As the Intern for the Byerly Foundation, and current Coker College Senior, one of the projects that I have been tasked with is to talk with some of Hartsville’s community leaders to learn about ideas and programs that continue building Hartsville into an even greater community. My first interview was with Dr. Robert Wyatt, President of Coker College. He gave me my first class in how to build a college town.
Growing A College Town
In his eighth year as President, when Dr. Wyatt first arrived at Coker, there was no real relationship with City Hall; something that he knew needed to change right away. “We have worked really hard to implement what I think any college’s role should be, which is to make its community better.” Wyatt said. “Being able to craft the relationship between Coker and Hartsville into a symbiotic one has been one of the best things not just for Coker, but the City as well.”
Coker’s newest tradition, HomeCOWming, a combination of one of the oldest traditions on campus, COW Days, and Homecoming, has become one of the strategies to create a link between Coker and the City. Dr. Wyatt was especially proud of the efforts put forth by Coker and Natalie Ziegler, Hartsville’s City Manager, and her staff. “Downtown stores are decorating their windows for a Homecoming Parade. Our alumni are even planning a pub-crawl just in downtown Hartsville! To see these plans start to come to fruition, just in the short time that I’ve been here, has been incredible.”
Work In Progress
The plan to turn Hartsville into a model college town still has a ways to go, but just being able to be a part of Hartsville’s Renaissance is something that Dr. Wyatt cherishes. “One of the steps to making Hartsville a model college town is having local restaurants that our students and citizens can go to and I love being able to eat local, support our small businesses and have people stop me and ask me what’s going on at the school.”
Hartsville Has Become My Second Home
Hartsville has not just been the place that I put on my shipping labels so grandparents can send care packages; this place has become my second home. In the past four years I have not only been able to witness Hartsville’s growth, but I have worked on it as well. Last year I had the opportunity to intern with Main Street Hartsville, headed by Suzy Moyd and learned first hand what the City has been bringing to this growing relationship while interacting with community leaders, a tactic that Dr. Wyatt stresses as one of the steps needed for a model college town.