Winthrop University in Rock HIll SC creates civics center

Political candidates flocked to Winthrop University for debates during the last presidential election. A new center at the university will now become the place for debates, political candidate visits and guest speakers.

The Center for Civic Learning will help the university “engage campus, local, state, regional and national communities in civic and civil discourse,” according to Winthrop.

In 2015-16, Winthrop hosted 10 U.S. Presidential candidates ahead of South Carolina’s primary. The university was one of 83 campuses in the nation to be named a Voter Friendly Campus by Campus Vote Project.

Through the new center, Winthrop will expand the reach and scope of the John C. West Forum on Politics and Policy housed at the university and co-directed by Karen Kedrowski, who is now dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. The forum aimed to encourage political participation during the 2016 presidential election cycle.

Kedrowski, who has experience in politics, policy and civic education, will lead the Center for Civic Learning starting Aug. 1 as the executive director.

In partnership with the College of Charleston, the center will also support Winthrop’s involvement in efforts such as NEW Leadership South Carolina, a residential program educating college women about the political process and careers in public service.

During the four-and-a-half day program at Winthrop, participants will meet with women leaders, attend workshops and panel discussions and complete hands-on projects.

“The new Center for Civic Learning is an exciting opportunity to build on the momentum of the 2016 election cycle and the excellent work underway across campus,” Kedrowski said. “Together, we can make Winthrop a national model of civic and political engagement.”

Winthrop is conducting a national search for a new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Biochemistry professor Takita Sumter will serve as the interim dean.