. “Dottie always felt that it wasn’t right that commercially successful writing didn’t have the same status as literary writing,” says Peter Frank, Dottie’s husband. “It was something she was very passionate about, and she believed that students needed to learn the disciplines and mechanics of selling their work.” The writing series will have two components. The Master’s Class will bring prominent, award-winning and bestselling writers to campus to meet with M.F.A. students and top undergraduate creative writers. Students will closely engage with renowned writers representing a range of literary backgrounds and genres. The class will focus on the craft of writing, provide manuscript feedback and offer expertise on professional aspects of a writer’s career. The second component will be Industry Talks, which will bring agents, editors, publishers, literary managers and television, film and theater producers for an open forum to discuss the business of writing. These professionals will share their expertise and give advice about the publishing industry and possible careers in publishing or writing. “The opportunities this incredible gift brings to us are, really, endless,” says Bret Lott, acclaimed novelist and professor of English at the College. “To begin with, we’ll be bringing the best, commercially successful writers out there to our campus to interact personally with our M.F.A.s. They’ll be seeing what it means to write — and write successfully — for a living.” The DBF Fellowship will be used to recruit top students from across the nation. The inaugural DBF Fellowship in 2020 was awarded to incoming fiction writer, Angelica Manglona ’19, M.F.A. ‘22, based on her merit and the strong potential demonstrated in her creative writing sample.
Founded in 2016, the M.F.A. in creative writing is a twoyear program. Already graduates have published books of poetry and fiction and received awards and fellowships. “The fellowships are so very important for our still-young M.F.A. program because they offer significant financial support for emerging writers as they spend two years in Charleston perfecting their craft and writing their first book,” says Emily Rosko, associate professor of English and director of the creative writing program. Stephen Pond, chairman and CEO of Hillbrook Limited and a member of the School of Business Board of Governors, worked with Peter Frank to establish the scholarship. “I was interested in supporting this program because it recognizes Dottie’s lifelong dedication as a mentor and coach,” says Pond. “Not only was she a successful author, but she understood the business side of writing. There are so many budding authors who often fall by the wayside because they can’t sustain the financial effort. This initiative will extend her mission.” Indeed, Dorothea Benton Frank passionately believed in the power of storytelling to transform lives. The writing series and fellowship will not only distinguish this program from the rest, it will also give students the tools to be “reasonably certain” they can fulfill their writing dreams.
By Amy Mercer
Investing in Our Future Leaders
hile Shannon Toney Smith ’02 completed her doctorate in clinical psychology at Texas A&M, her husband Mike Smith ’01 developed websites for the school’s alumni association. Seeing the university’s need for involved alumni and student scholarships made Mike think about his own alma mater, the College of Charleston. So, when the Smiths moved to Florence, S.C., in 2015, Mike decided it was time to reengage with CofC. He discovered a big presence of CofC alumni in Florence, but there was no alumni club. He reached out to Karen Burroughs Jones ’74, director of alumni communications and executive secretary of the Alumni Association, to help him set up the Florence/Pee Dee CofC Club.
“I am honored to have been chosen to receive the Pee Dee Alumni Club Scholarship,” says the Honors College student and member of the Honors Leadership Fellows Society, who plans to major in biology and become a pediatric orthopedist. “It means a lot that my past accomplishments have been recognized, and I am so grateful for the many amazing opportunities the Florence/Pee Dee CofC Club and the College of Charleston have given me. This award alleviates a huge financial burden and will allow me to focus on my studies and future goals over the next four years.” While at the College, Elkins plans to join the Public Health Society and the Women in STEM Club. She also wants to join clubs such as Challah for Hunger, Charleston Miracle and Cougars with a Purpose to help with fundraisers and events within the community.
Once Mike formed the club, he had the challenge of getting area alumni involved. He quickly found an ally in Ashley Nance ’02. The pair decided to create a culture of philanthropy and began work to create a scholarship for high-caliber student-leaders who would be active members of the campus community.
Alumni Mike Smith and Ashley Nance are very excited to see the scholarship come to fruition with Elkins as its first recipient – so much so that Mike wants other alumni clubs to join their effort. He even wrote up a guide for other alumni clubs on how to set up a scholarship.
To get the scholarship set up, Mike again reached out to the College and received advice from Cathy Mahon ’80, vice president of development. She advised them to get five donors to commit to $2,000 each to get the ball rolling for a four-year scholarship. Mike and Nance were the first two donors, and Tara Streett Jeffords ’93 quickly stepped in as a third. But then they hit a roadblock with recruiting other interested alumni.
“It’s a straightforward way to get alumni involved in their club as well as recruit high-caliber students to the College,” explains Mike.
Fortunately, Brian Rowe, assistant director of annual leadership giving at the College, helped connect the dots. He secured two more donors who shared the same vision for the Pee Dee area — J. Carson Whittington ’00 and Flo Lester Vinson ’82. Their first scholarship recipient of the Pee Dee Alumni Club Scholarship, Ansley Elkins ‘24, joined the College of Charleston in fall 2020.
“There is all kinds of potential once other club leaders see what we are doing,” adds Nance. “I imagine they will quickly start their own scholarship. Our ultimate goal is to get our scholarship endowed, so we still have work to do.” They plan to reach out to business and community leaders in the Pee Dee area to build up the $50,000 needed for an endowed scholarship — really a small price to pay to educate future community leaders.
