What I Miss About Coastal
By Wink Prince
Two years have passed since I retired from Coastal Carolina University's history department, and time has given me some perspective. For 30 years (1987–2017), I saw CCU from the inside, and I formed opinions and attachments from within. As Tapestry is intended mostly for humanities and fine arts alumni, you and I have the common experience of having invested an important part of our lives at CCU—seen now in retrospect. Leaving Coastal—whether for career or retirement—has required an adjustment from all of us. What aspects of our Coastal experience do we regret leaving behind?
At first, I missed the rhythm of academic life. The beginning of the first semester following my retirement posed a challenge. After 60 semesters, it was strange not to be copying syllabi and updating my reading lists. I felt like an old racehorse that hears the distant trumpet and trots out of the barn without saddle or silks, bewildered that the race will start without him. But like those of alumni, my life has developed a new, very satisfying rhythm. Even so, there are things I miss about Coastal. Hopefully, my recollections may foster pleasant memories for readers.
I miss the aesthetics of the Coastal campus. Even casual visitors remark upon the beauty of the federal architecture and lovely landscaping. Throughout the long calendar of the year, something is always blooming at Coastal. As I am writing in December, camellias are reaching their peak and offer the promise that dogwoods and azaleas will bloom again in spring. And landscaping has more space now since the old Horseshoe became Blanton Park. I miss the lovely surroundings.
I miss the sights and sounds of the Edwards Building. I liked to walk through the music department on the first floor. Someone was always practicing voice or piano. Sometimes, I lingered at the back of the recital hall and listened to a few bars of a Chopin etude. I smiled that it was a tax-free benefit of my employment. The art department also occupies the first floor of Edwards, and student artwork often graced the walls. My pace slowed and sometimes paused when an especially poignant piece caught my eye. I miss the art and music.
I miss the intellectual stimulation and engagement of university life. My humanities colleagues and students were always analyzing something—a thorny historical problem or perhaps the latest episode of Lost. Some liked to lampoon everything, and others were so in earnest that it almost hurt to watch. And someone would always ask, “What does it matter now? It was 200 years ago.” I miss the humor and the passion.
I miss the opportunities Coastal provided for learning outside the classroom. Whether it was a two-hour sojourn at Brookgreen Gardens or spring break in Paris, off-campus travel with humanities faculty and students was always rewarding—albeit tiring. I miss Coastal travel.
However, what I miss most about Coastal is the classroom. I miss meeting new students every semester and learning from them as well as they from me. I miss helping students to solve problems and watching them succeed. I miss the expression on a student’s face when he or she raises their hand and says “Dr. Prince, I have a question.”
Eldred E. “Wink” Prince Jr. was a beloved professor in the Department of History, an award-winning scholar, and director of the Waccamaw Center for Cultural and Historical Studies. The Prince Fellows program within the Department of History, established upon his retirement in 2017 and named in his honor, provides funding for history-focused experiential learning courses.