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  • By Jacob Hensley

Robin W. Edwards passed away, but her legacy lives on

Robin Edwards with her daughter, Robin Edwards-Russell, an associate professor of theatre, and her granddaughter, Granger Lee Russell. Photo courtesy to the Office of Marketing and Communication.

Robin W. Edwards, whom CCU’s Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts are named after, passed away at the age of 84 on Dec. 31, 2021.

Robin Edwards and her husband Thomas contributed funding to establish the university’s college of humanities and fine arts. The college was built and dedicated to them in 2001.

Edwards continued to donate and support CCU after the college was built, and she served on the board of visitors for the Edwards college. The board of visitors is an advisory group for the dean of the college. This board helps with support and fundraising, finding students internships, networking, and promoting the college and community.

CCU’s Provost Daniel Ennis was the dean of the college from 2012 to 2019. Ennis said Edwards was a founding member of the board of visitors and was very knowledgeable about the community. Ennis also said one of the most special things about Edwards was the way she spoke so highly of CCU.

“She could be anywhere in the country, and if she had a chance to talk about Coastal Carolina University, she would,” Ennis said. “That’s a terrific legacy.”

The current Dean of the Edwards College, Claudia Bornholdt, said Edwards always had a sense of humor, and she always knew what she wanted. Bornholdt said even when the Edwards courtyard was constructed, Edwards had a set idea of what she wanted. The trees recently planted in the Edwards courtyard are to honor her wishes and a commemorative plaque will be added to honor her legacy.

“We’re having this big fundraising gala on Feb. 11 and the idea is to really raise a lot of money for student scholarships. And that’s what she was very passionate about is truly supporting students with scholarships so we’re working on that,” Bornholdt said.

Bornholdt said both Thomas and Robin Edwards were fond of the arts. Edwards would always bring people to watch the performances. Bornholdt said the biggest impact Edwards left on CCU was the establishment of the Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts.

“Giving the arts and humanities a place and a building, you know that’s dedicated to these disciplines and making it really part of the foundation of the institution,” Bornholdt said. “That’s really important.”

Diane Sanders, vice president of advancement and alumni engagement, was part of the first freshmen class that used the Edwards building. Sanders came to know Edwards while she was a student and during her professional career at the university over the past five years. Sanders described Edwards as a local celebrity.

“She was so sharp. Definitely a fashionista. A local icon,” Sanders said. “If you saw Robin Edwards, you knew her.”

Sanders said Edwards's dedication to the college helped her develop who she is today.

“That whole space had such an impact on my life and was you know instrumental in shaping me, who I am today through everything that happened within that college in that environment. That wouldn’t have even been possible without her contribution to create that. I wish I had told her that.”

Robin Edwards’ legacy lives on at CCU through the college, her daughter and grandchildren.

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