Author Archives: M. Seaton Brown

Spring 2017 Edition


It’s hard to believe that it was only 1967 that College of Charleston, at the time a private university of only a few hundred students, integrated welcoming several black students from the Charleston area.

Avery Normal Institute

Among those students was Eddie Ganaway ’71, a Charleston native who grew up just West of the Navy Yards of the city’s neck. A lover of history and a devout academic, Eddie became the College’s first black graduate earning his bachelor’s degree in 1971.

Throughout February, the College looked back at its history as it relates to African American students and faculty; in addition to the progress of today’s ever-diversifying student body:


*This letter was sent to all undergraduate parents of the College of Charleston. If you did not receive it, please email Seaton Brown ’09 at to update your information.

Dear Parents,

Porter’s Lodge with the message, “Know Thyself”.

Two hundred forty-seven years ago the long life of the College was just beginning. Fifteen years after its initial founding in 1770, College of Charleston chartered with the mission to provide the “proper education of youth” that “…is essential to the happiness and prosperity of every community.”

From the moment our students walk through the gates of Porter’s Lodge to when they cross the Cistern for the first time- their memories connect them to an experience greater than their own, a mutual experience that has connected students for over two centuries.

For us personally we know that our children, Christopher and Brittany, have been taught by some of the nation’s finest and most captivating professors, developed long-lasting friendships, engaged in a thriving community, and now have access to a vast network of alumni and friends of the College who wish to support and share in their successes.

It’s these qualities that make the College so special and why we’re here to ask you to celebrate our 232nd Chartering Day by joining us in giving back to the College of Charleston Parents’ Fund.

When 232 parents support the Parents’ Fund this spring, we will donate an additional $25,000.

The Parents’ Fund is a strategic priority of the College, President McConnell, and your Parent Advisory Council (PAC) members. We want our parents and alumni to support the College each and every year. The fund supports our campus by contributing to scholarships, faculty recruitment and retention, and our student-centered programs. By supporting the Parents’ Fund you are a key philanthropist on our campus.

Please accept our challenge and visit to make your gift today. If you have any questions, contact Seaton Brown ’09, Assistant Director for Parent Giving Programs at or 843.953.3667. Thank you for supporting our students, faculty, and alumni.

Thank you and Go Cougars!

Chris and Terri Walker (P ’15, P ’18)
Parent Advisory Council, Admissions Committee Chairs



Posted from The College Today. Article by Amanda Kerr.

The international scientific journal Nature has published research co-authored by a College of Charleston computer science professor that offers a groundbreaking new method for predicting whether a child is at risk of developing autism.

In coordination with a team at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, assistant professor Brent Munsell has developed a computational model that uses MRI scans to detect abnormal brain overgrowth in infants which correlates to a higher risk for autism. Nature published the findings of the study Wednesday. The new technology offers doctors for the first time a tangible way to diagnose the neurodevelopmental disorder in infancy, rather than relying solely on behavioral cues as a child grows.

“Typically an autism diagnosis is made when a child is 24 months of age,” says Munsell. “With this new model, we can predict if a child is likely to have autism before age two and if it looks like he or she is at high risk, they can start treatments and therapies sooner.”

The cutting-edge technology is part of the Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS), a consortium of eight universities across the United States and Canada researching early brain development and autism.

Munsell, in collaboration with professors at the University of North Carolina and New York University, created the new computational model at the College’s Machine Learning and Medical Image Analysis Lab. The project is one of several research initiatives Munsell oversees at the high-tech computer lab, many of which focus on new technologies aimed at better diagnosing neurological conditions. In October Munsell along with researchers in the departments of psychiatry and radiology at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and the School of Software at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, attended the Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention Society’s annual conference in Greece where they presented a new method for analyzing neuroimaging data that assesses impaired brain function.

Creating new techniques to improve the detection of neurological disorders, particularly those afflicting children, is personal for Munsell, whose three-year-old daughter Maddy has been diagnosed with a very rare neurological disorder called Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood.

