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Wofford Bound: A behind-the-scenes tour of Wofford’s changing campus

Enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of Wofford's changing campus.

Behind every tree on Wofford’s campus is a story, and Stewart Winslow, the college’s director of horticulture and landscape design, knows all of them. 

Whether you’ve been away from the campus for years or just attended Commencement, take a walk with us through Wofford’s 162-year-old campus for a behind-the-scenes tour. It’s a master class in history, horticulture and planning, with a few rarely told stories in the mix. Enjoy!

1. No one’s paving paradise — the front gates and fountain

Each year after tossing their caps in the air, new graduates process beyond the crowd of proud families snapping photos to the front gates where college marshals lead them out into the world beyond Wofford. The front gates were donated by Thomas W. Smith, Class of 1871, in appreciation of his professors. Their august names are memorialized in bronze on the brick pillar as a tribute to the teachers, mentors and scholars who sat on the college’s first faculty. 

The story behind the fountain at the main entrance offers a more down-to-earth perspective.

According to Winslow, college officials were looking for ways to add more parking to the campus. They presented a plan to the board of trustees that extended the Admission parking area all the way to Campus Drive. 

“Roger Milliken and other members of the board said that the college didn’t need an unsightly parking lot as the first impression, especially not at the main entrance,” says Winslow. Plans to add parking at the college entrance continued to resurface. “Finally, Mr. Milliken said, ‘Let’s put a fountain here so they can never put in a parking lot.’” Coincidentally, the same thing happened at the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport where Milliken also was heavily involved in planning. Now the fountain stands as a tribute to Milliken’s persistence on maintaining the beauty of Wofford’s front door.

Framing the fountain are ‘Hasse’ and ‘Teddy Bear’ magnolias (‘Hasse’ was a Milliken favorite), Metasequoia, American yellowwood and Shawnee Brave bald cypress. This year the college planted a new tree near the entrance, a Swamp white oak ‘Beacon.’ The new oak was planted to commemorate Milliken’s birthday. Each year on his birthday, the college plants a tree as a way to remember his many contributions to the physical campus.

“We have the relationship we have with renowned horticulturalists Dr. Michael Dirr and Dr. Allan Armitage because of Mr. Milliken,” says Winslow, who calls both Dirr and Armitage “rock stars” in the plant world. “Wofford has benefited so much from their expertise.”

2. Battling magnolias — Roger Milliken Science Center

The entrance to the Roger Milliken Science Center is framed by Magnolia stellata, Nita Milliken’s favorite tree. According to Winslow, Roger Milliken was not as fond of the magnolia, but because of his wife they remain sentinels near the front of the building. 

Across the sidewalk is another Milliken birthday tree, the Golden Metasequoia. Ricky McAbee ’78 of Roebuck Wholesale Nursery and Landscape planted most of the Milliken birthday trees. He and his crew also planted the new beds of ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangea that curve around the building. 

Next time you’re on campus, take note of the new ornamental plantings. More and more Wofford’s noble trees will share the spotlight with seasonal plants and flowers.

Keeping the college’s buildings and grounds in show condition takes a small army, according to Jason Burr ’01, associate vice president for facilities and capital projects. 

“From the folks in housekeeping and preventative maintenance to the multicraft, mechanical or grounds crews, Wofford employs lots of great people who really treat this campus like it’s their own,” says Burr. “College leaders develop strategic visions and maintenance plans, but these are the people who get it done.”

3. A new pallet — The Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts

Burr says the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts is on schedule. That’s great news for the students, faculty and staff looking forward to the spring 2017 opening of the building. 

“The new center for the arts is tucked beside the Roger Milliken Science Center across the lawn from Main Building, placing it in the heart of the college’s academic commons. That sends a powerful message,” says President Nayef Samhat. “The center demonstrates our commitment to the fine arts as an integral part of the liberal arts experience.”

The Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts will house the college’s theatre, art history, studio art and film programs. The 65,000-square-foot building will feature a material pallet of masonry, stucco and copper. Large areas of glass will connect the interior to the outdoors. The center also will include an outdoor sculpture garden. 

Winslow is eager for the building to take shape so he can explore new landscape options that will blend with the rest of campus. To help college leadership understand his landscape plans, Winslow uses Photoshop on his computer and a special GPS-enabled app that allows him to do mobile landscape design from his phone. He’s a tech hugger as well as a tree hugger.

4. Shelter and sustainability — Student Residence Halls

During the summer of 2015, Greene Hall underwent a major renovation. This summer the college will install a new roof and a new HVAC system in Marsh Hall.

“We plan to take the same approach as we did with Greene Hall,” says Burr. “It’s all part of a comprehensive renovation plan.”

The college also is planning ways to improve the interior, exterior and landscaping around Marsh.

According to Burr, the college’s board of trustees recognizes and supports replacement and renewal efforts, which have a direct impact on the beauty of the campus. Each improvement also is done with energy efficiency and sustainability in mind.

