News Item

Lander at a ‘Crossroads,’ Starnes Tells Scholarship Donors, Recipients

November 21, 2016

George Starnes - Scholarship Banquet - 2The featured speaker at this year’s Eleanor Shiflet Teal Scholarship Banquet was Lander alumnus George Starnes, ’81. (Photo by Laura Brown)

GREENWOOD — The Eleanor Shiflet Teal Scholarship Banquet, held annually at Lander University, represents an opportunity for scholarship donors and recipients to meet each other. This year, more than 300 did just that.

The sponsor and keynote speaker for the event, held in the Finis Horne Arena, was George R. Starnes, III, a 1981 graduate of Lander who works as a wealth management advisor for Northwestern Mutual.

Starnes, who retired from Lander’s Board of Trustees in June after serving for 24 years, spoke of several challenging moments in Lander’s history. “Today, I really believe that Lander is at another crossroads,” he said.

Starnes noted the rising cost of a college education and the dwindling help that Lander receives from the state, which has declined from 90% of its funding when he was in school, to 10% today.

For many Lander students, “there is a gap between what they’re capable of paying and what our tuition is.” Scholarships are essential to making up the difference, he said.

Nine out of ten students who have received the George R. Starnes Family Scholarship since 2012 are either still at Lander or have graduated, according to Starnes.

“I think a 90% success rate is pretty impressive,” he said.

He read a letter from one of the recipients of the scholarship he created, thanking him for his kindness and generosity.

“That’s why we give, and that’s what it’s all about,” Starnes said.

Lander President Dr. Richard Cosentino also spoke. He called attention to the significant gains that Lander has recently made in U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings of schools.

Cosentino said that applications to Lander are up more than 70% over last year.

“We will easily have the largest freshman class in our history; we will easily have the largest transfer class, and we will have the largest enrollment in 145 years,” he said.

In his closing remarks, A.R. Charnes, chairman of The Lander Foundation Scholarship Committee, said that new donors are needed to help Cosentino reach his aggressive goals for Lander.

“As our enrollment grows, our programs expand and our students continue to be like these outstanding young people you’ve met tonight, we must continue to increase our donor list,” he said.