“Everything I do is for her,” he says.

The new method associated with the IBIS study utilizes refined computational parameters that can detect subtle size increases within specific areas of the brain. These minuscule overgrowth patterns can be indicative of autism.

“It was basically like finding a needle in a haystack,” says Munsell. “To date nobody has really found this with good accuracy before.”

Munsell used the new model to assess the MRI scans of 318 infants with a family history of autism and 117 infants with no family history of autism at six months of age and again at 12 months. Based on increases in brain size, the technique correctly predicted the diagnosis of autism in infants with 94 percent accuracy.

And that’s a big deal, says Munsell, because for the first time it offers doctors a quantitative way to evaluate a child for autism. Previously physicians had no definitive biological way to diagnose the condition. Instead, they have had to rely on a diagnostic test comprised of a series of questions that assessed a child’s behavior at or after the age of two.

With so many significant clinical implications for the new model, the College of Charleston is working with the University of North Carolina to patent the research for further development of the technology.

“This has the potential to help physicians make better decisions for their patients and provide better information sooner to the parents of children at risk for autism,” Munsell says. “That’s why this is so important.”



Graduates sit on the Cistern stage, preparing to receive their degrees.

The White Dinner Jackets and Dresses

Seeing undergrads sitting on the Cistern stage, decked out in brilliant white jackets and dresses, evokes more than just a little Southern charm. And it’s a tradition that is today is matched by no other college in South Carolina and perhaps the rest of the country.
According to Morrison’s book, the attire frustrated some members of the faculty, who argued that the graduation garb emphasized the social, economic and gender differences between students rather than their academic achievements.But students graduating in suits wasn’t so uncommon in the College’s earlier years. According to Nan Morrison’s A History of College of Charleston 1936-2008,  traditional caps and gowns came late to most southern schools, namely because of poverty. Photos from many CofC commencements in the 19th and early 20th centuries show students wearing formal suits, including the Class of 1904 (pictured at right) which graduated in black blazers and light trousers.

But students disagreed. An editor of the College’s year book, the Meteor, wrote in 1937: ” The College has a very definite and strong feeling of its own. Evidences of this spirit are found in such traditions as… the lack of cap and gowns at graduation.”

President Harrison Randolph, the College’s longest-serving chief administrator and for whom Randolph Hall is named, explained his reasoning for CofC’s attire in a letter to a New York University faculty member ahead of the 1938 commencement.

“I ought to say that we never use academic costume,” Randolph wrote in the letter housed at the Special Collections of the Addlestone Library. “Being inclined to democratic simplicity, the College has always used at academic ceremonies the attire that would be worn at any other serious occasion. Accordingly for the exercises, in the afternoon any form of day-time attire would be suitable.”

But why white? Fashion etiquette — and Charleston’s sultry springtime climate — may offer an explanation.

For one, modern Spring Commencements at the College have been held in May or June. This means commencement almost always fell after Easter, when it was deemed acceptable by the upper echelons of 19th and 20th century society to wear white.

And as any CofC grad will tell you — Charleston is already hot by May or June. And because white reflects sunlight, it makes for a better midday outfit than any other color.

Randolph, in that same letter to the NYU faculty member, referenced the heat that should be expected on commencement day.

“As the weather is apt to be warm many of those on the rostrum wear white thin suits which are so usual to our warm climate,” he wrote.

As the years went by, the white dinner jackets and dresses crossed over from practical convenience to celebrated tradition, and by 1970, an administrator writing to potential guests bragged about how the College was one of the “few institutions left” where men and women opt for white jackets and dresses over academic attire.

Today, every undergrad who graduates in the spring wears white. In the winter, students follow the “no white after Labor Day” etiquette that has become verboten in America and wear black tuxedos and dresses. (Randolph also mentioned in his letters that evening commencements would require students to wear formal evening suits).




