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2018: A breakthrough year for WSSU

From viral videos to historic firsts, 2018 was a breakthrough year for Winston-Salem State University, its students, faculty and staff.

As 2018 draws to a close, let's take a look at what was new and noteworthy with WSSU News' annual top 10 list.

10. New living/learning community opens

WSSU’s campus continued to be transformed through the opening of H. Douglas Covington Hall, a $24 million living/learning community for first-time freshman. The residence hall was one of two major construction projects on campus. Construction is continuing on the sciences building, a $53 million research building set to open in late 2019.

Outside view of Covington Hall
H. Douglas Covington Hall, named for a former WSSU chancellor, opened in August. 
9. WSSU unveils new 20-year master plan

In June, architects unveiled a long-term vision for WSSU’s campus that proposes 1.35 million square feet of new construction. The year also closed out with news that WSSU’s football home since the 1940s, Bowman Gray Stadium, is receiving $9 million in improvements.

A rendering released on June 8 shows a renovated C.G. O’Kelly Library with new café and social space spilling out to Pegram Green. The new master plan envisions new spaces to encourage student engagement on campus. (Sasaki Associates, with Design Distil)

8. WSSU embraces new technologies

WSSU rolled out or expanded a dozen new technologies to help students succeed in college. This includes: RAMGuide, a student services mobile app, and becoming the first HBCU Adobe Creative Cloud campus.

RAMGuide, a mobile advisor created by EAB that helps students manage their educations from their phones, is now available to WSSU students.

7. New programs take Rams abroad
In 2018, WSSU added three study abroad destinations: Cuba, South Africa and India. The year also brought the introduction of two new minor programs: public health and urban studies and sustainability.

WSSU students and faculty pictured with artist Martha Jimenex at her studio in Camaguey during a 14-day study abroad in Cuba.
6. Record $2.3 million in NSF grants boost undergraduate research

WSSU continues to emerge as a powerhouse in STEM-H research, with faculty receiving more than a dozen new grants. Among the highlights, $2.3 million in new National Science Foundation (NSF) grants, a record for the university, and a $2.4 million federal grant to support graduate programs.

crane at construction site for sciences building, city skyline in background
Construction continues on a $53 million sciences building. The five-story research facility, expected to open in December 2019, will anchor WSSU’s sciences district and include lab space to increase faculty and student collaboration.
5. New additions to WSSU’s senior leadership

The year was also a time to welcome new leaders to WSSU. Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson filled five key leadership positions at the university.

staff wearing red outside Blair Hall
Chancellor Robinson and staff, including five new university leaders, celebrate College Colors Day in August. 
4. Occupational Therapy program pursues 3D printing

Over the summer, WSSU became one of the first occupational therapy (OT) programs in the nation to experiment with 3D technology in the curriculum. The School of Health Sciences (SOHS) also expanded its outreach to the community through the expansion of the Rams Know H.O.W. Mobile Unit, the only HBCU-based mobile clinic in the nation.

Tools such as pill bottle openers, eating utensils and button hooks are being produced as part of a 3D printer research project.
3. Money Magazine: WSSU no. 1 HBCU in North Carolina

In August, Money Magazine named WSSU the top HBCU in North Carolina and no. 3 overall HBCU in its “Best Colleges for your Money 2018 rankings. This was one of a number national rankings and awards the university collected in 2018, including a national award for diversity,  CollegeNET’s Social Mobility Innovator award and two national awards for STEM initiatives.

graduate celebrates at May's commencement ceremony
For the second consecutive year, Money Magazine ranked WSSU one of the best universities in North Carolina for value.
2. WSSU enrollment is highest since 2014

This fall WSSU reported its highest overall enrollment since 2014. A large factor in the increase is enrollment in graduate and professional programs.

Students on campus in the walkway near C.G. O'Kelly Library
WSSU students greet each other on campus during the first day of classes on Aug. 20. 
1. WSSU commencement goes viral

WSSU received national buzz in May after a video of graduating drum majors Brandon Burgess and Trequan Holman showing their moves on stage at the 2018 Commencement went viral. Within days, the video had been viewed millions of times on social media and on TV programs across the country. The WSSU alumni were hailed on NBC’s “Today” as the viral stars of the week and featured on the syndicated show "Dish Nation." This video was just one of several viral videos that took Twitter by storm. Other examples: police officer Selena Ligons’ dance, an alumni homecoming engagement proposal, and a “Thriller” Halloween flash mob.

MORE: Eight things to expect in 2019

students celebrate on stage during commencement
Brandon Burgess (left) and Trequan Holman (center) celebrate on stage during WSSU's commencement in a screenshot from a video that was featured on news stations across the country.

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