Caroline Whitson to retire from Columbia College

Here’s something for the “this just in” department:


October 11, 2011

Dr. Caroline Whitson, the 17th president of Columbia College, will retire at the end of this academic year – June 30, 2012.

Since coming to the college in 2001, Dr. Whitson has been an energetic advocate for women’s education and forimproving the status of women in South Carolina.

In announcing her retirement on behalf of the Board of Trustees, Chairman Lex Knox said, “Columbia College has been very fortunate and blessed to have someone of Dr. Whitson’s character and talent to lead us for the past decade. She has been an outstanding leader through challenging times, and has steered the college through needed changes. While disappointed at the news, we respect her decision and certainly wish her well.”

Dr. Whitson said, “I am well aware that the successes the college has enjoyed during my time here are a direct result of the work of a talented, committed faculty and staff and the support of an engaged Board of Trustees. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with and learn from them.”

As president, Dr. Whitson championed the establishment of the college’s 4Cs. The unique leadership model combines academic and co-curricular programming to support students in the development of the Courage, Commitment, Confidence, and Competence to lead for change. She guided the expansion of the college’s Leadership Institute, which serves both girls and professional women. Dr. Whitson founded the Alliance for Women, a partnership between Columbia College and the Governor’s Commission on Women, when the commission was targeted for closure in 2004. The Alliance has supported entrepreneurship for women, including bringing both the Women President’s Organization and Make Mine a Million to South Carolina.

During Dr. Whitson’s tenure at the college, annual fund-raising has more than doubled. The college’s endowment has increased by 40%, including the establishment of both the McNair Scholars program and the Reeves Endowed Chair in Leadership Studies.

Facility expansion at the college of 1,269 students includes the addition of a new student union, residential cottages and an athletic complex, as well as renovation of the freshman center, the Goodall Art Gallery, Edens Library and the Cottingham Theatre. The installation of solar panels and a campuswide revision of energy systems have significantly reduced the college’s carbon footprint. A campus beautification program led to implementation of an extensive landscape design.

Recently Dr. Whitson signed agreements for research and for faculty and student exchanges with both the State University of Mongolia and the Hiroshima Jogakuin Women’s University.

Since 2001, Columbia College has received national recognition for teaching and scholarly excellence from the Theodore Hesburgh Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation, the National Collegiate Honors Council, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Foundations of Excellence for the First College Year, the NAIA Champions of Character, the National Communication Association, and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

During her tenure at the college, Dr. Whitson has been a leader in civic affairs. She chaired the Richland County Transportation Commission, the South Carolina ETV Endowment board and the Presidents’ Council of the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities. She has served on many boards, including those of the United Way of the Midlands, New Carolina, and the Midlands Business Leaders Group. Nationally, she has served on the University Senate of the United Methodist Church, as a member of the President’s Circle in the National Council for Research on Women, and on the board of PLEN (Public Leadership Education Network).

Dr. Whitson has been honored with a “Woman of Distinction” award from the Girl Scouts of the Congaree Area, as the “Outstanding Advocate for Women in Business” from the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce, and with the Martha Kime Piper award from the South Carolina Women in Higher Education.

Chairman Knox said Vice Chair of the Board Becky Laffitte will head the search committee to find a new president for Columbia College, with the rest of the committee being named within the next two weeks. The committee will include some board members as well as representatives from the rest of the college community.

Caroline has been a great person to work with in the community. I served with her on a local advisory council for the Knight Foundation years ago, and dealt with her during the effort to pass the sales tax referendum for transportation last year — which, as you’ll recall, I interviewed her about on “The Brad Show.” She had helped lead community conversations about transportation for several years leading up to that.

I understand that she plans to stay in the community. That’s good news.

14 thoughts on “Caroline Whitson to retire from Columbia College

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    What, not “Ron Morris banned from press conference as Spurrier holds breath until turns blue”?

    Have you lost your sense of priority, man?

  2. Steven Davis

    Kathryn – I’m not a Spurrier or Gamecock fan, but Ron Morris is a worthless . It will be interesting to see how The State handles this, now that their Gamecock news reporter is basically barred from the football team.

  3. Steven Davis

    I guess you have to use “(” instead of “<"

    worthless (word Brad would have disapproved of)

  4. Doug Ross


    Spurrier did what he should have done. When a reporter writes untrue stories, why should Spurrier give him the time of day? Sometimes I think the sportswriters forget that the games will go on without them, particularly in the internet age.

  5. Kathryn Fenner

    Spurrier didn’t give him the time of time–he’s supposed to allow him in the room with the other reporters (is Morris a reporter or a commentator?)–seriously, grownups are allowed to dislike someone intensely, but are expected to abide their mere presence with civility. Looked like a temper tantrum–but hey, why grownup behavior from overpaid demigods who make their living playing a game? Can we imagine Harris Pastides barring Wayne Washington from a press conference?

  6. bud

    IS the verion of the story as told by Morris untrue? Probably. But before I jump on Morris I’ll have to have more information.

  7. Steven Davis

    Brad, as a former executive at The State, is it wise to continue employing Ron Morris? If his job is to write about the Gamecocks, and the Gamecock coaches get together and refuse to talk to reporters if he’s in the room, how is he supposed to do his job? Isn’t this a classic case of biting the hand that feeds you?

  8. Brad

    No, this just happens on blogs. Kathryn was communicating her mock amazement that I was posting about Caroline, while tout le monde was going on about this Spurrier/Morris thing. And that started a separate conversation about that, because that’s what people wanted to talk about. So I provided them with a separate place to do so.

    I still await the first comment, aside from yours and Kathryn’s oblique one, on the subject of the post…

  9. Steven Davis

    “tout le monde”

    Is it going to be required to learn Greek to read this site now?

    I know, I know… it’s in the language of the country that has pee boards next to public sidewalks.

    So, the president of Columbia College is retiring. Columbia College… that’s that school on North Main right???

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