By Darcie Goodwin
A History of Resilience T
he College of Charleston is a place known for its resiliency. From trying to grow roots as a fledgling institution amid the American Revolution to enduring devastating natural disasters, financial meltdowns and now COVID-19, CofC always finds a way to not just survive but to thrive. The campus proper is a visual cue of the College’s resiliency — the Cistern Yard oaks being just one example. But the most important reminder of CofC’s ability to meet whatever challenge it faces is its community. It is the people, past and present, studying, working and living at the College who assure its resiliency. The people of CofC — and, frankly, the planet — have been tested with the emergence of COVID-19. Job loss, isolation and financial hardships, not to mention the virus itself, have thrown the concept of “normal” out the window. And, while College leadership moved quickly to control what it could — moving to virtual learning, teaching and working to limit the campus community’s exposure to the virus — not all the hardship could be prevented. This is where the people of CofC showed up in true Cougar fashion to make a difference. Since mid-March, the College of Charleston community has committed more than $179,000 to the Student Emergency Fund (SEF) to assist students who experience critical need because of the pandemic. More than 1,000 students were able to receive funding to cover expenses like computers and textbooks, rent, medical supplies and food. “I lost my job as a waitress amid the COVID-19 crisis and receive no outside resources aside from what income I
was making,” says a SEF recipient. “I am terrified of how this lack of stability could impact my life and, worse, my education. This may be my only hope. I am so grateful to attend an institution that cares so greatly for its students. May you all be blessed and well.” The Student Emergency Fund has been around for a number of years, and funds have been made available to students in need on a limited basis. The needs of students that stemmed from the pandemic were unprecedented, and the funds received in response were spread as far as possible. “It should not be surprising that when we called upon the College of Charleston community to support our students who experienced great need, this wonderful community responded in ways beyond our imagination,” says Alicia Caudill, executive vice president of Student Affairs. “The generous gifts to the Student Emergency Fund allowed us to provide support directly to students very quickly. This alleviated some of their stress and allowed them to focus on successfully completing their spring 2020 coursework. More importantly, it reminded students that the College is a community of care and support, and it is a community that will always be there for them. “In the most difficult of times, we showed what community is truly about,” says Caudill. “While the SEF existed at the College prior to COVID-19, this spring allowed us to renew the focus and energy on the importance of having these funds for students. This is a focus that will not end with the pandemic, and I believe will be one of the silver linings of this challenging experience.” By Carin Jorgensen
A Passion for the Written Word F
ormer students, colleagues and friends established the Nan Morrison Endowed Scholarship as an homage to the retired English professor’s passion for teaching English Renaissance and Southern literature. Known as the teacher you ‘took’ if you wanted to challenge yourself, her love for the written word proved to be infectious.
“Nan was a force to be reckoned with,” says Lynda Chafetz ’78. “She demanded a lot of her students; she expected you to read the assignments and offered you so much in return. The scholarship was created to honor and ensure the legacy of her spirit.” Established in 2005, the scholarship supports an incoming or first-year student of exceptional academic talent who demonstrates financial need and plans to pursue a degree in English at the College. To date, 10 students have benefitted from this scholarship, including Kristen Barbour ’16, who majored in English and secondary education and now teaches in the Aiken County school district. The scholarship, says the youngest of three sisters, “helped me earn my degree and become my mother’s first daughter to graduate.” Barbour plans to become certified in English as a Second Language (ESL) and share her love of literature and storytelling with students in other countries. That’s the kind of passion that Morrison spent her career sharing, too. Morrison grew up on a farm in Alabama where reading was an indulgence. The family joke was that young Nan checked out a book from the library on the first day of school. Some of her favorites books were ones with feisty female characters like the ones she found in the Nancy Drew and Bobbsey Twins series. As she grew up, she moved on to Shakespeare and earned her doctorate in English from the University of South Carolina. Armed with her specialization in English Renaissance, Morrison became the second female professor to be hired at the College in 1967.
Morrison arrived on campus during a tumultuous time. The College had refused to sign the Compliance Act and agree to integration, which put the school on precarious financial footing. A widespread faculty walkout left many classrooms in need of instructors, and Morrison found herself teaching a variety of English courses, including Southern literature. When the College finally opened its doors to integration and enrolled its first Black students, the English department’s faculty returned, but Morrison continued to teach courses in both English Renaissance and Southern literature, which she had come to love.
“Shakespeare and Faulkner are writers who focused on what matters most in our lives,” she says. During her tenure, Morrison shared her love of reading with non-English majors during introductory classes such as Freshman Composition and Survey of British Literature. After 38 years of teaching, she retired in 2005. She still misses teaching because, as she says, “There is no better job in the whole world. You have people at the best time of their lives, and you’re immersed in a community rich with diverse ideas.” After retiring, Morrison spent the next several years researching and writing A History of College of Charleston 1936–2008. Looking back on her time at the College, she says one of the things she loves is the resiliency.
