Denmark, S.C. – Taking a look back at 2021, Voorhees College experienced a number of accomplishments despite challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is a look back at the year.
The Voorhees College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to name Ronnie Hopkins as the 10th president of the institution, effective July 9. Hopkins, who holds a doctoral degree and served previously as vice president for academic affairs and provost at Voorhees, will be inaugurated April 8, 2022.
In celebrations of its 125th anniversary, Voorhees has announced plans to change its name from Voorhees College to Voorhees University in April 2022 during the Founder’s Day Convocation. The decision was announced in May, after the Board of Trustees approved the action at its annual spring meeting.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) approved a Voorhees College master’s program. The master of education in teaching and learning degree, approved at the SACSCOC annual meeting in December, will launch in January 2022. Classes for the program are scheduled to begin in March.
Voorhees received a $200,000 donation from Rev. Dr. Solomon Jackson, Jr., in November, to support student scholarships. Later in the month, the institution exceeded its Giving Tuesday goal of $125,000, raising more than $130,000. The goal was set at $125,000 in celebration and acknowledgment of the college’s 125th anniversary.
Voorhees received a number of grants in 2021. One of the largest was a $30 million grant from the U. S. Department of Education for the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP). The seven-year grant, with $4,288,800 awarded in the first year, will be used to increase the number of low-income students in South Carolina who are prepared to enter and succeed in higher education and in their careers.
In January 2021, Voorhees announced a collaboration with IBM to develop diverse and high demand skill sets to prepare students and faculty for technology-based careers. The collaboration includes $2 million in support from IBM for this effort.
Once again, Voorhees College was among the best Regional Colleges in the South, according to 2022 U.S. News and World Report rankings. Voorhees tied for 48 along with the University of Arkansas, Fort Smith—a six-point improvement in the rankings over the previous year.
Voorhees students saw successes during the year. The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities named two Voorhees College students, Joshua Gayle, a business administration major and president of the Voorhees Student Government Association, and Quatasia Donaldson, a psychology major, 2021 HBCU Scholars. Gayle was also selected to serve as a cadet battalion commander in the South Carolina State University Army ROTC program, becoming the first Voorhees student to serve in the role in more than 20 years.
The Voorhees president named Damara Hightower Mitchell provost and vice president for academic affairs, in September. In July, he named a cohort of deans: Katherine Whitaker, dean of the School of Business and Entrepreneurship, Tywana Hemby, dean of the School of Humanities, Education, and Social Sciences, and Zhabiz Golkar, dean of School of Science, Technology, Health, and Human Services.
Zhabiz Golkar, faculty member and dean, was accepted as a leadership fellow for the 2021-2022 academic year with the Center for the Advancement of Science Technology Engineering Mathematics.
Voorhees acknowledged the accomplishments of faculty and staff by naming Roger Riley as the 2020-2021 faculty member of the year and Adrian West and Suzanne Williams as the 2020-2021 staff members of the year, in April. They were recognized during the 124thFounder’s Day Convocation, which was conducted virtually.
Committed to supporting healthy lifestyles, Voorhees opened its new fitness center during a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony in November. The facility is located in the Leonard E. Dawson Health and Human Resources Center.
In March, Voorhees hosted a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Leonard E. Dawson Center on campus, where the first dose of the Moderna vaccine was administered to 263 individuals. In the coming months, Voorhees, in collaboration with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, would administer weekly COVID-19 testing for faculty, staff and students and would host periodic vaccination clinics to control the spread of the virus. The institution also received a grant for $37,500 to prepare students to lead COVID-19 vaccination efforts in communities of hesitancy. The grant was awarded to Tywana Chenault Hemby, dean of the School of Humanities, Education, and Social Sciences, by the Inter-Faith Youth Core (IFYC) Faith in the Vaccine Ambassadors Project.
The Voorhees College Tigers won the 2021 Association of Independent Institutions men’s basketball title with a 68-60 victory over the College of the Ozarks Bobcats and Calvin T. Williams, Jr., a Voorhees faculty member, was named chair of the USA Track and Field Masters Inclusion subcommittee for a term of four years.