Coker College

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Coker College
Former names
Coker College for Women
Type private, co-educational, baccalaureate degree
Established 1908
Founder Major James Lide Coker
President Dr. Robert L. Wyatt
Dean Dr. Tracy Parkinson
Academic staff
68 full-time
70 adjunct
Students approx. 1,200 (Fall 2012)
Location Hartsville, South Carolina, United States
34°22′36.4″N 80°04′10″W / 34.376778°N 80.06944°W / 34.376778; -80.06944
Colors Navy and Gold
Sports Baseball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, softball, cross country, tennis, golf, wrestling, lacrosse
Nickname Cobras
Affiliations South Atlantic Conference
Website Official website
5A OfficialSecondaryWordMark

Coker College is a private, co-ed four-year liberal arts college located in Hartsville, South Carolina. Coker offers a 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, Darlington County, South Carolina, Coker is within two hours of the cultural, financial and recreational resources of Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.

Coker College was founded in 1908, and is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.[1] Coker's sports teams, nicknamed the Cobras, compete in NCAA Division II.


As a Liberal Arts institution, Coker strives to provide every student with an academic curriculum based upon a liberal arts core, known as the Liberal Arts Studies Program (LASP).

The LASP is divided into different baskets of knowledge, and the student chooses the available classes from each basket that most interest them. The baskets are Core Skills (21 semester hours), Knowledge of the Arts (6 hours), Knowledge of the Behavioral Sciences (6 hours), Knowledge of the Humanities (6 hours), Knowledge of the Natural Sciences (7 hours), Knowledge of the United States (3 hours) and Knowledge of the Wider World (3 hours).[2] As the students progresses through school, they may select classes to fulfill basket requirements that are in tune with their interests. For example, in the Knowledge of the Wider World baskets, students could choose a class on Latin-American Literature, World Religions, International Politics, Musics of the World, Modernization and Social Change or African Geography, among others.[3] The classes offered under each basket allow for a host of different options, with no two students ever really taking all the same classes.


Coker offers 29 majors and 23 minors of study that will prepare students for careers in any number of industries. The college also offers individual majors and double majors; self-designated degree programs; specializations; and pre-professional programs. Some of the currently offered majors include: Education (several options), Business Administration, Communications, Spanish, Criminology, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Social Work, Philosophy and Religion, Pre-Law, Art (Photography, Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Art Education), Music (Voice, Piano, Musical Theater, Music Education), Dance, Theatre (3 options), Computer Science, Physical Education, Sport Management, Medical Technology, Biology, Chemistry and English.

Round Table[edit]

Instituted in 1985, Coker’s unique, interactive "Round Table" teaching style is recognized as a model learning experience in Smart Parents Guide to College ( Peterson's, 1997) for promoting the discussion of ideas while building leadership and communication skills.[4]

Summer Programs[edit]

Coker offers summer programs for high school students in partnership with Blueprint Summer Programs. In summer 2011, the program begins on June 26 and July 10 with four courses available: Studio Arts & Photography, Creative Writing, Acting and Production Design or Social Psychology. Students live and study on campus and go on field trips to Charleston, Charlotte and other destinations.

Study Abroad[edit]

In addition to student/advisor prepared individualized semester abroad programs, Coker offers faculty-led Spring Interim and Summer Term trips.[5]

Coker also boasts two endowed scholarships to aid students in their quests to study abroad. The Susan Coker Watson Scholarship awards money to rising juniors and seniors hoping to study in a European nation, while the Malcolm Doubles Scholarship awards funds to study anywhere in the world.

The Four Year Program[edit]

Coker utilizes a 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 class room.

  • Year 1: Students connect with classmates and explore interests in freshmen seminars and activities.
  • Year 2: Students receive the advice they need to choose a major or design one that fits.
  • Year 3: Students discover the wider world through an internship, study away or abroad, community service or special project.
  • Year 4: Students complete their personalized, well-laid plan to be accepted to the career or degree program of their choice.


Coker College began in 1894 as Welsh Neck High School, founded by a local businessman and American Civil War veteran, Major James Lide Coker (1837–1918). In 1908, when South Carolina created a statewide public school system, Major Coker led the effort to convert the school to Coker College for Women. Davidson Hall and Memorial Hall are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[6]

From the 1920s until just after World War II, it was the only college between Columbia and Charleston accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Coker was once affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention, but has been non-denominational since 1944. It officially became co-ed in 1969, although men had been attending since the end of World War II.

From 1988 to 2003, Coker students often interacted with students from South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics (SCGSSM) who lived and took their own courses on campus. In 2003, the SCGSSM moved to its own campus a few blocks away.

Financial Aid[edit]

Approximately 80% of Coker students receive need-based financial aid in addition to academic, athletic and other talent-based scholarships.

