Winthrop University leaders welcomed around 1,100 freshmen and other new students to campus Monday, encouraging them to make the most of their college years.
The freshman class has a record number of high school valedictorians and salutatorians, Winthrop President Dan Mahony said during the traditional Convocation in Byrnes Auditorium.
After an opening ceremony, Mahony and his wife, Laura, led the faculty and student procession from Byrnes Auditorium to the Tillman Hall lawn for a welcome picnic.
The convocation was preceded by a Board of Trustees meeting where members endorsed five university goals developed in recent months by Mahony and a strategic planning commitee.
Mahony said he will be sharing more details about those goals during a Sept. 22 state of the university address.
The general goals include increasing enrollment and student retention and graduation rates; promoting innovation, with an emphasis on global and community engagement; attracting and retaining staff and faculty; providing facilities, technology and programs to support students; and ensuring financial stability.
The board also approved the final version of a 2016-17 operating budget, now that it has complete information on state revenue. The board had a preliminary operating budget in June, when it voted to approve an increase and tuition and fees, including increases in housing and meal plans costs.
No other changes were made to student fees in the final budget.
Increases in the final budget include $400,000 more than last year in institutional scholarship funding, $1.7 million for 3.25 percent state salary increases and $1.2 million more for a variety of academic affairs programs, including a Think College program for students with disabilities, a STEM program coordinator and faculty promotions.
Mark Evans, a 2006 Winthrop alumnus, told students during Convocation in Byrnes that “learning is the goal of college rather that coming away with a specific degree.”
“I encourage each of you to pursue your goals with an open mind and a hunger for experiences,” said Evans, who earned graduate degrees from the University of South Carolina and now works for a leading manufacturer of medical devices.
Jennifer Becknell: 803-329-4077