Contribute to Dr. Charles Wooten Scholarship to further legacy of phenomenal educator, mentor, encourager, listener, and leader
As many of you may know, Anderson University lost a great alumnus and colleague earlier this year. Dr. Charles “Chuck” Wooten had served for many years in the College of Education as dean and later as director of the Teaching Fellows program. He retired several times but kept coming back to help carry on the important working of inspiring the next generation of educators.
As I thought of the impact that Dr. Wooten had on my life, I knew this column would be dedicated to his legacy at Anderson University. But it quickly became apparent that this story was so much bigger than just my encounters with Dr. Wooten. To get a true sense of his legacy, I felt you needed to hear from a wider circle of people whose lives were deeply impacted.
In recent years, Dr. Wooten had worked closely with Dr. Bob Cline, vice president for church relations, and his wife, Angela, in the Teaching Fellows program.
“When we make choices, those choices make us, and our lives are defined by them,” Dr. Cline said. “Our friend, colleague and mentor—Dr. Chuck Wooten—made a choice to give his life to Christ and to obey God to the best of his ability. That choice ultimately inspired Dr. Wooten’s life goal that impacted everything he did. That goal was to make a difference. So many of us who knew him and worked alongside him are evidence of his success in achieving that goal. His life made a difference in each one of us.”
And you could talk with current and former students who benefitted from Dr. Wooten’s guidance and example and know that statement to be true. He had a profound impact on the Anderson University College of Education over the past two decades.
I spoke with one such graduate, T.J. Galloway. T.J. is a 2020 grad who will begin his educational career at D.W. Daniel High School in Central, South Carolina, this fall.
“Dr. Chuck Wooten was more than the director of Teaching Fellows at AU to me. He was a spiritual role model, an educator, a veteran who loved his country and a mentor. He poured into me more than I could ever ask for. His sense of humor was like no other, and he told the best ghost stories I’ve even heard. I’ll be who I am in the classroom in large part because of the man I have a picture with on my desk—Dr. Wooten,” Galloway said.
And T.J. is just one of many. Current Teaching Fellow Abby McNeely echoed many of those same thoughts: “During my time with Dr. Wooten, I often found myself asking, ‘How does he do it all?’ He faced each moment with readiness, energy and expectancy,” she said. “And he was a product of the things that were important to him. From his teaching stories and the way he interacted with us, it was clear that he was a teacher who taught for the sake of students, not for the sake of teaching. He was a veteran who honored his fellow veterans. For me personally, he was the provider of a grandfatherly hug when he knew I needed it. He was a director who expected a lot of us, but showed us an equal amount of grace. Above all, he put Christ first. It’s why he could pour all of himself into everything he did. We admire that legacy, and we love and miss him tremendously.”
Dr. Wooten not only impacted students, but also many of his Anderson University colleagues. Dr. Bob Hanley, vice provost for academic advising, and his wife, Nancy Hanley, who was Dr. Wooten’s assistant with the Teaching Fellows program for several years, had nothing but praise to offer. “With over 40 years of friendship, we observed daily Dr. Wooten’s strong witness for Christ and his devotion to family, Anderson University, and his country,” Dr. Hanley said. “Chuck’s enthusiasm for education continues to live through many Teaching Fellows who knew him as a mentor, an encourager, a thoughtful listener, and a leader.”
And the accolades could go on and on. How do you summarize such a life of service? Dr. Wooten’s wife, Dr. Margaret Wooten, AU professor emeritus of English, asked her husband one time how he would like to be remembered. His response: “I would want it said that my life has made a difference.” Let me be one of many to say that his mission was accomplished.
If you would like to help us honor the memory and legacy of Dr. Wooten and extend his impact to future generations of educators, please consider a contribution to the Dr. Charles Wooten Scholarship. You may give online at www.andersonuniversity.edu/giving or by mailing your gift to the following address:
Anderson University Development Office
Anderson, SC 29621