Coker awards more than $5.7 million annually in scholarships and grants in addition to federal and state aid.[7]


Coker's average class size is 12, one of the smallest in the nation; many classes have fewer than 10 students.[7]

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has given Coker special commendations for the quality of interaction between faculty, students and staff and the attractiveness of the campus grounds and facilities.[7]

U.S. News & World Report ranks Coker No. 17 in the Top Baccalaureate Colleges in the South for 2011. The magazine has named Coker a "Best College" for 15 consecutive years.[8]

The Princeton Review selected Coker College a "Best Southeastern College" in its 2011 rankings based on academic excellence and student satisfaction; this is Coker's seventh consecutive selection to this honor.[9]

Barron's consistently names Coker one of the nation's 300 Best Buys in College Education.[citation needed]

The National Survey of Student Engagement ranked Coker in the top 10% of all institutions for providing students with a supportive campus environment, enriching educational experiences, student-faculty interaction, active and collaborative learning and a high level of academic challenge.


The 15-acre (6.1 ha) main campus contains mostly Georgian-style brick buildings, some of which (e.g., Davidson Hall, home to the college's famed round table classrooms) are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Alumni House (Drengaelen), The President's House, The Dean's & President's Offices (David & May Coker House) and The Registrar's Offices (Lawton-Wilson House) are all located in old mansions along the northern edge of campus.

Hartsville and Coker College owe much to the generosity of the Coker family, founders of Sonoco and Coker's Pedigreed Seed Company. The Coker family's patronage of the college has led the vast majority of buildings on campus having Coker somewhere in the name. Students often joke to freshmen or visitors that they'll meet them "in the Coker" building as a way to gently initiate newcomers to campus.

Residence Halls[edit]

There are six student residence halls including Memorial (1914), James Lide Coker III (2009), Belk (1916), Coker (1916) and Grannis (1969), which all adjoin the Linville Dining Hall (1916). Richard and Tuck Coker Hall (1988), commonly called the RTC, lies between the library and the other residence halls. Despite the age of these structures, most have been remodeled since 2005 and are fully modernized. The Dining Hall, with services provided by Sodexo, offers cafeteria-style dining with several options for each meal (including vegetarian selections at each meal). In 2011, Coker opened the Coker Downtown Lofts located just off campus in the center of downtown Hartsville. Memorial Hall houses the Drawing Room, a ballroom/dining hall for special events.[10]

In the Coker Residence Hall's basement one finds The Cobra Den and The Cobra Pit – the on-campus spot for night life. Open nightly, The Pit offers students the luxury of playing pool or watching television without having to leave the residence halls. The Cobra Den serves as the venue for the faculty Academic Karaoke lectures, and on the weekend, The Den has resident DJs.

The residence halls are protected by locking rooms, ID card swipe building entry and 24-hour security guards that patrol the campus.[11]


In January 2008, students began using the 40,000 sq ft (3,700 m2) state-of-the-art Charles W. and Joan S. Coker Library-Information Technology Center. The new library was built entirely from donations from a capital campaign and is an example of Coker alumni generosity to the college.[12][13]

Health Services[edit]

Coker Student Health Services is housed in the residence halls, near the Dining Hall. An RN is on-site to aid with general injuries and treatments and to make referrals to physicians as needed.[14]


Official athletics logo.

Adjacent to the main campus is a 22-acre (8.9 ha) athletics complex with baseball, softball, soccer and tennis facilities. Near the athletics fields on East Carolina Avenue are the Saleeby House, home to Coker's athletics program, and the Department of Education Building.

The college has 19 varsity athletics programs which compete in South Atlantic Conference.[15] They include Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Volleyball, Men's Lacrosse, Women's Lacrosse, Cheerleading, Tennis, Golf, Soccer and Cross Country. As Coker was originally a Women's college, there was no history of a football squad; this, along with the high costs of starting and maintaining a team, helps explain why Coker has no varsity football team today.

The 2013 season was a historic season for the Coker Baseball team. The Cobras defied all odds to capture the Conference Carolinas Tournament title, earned the teams first-ever postseason bid, won the NCAA Southeast Regional and advanced to the NCAA DII Baseball National Championship. They finished the year with a record of 38–16, the third best season in school history, and were ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation according to the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.

2014–2015 Coker's Men Lacrosse wins the regular season with a convincing 15–7 South Atlantic Conference win over Brevard College on Saturday (Apr. 11) afternoon. The win improved Coker to 9–3 overall and 7–1 in conference play. The win also extended the Cobras' winning streak to eight games and clinched the team a share of the 2015 regular season SAC conference championship.


