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Mr. and Mrs. Gibbs Give $1.4 Million Gift to Wofford College

Monday, November 17, 2003

SPARTANBURG, SC – Spartanburg philanthropists Jimmy and Marsha Gibbs have given $1.4 million to launch the Wofford College Success Initiative, an innovative program designed to complement the college’s liberal arts curriculum. The program of exploratory learning and experiences will reinforce the time-honored concepts of critical thinking, communications, creativity and strategic analyses.

Students selected for the Success Initiative will receive $10,000 annual scholarships. Eight current Wofford students – four freshmen and four sophomores – will be selected for the spring semester of 2004. Another 12 incoming freshmen will be added in the fall semester, bringing the pilot total to 20.

“In keeping with our emphases on curricular innovation and integrative learning, the Wofford College Success Initiative is an especially exciting approach for encouraging our students to realize their full potential,” says college President Benjamin B. Dunlap. “A successful person balances the practical and the creative – exactly what we want to promote among the participants in this program, and in all Wofford graduates. We’re very grateful to Jimmy and Marsha Gibbs.”

The Wofford College Success Initiative was developed by Dr. James E. Proctor '67, chairman of the Department of Accounting and Finance. “Success Initiative students will continue their learning outside of class in a program that has a flexible structure. While they won’t have traditional tests, they will have specific educational objectives to accomplish and will share their work with others through exhibits, displays and presentations,” he says.

Proctor has been a curriculum designer and an innovator at Wofford throughout his 22 years on the faculty, collaborating in developing the finance major in 1982, recasting both the accounting and finance majors in 1997, developing the intercultural studies for business majors in 1999, and developing the business minor in 2003. In addition, he has developed a unique course in team problem solving, senior seminars in business and the liberal arts, and an Interim project in creativity. Proctor also has worked with teams of students to analyze operational issues at Wofford and in the Milliken Summer Challenge.

Success Initiative students will commit nine hours per week to its non-credit activities. This is comparable to the commitment made by Bonner Scholars, another co-curricular program at Wofford.

In the fall semesters, Success Initiative students will engage in individual learning projects that are specifically designed to promote self knowledge, effective interactions, new perspectives, and personal planning. One such project will be communications, in which students will begin learning American Sign Language. This will introduce them to new concepts and methods of expressing ideas. In addition, they will meet professionals in the signing community and a population of people who rely on signing as their main medium of communications.

These individual projects will pave the way for complementary experiences on problem-solving teams. Success Initiative students will learn the essentials of project management and then use them in conducting four projects. The first will be a project for Wofford College, followed by one for a governmental agency, then a not-for-profit organization, and finally a business firm. This range of experiences is designed to emphasize the use of project management skills and teamwork in a variety of settings. “The purposes of the projects are to promote teamwork, understanding of organizational issues, problem solving skills, maturity, and confidence in the liberal arts as education for life. Students will play several roles in the teams, ranging from member to leader to project entrepreneur,” says Proctor.

“We’ll recruit promising students who have talents, interests, experiences and a natural enthusiasm that distinguish them,” Proctor adds. “This is consistent with the college’s longstanding success in educating leaders in every sector of society. The generous lead gift by Jimmy and Marsha Gibbs will help us to continue this tradition.”