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2020 in Review: Carthage adapts in tumultuous year

January 01, 2021

While it’s understandable that many would prefer to erase all memory of 2020, the gloomy global backdrop can’t obscure the noteworthy changes that took place at Carthage. Here’s a recap of the top stories of the year, as selected by the Office of Marketing and Communications.

1. Carthage quickly adapts during the pandemic

 Campus Drive opened to pedestrian traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After COVID-19 infiltrated the country, Carthage suspended in-person courses in the middle of the spring semester and pivoted to remote teaching — in just 10 days.

Cognizant that a thousand unknowns could sabotage a student’s GPA, faculty instituted a mulligan while preserving the traditional grading system. Academic support, student life, admissions, and counseling shifted online, too.

After careful planning, the campus reopened in fall with a long list of safety modifications. To minimize the spread, Carthage issued daily symptom-monitoring reminders, made testing available, and designated isolation spaces in residence halls.

• • •

2. Major steps taken in equity and inclusion

  Carthage took major steps toward equity and inclusion in 2020.

To ensure that students from all backgrounds feel supported, Carthage launched a series of equity and inclusion initiatives. Those included the emotional grand opening of an Intercultural Center in October.

Even as racial diversity peaked at Carthage — non-white students made up 27 percent of the traditional student body in fall 2020 — a national uprising demanded greater urgency in the fight against systemic injustice. President John Swallow issued a sweeping anti-racism plan, and the College joined the Moon Shot for Equity initiative to wipe out graduation gaps by 2030.

Carthage’s multi-pronged commitment also beefed up support for LGBTQ+ students, veterans, and those with differing religious or political beliefs.

• • •

3. Athletic team names retired, search begins

  Tarble Arena

The Board of Trustees voted in August to retire Carthage’s longtime athletic team names, initiating the search for a suitable replacement.

A task force with broad representation oversaw a thorough nine-month review, concluding that Red Men and Lady Reds no longer served as “unifying symbols for our community.” Almost 3,000 Carthaginians shared input, overwhelmingly endorsing a change in the teams’ identity.

From more than 450 submissions, the task force recently narrowed the pool of potential names to 16 semifinalists. Meanwhile, Torchie entered his final year before “graduating” as mascot in April 2021.

• • •

4. New academic programs sprout

  Athletic training students practice their examination skills.

Diversifying its academic lineup, Carthage added several promising areas of study.

New graduate offerings include a Master of Arts in Athletic Training and a sports management track for the Master of Science program in business. Undergrads can now pursue a major in data science, as well as minors in African studies, film and new media, graphic design, interfaith studies, photography, social justice, and technical direction (theatre).

The College also formed new partnerships with leading graduate schools to offer students dual degree paths in in pharmacy and public health.

• • •

5. Leipolds’ $1M gift boosts sports management

  Carthage held an Introduction to Sports Management study tour during J-Term 2020.

NHL owner Craig Leipold and his wife, business executive Helen Johnson-Leipold, pledged $1 million to develop regionally distinctive sports management programming at Carthage.

Primarily, the gift allows the College to hire top faculty and guest lecturers, award scholarships to promising students, establish industry partnerships, and augment experiential learning in the new graduate curriculum. Undergraduate offerings will also be expanded.

• • •

6. Graduation in four years guaranteed

 A graduate celebrates after Commencement 2016.

Starting with the fall 2020 entering class, Carthage assures all freshmen seeking a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Nursing that they’ll earn that degree in four years — without an excess course load.

To remain eligible, students must meet certain requirements along the way. To fulfill its end of the bargain, Carthage promises students personal advising and access to the courses they need to graduate on time.

• • •

7. Student inventors win prestigious Lemelson-MIT prize

 A team of five Carthage students won the 2020 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for transportation.

A team of five Carthage students won the 2020 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for the best collegiate invention in transportation. It was the first win for a small school (enrollment under 10,000).

All five were members of the Carthage Microgravity Team, which partners with NASA to refine the Modal Propellant Gauging technology for potential use in space missions. They spent several months adapting it for use in other types of aircraft.

• • •

8. Influential Carthaginians memorialized

 Carthage lost several prominent members of its family in 2020.

Even in grief, the community united to celebrate the lives of several prominent Carthage figures who passed away in 2020. They included:

• • •

9. Aspire Center renovated

 The Aspire Center, Carthage's hub for The Aspire Program, was renovated in 2020.

As part of renovations to Lentz Hall, the College expanded the Aspire Center. The facility serves as the hub for The Aspire Program, a comprehensive career development initiative built exclusively for Carthage students.

Using previously designated funds from the Tarble Family Foundation, the College doubled the size of the main suite and converted offices to a multipurpose space with videoconferencing technology.

• • •

10. Successful 150 Years of Carthage Women initiative winds down

 The successful 150 Years of Carthage Women initiative wrapped up in 2020.

A 14-month celebration marking a century and a half of women’s education at Carthage officially drew to a close at the end of 2020, laying the groundwork for a long-term benefit.

More than 70 volunteers served on various planning committees, and the fundraising component ultimately brought in more than $7 million for women’s scholarships, experiential learning, and athletics.

• • •

Honorable Mention


After 24 years at Carthage, Bosko Djurickovic retired as one of the most successful men’s basketball coaches in NCAA history. Bosko’s son Steve ’11, who had a record-setting playing career, succeeded him in August.


Despite circumstances that prevented in-person events, Carthage exceeded its goal for Giving Day 2020. A total of 1,054 members of our community pledged their support, including donations, guidance, and goodwill.


The late Ruth Johnson ’84, one of the College’s longest-serving employees, bequeathed $450,000 to Carthage for scholarships. The newly named Ruth Johnson Office of the Registrar honors her generosity.


In February, Carthage hosted a two-day workshop focused on trauma-informed practices. More than 300 professionals attended the Trauma and Wellness Conference, as registration quickly reached capacity.