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CCU board of trustees names DeCenzo president emeritus

December 11, 2020
David A. DeCenzo has been named president emeritus at CCU.President David A. DeCenzo with his wife, Terri, and President-elect Michael T. Benson.

During the Coastal Carolina University board of trustees meeting on Dec. 11, board vice chairman H. Delan Stevens read a resolution that recognized the service of David A. DeCenzo, who is retiring as the University’s second president. To honor his more than 13 years of leadership and service, the board approved a motion to grant him the title of president emeritus of Coastal Carolina University. Michael T. Benson will succeed DeCenzo beginning Jan. 1, 2021.

The resolution reads, in part, “David Anthony DeCenzo, Ph.D., has honorably served as the second president of Coastal Carolina University for more than 13 years – 2007 to 2020; a presidency centered on elements that aptly characterize his life and leadership – tradition, integrity, and excellence. … The Coastal Carolina University Board of Trustees recognizes and offers its deep appreciation to David Anthony DeCenzo for his more than 13 years of outstanding commitment and leadership to Coastal Carolina University and to the community and state in which it serves.”

During his remarks to the board, DeCenzo said, “Thank you for the opportunity to lead this wonderful University for the past 13 and a half years. It’s been a wonderful journey. As my presidency winds to a close, I look back on these 13-plus years with much fondness. My goal in 2007 was to transform this institution. And, while there is still much work to do, I feel confident I am leaving this University further advanced than when I assumed the presidency on May 7, 2007.”

In addition to thanking the board and the board chairmen (Billy Alford, Wyatt Henderson, and William Biggs) he served under during his tenure, he also recognized his wife, Terri DeCenzo, who served as executive director of Women in Philanthropy and Leadership (WIPL) at CCU. He credits her with taking a concept and turning it into a nationally recognized program. He said, “The hundreds of thousands of dollars for scholarships WIPL provided to our students and the young lives she changed is a high mark of my presidency. There is no doubt that whatever success I may have enjoyed, much of the credit goes to Terri for her love, support, and encouragement.”

DeCenzo added, “I am excited about the future of this institution. You have selected a new president who I am confident will take us to the next level and continue this upward trend for which CCU has become known. I can’t wait to see where he takes this University.”

During DeCenzo’s presidency, he dramatically raised the profile of the University. CCU expanded its academic program from 39 to 95 undergraduate majors; and graduate-level offerings grew from a handful of master’s degrees to now feature 27 master’s degrees, two educational specialist degrees, and two doctoral programs. The number of full-time faculty has grown from 284 to 483, an 80% increase.

CCU has been consistently recognized by U.S. News & World Report, including being ranked among Southern regional universities in the “Best Value” category.

DeCenzo orchestrated the growth of the University’s enrollment to 10,000-plus students, which reflects a more than 35% increase from when he took office. He also made increasing undergraduate minority enrollment a priority as Black student enrollment has grown from 953 to 1,724 students, an 81% increase; and Hispanic student enrollment has grown from 119 to 549 students, a 361% increase.

Under DeCenzo’s leadership, the University has experienced its most ambitious construction program in school history. Most recent projects in the more than $300 million building campaign include an $85 million student residence facility; a $12 million annex to the Lib Jackson Student Union; and the $30 million Science Annex II. Other projects include the HTC Student Recreation and Convocation Center; expansion of Kimbel Library to include the Bryan Information Commons; Brittain Hall; two academic and faculty office buildings; and Swain Hall, an annex to the Smith Science Center. Major renovations of both the softball and baseball stadiums were completed in Spring 2015; and the recent expansion of football’s Brooks Stadium has doubled its capacity to 20,000 seats.

During all 13 years of his presidency, the University’s financial audits have received clean opinions with no significant deficiencies, material weaknesses, or instances of non-compliance material.

On July 1, 2016, DeCenzo oversaw Chanticleer Athletics’ transition from the Big South Conference to the Sun Belt Conference, which marked a move up to the Football Bowl Subdivision – the highest level in intercollegiate athletics. CCU’s first-ever national championship came in 2016, when the baseball program captured the College World Series title. The Chanticleer football program has been ranked in the AP Top 25 for a majority of the 2020 season, and climbed to No. 11 in the latest poll released Dec. 6. One of the many highlights of the season included hosting one of ESPN’s iconic shows, College GameDay, live in Brooks Stadium on Dec. 5.

In recognition of the DeCenzos’ impact on CCU, the board approved the naming of one of the University’s newer residential facilities the David A. and Terri M. DeCenzo Residence Hall. The board acknowledges today’s recognition as phase one, and the University plans to explore further retirement celebrations for DeCenzo at the point conditions related to the pandemic have improved.

In other action, the board announced that mandatory faculty and staff furloughs during the 2020-2021 academic year, 10 days in the fall and 10 days in the spring, would be amended beginning Jan. 1, 2021. Further information will be communicated with the campus community.

The board also approved a one-year lease for 10,000 square feet of warehouse space near campus at the Atlantic Center to be used by University Housing for storage, effective March 1, 2021, through Feb. 28, 2022; and granted authority to the administration to enter into four-month leases, each with renewable terms, with off-campus student housing properties near campus, effective Jan. 13 through May 13, 2021. These additional beds will be used as needed by students residing in main campus residential housing who test positive for COVID-19 and are required to isolate.

During the meeting, DeCenzo read a resolution that recognizes CCU’s Icelandic Whales Alumni Association (IWAA). The resolution reads, in part, “The IWAA has been a supporter of Coastal Carolina University through the association’s scholarship program, exchange support, and consulting project collaboration; and that the IWAA was inaugurated as the first international chapter of the Coastal Carolina University Alumni Association in 2014 and the only chapter with its own funded scholarship program.”