By: Lydia Estes, Staff Writer
Jerry Richardson’s signature, painted in large font on the floor of the new arena, is only one eye-catching detail of Wofford’s new Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium.
During the fall of 2014, Wofford’s Board of Trustees announced the “six-point strategic vision for the college.” The Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts, completed in May 2017, and the near-completion of the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium are a big part of the college’s plan to improve the institution.
While the arts center and the stadium employed separate teams to more efficiently complete each building, both of the construction projects shared a contractor and architect, and both buildings contribute to the college’s vision for the future. The six points of Wofford’s strategy include educating superior students, preparing exemplary leaders and citizens, recruiting and retaining talented students, strengthening the community, enhancing the college and securing the necessary fundraising to “make it happen.”
Brent Williamson, associate athletic director for media relations, says the stadium will enhance the student experience. Students, who voiced their opinion that the optimal location for the student section be a designated area behind one of the basketball hoops, influenced the design of the arena; the students’ entrance to the stadium will take them directly to the access point for the student section.
Wofford, the third smallest Division 1 school in the nation, now is “going to be able to bring in some really good opponents…students will get to watch USC with just a short walk across campus,” Williamson says. When asked about the third point in the strategic vision, recruiting and retaining talented students, he cited the so-called “Flutie Effect,” the collegiate phenomenon of having higher application numbers as a result of a successful athletics team. The new indoor arena will make Wofford more competitive in recruiting student-athletes in men’s and women’s basketball, as well as women’s volleyball.
The art history and studio arts programs will also grow as a result of the new arts center. Wofford now offers significantly more for studio art students.
“For the first time this fall, we have two full-time tenure-track artists and three adjunct professors teaching for us in studio art,” says Dr. Karen Goodchild, chair of the art and art history department. Additionally, Dr. Erin Corrales-Diaz, who has a joint appointment as curator for the Johnson Collection of Southern Art and as adjunct professor of art history at Wofford, will curate exhibitions for the art center museums each fall with works pulled from the Johnson Collection of Southern art.
The Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts is currently exhibiting a collection of photographs taken in Spartanburg county by famous American photographers Dorothea Lange and Jack Delano, which will correspond with an upcoming talk by Yale University professor, Dr. Laura Wexler scheduled for Sept. 28 in the Jerome Johnson Richardson Theater. Additionally, in collaboration with the environmental studies department, an exhibition by environmental artist Judith Kruger is to open in April.
“Every show that hangs here relates to one or more classes…it’s the idea of the interdisciplinary nature of a liberal arts education,” Goodchild says, an approach that ties the arts center to the six-point strategic vision of preparing exemplary leaders and citizens.
“The fact that Mr. Richardson donated both the arts center and the stadium…both of which are transformative on campus… is evident of his commitment to the college’s signature identity. Every student will be impacted by one of those two buildings,” says Williamson—but maybe even both.