Relative of Winthrop benefactor present for Comstock inauguration; ‘Rise’ fund announced

adouglas@heraldonline.comMarch 29, 2014 

Robert C. Winthrop attends the inauguration of Winthrop University President Jamie Comstock.

JEFF SOCHKO — Special to The Herald Buy Photo

Among special guests at President Jamie Comstock’s inauguration, Winthrop University hosted John Winthrop of Charleston, a distant relative of Robert Charles Winthrop –– the school’s founding benefactor.

Winthrop’s first president, David Bancroft Johnson, solicited $1,500 from the Peabody Education Board, headed by Robert Charles Winthrop in 1886. Winthrop also wrote Johnson a personal check for $50 to buy books for the college’s library.

Johnson opened the Winthrop Training School in Columbia, where 21 students met in a one-room carriage house. That original school building is now called the Little Chapel and was moved brick by brick to Rock Hill when Winthrop relocated.

John Winthrop was part of the special platform party, seated behind Comstock on Friday during her inaugural address. He was recognized by Winthrop Provost Debra Boyd during Friday’s ceremony.

More students headed abroad

Also on Friday, Winthrop University celebrated its involvement with the “Generation Study Abroad Commitment,” led by the Institute of International Education.

Winthrop plans to triple the number of students who study abroad. Currently, 7 percent of Winthrop students take courses at an international university.

The study abroad campaign complements the university’s recently-established “Global Ambassadors” scholarship program, which recruits out-of-state students and provides support for them to go overseas. Comstock has set a goal of 200 students participating in the scholarship program over the next four years.

This year –– the program’s first year –– the university had more applicants than space available.

With two initiatives concentrated on studying abroad, Comstock says she believes Winthrop will “easily surpass” its goal to triple participation over the next 10 years.

‘Dare To Rise’ initiated

In an effort to improve Winthrop’s ability to help students pay for college, Comstock has started a new fundraising effort called “Dare To Rise.”

She announced on Friday that the campaign has brought in more than $1 million for student scholarships. More than 250 people have donated to the fund, including Comstock and her husband Larry Williamson, community members, Winthrop employees, retirees, alumni and board members.

“Each gift is a show of support that strengthens our resolve to deliver education that challenges the well-prepared student and supports the challenged student,” Comstock said.

“Dare To Rise” comes on the heels of Winthrop’s largest monetary donation: $2.2 million bequeathed in December to the university by Ann Coleman Peyton.

Peyton died in a car accident and was a professor at Florida Atlantic University. Her cousin attended Winthrop. The gift will support scholarships for theater majors.

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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