Winter 2017 Edition


There’s always something going on around campus and luckily we have The College Today to give us a quick update of what’s happening on the bricks.

James L. Petigru (SC Attorney General 1822-1830) is best known for the phrase, “South Carolina is too small to be a republic and too big to be an insane asylum”. Even since its earliest colonial days, South Carolina has been a political hot bed. Today, our students and alumni are involved in every aspect of political life: from the campaign trail to the White House and some social activism along the way.

Here’s a look at how politics has had a recent impact on the College:



The Winter doldrums have come and settled on campus with colder weather and gloomy days lining the weather app on your smartphone. And while Charleston is always beautiful, chillier days aren’t quite as fun when your students are walking from Maybank Hall to the Education Center bundled up trying to escape the arctic blast of St. Philip Street.

Some of our wonderful parents have offered ideas of little “pick-me-ups” to bring a smile to their student’s face. Something small, easy and lets your student know you’re thinking of them. What better way to share a little love than with something sweet?

With all the recommendations from the Listserv it got a little confusing but thanks to our friend Becky Rizvi (P ‘18) in Silver Spring, Maryland we have all those suggestions compiled for your reference. Below are recommendations from that list- thanks Becky!

PIE Charleston

“You should add P.I.E. on Warren Street right across from the Warren St dorms.  If you look on her website under services she lists birthday cakes and she made my daughter a gluten less, soy free, nut free birthday cake last spring. I prepaid over the phone (live in New Hampshire) and one of my daughter’s roommates picked it up.”

Cheryl’s Cookies

“I will throw this out too, I found Cheryl’s Cookies on THIS list and have now used it several times. They do a fun little ‘cookie card’ that is only $5 including the shipping – just a fun little something to surprise your student!  Our daughter has loved the cookies!”

Dulce Sweet Teas and Treats

phone: 843-737-1704 email:

“I’ve recently discovered a wonderful baker of cakes, cheesecakes, cupcakes, breakfast pastries, etc. She may deliver as she sells her products from a food truck. I highly recommend her cheesecakes. They are phenomenal! (I’m a huge foodie and used to bake cheesecakes to order and catered). Her teas and iced lattes are also delicious!”

Christen Reese, (843) 853-0436

“Her name is Christen Reese and I believe she works out of her house. She bakes and delivers the world’s most delicious, decadent homemade cakes to your student on campus and surrounding areas. and she makes hand-crafted, extraordinary chocolate cakes, so I’m told.  All different sizes, 4”, 8”, etc.  She is even walking it over to my daughter’s apartment.”

Sugar Babies Baked Goods

Amy Langstone,  (843) 425-6522

“I have the best person for you. Amy Langstone makes incredible custom cakes/cupcakes at the best prices and will deliver downtown. She is a true artist! And the cakes are awesome.”

From Stephanie Auwaerter, Director of Orientation: 

Deliveries can be made to the front desk but the front desk is not able to call the students to let them know a delivery is there for them.  It the past, I believe families have hinted to the student that they should check at the front desk for a delivery or the florist delivery driver has called the student to have them meet them at a specific place and time for delivery.  The residence hall front desks are not responsible for any lost or stolen deliveries. 


*Please note: all comments are directly from emails shared with the Parents Listserv and are not official endorsements of the College of Charleston. Minor edits have been made to content.



Posted from The College Today. Article by Darren Price.

It’s the best thing in Cougars basketball this side of Selection Saturday.

That’s right – it’s homecoming week at the College of Charleston, and like in years past, there’s plenty of big events around campus ahead of Colonial Athletic Association games for both the men’s and women’s teams this weekend.

This year’s events are anchored by the College’s Spirit Cup Challenge, a friendly contest aimed at finding the residence hall, fraternity, sorority, club or organization with the most pep. And it wouldn’t be a proper homecoming without a king and queen – both of which will be crowned during the men’s game against Elon on Saturday, Feb. 4, at TD Arena.