“The College has faced many challenges in the past and somehow or other, always becomes stronger,” she says, adding that the liberal arts are more important now than ever. “The world is bombarded with so many sciencebased problems that we need students who can read analytically, listen attentively and think imaginatively.” Morrison’s passion for the written word has helped shape many alumni as well as the history of the College. The scholarship in her name will help future students embrace their love for literature. By Amy Mercer
EXPANDING THE SCOPE OF HOSPITALITY AND TOURISM MANAGEMENT T
his past year, the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) in the School of Business received several generous gifts to enhance this popular, some say signature, program at the College of Charleston. In HTM, students learn to be guest-focused, innovative and globally aware, as well as effective communicators with the ability to excel in the many facets of this growing industry. Students can focus their coursework in hotel and resort management, food service management or events management. The faculty deliver high-quality education, supported by a progressive series of practical, applied and experiential learning opportunities that take place in one of the world’s premier tourist destinations. One of HTM’s exceptional adjunct faculty members, Michael Cohen, recently bequeathed his home to the College to establish the Cohen Hospitality and Tourism Endowed Fund, which will directly support the beverage management classes he teaches. Cohen has been teaching the hugely popular special topics course Essentials of Wine since Fall 2011. Cohen’s vast knowledge of the wine industry, as well as his ability to make his beverage management classes exciting and interesting, give students firsthand knowledge about the industry. In addition to teaching, Cohen uses his extensive professional network to assist students in obtaining internships, scholarships and employment opportunities within the industry.
morphed into a teaching appointment. What I found was something I did not expect: Young adults have the same passion as I do with the study of wine. It was exciting to begin to teach about my passion, and, over time, I incorporated my medical knowledge into my teaching. I began to research how the young mind works and what stimulates retained knowledge. As I began to practice this in the classroom, the students were much more engaged and found the experience more rewarding, to the point that several wished to pursue wine as a career. How wild is that? It has now become an enjoyable give-and-take with the students on a combined voyage of learning.” Another generous enhancement to HTM was recently provided by President and CEO of Hilton Hotels Chris Nassetta and his wife Paige. The Nassettas, whose daughter Kirby is a hospitality and tourism management major at the College, have been generous supporters of higher education throughout their lives. Recognizing the need to alleviate the costs associated with attending college and to help provide access to those who may have a disability, in 2019, they established the Palmetto Hospitality Endowed Scholarship and the Palmetto Hospitality Scholarship Fund. “Many thanks to Dr. Cohen and Chris and Paige Nassetta for their generous gifts to the business school,” says Alan Shao, School of Business dean. “Their thoughtfulness will provide opportunities for our students that would not have been possible otherwise. The best part of it all is that both of these donations are endowments, which means that numerous business students will benefit for the foreseeable future.” This innovative and exciting program continues to attract students from all parts of the United States and abroad to the College. This growth remains possible with the collaboration of faculty as well as the philanthropy of generous donors. With programmatic and scholarship support, the HTM is able to continue providing students with a high-quality, comprehensive hospitality management education that is strengthened with practical, applied and experiential learning opportunities. Indeed, says Brumby McLeod, interim chair of the HTM program, “Philanthropy continues to assist our program in the expansion of experiential learning.”
“I have found a new career, so to speak, after medicine, and it is with wine,” says Cohen, who practiced osteopathic medicine. “It began as a business that 22 /philanthropia
By Kendra Conway
Mace Brown Museum Celebrates a Decade With a New Research Fellowship
en-year anniversaries traditionally call for gifts of tin or aluminum. For Mace Brown, the 10-year anniversary of the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History at the College of Charleston is being marked by a multiyear gift to support a new research fellowship that takes the museum’s research and community outreach to the next level. Brown’s gift may not have been intended as an anniversary present, but his investment is intentional nonetheless. After informally funding research activities for the past six years, Brown established the Mace Brown Museum Research Fellowship to provide a steadier stream of resources supporting a summer faculty stipend, research activities and travel to professional conferences. The first recipient of the Mace Brown Museum Research Fellowship is Robert Boessenecker, Ph.D., research associate and adjunct instructor in the College’s Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences. Boessenecker is no stranger to Brown or to the museum; he has known of Brown and his collection since before his first visit to the College as a doctoral student in 2012 and has been involved in myriad museum-based research projects since joining the College in 2015. “The collection we have here is one of the most important resources available for learning about whale and dolphin evolution. Mace’s collection was a primary factor in my coming to the College as a postdoc,” says Boessenecker, adding that most of his research is conducted during the summer when he doesn’t carry a full teaching load. “Summer is when I can focus on squeezing as much information as possible from old bones and teeth.” Boessenecker’s primary responsibilities as the Mace Brown Museum Research Fellow include researching the fossils within the museum to study the evolution of whales and dolphins, preparing multiple manuscripts on fossil cetaceans for peer review, improving the collections and promoting the museum through social media outreach
and public lectures. He also serves as a mentor to aspiring undergraduate paleontology students in the School of Sciences and Mathematics and works with them to publish their own research. “Mace is responsible for bringing a number of amazing fossils into the public trust, and the scientific value of this collection is unparalleled,” Boessenecker shares. “He is an altruistic collector in that he didn’t amass a unique and significant collection to sell them. He always wanted to give them to a place where scientists and non-scientists can learn from them and grow their interest in our ancient marine life forms.” In addition to naming fossil species, Boessenecker continues advancing the museum’s profile and interests through marketing plans and a number of research projects. And he isn’t toiling in the museum’s storage spaces and labs alone. The museum is a family affair, as Boessenecker’s wife Sarah also contributes her expertise. So far, she has catalogued the entire collection and is instrumental in outreach to the community. Their partnership appears to be working: Last year the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History attracted between 14,000 and 15,000 visitors. “It is gratifying to see what they are doing with the museum and collection,” says Brown, who — once heavily engaged in the day-to-day operations of the museum — stepped back in 2016 to let others take responsibility for the collection he gave to the CofC Foundation. This includes Scott Persons, who joined the College in 2019 to serve as curator of the Mace Brown Museum and to teach as an assistant professor in the geology department. “I have great respect for the professional staff running it now. We are definitely moving in the right direction on every front at the museum, and much of that is due to the work done by Bobby and Sarah. I see our reputation continuing to grow in the scientific community and with the general public, and I couldn’t be more pleased.”
