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About U Message from the administration.

Chaucey Aboutu

Lost and found: Col. Baxley's West Point ring

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Our commitment to integrity in all that we do – as leaders, educators and in all supporting roles throughout Coastal Carolina University – has been a message I have delivered since I became president in 2007. Experience clearly teaches us that when strive to do the right thing, both in our professional and personal lives, it pays enormous dividends on many different levels.

Every so often, a situation presents itself that reaffirms the significance and impact of a selfless act. A recent telephone call to my office provided a unique moment of connection between a stranger and Coastal Carolina University and underscored the power of the goodness in people around us.

The caller said he had found a personal item that he hoped to return to its owner, but he was having some difficulty in his quest. He had discovered that the owner was deceased; he also learned that a building on this campus – Bill Baxley Hall – had been named in the owner’s honor. With a bit of hesitancy due to the non-specificity of the unnamed “personal item” and the unexpected mention of my close friend and mentor, the conversation continued after an awkward pause.

Timothy Stoll, a trucker from Fort McCoy, Fla., has a regular route that runs from Savannah through Georgetown and Myrtle Beach and on to North Carolina. One day when he parked his truck behind a delivery site in Myrtle Beach, something caught his eye in the debris beside the newly surfaced lot. And there it was – the United States Military Academy West Point Class of 1950 ring, bearing the timeworn inscription of its owner, William J. Baxley Jr. Consulting the Internet, Mr. Stoll learned that Bill served in the U.S. Army as an infantry battalion commander in Vietnam and as a colonel in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He found out about the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Medal, the Freedom Foundation's George Washington Honor Medal and other medals Bill had earned. In the phone conversation, he accurately described Bill as “an American hero.” He said he wanted nothing in return for the recovery of the ring; he simply wanted to return it to its owner.

When I met Mr. Stoll in Murrells Inlet the following Saturday, he entrusted me with the ring, and I gave him my word that I’d contact Bill’s son. With the family’s permission, the ring will now become part of the University’s collection of memorabilia from Bill’s 22-year military career, which will be housed in Bill Baxley Hall. The ring honors the man who wore it so proudly and its presence here will remind us not only of Bill’s honorable service, but also of the integrity of a stranger and his act of kindness.

Thank you for all that you do in making Coastal Carolina University a place where integrity is honored and kindness is celebrated. I hope you will share in the excitement surrounding Commencement this week as our students enter the next chapter of their lives as alumni of Coastal Carolina University.

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