Coker College Featured in Colleges of Distinction

For more information, contact Barb Steadman - 843.857.4199

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – March 25, 2011 – Coker College is one of only three colleges in South Carolina featured on, an online guide focused on colleges and universities that appeal to students’ unique and varied interests.

“Although quantifying an educational experience is an extraordinarily complex enterprise, and for that reason leaders in higher learning often bristle when conversations turn to college rankings, it is critically important that students and families have reliable information as they begin the college search process,” said Coker College President Robert Wyatt.

“We applaud the big-picture approach that Colleges of Distinctions uses to evaluate colleges, and are obviously pleased that Coker College was selected for this honor.  I hope that students will make plans to visit Coker to see it for themselves.  No guide, however good, can substitute for a campus visit.”

Colleges of Distinction™ recognizes colleges that excel in four key areas of educational quality and is based on the opinions of guidance counselors, educators and admissions professionals.

“Schools selected as Colleges of Distinction™ create well-rounded graduates and are among the very best in the country,” reports Tyson Schritter, the Executive Editor of Colleges of Distinction™. “While each school is one of a kind, they all share a common attribute: each is a great place to get an education.”

To qualify for inclusion in the guide, Coker College demonstrated excellence in the four distinctions: engaged students, great teaching, vibrant communities and successful outcomes.

The goal of Colleges of Distinction™ is to provide students, counselors and parents with information about colleges and universities that excel in these four areas. Featured schools take a holistic approach to admissions, consistently excel in providing undergraduate education, and have a truly national reputation.

A sampling of some of Coker’s points of pride that particularly attracted the editors’ attention includes:

  • Round Table Learning.  Capitalizing on its enviable student/faculty ratio of 10:1, Coker utilizes an interactive, discussion-based teaching approach, Round Table Learning, which Peterson’s Smart Parent’s Guide to College praises as “a model learning experience.”
  • Student/Faculty research. Examples this year include Biology Professor Joseph Flaherty, who received a $500,000 National Science Foundation grant to support new undergraduate biology research, and Chemistry Professor Dr. Gordon Brown, who was awarded a $50,000 grant from the American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund to enhance Coker’s chemistry program.
  • Study away or abroad. Coker College provides a wide array of study away opportunities through programs such as the American Institute for Foreign Studies and Central College Abroad.  In the last four years, three Coker graduates have been selected to the Fulbright Program, the government’s flagship international education exchange program.
  • Yale-Coker partnership. Building on a partnership with the Yale Child Study Center, Coker College is playing a key role in a first-of-its-kind public-private initiative announced this year that involves the Darlington County School District, the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics and Sonoco to implement a comprehensive scholastic excellence program in Hartsville’s public schools.
  • Unrivaled natural and architectural beauty. Coker College's campus includes 15 acres of paths, trees, lawns, gardens (some of which are designed by world-renowned artist Pearl Fryar) and exceptional examples of Georgian-style architecture. Beyond campus, the Sory Boathouse and Clubhouse a few blocks away gives students access to Prestwood Lake, and nearby the 30-acre Kalmia Gardens of Coker College adjoins a 700-acre nature preserve.
  • The Elizabeth Boatwright Coker Performing Arts Center. A $6.5 million facility, the Elizabeth Boatwright Coker Performing Arts Center houses the Department of Dance, Music and Theater and includes include a 466-seat proscenium theater, audio and video editing suites, a black box theater, two dance studios, a music recording studio and a rehearsal room.
  • Alumni success.  Coker alumni making national headlines this year include Terrance Hayes, who received a degree in English from Coker in 1994, won the 2010 National Book Award for Poetry for “Lighthead,” his fourth collection of poetic works, and CNN producer Christopher Dawson, who was honored in Washington with the 2011 Global Media Award for the positive impact his work has had in the lives of the victims of last year’s earthquake and its aftermath in Haiti.
  • Play Day.  Serious about play, each year Coker’s education department hosts a special Play Day to promote the importance of play and to honor young children and those who nurture them.
  • COW Days. Coker Olympics of Winter, one of the institution’s most unique and treasured traditions, takes center stage one week at the beginning of every February. Each class competes in Coker’s version of Olympic events in hopes of earning the title of C.O.W. Days Champions. The unusual competition includes activities such as a hot wing eating, tug of war, lip sync, Miss Cow Pageant and the Coker Hunk Contest and culminates with the playing of the C.O.W. Day games on Saturday.

For more information about Colleges of Distinction visit  To schedule a campus visit or to learn more about admission to Coker College, visit


Coker College readies undergraduates for personal and professional success through a distinctive four-year program that emphasizes a practical application of the liberal arts as well as hands-on and discussion-based learning within and beyond the classroom. Coker is ranked among the “Best Colleges” in the South by U.S. News & World Report as well as The Princeton Review. Located in Hartsville, S.C., Coker is within two hours of the cultural, financial and recreational resources of Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.

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Contact Information

Office of Admissions (DAY)
Phone: 843.383.8050
Phone (Toll Free): 1.800.950.1908
Fax: 843.383.8056

Office of Admissions (Adult Degree Program)
Elaine Hodges |
Phone: 843.383.8030

Admissions Staff

Office of Financial Aid
Phone: 843.383.8055
Phone (Toll Free): 1.800.950.1908
Fax: 843.383.8159

Financial Aid Staff

Coker College
300 East College Ave.
Hartsville, SC 29550