DENMARK, S.C. (courtesy voorhees.edu) — Voorhees College launched the 2021-2022 academic year, just before students began returning to campus on Aug. 7, with the Fall All Faculty and Staff Institute where the president delivered the State-of-the-College Address on Aug. 4.
Dr. Ronnie Hopkins, selected as the 10th president of Voorhees after a unanimous vote by the Board of Trustees in July, told faculty and staff to strive for perfection and exceptional customer service at all levels of the institution.
Hopkins said that teamwork was necessary and outlined the tenets for team building, which included open communication, excellent customer service, zero tolerance for abuse of students, constructive criticism, and collaboration rather than competition. “We have to be on the same team for a successful Voorhees College,” he said.
More than 100 faculty and staff members listened to Hopkins discuss his vision to move the institution to the “next level of excellence,” which included his leadership style.
In the words of Angie Stone, speaking about his leadership style, Hopkins said, “What you see is what you get. What you hear is who I am. You will find that I am a transformative leader, a visionary theorist, an operative collaborator/relationist, and a data driven leader who leaves with love.”
Hopkins said he hopes Voorhees will enroll at least as many students as it enrolled the year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic—510 students. The college’s goal is to enroll 1,000 students by 2027. The college’s week of welcome, welcoming new and returning students, is Aug. 7 through 15 and classes begin Aug. 12.
Hopkins told faculty and staff that he expects an exciting year at Voorhees as the college celebrates its 125th anniversary, transitions from a college to a university, and holds his inauguration ceremony. While planning and activities will happen throughout the year, official ceremonies will be conducted during Founder’s Week in April 2022.
During the All Faculty and Staff Institute, presentations were made by members of the senior leadership team, including the provost and the vice presidents for institutional advancement, enrollment management, student affairs, strategic planning, retention, and technology.
Suzanne Williams, director of health services, advised employees that they are expected to wear masks in all buildings and in close proximity to others. “Social distancing will be encouraged and sanitizers will be located throughout campus in public spaces and in offices,” she said.
Williams said that testing for COVID-19 is mandatory and is provided free of charge to employees, biweekly. She mentioned that as of Aug. 4, 86 percent of employees were fully vaccinated.
V. Diane O’Berry, vice president for business and fiscal affairs, shared that the college now owns all of the buildings and facilities on campus, recently paid off a $1.5 million line of credit, and is debt free. One highlight of her report was that Voorhees returning students will have no balance on their accounts. The college has cleared all of their debt.