Converse’s 2023 Rock the Tower event raised more than $133K in 24 hours thanks to alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students and friends.
This annual day of giving benefits scholarships, academic enhancements, athletics programs and other departments around campus that enhance the student experience.
Generous donors support the transformational Converse student experience for the entire campus and help advance the university’s impact across our region.
President Boone Hopkins kept the energy lively throughout the day with his unwavering positivity. President Hopkins graciously thanked all who participated and told the Converse community, “You are responsible for the collective impact that transforms this institution and helps us do the great things that make Converse special.”
Assistant Professor of Art Mary Carlisle brought students from her Arts Administration and Organization class, part of Converse’s Arts Management minor, to Rock the Tower’s headquarters in the Admissions Suite of Wilson Hall. Students spoke to various Institutional Advancement team members to learn what goes into a one-day giving campaign.
Dr. Carlisle said her students loved being in the room with the team as the day went on, watching the amount raised increase. Students saw firsthand the immense preparation, resources, and planning needed to accomplish a fundraiser such as Rock the Tower.
“They appreciated having the opportunity to ask the team questions to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes,” Dr. Carlisle said. “Students witnessed the strength of the marketing and advancement teams and their willingness to work with each other on a shared goal. A key takeaway was the importance of recognizing and thanking every donor to build long-lasting relationships.”
Alumna Susan Brittana Billings ‘74 also stopped by Rock the Tower headquarters with her dog Jintzy; they have made a yearly appearance in support of Rock the Tower.
This year, many students, faculty and alumni held personal Rock the Tower fundraisers for areas close to their hearts. Claire Cathey ’26 showed her support for the Petrie School of Music with her successful fundraiser. Claire, a flute performance major at Converse, is a 2023 winner of the Petrie School of Music Concerto Competition.
Assistant Director of Annual Giving, Ericka Tyner Grodrian ‘02, spearheaded this year’s Rock the Tower. “This was my first time organizing a Day of Giving,” she said. “The overwhelming support from our donors and staff was truly moving for me personally, particularly as a proud alumna who loves to see Converse thrive. I am grateful to everyone who helped to make Rock the Tower 2023 a success.”
Read more about the projects spotlighted during this year’s 24-hour Rock the Tower blitz.
The Converse Legacy | Converse Annual Fund
Gifts to the Converse Annual Fund allow us to address Converse’s areas of greatest opportunity, ensuring that we serve our mission of empowering students to become transformative leaders who see clearly, decide wisely, and act justly.
Thank you to Linda Lawson Payne, ’68 and Ann Mullins Johnson, ’99, for your donation matches and challenges for The Converse Legacy.
Empowering Women | Converse College for Women
The Converse College for Women is a powerful force within Converse University, spearheaded by Dr. Chandra Owenby Hopkins. Built on a sisterhood spanning more than 130 years, the CCW is an empowering living-learning community focusing on mentorship, service, and leadership. Converse is a special place where our students experience deep scholarship, transformative mentorship, experiential learning, and a wonderful support for and belief in each other. The Converse College for Women welcomed 80 new freshmen to the incoming fall 2023 class.
Thank you to Patricia Parsons Hickerson, ’64, Amy Tibbals Morales, ’86, and Dr. Julie Dorian Staggs, ’86 for your donation matches and challenges for supporting empowering women at Converse.
Creating Belonging | Inclusive Excellence, First Generation Programs, & Spiritual Life
Converse is committed to fostering diversity and celebrating differences, educating the community about the benefits of diversity, promoting equality, eliminating discrimination and advancing equal access to all opportunities. We offer cultural development opportunities grounded in social justice and inclusiveness for students, faculty, staff and community through various programming and involvement. This creates a safe and supportive campus environment that encourages achievement and success for all.
Thank you to B. Brant Bynum and Emily Jones Rushing, ’73 for your donation matches and challenges for creating belonging at Converse.