Here’s a rundown of some of the events:

Monday, Jan. 30: Spirit Cup participants will participate in an air hockey tournament in the Stern Student Center game room at 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 31: There will be a pep rally and dinner at Liberty Street Fresh Food Company at 5 p.m. The first 100 students without a meal plan will get in free and will be treated to ribs, Buffalo wings, Italian subs, a nacho bar, cotton candy and more game-day favorites. There will also be a DJ, games, prizes and special appearances by Clyde the Cougar and the CofC cheerleaders.

Wednesday, Feb. 1.: The first day of February is all about service. Spirit Cup participants will be trying to collect the most boxes of cereal for a local food bank and filling out cards for the Lowcountry’s senior citizens.

Thursday, Feb. 2: Thursday is chock full of events, including:

  • Homecoming banner judging. The banners will also be on display throughout the day in the atrium of the Thaddeus Street. Jr. Education Center.
  • Homecoming queen and king voting. Students can vote for the week’s royals online via OrgSync through noon on Saturday.
  • Grocery Bingo. Students will get the chance to re-stock their pantry in one night at the Willard A. Silcox Physical Education and Health Center at 9:30 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 3: The women’s basketball team (6-13) takes on the Drexel Dragons (14-4) at TD Arena at 7 p.m. Homecoming king and queen candidates will also take the court at halftime.

Saturday, Feb. 4: Saturday marks the lion’s share of homecoming events, including:

  • The yearly Homecoming Tailgate in the Cistern Yard. Spirit Cup participants will have two hours before the tailgate to decorate their tables and will be judged during the event, which is open to the public from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Expect fun games, food and Cougar spirit.
  • The men’s basketball team (16-6) returns from a three-game road trip for a 5 p.m. tipoff against the Elon Phoenix (12-9) at TD Arena. The winners of the 2017 Spirit Cup and homecoming king and queen will be named during half-time.
  • Homecoming festivities close with the National Pan-Hellenic Council Step Show at 8 p.m. at College of Charleston’s Sottile Theatre. The event is ticketed.


Editor’s Note: It is my hope that this new series will give you the opportunity to learn more about what makes College of Charleston such a special place. The College has an important role in the culture and history of Charleston, South Carolina, and the nation. Its history is rich with stories that show the true spirit of its people.


Two hundred forty-seven years ago this month, Lieutenant Governor William Bull recommended the establishment of provincial colleges throughout the state. And with that single declaration, the school that would one day be known as College of Charleston finds its founding date of January 30, 1770. However, progress slowed on the College’s formal establishment throughout the American revolution. The almost twenty year ordeal in the colonies required the attention of its leaders to pursue the nation’s formidable founding rather than education. Fifteen years later, March 19, 1785 the founding charter for the College was written describing that, “the proper education of youth is essential to the happiness and prosperity of every community” (South Carolina Act No. 1274).

With its founding, College of Charleston became the thirteenth oldest college in the nation. Considered today to be one of the country’s “colonial colleges” founded before the American Revolution. However, the history of the College can actually date back much further in the young colony’s history. As early as 1748, there was discussion of establishing a “free school” for the men of the Lowcountry in and around Charleston. In fact, it was in that year that the College’s library was first established with small collections donated from local citizens. Members of the newly-founded Charleston Library Society began to set aside collections that would one day serve as the initial donations for the library at the young Charleston college. Learn more about one of those unique donations here.

So who were our founders exactly? They are truly a “who’s who” of early America…

Three signers of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Heyward Jr., Arthur Middleton, Edward Rutledge; and three framers of the US Constitution, Charles Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, John Rutledge. Not to mention future governors of South Carolina, Diplomats and Ambassadors, Presidential Candidates, and a Supreme Court Justice.

The United States would look quite different today than to the College’s early founders. However, I’m sure the names on this list would be proud of the work, activism, and leadership of the College’s students, alumni, and faculty have taken in their communities both locally and nationally.