Spring 2023 AU Magazine
Spring 2023 - An Incredible Legacy in Progress
From a distance, the house was everything Evans and Diane Whitaker wanted. The neighborhood was perfect, the views idyllic, the facade pristine.
Why, they wondered, is it so inexpensive?
(You probably know where this is going.)
“We went up the stairs, onto the porch and looked in the window. It became obvious why it was so cheap,” Dr. Whitaker recalls. “It was a disaster inside.”
This magazine is the story of laying those foundations, a 20-year process that continues today. It’s a celebration of Dr. and Mrs. Whitaker’s incredible legacy.
They bought it anyway, and it became “the hardest personal project we’ve ever undertaken. But when we finished, it was stronger, better, more appealing, more marketable.”
When the newlyweds bought that house, it was symbolic of what would become one of the Whitakers’ core values: to find something beautiful and make it better.
Anderson University was not “a disaster” when Dr. Evans and Mrs. Diane Whitaker arrived as president and first lady more than 20 years ago. The culture—or, perhaps more accurately, the people who embraced the value of intentionally Christian higher education—was strong. It was a beautiful place in an ideal location. The foundation was intact. But the pillars—Great Academics, Great Faith, Great Hospitality, Great Purpose—weren’t fully formed.
Basic numbers tell that story. Barely 1,600 students attended Anderson in 2002, taught by 60 full-time faculty members and supported by 80 staff.
Today? Anderson University is the largest private institution of higher education in South Carolina. Enrollment this year reached a record of nearly 4,200 students. Among majors, minors and academic concentrations, those students have access to approximately 130 courses of study. And it’s a university that employs roughly 1,000 people who work at a “Great Colleges to Work For” honor roll institution—one of only two in the state.
So, when Dr. Whitaker says his and Mrs. Whitaker’s hope “was to make Anderson University a stronger place,” you could consider it a mission accomplished. But it’s not. As Dr. Whitaker says, “I’ll be laying foundations until my last day on the job.”
This magazine is the story of laying those foundations, a 20-year process that continues today. It’s a celebration of Dr. and Mrs. Whitaker’s incredible legacy: where Anderson University has been, where it is now and, ultimately, where it’s headed.
Thank you for being a part of the journey.
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