Artistic Distinction | School of the Arts & Petrie School of Music
The School of the Arts embodies the impassioned drive towards artistic accomplishment that has been a central part of Converse’s mission for well over a century. Comprised of the Department of Art, Design & Letters, Petrie School of Music and the Department of Theatre & Dance, its programs have long been integral to Spartanburg’s cultural life.
Gifts to the School of the Arts received during Rock the Tower will help launch the new Dance major, propel students into fruitful careers as educators, therapists, and designers, and ensure that outstanding artistic traditions will continue to thrive in Spartanburg.
Thank you to B. Brant Bynum and Emily Kerr Stay, ’63 for your donation matches and challenges for supporting artistic distinction at Converse.
Educational Access | Scholarships
By supporting scholarships at Converse, donors are investing in our next generation of leaders, visionaries and problem solvers. Scholarships help qualified and deserving students pursue their dreams with fewer burdens and limitations of debt.
Thank you to Padrica Hopkins, ’85 for your donation match for supporting educational access at Converse.
Competitive Excellence | Athletics
Converse University Athletics is committed to developing and empowering student-athletes to live a life of purpose by optimizing achievements in academics, competition, within our community, and in life. Converse student-athletes have the opportunity to participate in a competitive sports environment that helps them learn the value of excellence, respect, strength, integrity, accountability, vision, leadership, and service. Under the direction of Director Jenn Bell, Converse Athletics has grown from 13 women’s athletic programs to 21 programs that now include six men’s sports and three coed sports.
Thank you to the anonymous Converse Trustee for supporting competitive excellence at Converse with a donation match.
Visionary Leadership | The School of Business and Data Science
Converse’s School of Business and Data Science is dedicated to fostering the next generation of visionary leaders, innovators, and problem solvers in the rapidly evolving fields of business, mathematics, computer science, and data science. They provide a transformative educational experience that equips students with the knowledge, skills, and ethical principles necessary to thrive in an ever-changing global landscape.
Thank you to Rear Admiral Stephen I. Johnson (Ret.) for supporting visionary leadership with a donation match.
Faculty Mentorship | The Office of Research and Engagement
The Office of Research and Engagement promotes university-wide engagement in research and scholarly creative work. From the conception of ideas to dissemination, the office supports and assists faculty, students, and staff with tools to foster creative and critical thinking. Funding enables faculty to collaborate with students in experiential learning opportunities, gives students in-depth exposure to emerging ideas, and provides the university community with professional development opportunities. These diverse experiences prepare our students to become transformational leaders for demanding professional and academic careers in their workplaces.
Thank you to Converse Board of Trustees members Chris Cannon, Fain McDaniel ’92, Linda Redding ’88, David Smart, and Louis Smith. These members gave a donation match for gifts to support student experiential learning.
Expanding Horizons | The School of Liberal Arts & Sciences
The School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Converse is dedicated to cultivating a vibrant and intellectually stimulating academic environment that fosters creativity, critical thinking, and a deep appreciation for the pursuit of knowledge. They empower students to become well-rounded and informed global citizens who will thrive in an ever-changing world.
Thank you to B. Brant Bynum for your donation match for gifts to support expanding horizons at Converse.
Focused Expertise | The Graduate School and Education
Converse’s graduate students pursue focused expertise in their chosen field. The Graduate School, comprised of the Department of Leadership, the Department of Education, and the Department of Marriage & Family Therapy, offers the professional education necessary to ensure our students’ success in future leadership, service, and citizenship roles.
- Early Bird Award for First Gift of the Day: Dr. Chris Vaneman, Dean of the School of the Arts
- Night Owl Award for Last Gift of the Day: Edelyn Valdez
- All Aboard Award for the Class with Highest Participation: Class of 2005 and 2008 (Tie)
2023 Rock the Tower has ended, but you can still make an impact by supporting the Converse Annual Fund.
Top photo: Dean of the School of the Arts Dr. Christopher Vaneman won the Early Bird Award for First Gift of the Day.