Five Questions

Five Questions

Dean Lee BrownJ. Lee Brown III, Ph.D., joined CCU as the founding dean of the College of Graduate and Continuing Studies in August 2021. He oversees all graduate programs and provides leadership of all continuing and community-based credit and non-credit education offered through the University. Brown came to CCU from Fayetteville State University, where he previously served as interim provost, special assistant to the chancellor for business innovation, and dean of the Broadwell College of Business and Economics. His business experience also includes 14 years at multiple levels of management with Fortune 500 companies, in roles such as product manager, regional manager, and brand manager. 

What inspired you to join CCU?

It was truly the purpose of the new college. I believe my purpose is to serve others through education. Our college mission is to collaborate with academic units and institutional operations and leverage relationships with key external constituents to provide quality programs that meet the educational and professional development needs and desires of a diverse, non-traditional (adult learner) population and address the workforce needs of the region. I have been given an opportunity to build a college that is focused on increasing and improving access to a four-year degree by building innovative academic pathways, lowering social and economic barriers, and creating inter-institutional partnerships that impact our community and beyond.

The University continues to expand its online degree completion offerings. Why is that significant?

When I started at CCU in 2021, nearly 450,000 South Carolinians had some college credits but no degree. Now that number is nearly half a million. Those numbers sound bad, but it’s worse in our region: only 15% of adults hold a four-year college degree, which is well below the South Carolina average of 29.6% and the national average of 39%. We need to lead in improving and increasing access to high quality education in South Carolina. It’s not just because it is the ‘right’ thing to do, but it is our responsibility, as a public university in the state of South Carolina, to serve the citizens of S.C.

What options do working adults have to finish their degrees at CCU? 

Our goal to become the university of choice for South Carolina’s adult learner population. During the past several years, we have laid a foundation by creating flexible academic pathways that lead to high-quality higher education credentials. We will soon launch the Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS), which will provide a flexible pathway for individuals, many of whom are in the workforce already, to complete their baccalaureate degrees online while remaining in their professional roles. The BPS degree joins a growing list of online certifications and online degree pathways being offered at the undergraduate and graduate level at CCU.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at CCU continues to grow in programing and membership. What are the benefits of joining OLLI?

OLLI is really a gateway to CCU and all it has to offer for the 50-plus community. It is growing faster than expected and has ballooned to 735 members. OLLI members can take lifelong learning classes taught by CCU faculty and experts from the community. Our Summer 2023 programming, designed by Elizabeth Ruth Wilson, Ph.D., director of lifelong learning, took members outside of the classroom to learn in the Grand Strand and beyond. We hosted a special excursion featuring renowned artist and actress Natalie Daise, known for her role in the Daytime Emmy-nominated series Gullah Gullah Island. Our programming covers everything from ballroom dancing to classes on the history of espionage – there is something for everyone. The membership also provides additional benefits on campus and in the community, such as discounts to CCU’s Hackler Golf Course and local businesses. Members are part of an ever-expanding group of individuals who are bound by a desire to never stop learning, to stay socially active, and to explore all that CCU has to offer. For more information, visit, follow us on, or call 843-349-OLLI.

The Johnson Brown Center (JBC) is a new initiative housed in your college. How will it impact underrepresented and unserved communities?

JBC’s mission is unlocking potential in others. The center is launching multiple initiatives this year to train two different groups: 16- to 24-year-olds with no higher education experience that are from underrepresented and unreached groups, and veterans. We will be training individuals, who are unemployed or underemployed, in marketplace skills that will help them gain employment or career advancement. We awarded the first Johnson Brown Fellowship in August 2023. The JBC Fellow is a doctoral student who needs the financial assistance and will work 20 hours a week coordinating, conducting, and assessing training sessions. In 2024, the JBC will award a second, concurrent fellowship that will focus on veteran initiatives.