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Smith weathers 27 years of CCU changes

by Lacey

Tyrone Smith hasn’t watched more than half of any Coastal Carolina University sporting event since he started working here 27 years ago. He’s usually too busy running them.

Smith, superintendent of the Community Events Division in the University’s Department of Facilities Planning and Management, is charged with setting up all campus events, specifically sporting events. As an avid football fan (especially of the Pittsburg Steelers), Smith loves this part of the job. In fact, his only complaint is that working a game doesn’t allow him to watch it. But this year, that’s going to change.

“I promised myself that one day I would actually take off and enjoy a football game,” says Smith. “And finally, I just had a talk with my boss, and we decided that the last one of this season, I will see my first game.”

Smith also sets up baseball and basketball games, as well as graduation and other ceremonies.

He has assembled a team of five workers in addition to the numerous student-workers he employees each semester – mostly athletes, because, according to Tyrone, “they are physically fit enough to do our heavy lifting.” The team does everything from settings up tents, chairs and tables, to moving offices for faculty and staff members.

But Smith doesn’t just delegate. He develops a relationship with the team members he works with.

“We at facilities appreciate his dedication and tireless efforts to keep us on track,” says Mike Jordan, assistant community events supervisor. “Tyrone is one of the hardest working people I know. He is always willing to do that extra thing, which makes him stand out as an employee here at Coastal. He is a master craftsman when it comes to scheduling his department for moves or set-ups. Without Ty, graduation would certainly be a larger undertaking. Anyone who has ever been involved in the preparation will tell you that he and his department make it happen as effortless as can be. You can count on him helping make Coastal a better place to work.”

Buddy Hendrick, director of Facility Operations, agrees. "I have worked with Ty for 21 years, and he is a great team player. He is a conscientious worker and is always one of the first ones to offer help in any situation. He is a great employee and kind of a guru to other employees in the department. All in all, he's an outstanding person and always willing to go the extra mile."

Smith has also developed a relationship with CCU athletes.

“I’m really close with the guys on the football, basketball and baseball teams,” he says. “I always invite them to the house, and we have cook-outs and relax together.”

CCU linebacker Carlton Mitchell describes Smith as understanding. "He's always willing to give  someone looking for a job an opportunity. He's a really good man."

Smith was the recipient of CCU’s 2007-2008 Staff Excellence Award, an honor presented annually to recognize exceptional nonfaculty university employees. He received the award for Professional Staff for his positive attitude, work ethic and community involvement.

Although Smith has yet to treat himself to a CCU game, he finds ways to enjoy sports in other ways.

Smith coached a team for the Conway Parks and Recreation football league for 24 years – leading the Conway All-Star Team to a state championship in 2000. He also enjoys deep-sea fishing, but landed his biggest catch – a 6.5-pound freshwater bass – in the Waccamaw River.

Tyrone was born in Horry County, but moved to New York after graduating high school. However, after two years, he missed the warm weather and moved back to Conway, where he’s been ever since.

His passion is auto bodywork, which allowed him work as a mechanic for a short stint, but he wanted a job that allowed him to retire – and Coastal gave him that.

“I wanted security and a retirement plan, and that’s what brought me to CCU,” says Smith. “But Coastal has been more than just that. It’s such a great place to work. There’s not another place I’d rather be, and I really enjoy the people in this community.”

Smith started working at CCU as the superintendant of the custodian staff – but switched to special events fours years ago.

“There’s been a lot of changes around campus in the last 27 years,” says Smith. “I remember only five buildings and 2,700 students. But we’ve really grown. It’s the warm weather.”

The 53-year-old has four children – LaToya, 32, Derek, 30, Stacey, 26, and Tyrone II, 19.

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