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CCU partners with Conway Medical Center on health care initiatives and receives historic donation

May 11, 2022
Bret Barr (left), CMC president/CEO, and Michael T. Benson, CCU president, on the steps of the University's Singleton Building after signing the historic gift agreement.

Conway Medical Center (CMC), a mainstay of the local community since 1928, now holds the distinction of making the largest donation to another anchor in Horry County: Coastal Carolina University. In recognition of a $10 million contribution – the largest single gift ever received by the University – CCU’s newest college will be named the Conway Medical Center College of Health and Human Performance. The endowed funds will provide the college with resources for scholarships, faculty support, research, and other areas.

“Coastal Carolina University appreciates Conway Medical Center’s long-standing commitment to quality health care in our community and is extremely grateful for the ongoing support of its hometown University,” said CCU President Michael T. Benson. “This is a transformational contribution that will help with a very acute infrastructure need, but will also support our newest college as it develops to address the expansion of our community and the tremendous influx of new residents.”

Bret Barr, CMC’s president and CEO, said, “We’re excited about what this gift represents, not just for our two great organizations but, more importantly, for our community. CMC and CCU are the twin pillars of education and health care in our region. This 25-year commitment and partnership highlights our shared dedication toward the future of health and workforce development in Horry County.”

The new Conway Medical Center College of Health and Human Performance will officially begin its operations on July 1, 2022, and will be home to the following academic units: public health, nursing, health administration, exercise and sport science, recreation and sport management, and sport management (master’s degree). The Conway Medical Center College of Health and Human Performance will have more than 1,700 students enrolled when it opens, making it one of the largest colleges at the University.

“We have an extraordinary opportunity to improve the quality of life in our region through new programs in the areas of health, human performance, and recreation,” said CCU Provost Daniel Ennis. “Our faculty will use these resources to create opportunities for our students, including diversity, health equity, and inclusion initiatives. The graduates of this new college will use their talents and expertise to address challenges in our community related to health, wellness and physical activity. In an age that demands college graduates be career-ready, having a partner such as Conway Medical Center will help ensure that we are staying ahead of the developments in these crucial areas of study.”

“As a nonprofit health system, we are grounded in our mission to cultivate a happier and healthier community for all,” said Brian Argo, CMC’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “This long-term partnership highlights our shared commitment to workforce development, which will reap fantastic benefits for our patients, our staff, and the local economy. Together, CMC and CCU will create a multi-generational, positive impact for our community.”

A portion of CMC’s donation will be directed to the Chanticleer Athletic Foundation to support furthering the development of the University’s rapidly growing athletic programs. Investments in infrastructure include a multiple-use facility that will house the new Conway Medical Center College of Health and Human Performance, as well as further revitalization efforts on the south portion of the Conway campus. Pending state approvals, the first project to move forward will be a nearly 90,000-square-foot indoor practice facility at Brooks Stadium and additional surface parking.