“As part of the $4.25 million Milliken Sustainability Initiative at Wofford College, we are in the process of hiring an energy manager for the campus,” says Burr. “We’ve also hired a full-time gardener. As far as I know, that’s a first for Wofford.”

Surrounding each residence hall are built-in gathering and recreation spaces for students.

“We’ve made an effort to add more of these on campus,” says Winslow. They offer students places that feel comfortable whether they are alone or in a group.

For example, Martha’s Garden, near Lesesne and Wightman halls, offers a shaded, quiet place for students to talk or study. Shipp and DuPre halls are adjacent to the horseshoe of Main Building, which provides an open lawn popular with sunbathers or students looking for a game of ultimate Frisbee. Winslow has developed a courtyard (above) between Greene and Carlisle halls with swings. Mixed into the Village apartments are hammocks and Adirondack chairs, grills, sand volleyball and a mini amphitheater. 

5. Competition ready, fan friendly — Athletics Facilities

Because of the volume of public use, the college’s athletics facilities require constant upkeep, and the college makes an extra effort to make the fan experience family friendly as well as exciting.

“We are fortunate to have Andy Kiah, director of athletics facilities, to keep the playing surfaces in competition condition,” says Burr. “Our connection with the Carolina Panthers also has made a huge difference in our athletics facilities.”

Winslow creates the landscape plan for the spaces around the playing fields, developing special areas for tailgating, viewing and parking. Switzer Stadium and Russell C. King Field offer the ideal example of a facility that combines athletic functionality with fan comfort. From the rocking chair seating to the oak canopies down the first-base and right-field lines, fans can watch the game, spend time with their children or pets, and visit with Wofford friends at the same time.

“We’re always looking around and saying, ‘What can we do to make it better,’” says Winslow. Sometimes that means trying new, hardier plants such as the Chinese fringe trees or the ‘Fairview’ sugar maples near the Campus Life Building and Snyder Field.

“We like to focus on yellow and gold because of Wofford’s colors,” says Winslow. 

Terrier basketball and volleyball fans can go online and watch the progress of the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium at Located behind the scoreboard of Gibbs Stadium, the new stadium will be completed in the fall of 2017. 

To address parking concerns, Winslow and others have been working to develop a new parking area off Jefferson Street that Winslow says incorporates expansive grassy tailgating spaces and nice shade. 

“Keeping parking to the perimeter of campus makes the campus more attractive and pedestrian friendly,” says Burr. “It creates a healthier environment.”

According to Burr, all of the courts at the Reeves Tennis Center were resurfaced this year, and new windscreens were added, with huge Wofford logos on each. Half of the houses in the new Greek Village face the tennis center. The other half face Gibbs Stadium. The college hopes the prime real estate for Greek life near these facilities will encourage increased student participation and team spirit.

6. On a road diet — The Evins Street corridor

Eighteen islands now stretch the length of Evins Street from Church Street to Cumming Street, and Winslow just spent 10 hours with Dirr exploring various options for the plantings that will fill those islands. 

“It’s called a traffic or road diet,” says Winslow, “and it has a calming effect on drivers.” According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, road diets reduce vehicle speed and decrease traffic accidents. They improve pedestrian safety, something critical at a largely pedestrian college such as Wofford.

Giving a teaser to Wofford’s future road diet plan, Winslow says, “We’re doing stuff that’s totally different. There will be a wow at the first island, a wow in front of the Greek Village and a wow at Cumming Street. President Samhat has even called and made suggestions about the road diet plan.”

7. Paint it white — Papadopoulos, Main, Olin (and the majority of buildings on campus)

Ever wonder why so many buildings on campus are white? According to Winslow, when the college was constructing the Papadopoulos Building, Milliken was impressed by how stunning the green trees were against the white background of the building. The Campus Life Building and the Burwell Building soon found themselves painted white, and other new buildings were designed with the same color scheme in mind.

8. Germinating ideas — The Sandor Teszler Library

Kevin Reynolds, dean of the library, uses the life cycle of a plant as an analogy for the purpose of the Sandor Teszler Library. “We provide support as students enter the life cycle of information,” he says. “Students come to us with a germ of an idea. We connect them to the resources they will need for that seed to grow and create something, whether that be a paper, podcast, video or work of art. We support that activity, but that’s not the end. We also give them opportunities to perfect, present and preserve their work.”

Within the library is the college’s Writing Center, where students refine their creations. The library also now houses the Trey Kannaday Presentation Practice Room, donated in memory of Kannaday ’93, who enjoyed the library during his years as a student.

“I’m really excited about this space,” says Reynolds. “Students can reserve the space and video-record themselves practicing their presentations. They then replay the video to critique and improve their performance.”

Part of helping students present their work also means devoting space in the library for student exhibits. Finally, through the Digital Commons ( the library preserves student scholarship so future students can benefit.

