On August 6, 2017, a longstanding and trusted servant in higher education retires from the College of Charleston. Patricia Simpson, known by us all as “Patty,” smiled and greeted countless numbers of want-to-be students as they inquired about academic programs on the North Charleston campus, how to apply, and what to expect. For her warmth, her sensitivity, and her dependability, she will be sorely missed by program directors, faculty, students, and all of us as colleagues who worked closely with her.
A Long and Enduring History
Patty was first hired as a part-time employee in 1990 by the first Director of College of Charleston North, as it was called at the time, located at 7410 Northside Drive in North Charleston. Ms. Robin Morris was its director. Soon thereafter, Dr. Rew A. (“Skip”) Godow was named the satellite location’s director by the College of Charleston. Patty was officially hired into a full-time, permanent position as “Student Support Specialist” in 1998.
Meanwhile, the concept of the Lowcountry Graduate Center (“LGC”) was in the making, germinating from the University Study Committee, chaired by then-State Representative Harry Hallman and formed by the Charleston County Delegation in 1999. The need for more graduate programs was called for in several independent reports as well, not the least of which was that of Harvard Business School’s highly esteemed Dr. Michael Porter, commissioned by The Palmetto Institute to do a report on economic development in South Carolina. Strong support, especially for greater numbers of advanced degree holders in science and engineering, came vocally too from local community leaders, including the Charleston Metro Chamber and the Charleston Regional Development Alliance.
In January 2004, bylaws were enacted for a consortium comprised of the College of Charleston, the Medical University of South Carolina, and The Citadel, and in July 2004, the SC Commission of Higher Education approved the establishment of the LGC. With funding provided as a line item in the state budget that year, Skip Godow was named its Executive Director, and the entity was housed at the College of Charleston North, which Skip continued to manage as Director. Patty was responsible as a liaison of student services for the College of Charleston as well as coordinator for the other two consortium members, in addition to all partner institutions, such as the University of South Carolina. At the time, she covered the entire span of graduate, undergraduate, and continuing education students.
When Dr. Godfrey Gibbison was hired in 2012 as Dean of the North Campus, he strategically identified its focus as that of a newly created School of Professional Studies at the College of Charleston, serving adult learners with undergraduate degree completion programs and continuing education. Skip Godow’s position was split between the College and the Lowcountry Graduate Center, and Nancy Muller was hired in 2013 as the LGC’s Director and Associate Dean. The number of institutional partners doubled and the number of announced programs tripled, so separate staffing was dedicated too. Patty was therefore asked to serve 100% of her time as the LGC’s Student Services Coordinator. In July 2014, the LGC moved with the School of Professional Studies onto a new, high tech, co-habitated campus, still in North Charleston, for convenient access by the targeted audience, working professionals.
A Stalwart and Beloved Supporter
Over the years, Patty has expertly orchestrated dozens of events, courting students and announcing new programs. Term after term, she has welcomed new students and new faculty to the facility, as if they were her only and most special goslings. She scheduled classrooms and stocked them with supplies. During exam periods, Patty offered free coffee and snacks for “go-power.” She stayed late evenings to proctor exams to accommodate complicated work schedules of students. During holidays, she decorated the lobby and served eggnog for good cheer, donning an elf hat with bells and always laughing. Spring? Patty served up ice cream sundaes for everyone walking in the door. She collaborated across the tri-county region in education fairs at major employer facilities, and was always willing to help out other institutions as a good neighbor. She took seriously every need and every task and every deadline, delivering on all fronts.
We won’t replace Patty and we couldn’t if we tried. We wish her much happiness and good health into her many years ahead in retirement.