By Carin Jorgensen
EMMETT ROBINSON, “RENAISSANCE MAN” I
n 1934, Emmett Robinson ’35 won the College of Charleston’s Robert Worth Bingham Oratorical Contest. An annual tradition dating to 1907, the speech competition, judged by a panel of College faculty, identified the best student rhetorician. Robinson’s winning speech, which celebrates the value of music in our daily lives, continues to ring true today. “With so many devices to make life less of a drudgery we ignore striving to new heights and lapse into servitude to Common Sense,” he wrote. “Securing the necessities of life so overwhelms us, that we forget to live.” When he wrote his speech, he was deeply ensconced in the theatre department. He performed in several plays his freshman year — and by the time he was a junior he started directing. One of the bigger successes that year was an al fresco production of Romeo and Juliet. His daughter, Jennet Robinson Alterman, a nonprofit consultant and women’s rights advocate, says that over the years many people have come up to her to say they’ll never forget her father’s production of Romeo and Juliet at the Cistern. The play, which he adapted, designed and directed, was presented as part of the sesquicentennial anniversary of the College’s founding. In recognition of his contributions to theatre at the College and in Charleston, several of his colleagues established the Emmett Robinson Memorial Scholarship in Theatre to honor a rising senior theatre major with a distinguished record of leadership and artistry. “As a student, as an artist and as a member of the Charleston community, Emmett Robinson was the embodiment of a liberal arts educated theater person,” says Todd McNerny, professor of theatre and associate
dean of the School of the Arts. “He was an actor with immense talent, a director and artistic director of even greater, and a designer of even greater still. As such, the scholarship in his name has come to recognize the very best of our senior theatre majors — individuals who emulate Emmett’s commitment to the totality of theatrical art and to superior effort across that totality. There is no higher honor for our theatre majors than to be named the Emmett Robinson Scholar.” One of Robinson’s students, Brent Laing ’83, senior instructor in the Department of Theatre and Dance, concurs. “Emmett tried to impress upon us that it takes a team working in concert with each other to produce theater. He referred to this as the sympathetic rubbing together of minds. All of the theatrical artists have an obligation to bring all of their skills (we never know what will be required of us) to the table when producing theater. He was always quick to include the audience in this experience. They want to be there. They’re rooting for us to do well. It’s in their minds and imaginations that the final step in this creative process takes place.” After graduating from the College, Robinson went on to be the theater director of the then–brand-new Footlight Players, “Charleston’s Little Theater.” Robinson more than doubled the membership in his first few years, but deflected any praise, saying that the theater was run by volunteers who not only acted, but also built scenery, managed the lights and sounds, sewed costumes and sold tickets. In 1938, Footlight Players and Carolina Art Association (now known as the Gibbes Museum) merged to take over the Dock Street Theatre, and Robinson stepped in to direct, working closely with the resident playwright Dubose Heyward (author of Porgy and Bess).
