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  • By Shelbi R. Ankiewicz

Michael Benson sees CCU’s potential, wants students to thrive

Photo courtesy of Sarah Jackson.

Michael Benson has high aspirations for Coastal Carolina University and the local community.

Since Benson became the university’s third president in January, he has had the goal of transitioning Coastal into a school that everyone, including locals, wants to attend for higher education. He noticed early on that the university is a good academic institution and deserves more praise than it is given.

“We need to think more highly of ourselves in terms of how good we are,” Benson said. “Kids in South Carolina think, ‘Well, I want to go to Clemson,’ or, ‘I want to get away from home.’ I understand that, but I also hope that they’ll think of us as the university of first choice as opposed to the first or second option.”

To grow CCU and expand into the local community, Benson created a “3 R’s” motto: Reach, Rigor and Reputation. He said the university must reach the population of everyone represented on campus, create rigorous programs so students are prepared post-graduation, and develop a good reputation so people are drawn to Coastal.

Benson comes from a family of six children. He plays the piano, speaks fluent Italian, and has traveled to five continents (he has yet to visit South America and Antarctica). He spent most of his 20s outside of the United States and lived in London, Jerusalem, Rome, and Washington, D.C. The last place he has yet to live that is on his list is New York City.

Look for Benson around campus, he might tell you about the most recent documentary he’s watched or introduce you to his family. He loves history and enjoys taking deep dives into topics, such as his past fascinations with the Civil War, architecture, and music composition.

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