A Letter from President Newkirk: Ringing in 2018
January 10, 2018
Dear Converse Family,
As we welcome a New Year, all of us who love Converse College have much to celebrate!
We give thanks for the many successes of 2017. Among them:
- Another year of record-setting undergraduate enrollment;
- New Valkyries Acrobatics & Tumbling and Field Hockey teams;
- A 31% increase in student internship participation;
- The opening of Fleming Hall, our suite-style housing facility;
- A growing international student population representing 12 countries; and
- A new graduate diploma in Music Performance.
2017 also brought innumerable professional and personal accomplishments for students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The Converse family’s collective impact upon our world’s professions and communities brings pride to Valkyries near and far.
On the heels of an incredible 2017, Converse is ringing in the New Year with exciting news, accomplishments, and new initiatives:
10-Year Accreditation Reaffirmation
In December, Converse earned a 10-year reaffirmation of its accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). This endorsement of our mission and educational experiences across all programs and departments is the result of our talented faculty and staff and our mutual commitment to excellence.
Tied to the accreditation, SACSCOC is requiring Converse to fully fund depreciation into our operating budget. This change will strengthen Converse’s long term financial health but creates a short-term budgetary challenge. Many colleges are now facing this same requirement and challenge, and Converse is fortunate that our growth and positive momentum over the last decade positions us to successfully respond to this requirement.
New Satellite Campus in Greenville
2018 begins with an exciting announcement that Converse has joined the University Center in Greenville (UCG). As an academic member, we will offer selected degree programs within their facility as well as on our campus. The Master of Arts in Teaching in Early Childhood Education will launch at UCG this July, expanding access to teacher education and responding to state and national teacher shortages. MAT programs in middle and secondary levels will soon follow, as well as the Masters of Marriage and Family Therapy.
Major Foundation and Grant Funding
Converse has recently received a $500,000 gift commitment from the Seymour Foundation. The gift will support our University Center in Greenville expansion, online program development, and the integration of a data analytics component into our curriculum.
Converse has also been awarded $131,000 in grant funding from the South Carolina Department of Education to provide more than 300 free graduate level course registrations for teachers of gifted and talented students across our state. These courses will enable many of the participants to add Gifted and Talented Endorsement to their state teaching license.
Commemorating 50 Years of Black Women at Converse
2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the enrollment of our first Black students at Converse College. We will reflect on our heritage and the work we still have ahead of us with a year-long series entitled “Celebrating Courage and Charting the Future: Commemorating 50 years of Black Women at Converse.” The series will begin on February 9, with a panel of distinguished alumnae sharing their experiences with students, and continue through the year with feature stories highlighting individual alumnae. The 50th anniversary will be commemorated during a special Opening Convocation service in fall 2018. Finally, in the spring of 2019, this wonderful event series will culminate with an exhibition highlighting Converse’s history of African American students developed by students as part of a class research project.
New President’s Leadership Forum
This spring we will launch a new President’s Leadership Forum that will bring to campus inspiring and engaging national and global leaders to interact with students and the community and to give a public presentation on leadership. An inaugural guest speaker will be announced soon, and we hope you will join us on campus for the event.
Leading in Autism Education
Our first class of education majors earning Converse’s new certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder will graduate this May. Converse is the only college in South Carolina offering professional development and courses in this field. We look forward to expanding our offerings in the near future, which will benefit our state, local school districts, teachers, and parents of children with special needs.
School of the Arts: Riveting. Uplifting. Thrilling.
The Converse School of the Arts is boldly exploring the richness of humanity through powerful works in their 2017-18 season: Riveting. Uplifting. Thrilling. Upcoming events include Converse Opera Theatre’s production of Summer and Smoke, adapted from the Tennessee Williams play, on January 26 – 28 in Twichell Auditorium; and Theatre Converse’s presentation of The Wolves, on February 21 – 25 in Hazel B. Abbott Theater. Theatre Converse is one of the first companies in the United States to produce this 2017 Pulitzer Prize finalist. Join us for a cultural event: culture.converse.edu!
The Trustee Challenge: Will YOU Accept?
Converse is on the move, and has doubled our Annual Fund goal to $3 million for this year to support the momentum! Your gift enables the exciting initiatives mentioned here and much more, including scholarships for our growing student population. Our Board of Trustees has DOUBLED their giving commitment for the next three years and issued a challenge to the greater Converse family to join them. Become a member of our Purple & Gold Society by making your three-year pledge to the Annual Fund.
Ringing in 2018 Together
Your unwavering support propels Converse and gives us much to celebrate in 2018. In fact, this is officially our year – Pantone has declared PURPLE as the world’s official color for 2018 because it “communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future.”
We knew it was cool all along…let’s paint the world purple in 2018!
Krista L. Newkirk