HARTSVILLE, S.C. (courtesy coker.edu) — July 1 marked Coker College’s first day of operating as Coker University. The City of Hartsville celebrated the momentous occasion with proclaiming July 1 as Coker University Day.
Coker’s new university status reflects the institution’s recent growth and increased diversity of degree offerings. Coker currently has five online master’s degree programs and grants bachelor’s degrees in over 40 subject areas, including four undergraduate degrees that can be earned entirely online. As Coker University, the value of a Coker degree is more clearly indicated to both international and domestic audiences, and the breadth of opportunities available to Coker students is now implied in the institutional name.
“In my 10 years as president of Coker, I’ve seen this institution respond with passion and purpose to the changing needs of our students and higher education in general,” says Dr. Robert Wyatt, president of Coker University. “Transitioning to Coker University is a natural next step as we continue to implement innovative ways of helping our students achieve their personal best.”
Coker University’s newly shifted academic structure includes Coker College of Humanities and Sciences with Dr. Andrea Coldwell as dean, the School of Business with Dr. Andrew Burkemper as dean, the School of Visual and Performing Arts with Professor Angela Gallo as dean, and the Wiggins School of Education, which was founded in 2012, with Dr. Karen Carpenter continuing as dean.
In 1894, Major James Lide Coker and the Welsh Neck Baptist Association opened Welsh Neck High School, a coeducational boarding school, on what would become Coker’s campus. When the public high school act eliminated the need for Welsh Neck High School, the grounds transitioned in 1908 to become Coker College for Women. Coker College officially became a coeducational institution in 1969 and dropped “for Women” from its title. Most recently, in the fall of 2018, the Coker College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to change the institution’s name to Coker University, effective July 1, 2019. Following that decision, the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education reclassified Coker from its “Baccalaureate Colleges, Diverse Fields” category, to the category of “Masters Universities, Smaller Programs.”
The crux of a Coker education still centers around personalized, discussion-based learning and the values of the university’s student covenant: integrity, respect, scholarship, sustainability, service, and contribution.
Coker’s May 2019 commencement ceremony was the last for Coker College. December 2019 graduates will be the first to receive degrees from Coker University.