Winthrop University Gains Ground in Political World

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley will take questions from an audience of about 3500 at Winthrop University’s Byrnes Auditorium Friday night.  

With a student body of only around 7,000, Winthrop may be small in size but it's become a big name in presidential politics.

"We have hosted to date Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina and Bernie Sanders,” said Karen Kedrowski, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Kedrowski has been working for the university long before presidential candidates started showing up at their front door. 

“In 2004, I remember distinctly that we invited a number of candidates onto campus and we didn’t land any big names, said Kedrowski. “I think the most prominent individual we had was the socialist nominee for Vice President."

But the university didn’t give up and in 2008 they landed several big names, including then Senator Barack Obama. In 2012 they would up their game even more, pulling off what Kedrowski called a banner year. 

"We were visited by five Republican presidential candidates, but we also hosted a number of events related to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte,” Kedrowski said.

Now almost four years later and in the midst of another election cycle, the university is more prepared than ever. 

"We have developed a very effective team on campus where we can pull together the infrastructure, the security and the publicity, as well as wonderful venues,” said Kedrowski.

The university is also home to an active student body, eager to make a difference and have their voices heard. 

“I feel like this gives us a way to say how we feel and feel like it's okay to be different,” said Lillian Hill, an undergraduate at Winthrop.

“Rockhill and Winthrop seem small but we have a voice,” said Kaylin Watson, also an undergraduate. “This is a beautiful campus and a beautiful area.”

Not to mention it's centrally located, giving candidates the perfect opportunity to hit two states for the price of one.