Coker's alumni giving percentage – a gauge of alumni satisfaction – recently reached 52%, highest among all of South Carolina's colleges and universities and equal to the top 25 liberal arts colleges nationally. Coker's alumni giving percentage is typically 24% to 34% – higher than most of the South's Best Comprehensive Colleges.[7]

Notable alumni include:


  • Major James Lide Coker
  • Dr. E. V. Baldy (1909–1911)
  • Dr. Arthur Jackson Hall (1911–1914)
  • Dr. Howard Lee Jones (1914–1915)
  • Dr. E. Walter Sikes (1916–1925)
  • Dr. Carlyle Campbell (1925–1936)
  • Dr. C. Sylvester Green (1936–1944)
  • Dr. Donald C. Agnew (1944–1952)
  • Dr. Joseph C. Robert (1952–1955)
  • Dr. John A. Barry, Jr. (1955–1959)
  • Dr. Fenton Keyes (1960–1968)
  • Dr. Wilfrid H. Callcott (1968–1969)
  • Dr. Gus Turbeville (1969–1974)
  • Dr. C. Hilburn Womble (1975–1980)
  • Dr. James D. Daniels (1981–2002)
  • Dr. B. James Dawson (2002–2009)
  • Dr. Robert L. Wyatt (2009–present)



Coker has 68 full-time faculty, and 88% hold the highest degree in their field. In addition to these professors, Coker utilizes more than 70 adjunct and part-time faculty.


Coker College's Fall 2009 enrollment is 1156 full- and part-time students. The average GPA is 3.2, and the average SAT score is 1004.

Coker's 2009–10-day students hail from 27 states and 10 foreign countries (Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Ecuador, England, Finland, Guatemala, Lithuania, New Zealand and Spain); 61% are women, and 39% are men. 27% of all students declare themselves as being from a minority ethnic group, with African-American holding the largest share at 23% of the student body.


Traditions of the college include:

Bonfire and Homecoming Court

Held in early October, Homecoming Week consists of a formal welcoming of the alumni, a homecoming soccer game and a competition between classes. Some of the competition activities include class cheers, class comedian competitions and the Hunk Contest. A bonfire is always held (drought-permitting) as a capstone event.

Day of the Dead

Every year on November 2, the Coker College Culture Club hosts a Day of the Dead event that is free and open to the community. Students build altars in honor of their deceased loved ones, light candles, tell stories of their memories of the dead, and enjoy excellent food.

Winter Formal

A recent addition to campus traditions, the Winter Formal dance is held at the Hartsville Country Club.

C.O.W. Days

The Coker Olympics of Winter is a weeklong event held beginning the first weekend in February. Events include the hotwing eating contest, tug-o-war and the ever-popular musical water buckets. Competition is arranged by class (school year), and the winner earns the highly coveted title of C.O.W. Days Champions.

Crew Race

Each Spring at the Sory Boathouse on Prestwood Lake (just blocks from Coker's campus), teams made up of sister classes race across the lake in canoes. Teams practice for weeks ahead of time to continue a tradition that dates back to 1919.

Late-Night Breakfast

Just before finals each semester, the faculty and staff cook a free, late-night breakfast for resident students studying for their final exams. Aramark Corporation donates the food, and the college's employees provide the free labor. This popular event is attended by the majority of resident students.

Coffee at the Courtyard

During Fall and Spring semesters, in front of Davidson Hall at 9:15 AM every Thursday morning, Coker provides students, staff and faculty with free coffee, hot chocolate, juice and pastries. A brief ceremony is usually held to honor people's recent accomplishments, but the main benefit is a chance to chat and socialize with people outside one's normal sphere. The Evening School has a similar program, but it only happens once a semester.


One of the students' favorite events is BandFest, a concert festival consisting of bands invited from around the country. BandFest usually lasts for an entire evening.


Coker College founded, and still co-hosts, the annual and free Jazz! Carolina Festival.

Because of the enormous wealth that Sonoco and other industries have brought to the town, there are many businesses that one would not normally find in a town of this size.[specify] Also, Coker students help invigorate the downtown economy, attracting businesses that lend it a young and vibrant atmosphere. Most notable among these locations is the Midnight Rooster, a downtown Hartsville coffeeshop.

Sory Boathouse & Kalmia Gardens[edit]

Through generous donations, Coker also owns the Sory Boathouse on Prestwood Lake and the Kalmia Gardens of Coker College. The Sory Boathouse is equipped with several canoes, tandem kayaks and associated equipment. Students can borrow the key and enjoy all South Carolina blackwater has to offer, free of charge. Kalmia Gardens is a mature botanical garden. It is home to the Hart House (built in 1820) and adjoins the 796-acre (322 ha) Segars-McKinnon Heritage Preserve, a blackwater swamp and forested wildlife reservation. The two properties comprise 831 acres (336 ha), roughly equal in size to New York City's Central Park. Kalmia Gardens hosts numerous community events and contains biking and walking trails that are open to the public.[20]

Vista Railyard Project[edit]

Along the campus's eastern edge, through the cooperation of several entities, the City of Hartsville will build the Vista Railyard Project. It will be filled with greenspace, a park and municipal buildings. The project will connect Coker College and the Governor's School for Science and Math to downtown Hartsville and provide an educational corridor when completed.[21]


External links[edit]