Determined to better serve community theater, Robinson applied to Yale University’s Department of Drama M.F.A. program. In his application he wrote, “I have found that a ‘little theater director’ must know every phase of the theater, and if his responsibility is one of developing the material in his community, he must be equipped to do so.” Robinson believed that a community theater should reflect the manners and mores of the community, serving as an articulate voice for that particular audience. New ideas and concepts should be introduced, “not to shock or intimidate, but to inform, to entertain, to touch.” Returning to Charleston with his M.F.A., Robinson threw himself back into the Little Theater, where he served as director until he retired in 1977. His daughter remembers a childhood that blended traditional, conservative Charleston customs with the marvelous fantasy of community theater. Her mother Patricia was a poet and playwright who often acted in the shows, which is why, when another actress dropped out of The Lady’s Not for Burning, a play set in the Middle Ages, Robinson promised his wife — who was pregnant with Jennet at the time — that he would design her costumes to hide the pregnancy if she would step into the role. Robinson began teaching at the College in the 1960s — something that, according to his daughter, “lengthened his life.” To honor his many achievements and contributions to the College, in 1971, the College of Charleston awarded Robinson the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters, describing him as a “present day reincarnation of the versatility of a Renaissance man.” Robinson’s legacy continues on through the lives of the Emmett Robinson Memorial Scholarship in Theatre recipients. “Being awarded the Emmett Robinson Scholarship was perhaps the greatest honor of my career at CofC,” says Michael Smallwood ’09, who is now an actor, podcaster, critic, award-winning playwright and filmmaker. “That stage means so much to every artist who passes through the CofC theatre department. I was eventually married on that stage — that’s how much that space meant to me. It’s the highest achievement professors can bestow upon you. It marks you as not just an exceptional student, but an ambassador of the department. And so for me, it was and continues to be this great motivator. Receiving the scholarship boosted my desire to prove myself as the best of the best.” By Amy Mercer
The 14-carat gold medal Robinson received in 1934 for winning best student rhetorician at the College of Charleston’s Robert Worth Bingham Oratorical Contest. The face of the medal bears the College seal and the back (seen here) is inscribed with the name of the award, the year and the winner’s name. 26 /philanthropia
SCHOLARSHIP SPOTLIGHT Jody Bell ‘23
Riverside, Conn. international business major and international studies minor 2019/2020 Beatty Scholarship recipient 2019/2020 Jordan Rively Scholarship recipient
“I cannot thank my donors enough for their gracious contribution to fund my education. I embedded myself into philanthropy at the age of 16, starting icodhelp.org, an informational hub for the children of undocumented immigrants. At its core, philanthropy is an act of service, and that’s why I am so passionate about it. For me personally, there is this sense of purpose that is just incredibly overwhelming when you begin to recognize the magnitude of the problem you are aiding. “Because of my educational pursuits and philanthropic calling, I was unable to pick up those extra shifts at work after school or devote my time to sports and other extracurricular activities. My donors and the scholarships they support allow me the space and time for philanthropic exploration. It has given me the financial freedom to continue my work within community service while also pursuing an education that will only maximize my impact in the future.” By Emily Padgett ‘12
inclued women like Joan Amble, who is co-founder, chair emeritus and director of W.O.M.E.N. In America, a leadership program designed to enable women in business to achieve their maximum potential.
Champion for Women in Business
oanna Lau, founder and CEO of executive consulting and investment company Lau Acquisitions and member of the College of Charleston’s School of Business Board of Governors, is on a mission. “Women make a great impact in the economy and the workplace,” she says. “The mission for the Center for Women’s Leadership Initiative is to promote the advancement of women.” Lau is a successful leader in a male-dominated industry, but she’s not interested in talking about her success. Her goal is to take the lessons she and other successful businesswomen have learned and share that knowledge with the next generation of young women in the School of Business. These lessons and much more will be offered through the Center for Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI). Alan Shao, dean of the School of Business understands the importance of this mission — both for businesswomen and for the College’s business school. “By championing women in business, the School of Business plays a crucial role in transforming industries and creating positive social change,” says Shao. “Working with Joanna allows us to reinforce our commitment to diversity and inclusion and position ourselves as a resource to students and the business community.” In February 2020, Lau and her committee launched the first annual Women for Women (W4W) Summit to test the waters. The summit, a one-day event with panel discussions, workshops and networking sold out, confirming the demand for Lau’s vision. They raised more than $50,000 for the College for future events. Speakers
“I was so honored to a part of the W4W event,” says Amble. “The inaugural event focused on inspirational stories of women of courage, resilience and a desire to pay it forward to the women who follow us. Of particular note was the attendees’ and speakers’ diversity of experiences and backgrounds as well as professional and personal journeys. This, combined with the mutual desire to celebrate, elevate and connect, made it an event to be remembered.” “It was an honor to listen to so many amazing women, including former United Nations Ambassador and Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley, who received the Woman of Courage award,” says international business major Olivia Soccio ’21. “I am so proud to be a student at an institution that empowers women in business and hosts events such as this one.” The summit was just the tip of the iceberg. Lau plans for the center to be an incubator that will promote the advancement of women in the workplace. This center will offer mentorship programs, curriculum support for faculty and various resources for women in business. “In my experience, many companies have difficult conversations with female employees,” says Lau. “The WLI will be a place where we can mentor and coach students, women in the workplace and businesses to navigate these conversations. It will engage constituents and draw on our network of alumni to heighten the skills of young women and give them the resources they need to enter the business world.” The committee is already planning the next summit, which will take place in fall 2021. The theme is resiliency and diversity and will address mental health issues during the pandemic.
