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CCU board formally introduces Benson as the University’s new president

October 23, 2020
Michael T. Benson begins his tenure as CCU's new president on Jan. 2, 2021.Michael T. Benson speaks at the CCU BOT meeting on Oct. 23.

During the Coastal Carolina University board of trustees meeting on Oct. 23, Michael T. Benson was formally introduced as the University’s next president. He begins his tenure as CCU’s third president on Jan. 2, 2021.

A veteran of higher education administration, Benson previously served as the 13th president of Eastern Kentucky University, the 15th president of Southern Utah University, and the 14th president of Utah’s Snow College. When he was appointed Snow College’s president at age 36, Benson became the youngest college president in the history of the Utah System of Higher Education. More information about Benson’s background can be found here.

During his remarks to the board, Benson shared that he enjoys quoting accomplished and famous people. One of his heroes is George Washington Carver, an agricultural scientist and inventor who graduated in the same field, agriculture, and from the same institution, Iowa State University, as Benson’s grandfather.

“My mother often used his famous statement as a way to illustrate her own axiom to ‘bloom where you’re planted.’ She inculcated in all six children a sense of gratitude for what we had but also an insatiable desire to do the best with our circumstances and always strive to be excellent.

“Professor Carver said, ‘Start where you are, with what you have. Make something of it and never be satisfied.’ That’s what I have endeavored to do at each place where I have worked, but most especially at the institutions where I have served as president for the past 19 years. And that’s what I intend to do at Coastal Carolina University.”

The board also approved a motion to establish a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice. Degree programs must be approved by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools before being officially added to the University curriculum.

According to Daniel J. Ennis, CCU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, criminal justice is the degree program most requested by incoming freshmen and transfer students that is not currently offered at the University. “We survey prospective students every year, and we review employment data and the needs of our community, and it is clear this is a worthwhile program to pursue,” Ennis said.

The Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice will provide students instruction on the fundamental foundations in criminal justice and will draw from our outstanding programs in sociology and criminology. The program will prepare students for careers in the criminal justice system and assist local criminal justice professionals to advance their chosen careers. Students will also have the opportunity to earn certificates in legal studies, law enforcement, and data analysis. CCU is designing the degree so that it is available to working students, individuals holding associate degrees, and law enforcement personnel who need flexible learning options.

In other action, the board received and accepted the 2020 independent financial audit, prepared and presented by Cline Brandt Kochenower & Co., P.A. For the 13th consecutive year, the University received a clean opinion with no material weaknesses. The board also approved and renewed two land leases with the Coastal Educational Foundation. These include a renewal lease for land on Tilghman Pointe and Waties Island; and a three-year renewal lease for land at the corner of Founders Drive and Hwy. 544.