Office of the President
Message from President Michael T. Benson
Unrest in Washington, D.C.
January 14, 2021
Dear Coastal Carolina University Colleagues,
Proudly displayed in my office inside the Singleton Building is a portrait of my hero: Harry S. Truman. It was placed on the wall facing my desk last Thursday morning.
As Truman prepared to leave Washington D.C. in 1953, our 33rd president said this:
“Inauguration Day will be a great demonstration of our democratic process. I am glad to be a part of it—glad to wish General Eisenhower all possible success, as he begins his term—glad the whole world will have a chance to see how simply and how peacefully our American system transfers the vast power of the Presidency from my hands to his. It is a good object lesson in democracy. I am very proud of it. And I know you are, too.”
Wednesday January 6, 2021, was not a day any of us are proud of. On the contrary, it revealed the very worst of our society and I condemn in the strongest way possible the actions of those who laid siege to the people’s house in our nation’s capital.
I am hopeful that next week we can all participate in a peaceful transition of power which has been a bedrock principle of our American democracy for centuries.
None of us live in a vacuum; our actions have inevitable consequences on others. How we behave is watched and judged by many– – especially our children and the rising generation. As I’ve contemplated my own actions and resolved to do better moving forward, I have often thought of these words from William Butler Yeats' poem, The Second Coming: "The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity."
My tenure at Coastal Carolina University will be, I promise, marked by respect for and a belief in the democratic principles that underpin our society. The principle of shared governance is not unique to university campuses. It is at the heart of all of our democratic institutions as well. I pledge to be a leader committed to engendering a welcoming place where all will feel at home, respected, and supported in their efforts to achieve their goals and aspirations.
What we witnessed last week was anathema to this commitment. Now, more than ever, our nation needs “the better angels ofour nature” as another president urged in his first inaugural address.
As students, faculty, staff, and proud Chanticleers, we are living through a time that future students will study. Our actions and our attitudes will define each of us individually, as well as the country we wish to create. Let’s be strong, but civil, participants in our democracy and diligent students of the history we live.
Thank you for your continued service and commitment.
Michael T. Benson