By Amy Mercer
OPERA TO TAKE CENTER STAGE AT COFC
hrough its dramatic narrative and music, opera offers a powerful and emotional experience. It incorporates every aspect of art – dancing, theater, art composition, singing and orchestra. So why aren’t there more opera lovers? Most of the time, it’s because people haven’t had the opportunity to experience it for themselves. Under the leadership of Saundra DeAthos-Meers, assistant professor of voice/opera, the College of Charleston plans to change the tide on opera by introducing more people to this dynamic art form. DeAthos-Meers’ program already offers children’s opera for local elementary schools, but the frequency of full-scale opera has been limited due to the overwhelming production costs. That is poised to change. As one of the Drive for the 250th fundraising priorities, opera is getting more attention. Launched on CofC Day, the Drive for the 250th aims to leverage support and advocacy to maximize and redefine the College’s strong liberal arts and sciences tradition for the future. Through the Drive, the College aims to garner excitement and support for opera so that CofC can provide the community with cultural experiences previously available only during the two weeks of Spoleto Festival USA. Charleston is known as an arts and culture capital with a storied past steeped in the performing arts. The first opera staged in America was “Flora,” a ballad opera presented in 1735 at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. Producing regular, fully staged opera at the College will harken back to these illustrious roots and provide artistic, performing and cultural opportunities for students, faculty and the community. One of the largest opera productions ever held at the College took place in 2013, and out of the performance of The Marriage of Figaro rose two stars who are now making a name for themselves: lyric soprano Ashley Fabian ’13 (artist certificate ’15) and baritone Nathan Matticks ’12. These alumni, who are working hard to shine a light on the art they love so much, are excited to see operatic performances take center stage at their alma mater. 28 /philanthropia
Matticks by Sebastian Smith
Fabian by Caitlin and Kevin Photography
Fabian by David Bachman at Pittsburgh Opera
shley Fabian grew up singing. In fact, she comes from a family who all took private voice lessons. While no one else in her family sings professionally, Fabian’s father, who studied opera, sings as part of his job as a worship and administrative pastor. “I had a classical voice teacher, and I found I was quite good at classical repertoire,” explains Fabian. “Still, I wanted to audition for American Idol, with the idea that if I didn’t make it, I would stick with opera.” Fortunately for opera, Fabian didn’t land a spot on American Idol, and her private voice teacher highly recommended that she meet with the then College of Charleston head of opera, Deanna McBroom, for a lesson. “After one hour with Professor McBroom, I felt like a better singer,” says Fabian, who decided to attend the College that day. “I found more value at the College of Charleston versus a larger conservatory. I received individualized attention, which allowed for more focused training.” The recipient of the Lee Harwood Scholarship for Music, Edwina Eustis Dick Endowed Scholarship, Hale-Westbury Scholarship, School of the Arts Scholarship and CofC FundArea of Greatest Need Scholarship studied with McBroom for the six years she spent at the College. The highlight of her time at CofC was performing in The Marriage of Figaro. “Playing the role of Susanna was very challenging,” says Fabian, who majored in music. “It is the longest soprano role in opera and helped prepare me for a successful career in opera.” Still, Fabian wanted to finesse her craft even more. She went on to earn a master of music from The University of Cincinnati College - Conservatory of Music. “It was more intense and competitive,” she says, “but I felt prepared because of my experience at CofC.” Her dedication has resulted in an award-winning operatic career. Since 2012, Fabian has played roles in more than 25 operas. Based in Los Angeles, she has an agent in New York and opportunities to perform all around the country keep pouring in. “I’m living the dream,” says Fabian.
athan Matticks, who attended the Charleston County School of the Arts high school in North Charleston, set his sights on CofC when it was time to apply to college. After joining the College’s Concert Choir under Director of Choral Activities Robert Taylor, Matticks decided he wanted to be a choir director. Taylor became one of Matticks’ many mentors at the College. “Robert Taylor kept music in my life at the College and then David Templeton took the reins,” says the music major. Templeton, a baritone who was transitioning into an academic career as an associate professor of voice at the College, mentored Matticks throughout his time at CofC.
“We did everything together,” says Matticks. “I helped build sets, put up lights … you name it.” With guidance from Templeton, Matticks realized that opera was what he wanted to do. He put a lot of work and effort into honing his craft, practicing three to four hours a day. His first full production at CofC was in the comedic opera Gianni Schicchi. Then, in his junior year, Matticks received the Sharp Scholarship. “It was nice to have all my hard work acknowledged,” he recalls. After graduation, Matticks stayed on to bolster his resumé by performing in The Marriage of Figaro before moving to New York City. “I wanted to see where my voice stood and there is no better place to go than New York City,” he says. “It was a whole new set of learning, but I stood tall and got lead roles in small companies in the city. Of course, I needed a voice coach and fortunately Professor Templeton’s best friend, Scott Flaherty, took me to the next level of where I needed to be. Now I sing around the U.S., and I hope to get into the European market.” The awardwinning Matticks has performed in more than 15 major operas as well as a performance at Carnegie Hall. “Ashley and I made the most of what we had,” says Matticks. “With an enhanced opera program, I hope that more students will make the most of the opportunities at the College.” Indeed, with a launchpad like the Drive for the 250th, the College of Charleston can expand its opera offering to two fully produced operas a year, complete with a full orchestra, sets, costumes and technical support. The prospects this will bring to students who want to experience the complexities and joy of staging a full-scale opera are endless. And what better opera to inaugurate this new operatic chapter at CofC than The Marriage of Figaro, the largest production ever put on by the College? Public performances are planned in 2021.
By Darcie Goodwin
ON A MISSION TO PRODUCE LIBERAL ARTS -MINDED ENGINEERS
Maddie Gies ’21
Lexington, S.C. special education major and medical humanities minor 2019/2020 Mary A. Lee Endowed Fellowship recipient
ith the College offering an engineering degree this fall for the first time in its 250-year history, it’s eager to expand its offerings beyond just the one in systems engineering. First, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education must approve all new programs at public universities, and the commission didn’t think the College needed electrical engineering because of its high percentage of female students and the misperception that they’re not interested in the field. Enter Andrea “Andi” Volpe and her $1 million nonendowed gift to provide unrestricted support to the engineering program, thereby securing the approval for an electrical engineering degree that will begin next year. Her daughter is an engineer, and let’s just say she didn’t agree with the commission’s viewpoint about female electrical engineers. “It really helped bolster our case,” says Sebastian van Delden, dean of the School of Sciences and Mathematics, who oversees the program. This is not Volpe’s first donation to the College. After her late husband Charles “Chuck” retired as president and chief operating officer of KEMET Electronics Corporation in the late 1990s, the Volpes moved to Charleston and became committed donors and volunteers in the community, sitting on the boards of various nonprofits. The Volpes endowed the Charles and Andrea Volpe Center for Teaching and Learning at CofC, which was dedicated in 2005. They also invested generously in the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance to support scholarships for teachers. Andi, a talented artist, has continued the Volpes’ philanthropic ways since Chuck’s death in 2010. She is a former member of the College’s School of Education, Health, and Human Performance Development Council and currently serves on its President’s Strategic Initiative Committee. She is also a member of the Bishop Robert Smith Society and the Cistern Society.
