Dedication of center honors first black College of Charleston graduate

Friends, family and college officials gathered to mark the re-naming of the center in Ganaway’s honor.

The College of Charleston on Saturday recognized its first African-American graduate at a dedication ceremony for the Eddie Ganaway Diversity Education and Resource Center.

Friends, family and college officials gathered to mark the re-naming of the center in Ganaway’s honor.

Ganaway, a 1971 graduate of the college, helped jump-start its diversity efforts, said President George Benson.

Benson said the school is more diverse but it is not yet where it needs to be. “We will get there,” he said.

DERC, which opened in 2010, is devoted to promoting and advancing domestic and global diversity. It offers a wide range of books, journals, videos, recordings and global cultural artifacts that focus on racial, ethnic, social, cultural and religious diversity.

Ganaway left a legacy of faith, hope and love, said Demetria Clemons, a member of the college board of trustees. “He was a humble, spiritual man,” she said.

Ganaway’s achievements show what one committed person can do, said Dr. Lucille Whipper.

“Love to Eddie Ganaway was not just a word, but it was a word with action,” Whipper said.

Ganaway grew up in Charleston Heights and graduated from Bonds Wilson High School in 1962. He attended Benedict College, but a lack of funds led him to enlist in the U.S. Navy where he served as a medic in Vietnam for four years. After his discharge, Ganaway contacted the college admissions office and was encourage to apply. He was admitted in 1968.

“Despite the relative isolation he experienced as one of the few black students on campus, Ganaway came to see the college experience as deeply enriching and rewarding,” according to the college media relations office.

He went on to earn a master’s degree in history from Duke University. He taught at Illinois State University and South Carolina State University. He enjoyed a long career in academia and the insurance industry.

Ganaway, who died Jan. 13, founded the College of Charleston’s first Black Alumni Caucus. In 2007, he was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters from his alma mater. He credited the college with awakening him to “this tremblingly wonderful sense of possibility we all have as human beings.”

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