I Spy Someone making a difference.
Porter Medley: enhancing the Coastal experienceby Brian Druckenmiller
A Republican walks onto a college campus and requests an elephant and a helicopter…
This could be the start of a lousy joke, but it actually describes a day in the life of Porter Medley, director of Conference Services and Wheelwright Auditorium at Coastal Carolina University.
Those who know him personally say he has tremendous enthusiasm for CCU. Everyone who has ever been on campus is unwittingly familiar with his work. Anyone who has caught a glimpse of the marquee on Highway 501, heard the chimes from the campus bell tower, or attended any non-class event on campus has been touched by Medley. His contributions are everywhere.
His main responsibility is managing the schedule of all non-course events that take place at CCU, whether it's a guest speaker, club meeting, or putt-putt on the Prince Lawn. He joined the University staff in 1999 and has contributed greatly to the organization of campus events. “It was tough trying to manage the [scheduling] conflicts,” Medley says. The development of a central schedule helped eliminate most conflicts, specifying certain areas for certain functions at designated times.
Medley keeps an open mind toward all potential events, since all events raise public awareness about CCU. However, as Medley says, “A week does not go by where something does not raise an eyebrow.” He recalls the first event he scheduled: a Republican rally. The booking went well, but last minute requests for permission to bring an elephant to campus as well as a helicopter entrance for Sen. John McCain tossed a hurdle in Medley’s way—a hurdle he, of course, was able to leap. He was able to accommodate everything, including the delivery of an elephant from the Waccatee Zoo.
As his title suggests, Medley is also in charge of Wheelwright Auditorium—a full-time job in itself as he is responsible for the proper functioning of the building for every event as well as for its everyday use by the Department of Music. “Wheelwright,” Medley explained, “gets used more than there are days in the year.” Medley is directly involved in hiring members of the Wheelwright staff, and he credits them for making the “magic happen.”
Through his position, Medley has met a variety of important people. “I have met more of the world’s decision makers [at Coastal] than I met in the previous 40 years,” Medley said. Notable mentions include then-presidential candidates George W. Bush and Barack Obama as well as Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Medley has also gotten to know Steve Bailey, CCU artist-in-residence and former bassist to one of his favorite groups, The Rippingtons. Of course, Medley needed to double-check his album collection to make sure Bailey’s name was featured in the credits.
On top of the duties his title entails, Medley also updates the marquee at the intersection of U.S. 501 and University Boulevard, and programs the bell tower adjacent to Spadoni Park.
Not only is Medley a respected staff member of the University, but he is an alumnus. He graduated in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Immediately following his graduation, he began his position in Conference Services. While Medley is consistently busy with his work, he finds time to advise the CCU Rotaract Club. As a member of the Carolina Forest Sunrise Rotary, Medley helps provide meals and clothing to impoverished children, an effort he has extended to campus. The club raises money for a clothing closet, and, on Oct. 13, will be participating in “Feed the Hunger,” a program where groups of 17 people prepare approximately 4,000 meals to be sent to deprived countries.
Medley is enthusiastic about Coastal athletics and enjoys watching all the teams compete—especially the volleyball team. He and his mother, Gail (who Medley describes as a “rabid Chanticleer”), don their teal and make an effort to attend every match, home or away. Kristen Bauer, serving her 13th season as head volleyball coach, appreciates his devotion to her squad. “He goes out of his way to make the team feel special,” Bauer said, explaining his efforts in securing the gym for practices and developing personal relationships with the staff and players. “The program wouldn’t be the same without him.”
Medley has been married for nearly 31 years. His wife, Chrystal, is also a staff member at CCU. She is currently in the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships serving as assistant director of financial aid records, and has previously worked in the Registrar’s office.
Although he traveled the world during his 20 years in the Navy, sharing cultures and improving his Jeopardy! skills, Medley says he could not ask for a better place to settle down than Conway. He takes pride in his community and his position at CCU. “I like the people at Coastal,” Medley said. “These [students] are the people who are going to make a difference. It’s a blessing to work here and a blessing to be a part of it.”
Debbie Conner, associate vice president for University Relations, has been Medley’s supervisor since 1999. She has known Medley since his freshman year back in 1996, hiring him then as a student worker and eventually offering him his full-time staff position … the night before his Commencement.
“I can’t find anybody who loves this place more than Porter,” Conner said. “He has a passion for CCU and it shows in everything he does—through his work with the students, his community service and his day-to-day tasks.”
“If you can’t have fun on campus,” Porter said, “then there is something wrong with you.”