“Receiving the Mary A. Lee Endowed Fellowship has allowed me to enjoy and take full advantage of my College of Charleston experience. Since touring the campus as a junior in high school, I knew that the College of Charleston was the perfect place for me to further my education. “CofC has challenged me both inside and outside the classroom. I have enrolled and excelled in rigorous courses as well as engaged in meaningful leadership positions. I have had the honor of serving as sisterhood chair for Phi Mu Alpha Kappa, vice president of OPTA (Occupational Physical Therapy Alliance), a volunteer with Fit Catz, a First-Year Experience peer facilitator, a SC Teaching Fellows Cohort Representative and more. Through my studies, I have been able to intertwine my passions of education and health care to equip me for what is beyond graduation. “I am studying special education and medical humanities and will have the certification to teach individuals with emotional and learning disabilities. After graduation, I will pursue graduate school where I will study occupational therapy and eventually will become a schoolbased occupational therapist. “Without the Mary A. Lee Endowed Fellowship, I would not have the financial security or stability to pursue my dreams, give back to my community and help children reach their full potential in a system that often leaves them silenced. Over these past three years, I have made invaluable memories and have grown personally and professionally. I have the College of Charleston’s campus community and donors to thank for this experience — and, once able to do so, I am eager to assist students so that they will also be able to pursue their dreams.”
By Tom Cunneff 30 /philanthropia
By Emily Padgett ’12
PRESERVING THE HISTORY OF SOUTH CAROLINA’S LGBTQ COMMUNITY
t began with a single student, who inquired about materials featuring the Lowcountry’s LGBTQ community during a 2017 visit to Special Collections in the Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library. It was an eye-opener for Special Collections, home to many of the rarest materials not just in the region, but the world, to come up emptyhanded. That same year, with generous initial funding from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Libraries launched LGBTQ Life in the Lowcountry, the first project of its kind in the region. “I was drawn to this project for two reasons, both having to do with one word: parity,” says Harlan Greene ’74, the Libraries’ scholar in residence and Special Collections archivist. “I saw that virtually no other institution in our state was documenting the LGBTQ experience and presence, historically or in the modern era, and it prompted me to go full steam ahead to try to catch information before it disappeared.”
Due to the longtime stigmatization of LGBTQ individuals, available archival materials have long been at risk of being hidden or destroyed. The maxim remains true: We can make history only when we record and preserve it. As a collaboration with the Women’s Health Research Team, the project serves to collect and share the stories of the region’s LGBTQ community, shedding light on this understudied population by collecting archival materials and recording oral histories. For the past three years, project staff have been doing just that. More than 50 oral histories have been recorded and transcribed, including those of Lynn Dugan, a founder of the first Pride March in Charleston, and Richard Little, a former local bar proprietor now working with cancer and AIDS patients at the National Institutes of Health. Through the work of project staffers Brandon Reid ’16 and Rebecca Thayer, dozens of collections dating
back to the 1850s are now researchable, spanning the personal papers of renowned cookbook author John Martin Taylor to the organizational records of the Alliance for Full Acceptance.
I think it still is in many parts of South Carolina,” says Ketner. “And if young people can learn from some of us who have gone through those experiences, it might help them, it might even save lives.”
“Building an inclusive archive not only fulfills our public mission, it creates a research laboratory for students and faculty across the curriculum,” says John White ’99, dean of Libraries. “LGBTQ Life in the Lowcountry is a vital and necessary project for our college and for our state. It collects and preserves unique material and, through its partnership with the Women’s Health Research Team, provides an important experiential learning opportunity for students.”
Charleston native and literary editor Harriet McDougal answered Ketner’s call, making a significant commitment to the project in memory of dear friend Reeves van Hettinga. McDougal’s gift, combined with more than 20 others, allowed the Libraries to meet and surpass Ketner’s $25,000 challenge.
LGBTQ Life in the Lowcountry brings together not only materials, but the entire CofC community. Undergraduate and graduate students alike research the collections as part of their coursework and theses, spotlighting these oftoverlooked stories. For example, this summer, the project and Special Collections hosted an edit-a-thon, drawing students and faculty from across campus in an effort to address gaps and inequities in Wikipedia content.
These funds have allowed the project to expand its research into communities throughout the Lowcountry, guaranteeing these stories will be saved and accessible to the public and scholars. To become a permanent resource for the CofC community requires further support. Taylor DeBartola ’10 is leading the charge, raising funds to meet the immediate needs of the project.
