I Spy Someone making a difference.
I Spy: Charmaine Tomczyk, CCU's trailblazerby Brian Druckenmiller
Charmaine Tomczyk has been a pioneer at Coastal Carolina University. She has been the first to take on many roles around campus and will certainly leave a lasting impression for years to come.
Tomczyk is the first and only faculty ombuds at CCU. Since 2008, faculty members have confided in her about issues and concerns regarding University policy, intellectual property, ethical dilemmas and difficulties with other faculty members, along with many other scenarios. She listens to a faculty member’s quandary and helps alleviate the situation by offering advice and options for solutions.
“Our personnel drives Coastal’s success,” said Tomczyk. “As ombuds, I see real strife, and it’s important that the University addresses these concerns.”
As director of undergraduate research (the first and only), Tomczyk helps students jump-start their research interests by pairing them with the right faculty member. Interest has grown since undergraduate research was given a campus presence; this year’s Undergraduate Research Competition, the fourth annual competition, had 71 presentations compared to last year’s 35.
This growth goes hand-in-hand with Coastal’s implementation of the experiential learning (real-life application of knowledge in addition of classroom instruction) component of the campus-wide Quality Enhancement Plan. Tomczyk helped develop the initiative along with Rob Young, associate provost at CCU. Undergraduate research, international experiences, internships and service learning are just some of the ways the University is achieving experiential learning. Coastal has given a 10-year commitment to the idea, and there is campuswide interest in making it work.
“Charmaine is extremely dedicated to student learning,” said Michael Ruse, director of the Quality Enhancement Plan. “She has tirelessly worked to expand opportunities for students.”
Since 2004, Tomczyk has been the director for Coastal Carolina’s Celebration of Inquiry, CCU’s unique on-campus academic conference that features student and faculty presentations, as well as the host event for the Undergraduate Research Competition. Also, she has been the faculty secretary for Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), the national leadership honor society, since 2003.
“She wears many hats effectively,” said Robert Squatriglia, professor emeritus and former vice president of student affairs. “There is much silent testimony of her presence and effectiveness on this campus and in the lives of many students.”
Before coming to Coastal, Tomczyk earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Connecticut in Storrs and a master’s degree in library science from Southern Connecticut State University in her native New Haven. She moved to Conway in 1978 with her husband, Bill, to begin her Coastal career.
Tomczyk became Coastal’s first technical services librarian, holding the position until the early '90s. In 1992, she held a seat as a faculty senate chair as the University was separating from the University of South Carolina system. Once the Chanticleers left the Gamecock flock in 1993, Tomczyk was named the first assistant vice president for academic affairs and associate provost, a role that gave her the “big picture” of the University’s goals. After seven years in this position, she went back to the library as associate dean, and soon after presented her proposal for Undergraduate Research to the provost.
“I have been a lot of ‘firsts’ here at Coastal,” said Tomczyk. “All of the positions I have held have been gratifying.”
Tomczyk brings her passion for education to the community as well. She is a member of the Conway Rotary Club, district 7770, and is the director of vocation for education for the club. Here, she promotes the significance of education at all levels, teaching the importance of dictionaries to elementary school students and developing student-mentor relationships with high school students. Recently, she received the Dr. Carl Busbee Distinguished Service Award for epitomizing the club’s pledge to “Service Above Self.”
“[Tomczyk is] a self starter who is an excellent role model and mentor for students with whom she has had contact with,” said Squatriglia, also a member of the Conway Rotary Club.
She has also worked with the Salvation Army, Coins for Charity, the Conway Chamber of Commerce and, for 10 years, Mercy Hospice of Horry County.
While a Rotarian in the community, she is a “Rose-arian” at her home in Loris. Her love of roses has made her an avid gardener. Next to her garden is her coop, where up to 25 chickens have been providing eggs for her and Bill for nearly six years. When Tomczyk is not tending to her buds and biddies, she may be found analyzing her stock portfolio. For the past six years, she has been a member of an investment club. The group meets monthly to look over everyone’s portfolios and debate what and what not to buy.
“I love that kind of stuff,” said Tomczyk. “It’s my type of self-indulgence.”
After more than 33 years of service, Tomczyk is set for retirement after the Fall 2012 semester and plans on spending time with her family. She will leave Coastal Carolina with a legacy of achievement that will not be forgotten.
“We’ve evolved so much,” said Tomczyk. “We’ve grown into a significant cultural and economic community for not only the county, but the state. And the faculty, I must say, this is one of the best faculties. Many are doing incredible things, excelling in their particular field, yet everyone is just part of the group. It’s such a pleasure working with them.”
“What we will miss most is her glowing personality and smile,” said Ruse. “Charmaine has made invaluable contributions to our students and faculty.”