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University of South Carolina

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

For 33 years, from 1960 to 1993, Coastal Carolina University was a branch campus of the University of South Carolina. For Coastal, the history of those years is momentous. In 1960, Coastal was a tine, homeless two-year program with barely 100 students and a faculty of half-a-dozen who met after hours in Conway High School. When Coastal left the USC system in 1993, it was a full-fledged four-year college with more than 4,000 students, 175 faculty members, a 260-acre campus, residence halls, and NCAA Division I athletics.

In the late 1950s, USC was beginning to seriously expand its extension program. USC’s extension division’s director, the energetic Nick Mitchell, has plans to start branch campuses all across the state. It seemed a natural fit for Coastal, which had pioneered the junior college movement in South Carolina, to become USC’s branch in this corner of the state. Coastal had an established, if small, program, and USC had resources and infrastructure.

Chat and Chew RestaurantRepresentatives of the two institutions worked out a deal, meeting at the geographical halfway point between Columbia and Conway – the Chat & Chew Restaurant in Turbeville, South Carolina. Mitchell met there with Joseph W. Holliday of Galivants Ferry, chairman of the Coastal Educational Foundation, and the foundation’s executive committee on a summer day in 1959. Coastal Carolina Junior College officially became the University of South Carolina’s Coastal Carolina Extension Center with the beginning of the fall semester of 1960.

During the USC years, the growth of Coastal Carolina mirrored the rapid development of the coastal region that would come to be known as the Grand Strand. Land for the present campus was donated in 1961 and the first building, financed largely through a local fund-raising drive, was ready for fall 1963. New buildings were added frequently to keep pace with enrollment growth. Coastal awarded its first four-year degrees in 1975 and the first residence halls opening in 1987. Under USC’s guidance, Coastal matured from a small two-year program with 100 students and no campus of its own to a flourishing four-year program with a 244-acre campus with residence halls and 4,000 students by 1993.

By 1991, many Coastal supports felt the institution had reached a level of maturity that separation from USC a logical, and eventually inevitable, move. In the summer of that year, the Horry County Higher Education Commission voted to seek legislative approval to establish Coastal as an independent public university. USC President John Palms recommended to his board of trustees that Coastal pursue independence from USC. The USC trustees adopted Palms’ plan in June 1992. On July 1, 1993, on the portico of the Edward M. Singleton Building, Governor Carroll A. Campbell Jr. signed the legislation to establish an independent Coastal Carolina University.