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College of Charleston

In concert with Coastal Carolina University’s 50th anniversary in 2004, the Horry County Schools, the College of Charleston, and the University of South Carolina were honored for the important roles they had in the founding and development of the institution.

In the summer of 1954, the people of Horry County, led by the county school district, were working hard to start a junior college that would bring higher education to the region for the first time. Everything seemed to be falling into place except for the fact that they were having trouble obtaining one absolutely essential component – the support of an established institution of higher learning willing to sponsor and extend its course credits to the new school. The Horry junior college boosters were so eager and so confident that they began enrolling students for fall classes even after college and after college – including Clemson, Winthrop and Coker – declined to sponsor the new school.

J. Kenyon East, director of instruction for the county school district, was just about to give up when he contacted the College of Charleston. George D. Grice, the charismatic president of the college, heard him out and announced that he would be in Conway the next day to discuss the idea.

President Grice’s leap of faith brought Coastal finally to life. He persuaded the College of Charleston board of trustees to agree to sponsor Coastal Carolina Junior College for four years. The Charleston administration, and Grice in particular, assumed a heavy load of administrative work in behalf of Coastal. Grice chose and hired Coastal’s first faculty and director.

Coastal’s enrollment during the first two years did not live up to expectations, and, despite his commitment and hard work, Grice recognized that his first allegiance was to his own institution. He went to his board and recommended discontinuing sponsorship of Coastal after two years. The College of Charleston board of trustees, however, decided in favor of continuing its sponsorship through the full four years.

Although the College of Charleston’s commitment to Coastal ended in the spring of 1958, the relationship between the two schools remained very cordial afterward. At Coastal’s first official commencement ceremony in 1959, George Grice was the speaker. And anyone who attended Coastal during its early years remembers the College of Charleston as the college that stepped up to help Coastal get started when none of the others would.