The physical bones of the library remain solid and interesting, but library staff have opened up the main floor and added more flexible space for collaboration.

“We really want to engage students and help them think critically,” says Reynolds. “We want to provide both physical and virtual spaces to facilitate collaboration in all its iterations.”

The remaking of the library from the inside out is working, and the use of the library is increasing.

“During 2014-15 we had enough visitors to the library to fill Gibbs Stadium 10 times,” say Reynolds. “Virtual usage also is going up. We had nearly 200,000 uses of online resources during that same year.”

Reynolds says that while physical books are not being checked out as frequently, the use of e-books is on the rise.

Reynolds is particularly pleased that the college is making an effort to work with faculty and students to secure and use special collections to enrich the research experience. For example, Dr. Kim Rostan’s class helped curate an exhibition of 3-D photographs derived from the college’s stereograph collection, and Dr. Courtney Dorroll’s Religion 362 class used the ancient Near Eastern pottery donated by David Robinson ’65 for research and study.

“In the long term we will need more physical space for archives and special collections that we would like to grow and support,” says Reynolds, “but for now we are using our spaces creatively and are happy to be at the heart of academic activity at the college.”

BONUS: Winslow honored as Unsung Community Hero

Stewart Winslow’s work can be seen all over Spartanburg County — evidence of his deep passion for his work as well as for his community through his decades of work in urban and rural areas, along roadways and sidewalks, in public parks and private gardens, around buildings, forests and waterways.

The Leadership Spartanburg Alumni Association recently recognized Winslow for these works and more with the 2016 Unsung Community Hero Award.

“Stewart’s landscaping planning and implementation are visible on most of the main thoroughfares in Spartanburg County, especially all the beautiful and welcoming interchanges on I-85 Business,” writes Lee Ann Maley of Girl Scouts of South Carolina-Mountains to Midlands, who nominated Winslow for the award. She notes his work as horticulturalist for Milliken & Co., his work with their Milliken Arboretum and his design of the entrance to GSP International Airport, along with many other community projects.

BONUS: Becoming stronger and healthier — Wofford joins community in bringing state’s first cooperatively owned grocery store to Spartanburg

It has all the seeds and nuts Dr. Ana Maria Wiseman, retired dean of international programs, needs to make her homemade granola. It carries the Turkish figs Dr. Britt Newman, assistant professor of Spanish, likes to snack on while grading papers. Its hot bar is a favorite of Dr. Laura Barbas Rhoden, professor of Spanish, and her family. It’s an easy walk from Wofford’s campus, and it carries three times the local products of other grocery stores in the area.

It’s the Hub City Co-op, the state’s first cooperatively owned grocery store, and Wofford people worked to make it a reality and are still celebrating its spring opening.

“Wofford and Spartanburg have grown up together, and the college’s involvement in the co-op is an authentic result of that long relationship,” says Dr. Phillip Stone ’94, college archivist and another Wofford co-op member. “Wofford’s faculty, staff and alumni were among the first to see a need for this type of business in the community.”

Barbas Rhoden, vice chair of the co-op board, explains that member-owners power co-ops. She says dozens of Wofford people helped raise the $2.7 million in local and national financing required to open the store. They lobbied, invested, donated, wrote news releases, answered email accounts, submitted copy for newsletters and served on the board.

“Amid the buzz about community health and environmental sustainability, the commitment of Wofford faculty and staff to the hard — and fun — work of making their local community stronger, healthier, and more vibrant and sustainable is truly wonderful,” she says.

City Council member Erica Brown ’00 lives three blocks from the new co-op. It’s in her district. During the grand opening of the event, she was on hand to cut the ribbon and thank the community for its support.

“The city is 100 percent behind this because it keeps the money local and it makes living downtown even more desirable,” she says.

While earning his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina, Newman and his family spent a good bit of time in Carrboro. According to Newman, the hub of that community was a co-op grocery store.

“It was a nice mixing place,” says Newman. “I went because the people there interacted and engaged with their neighbors.”

Because Wofford is in the business of recruiting people to come to Spartanburg — about 450 each year in the incoming class as well as prospective faculty and staff from across the country — places like the co-op demonstrate Spartanburg’s vitality and diversity.

“We want our students to go beyond the campus,” says Newman. “Through the Hub City Co-op, they can learn about what’s going on in the community, appreciate the types of things produced locally and see a different type of business model.”

Newman is planning ways to take his students to Little River Roasting Co., owned and operated by Gervais Hollowell ’85, and he’s considering ways to incorporate a visit to the Hub City Co-op as well.

“It’s important to help students understand that they are linked to others through the production and consumption process,” says Newman. “We also teach our students through modeling a certain way of living. One way of living out an ethical life is by getting involved and by committing to those around us to make improvements in the world. The Hub City Co-op is one example of that kind of effort.”

For more information about the co-op, visit »

by Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington ’89
Summer 2016