Growing pains: Room to grow, nowhere to build

CCU’s plans to accommodate class sizes

Students will no longer be living at the Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina due to Coastal Carolina University recent leasing of The Cove.

President Benson said they signed with The Cove, located at 1142 S.C. Hwy 544, since it was closer to campus and would be easier for students, Benson said he is hoping that it fills any need for extra housing in the fall 2023 semester. Shuttles will run from The Cove to campus similar to how the Teal Shuttle does in route to University Place, which is university housing located adjacent to The Cove off of S.C. 544.

During the past two years, the University has seen record-breaking class sizes with 2,519 incoming students in fall of 2021 to 2,693 students in fall of 2022, The Chanticleer reported last semester. Academic Affairs Project Coordinator James Johnson said the University has no plans to increase the student to faculty ratio. He said they will continue to hire more people when needed to fill the need for additional sections and classes.

President Michael Benson said there was a 3.5% decrease in enrollment at four-year institutions after COVID-19 in 2021 but CCU had a 3% increase instead.

Johnson said the University has plans to build a new dorm complex in the future as part of their Comprehensive Permanent Improvement Plan (CPIP), which is available to the public. Benson said they are planning to improve the existing dorms on campus with a focus on The Woods, the first dormitories built on campus in 1987. He said The Woods seem to be the least desirable housing option at the moment, and they plan to renovate and update these buildings in the near future.

Benson said their main priority is to update their campus master plan, in which they’re working with Boudreaux, an architectural firm in Columbia, South Carolina, who just finished the master plan for the city of Conway. He said they have student and faculty representatives, as well as trustees, that contribute to the planning process.

University administrators plan to have town hall sessions to get the community’s perspectives on what the University needs and what they want to see, according to the president.

“As our population grows, the need for square footage also commonly grows,” Benson said. “We’re very mindful of what we have and what we need.”

He said the University makes sure that their facilities are well appointed, maintained and presented. He said he is so grateful to work at a place that takes great pride in its campus and keep it up because there are many places where this is not the case.

“Coastal provides an opportunity for students to be in a somewhat smaller setting where you’re not just a number, and that is something we are very proud of,” Benson said.

Horry-Georgetown Technical College (HGTC) President Marilyn Fore said their institution also had an increase in enrollment with 8,200 students in the fall of 2022. She said that number was their highest amount ever and their rates are trending upwards.

Fore said many of their students start out at HGTC and later transfer to CCU. She said both universities work closely together to make this process seamless for students and continue to help one another grow.

Due to these increases at both CCU and HGTC and to accommodate student needs, the universities are looking to continue to build up and out according to both Fore and Johnson.

“We will continue temporary leases like we did this fall to accommodate everyone,” Johnson said. “Our biggest hindrance to growth is going to be space, both space for housing and space to educate.”