While the project’s impact and popularity have never been in doubt, the tax-deductible support of donors — corporate and individual — is critical to continue its mission. When the initial funding from the Donnelly Foundation was nearing its end, local philanthropist and civil rights activist Linda Ketner offered a challenge, promising to match donations to the project dollar for dollar, up to $25,000.
“I got involved in this project because I count myself among the one in five College of Charleston students who identify somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum and realized quickly the dearth of resources, representation and research available to us on campus,” says the communication major. “I see this project, and the commitment from the College to preserve and protect these important histories, to be a step in the right direction in honoring and documenting a history that could very well vanish before our eyes.”
“Growing up LGBTQ, particularly in the South, was a lonely, frightening, shaming kind of journey, and to a great extent
As McDougal says, LGBTQ history “is the history of Charleston.”
By Vincent Fraley
NOAH T. LEASK DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR OF INFORMATION MANAGEMENT AND INNOVATION GIVES THE COLLEGE A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE Iris Junglas is intrigued by how technology changes things. Mainly, how technology can go on to inform new behaviors and processes and gain competitive advantages. She thinks the same can be said for philanthropy and what it makes possible.
bridges the gap between the business community and the College, leading to greater opportunities for students. Until then, Junglas has nothing but gratitude for Leask and his philanthropy. “He makes the community his business,” she says. And that’s a philosophy we can all get behind.
Thanks to the generosity of local tech entrepreneur. College of Charleston donor and CofC Foundation board director Noah Thomas Leask, Junglas became the inaugural Noah T. Leask Distinguished Professor of Information Management and Innovation in 2019.
By Erika LeGendre
“Iris is a perfect fit for what the business schools of today need – a strong STEM background with business acumen,” says Leask, who gifted the School of Business with $1.92 million to fund an information management faculty position. Junglas came to the College from Florida State University. She holds a Ph.D. in management information systems from the University of Georgia, as well as a bachelor’s and master’s degree in computer science from the University of Koblenz in Germany. She has worked in academia as well as for a variety of IT consulting firms in the U.S. and Europe over the last 20 years. Now, as a professor of supply chain and information management, she gets to encourage young minds at the College to explore similar career paths in information management. “When you think about it, every job has a tech component these days,” she says. “My goal is to provide a new generation of undergraduate students with a higher level of technical agility in business.” And she is well on her way. Only a year into her post, Junglas is working to solidify and grow the College’s information management curriculum by reimagining its entry-level course — a critical touchpoint for students — and bolstering its presence across campus. “Iris has already made a huge impact on the College, its schools and our community in such a short time,” says Leask. “Her efforts to ensure we have top-of-the-line technology, business programs and solid community involvement have been outstanding.” In the long term, Junglas hopes to see information management grow within the College. She also envisions the development of a consortium of tech businesses that 33 /philanthropia
BY THE NUMBERS
COMMITMENTS TO SPECIFIC UNITS
COUGARS (Alumni and Friends)
GAVE IN FY20
ATHLETICS .................................................................................................. $2,735,048 SCHOOL OF THE ARTS ............................................................................. $1,026,050 SCHOOL OF BUSINESS ............................................................................ $2,126,867 SCHOOL OF EDUCATION, HEALTH, AND HUMAN PERFORMANCE ............................................................. $199,420 THE GRADUATE SCHOOL ................................................................................ $5,004 HONORS COLLEGE ...................................................................................... $442,236 SCHOOL OF HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES .......................................................................... $990,714 SCHOOL OF LANGUAGES, CULTURES, AND WORLD AFFAIRS ............................................................................ $855,976 LIBRARIES ....................................................................................................... $944,699 THE AVERY RESEARCH CENTER FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY & CULTURE .................... $161,300 SCHOOL OF PROFESSIONAL STUDIES ......................................................... $6,627 SCHOOL OF SCIENCES AND MATHEMATICS ......................................... $821,904 STUDENT AFFAIRS ........................................................................................ $590,483 STUDENT FINANCIAL AID/GENERAL SCHOLARSHIPS ..................... $3,885,921 RESEARCH ........................................................................................................ $91,816 PENDING DONOR DESIGNATION ............................................................ $650,950 PROPERTY, BUILDING, AND EQUIPMENT .............................................. $139,405 IMMEDIATE IMPACT FUNDS/UNRESTRICTED .................................... $1,786,344 OTHER RESTRICTED/PROGRAMMATIC ................................................. $244,625
GRAND TOTAL: $17,705,389
GIVING BY PRIORITY
GIVING BY DONOR GROUP
Annual Giving $4,895,330 Scholarships $6,506,806
ALUMNI ........................... 2,844
STUDENTS ........................... 869 PARENTS ............................. 953 FACULTY/STAFF ................. 524
Faculty $179,525 Pending Donor Confirmation $650,950 Â
FRIENDS .......................... 1,787 FOUNDATIONS .................. 113 CORPORATIONS ............... 268
OTHER ORGANIZATIONS ... 85 Pledge $3,276,045
Estate Revenue $1,040,929
Planned Gift $6,406,900
Restricted Funds Created
Unrestricted Scholarships Awarded
Restricted Or Endowed Scholarships Awarded
66 George St. Charleston, S.C. 29424-0001 843.953.3130 COFC.EDU/GIVING