Coker Creates Betty and Joseph Wiggins School of Education

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, contact Barb Steadman - 843.857.4199

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Nov. 3, 2011 – A gift surpassing $1 million from the estate of Betty C. Wiggins has enabled a major campus expansion and the establishment of the Betty C. and Joseph L. Wiggins School of Education at Coker College.

“As part of the College’s plans for growth over the next five years, we believe the Betty C. and Joseph L. Wiggins School of Education will increase institutional visibility and position the College as a national leader in innovative teacher education,” said Coker Board of Trustees Chair Goz Segars.

The new school, the first named school in Coker’s history, will be housed in the building currently occupied by the Hartsville Messenger, which building has been purchased by the College.

“This expansion represents a wonderful development for our students.  In terms of our physical campus, it’s an attractive space, aesthetically, and because of its location and capacity.” said Coker College President Robert Wyatt. “Further, in today’s global community, education is a quickly changing discipline, and so we’re particularly grateful that the Wiggins’ gift is making this much-needed expansion possible.”

Among the most recent developments in Coker’s education programs is its participation in PULSE, Partners for Unparalleled Local Scholastic Excellence, an innovative public-private partnership involving the Darlington County School District, the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics, Coker College, Yale University’s Comer School Development Program and Sonoco.  In conjunction with PULSE, Coker’s Department of Education is embracing James Comer’s internationally acclaimed system of child-centered reform because the development of the whole child has always been a foundation of its education curriculum.

The approximately 6,400 square-foot building, designed and renovated by Hartsville architect Bobby Goodson, will be renovated to include office space and model classrooms.

The new school will open in August 2012 and be directed by current department chair Associate Professor of Education Susan D. Henderson.

“What a truly exciting time for Coker College and our Teacher Education Program,” Henderson said. “The beautiful new facilities and state-of-the-art model classrooms for teaching and learning will provide faculty and students greater opportunities to further explore ways of becoming instructional leaders.  Our faculty and staff are honored by the Wiggins’ support and generosity, and we will continue working closely with the college and community to develop the well-educated teacher.”

Henderson is a member of the South Carolina Education Deans Alliance and serves on the South Carolina Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement Board of Directors.  She conducts research in the field of literacy, leads local workshops for teachers and has made presentations at state, national and international conferences. Henderson earned her undergraduate degree from Davidson College, her teaching credentials from Coker College and her M.Ed. and Ph.D. from Georgia State University.

Residents of Hartsville, Joe and Betty Wiggins were lifelong supporters of Coker College.  Betty was a Trustee and had received a Doctor of Humane Letters from Coker College in 2001.  In 1986 she was awarded the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. She died in 2010.

Joe had been president of the Hartsville Broadcasting Company Cable TV of Hartsville and owner, publisher and editor of The Hartsville Messenger. He received an honorary degree from Coker in 1987. He passed away in 2001.

Among the many philanthropic interests in addition to Coker College that the Wiggins supported were Black Creek Land Trust, Hartsville Community Concerts, Spoleto Festival, Hartsville Interfaith Ministries, Spring Beauty Garden Club, SCETV, Hartsville Memorial Library and the Hartsville Museum.

Photo:  Coker College President Robert L. Wyatt


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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