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History of Coastal Carolina University published

June 6, 2005

"Coastal Carolina University: The First 50 Years," the official history of the institution by CCU professor Roy Talbert Jr., has been published and is now available.

Talbert, longtime history professor and a noted author, chronicles the founding and development of the institution from 1954 to Coastal's 50th anniversary in 2004. The narrative describes the economic and social background of the region during those years, and it conveys the personalities and the cultural forces that went into the making of the university.

It is evident that Talbert feels a heroic element at work in the story: a struggle against formidable odds by men and women of vision and determination. "We've forgotten how hard the fight was to get this school started," said Talbert.

The story follows the efforts of Horry County leaders to organize a two-year college, which was finally sponsored by the College of Charleston in 1954. When the College of Charleston agreement ended in 1958, the board campaigned for a referendum asking Horry County voters to support a tax to fund the college. It passed, and for the next two years Coastal was an independent institution. In 1960, Coastal joined the University of South Carolina system and acquired land for the present campus site. The first building opened in 1963 with an enrollment of 110. Other difficult battles in Coastal's progress to maturity include the movement to gain four-year status in 1975 and its establishment as an independent, public university in 1993.

Coastal President Ronald R. Ingle first suggested the idea of a Coastal history to Talbert, who has written several distinguished institutional histories of regional organizations, including Conway National Bank and the Willcox Law Firm in Florence.

The author's approach combines the skill of a seasoned historian and the personal affinity of a faculty member who has close ties to the organization. Talbert, who joined Coastal in 1979 as vice chancellor for academic affairs, says that his personal involvement in the latter part of the story led him to structure the book in an unusual way. After coming across his own name and activities in the archives, Talbert found that he could not continue to write objectively as a historian. His solution was to divide the book roughly in half, presenting the first part (up through 1977) as traditional history and the second part as a memoir. The memoir is collective, reflecting the memories of several longtime Coastal faculty and staff members in addition to Talbert.

The book is available at the Coastal Carolina University Bookstore, Booksmiths in Conway and Litchfield Books for $30.