Benedict President highlights Education Summit

August 18 15:41 2018 Print This Article

Benedict College President Dr. Roslyn Artis was the keynote speaker at the first Bridgeport Foundation and Friends of Benedict Education Summit Saturday at the Charleston Math and Science Charter School. Artis recently became the first female President in the 148-year history of the historically black liberal arts college in Columbia. Under her leadership, the school opens the fall semester Monday with a record-high freshman enrollment of about 700 students while at the same time upgrading enrollment criteria. Artis was also able to reduce tuition at the college by 26%.

Artis describes Benedict as a “high touch” environment with a friendly and caring faculty and staff. She said, “Every single Benedict student matters. I care about our 2.0s (referring to grade average on a 4 point scale) as well as our 4.0s.” The school is placing a big emphasis on career pathways and places students in internships with business partners Prysmian, Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Michelin, and Vulcan Materials.

Former Anderson County School District 4 Superintendent and current Anderson County Consolidated School Board member Gary Burgess addressed the group about the need for improved family engagement in the schools. He said that inclusive events like Family Nights encourage parents to visit the schools and develop a sense of trust. When he was a principal at a middle school in Spartanburg County, he noticed that many parents dropped their students off at 6 am due to their work schedules. Burgess set up a rotation to have teachers open up the school an hour earlier so the students didn’t have to wait outside. He also touted the importance of after school programs and the need for a sense of teamwork between teachers and parents.

Attorney Quentin Williams, a noted motivational speaker, said that teacher encouragement motivated him to excel in school. Teachers suggested that Williams associate with the highest achievers in the school. He followed their advice, immersed himself in academics and athletics, and went on the a successful legal career. He has been an FBI agent, a federal prosecutor, a professional sports executive and a business advisor. He also does consulting work for law enforcement agencies, focusing on building strong community relations. Williams said, “When teachers tell kids they can be anything in life, it works.”

Charleston County Parks and Recreation CEO David Bennett and Charleston County Sheriff’s Office school safety officer William White also participated in the program. Bennett plans to visit Benedict, which has a parks and recreation major, and area high schools to let students know about the career opportunities in the profession. White discussed the importance of establishing positive relationships between law enforcement officers and students beginning in elementary school. He said speaking to students about respect, following the law, and understanding the rules of society will have an impact on reducing juvenile crime.

On Friday evening, Bridgeport Foundation and Friends of Benedict held a scholarship fundraiser for Benedict education and criminal justice students at the Gaillard Center downtown. Such notables as Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, former Senate President Glenn McConnell, and current state Senators Darrell Jackson, Marlon Kimpson and Sandy Senn participated in the program.