Reflecting on this month’s meeting of the Erskine Board of Trustees, Chair Jill Gazzaway said, “You can look around campus and see that the students bring the energy, but the faculty are the heartbeat of this institution.”
Both students and professors played a significant role in the trustees’ two-day campus visit Oct. 10-11. Highlights included a report from the Charter Institute at Erskine and presentations by members of the faculty and student body. The trustees also enjoyed a dinner with professors and their spouses in which they were serenaded by students.
Cameron Runyan, who serves as CEO and superintendent of the Charter Institute at Erskine, spoke about this year’s South Carolina Report Card results for schools supervised by the Institute. A graduation rate of 96.2 percent for the Institute’s brick-and-mortar schools reflects a 12 percent increase over 2018, and virtual schools showed a 17 percent increase. The Charter Institute, established in 2017 as a charter school authorizer, now has a student population of nearly 9,000 across the state.
At the invitation of Provost of the College Dr. Tom Hellams, three members of the faculty and two members of the student body talked to the trustees about their Erskine experience.
Professor of Chemistry Dr. Joel Boyd, who joined the Erskine faculty in 2013, told the trustees he believes in the value of a Christian liberal arts education and sees the study of chemistry as a way for him and his students to learn more about the Creator.
Assistant Professor of Music Deborah Caldwell, who joined the faculty this year, opened her remarks by reciting Proverbs 16:9: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” She told board members, “I believe the Lord is at work at Erskine College.”
Assistant Professor of History Dr. John Harris, who grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, came to Erskine in 2017, and prizes the bonds he has formed with faculty members and students. “I can be myself here as a Christian and a rigorous scholar,” he said. His book, Pirates of New York, based on his study of the slave trade, will be published by Yale University Press in 2020.
Ramsey Conner, a senior from Greenville, S.C., is a fourth-generation Erskine student who grew up hearing Erskine stories. An early childhood education major with a minor in Bible and religion, she treasures Erskine’s small classroom settings, close-knit community, opportunities for Christian growth, and beautiful campus. “I’ve met some of my best friends for life here,” she said.
Business administration major Paul Lawing, a junior from Maiden, N.C., is completing minors in Bible and religion as well as art. “Erskine has taught me how to grow my faith and has prepared me for a life that God has called me to live,” he said.
Board members joined professors and their spouses for dinner in the Bowie Arts Center on Thursday evening. Music was provided by sophomore Samuel Tam, pianist, and the Erskine College Choraleers, directed by Dr. Keith Timms.