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A look back at 2021

By Chuck Gordon

It’s been quite a year at Wingate, one with so much happening that choosing the top 10 highlights just didn’t seem right. So, our showcase includes not 10, not a dozen, but 13 events of 2021 that deserve a second look. In case you missed this list on our social media, here’s a wrap-up.

Baseball National Championship

Wingate’s baseball team wasn’t supposed to be there, much less win it all. But here they were, the fourth-place team from the South Atlantic Conference (and the No. 6 seed in the eight-team College World Series), putting it all together at the right time. In June, just down the road in Cary, N.C., the plucky Bulldogs pulled off a shocker, winning the NCAA Division II title, the first national championship in the program’s history.

In-person Classes and Events

Forget Zoom. Gives us facetime (no, not the Apple service). After a year of online coursework, virtual commencements and videoed homecoming events, in-person classes and on-campus celebrations returned in earnest this fall. With the necessary precautions in place, faculty members and students were happy to gather in classrooms once more. And visitors were welcomed back to campus for Family Weekend, Homecoming, and spring and fall commencement ceremonies. 

Public Health Program 

Wingate has proven flexible in its educational offerings over the years, and this year was no different. In August, the University once again set out to serve a societal need, launching its bachelor’s and master’s programs in public health. With the coronavirus pandemic entering a new phase, public health officials are needed now more than ever. It’s another example of Wingate filling a gap in the market and serving our community.

Triathlon Individual National Championship 

First-year programs aren’t supposed to be so good so fast. In its first season of competition, Wingate’s women’s triathlon team showed the moxie and maturity of a much older squad on its way to a second-place finish in the NCAA Division II national meet. 

Freshman Finja Schierl, a week removed from a 15th-place finish in the world junior championships in Portugal, burst ahead in the running portion to take the individual national title in Tempe, Arizona.

Quasquicentennial

The Wingate School opened in 1896 with 175 students learning in a single building constructed near a railroad depot and a spring. One hundred twenty-five years later, Wingate University is a fast-growing institution offering master’s and doctoral degrees. This year, we’re celebrating a century and a quarter of educating eager learners from Union County, North Carolina and beyond.

It’s been a wild ride (or at least a very educational journey). Check out the spring issue of Wingate magazine to read about 125 of the difference-makers who have made this place so special.

Focus on Customer Service

In an effort to be even more user-friendly, the University made big changes to one beloved campus hub and created another one. The Dickson-Palmer Center, long a gathering place for students, has been transformed into the Crowder Welcome Center in the Dickson-Palmer Building. The CWC is the new first-port-of-call for prospective students. It’s also home to the campus store, a demonstration classroom, Starbucks and more.

Once enrolled, students (not to mention employees) are also encouraged to make liberal use of Bulldog Central, an information hub with both online and in-person components.

Generous Support From You

This spring, you outdid yourselves. The Wingate University community went above and beyond during our annual One Day, One Dog fundraising campaign, giving the University 1,072 gifts totaling $220,739. Those dollars will go a long way toward helping students get the most out of their Wingate education.

To top it off, the Bulldog Club set a record with $314,349 raised in the fiscal year ending June 2021. That’s a whopping 86% year-on-year jump. We’re grateful for your generosity.

Women’s Field Hockey

Wingate’s roster of sports teams continues to grow. This fall, women’s triathlon hit the water and the road. Next fall, women’s field hockey will make its debut, marking WU Athletics’ 24th intercollegiate offering. There’s already an experienced coach in place (Kat Lind), and recruiting is underway.

Winter Term 

To provide an additional opportunity for students to earn credits, the University shifted its schedule to create room for an additional, condensed term. Asynchronous, online classes started Dec. 20 and will continue through Jan. 13 (with a one-week holiday break). Winter Term gives students a chance to catch up or get ahead between semesters.

Athletics Rebrand

Victor E. got a makeover this year. WU Athletics started a soft rollout of its new logo and wordmarks with a remodel of the court in Cuddy Arena, and other facilities and team paraphernalia will get a similar treatment over the next couple of years. There’s also a raft of new merch in the Cindy Jordan Campus Store.

Behold The Man Opera

Wingate music students brought a brand new contemporary opera to the stage in October. “Behold The Man,” a comic opera based on the true story of a botched fresco restoration that went viral, was performed entirely by Wingate music students. The University premiere was double-cast and included nearly 30 WU students belting out peppy tunes in a modern twist on opera.

Steve Poston’s Retirement

Steve Poston has held so many positions at Wingate University that he says the University “has been relentless in trying to find a job I can do here.” For nearly the past two decades he’s led the WU Athletic Department, during a time of unparalleled success at the school. Two team national titles, countless All-American and Academic All-American awards, and 13 consecutive Echols Awards. Now, after 50 years of service to Wingate, Poston is retiring. He will still work part-time as an adviser to President Brown. To honor him for a half-century of service in a variety of roles, the University presented Poston with an honorary doctor of humane letters during May commencement.

Safe and Healthy Campus

Over the past two years, our Health Center staff has added Covid testing and vaccine administration to an already hefty workload. They’ve given more than 2,000 Covid vaccines and more than 20,000 Covid tests this year, in addition to more than 600 flu shots. The goal was to keep us Safe at Wingate, and Sherrie McCaskill and her staff have done so with compassion and understanding.\

Jan. 2, 2022