Coastal Carolina University establishes scholarship in honor of slain S.C. senator

Coastal Carolina University has established two scholarships in honor of S.C. Sen. Clementa Pinckney, who was killed, along with eight others, while attending Bible study last week in a Charleston church.

University President David DeCenzo announced the scholarships Thursday. The new scholarships will begin to be awarded for the Fall 2015 semester.

The $2,500 Senator Clementa C. Pinckney Memorial Scholarship will be awarded annually to one man and one woman from S.C. District 45, which Pinckney represented in the state Senate. The district includes parts of Allendale, Beaufort, Charleston, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties.

Approximately 340 current CCU students are from the district, according to a release from the university.

“Sen. Pinckney worked hard to advance educational opportunities in his district and throughout the state,” DeCenzo said.

“He understood that education was the means to a better future for all South Carolinians, and he was dedicated to helping people achieve their dreams through knowledge.”

Specific criteria will determine student eligibility for the scholarships, including financial need and maintenance of at least a 3.0 grade point average during the school year. Students must also be enrolled as a full-time freshman at CCU to be eligible, said Stacie Bowie, vice-president for finance and administration.

Students can also renew the award for up to four years, Bowie said.

The money for the scholarships comes from discretionary funds designated by DeCenzo, Bowie said.

DeCenzo knew Pinckney from his meetings with lawmakers in Columbia.

“He was always very kind,” he said. “He really was a champion for education. He valued education because he knew what it could mean for the future for students in South Carolina.”

Although the two men weren’t close, DeCenzo said some Coastal students have connections to Pinckney’s church and university leaders wanted to honor the slain senator.

“It was just a tribute to him,” he said.

For more information about the scholarship, contact CCU’s Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships at 843-349-2313 or

“When you have a tragedy like this, you hate that it happened,” DeCenzo said. “But by the same token, you want to be able to do something so that his memory lives. And to me, this was the best thing that we could do as a university.”

Contact CLAIRE BYUN at 626-0381 and follow her on Twitter @Claire_TSN.

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