A Letter from President Newkirk: Making History in 2019
January 02, 2019
Dear Converse Family,
The New Year is full of promise for Converse College as we celebrate successes of 2018 and make an exciting major news announcement to kick off 2019.
We give thanks for many accomplishments in 2018, including:
- Our first degree program launch at the University Center in Greenville: the MAT in Early Childhood Education;
- The first graduates of our Healthcare Administration degree program;
- Widespread recognition of our new course sequence for Autism Spectrum Disorder in partnership with Spartanburg School District 7;
- A national championship invitation and NCATA Freshman of the Year award for our new Acrobatics & Tumbling team;
- A growing Converse International School population of 23 students, including our first music student from Dalian Art College;
- Two highly successful events to begin our year-long Celebrating Courage and Charting the Future series commemorating 50 years of Black women at Converse; and
- Meeting our DOUBLED Converse Annual Fund goal of $3 million on July 31 in order to expand student scholarships.
Most importantly, the individual accomplishments and collective impact of our community members is at the heart of our work and our mission. These stories – from around campus and around the world – are what make us distinctly Converse.
As we usher in the last year of this decade, we celebrate a landmark milestone in Converse history with the following exciting news, which will be shared publicly later today:
Converse Approved as a Doctoral Degree-Granting Institution
It is my great pleasure to announce that Converse is now a doctorate-granting institution after receiving approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) of our application for a level-change. In addition, SACSCOC approved Converse’s first doctoral program, a Doctorate in Professional Leadership, which will begin this coming summer.
The 60-hour EdD in Professional Leadership builds upon our tradition of developing passionate, forward-thinking citizens, and adds an important and fitting new dimension to our academic offerings. It focuses on the application of leadership in multiple contexts and provides a terminal degree for professionals in a variety of fields, especially for those in the field of education. Courses include traditional areas such as leadership, management, and personnel theory as well as innovative courses in entrepreneurialism and legislative decision-making. The program was designed to support candidates’ timely and successful completion by incorporating the dissertation into the coursework beginning in the second semester, with faculty guidance provided throughout the dissertation process.
We will begin with two cohorts of 20 students in the Fall of 2019—one on the Converse campus and one at the University Center of Greenville (UCG). Our program offerings at UCG will also expand with the addition of Marriage and Family Therapy next fall.
More Good News to Begin 2019
From academics to our campus facilities to outreach initiatives, our New Year kicks off with more good news:
- Provost Jeff Barker, Professor Karen Hill, and I just returned from a productive trip to China where we visited two of our Converse International School partner universities and a third with whom we signed a new partnership agreement, Dongbei University (formally known as Northeast Electric Power University). Students from Dongbei will complete their final two years of study at Converse in accounting and interior design. Upon our return, my family enjoyed hosting 10 of our international students in our home on Christmas Eve and sharing a candlelight church service with them.
- Within the last few weeks, our Gifted and Talented program, under the leadership of Dr. Meg Lee, received word that it will again be awarded $122,000 from the State Department of Education to offer classes leading to Gifted and Talented certification for in-service teachers across the state.
- In February, we will launch a new Bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Studies. This degree will build upon the already solid preparation provided by the Departments of Education and of Psychology with an emphasis on preparing students for careers in the expanding and increasingly complex field of child and family services.
- Renovation of Twichell Auditorium will soon begin thanks to $2.7 million in gifts and pledges raised towards our total $3.5 million project goal. It has been 30 years since this iconic performance venue was last renovated, and its preservation is essential to providing future generations with an accessible, functional, and beautiful setting for important arts events. Since opening its doors in 1898, Twichell has been hailed as one of the South’s leading performance venues. Today, it serves over 20,000 Upstate residents each year for events hosted by the Converse College School of the Arts as well as by many Spartanburg community organizations.
- Converse continues to provide professional development for our campus community and women across the Upstate via the annual President’s Leadership Forum, which will host Bank of America’s chief operational and technology officer, Cathy Bessant, on International Women’s Day, Friday, March 8. Since 2010, Cathy has led Global Technology and Operations, delivering end-to-end technology and operating services across the company through nearly 95,000 employees and contractors in more 35 countries. Please join us on campus for Cathy’s keynote address at 3 PM followed by a networking social at 4 PM.
I hope you were able to read this inspiring story published just before Christmas about the Cribb family’s gift supporting our Moseley Chamber Music Series, which honors Converse alumna and Friends of the School of Music founder Dicksie Cribb. It is this spirit of giving that sustains Converse through the generations. I hope you will plan to support Converse in 2019. Begin your year with an investment in our students via the Converse Annual Fund: https://www.converse.edu/give! We aim to raise $2.5 million by June 30, 2019!
Each year of my presidency, my love for the Converse community grows and my belief in what we will accomplish together for this incredible institution is strengthened. In many ways, today’s landscape for higher education is challenging – with heightened questions about the value and cost of a college degree and colleges having to compete increasingly for students. Converse is committed to continuous innovation through programs and initiatives that increase our accessibility and impact while complementing our core strength of a traditional education that prepares students for professional roles and careers. Converse’s growth and success in 2018, coupled with an exciting outlook for 2019, give me great hope for our future.
Happy New Year to you and your family from all of us at Converse!
Krista L. Newkirk