The History of Inauguration

A presidential inauguration is a way to formally induct the university president into the executive position. The inauguration is a landmark event for the university that is rooted in tradition and symbolism, from carrying the university mace, to the presentation of the presidential medallion, and even down to the ceremonial gowns. It is an opportunity for the Buccaneer community to cherish CSU’s rich history, while learning about the new president’s vision for the future. Key delegates outside of the community also have the opportunity to get an inside look at the heart and future of Charleston Southern.

University Mace

The mace was originally a weapon of offense carried in battle by medieval bishops. Today it is a symbol of authority. Earliest ceremonial maces were borne by the royal bodyguards of Richard I of England and Philip II of France. The use of the mace by towns and cities had become widespread in England by the end of the 16th century. Today, maces are used by British houses of Parliament, ecclesiastical dignitaries and clergy, colleges, and universities.

The Charleston Southern University mace signifies the strength and vitality of the institution and is carried by the grand marshal. The mace is made of wood, and the head is decorated with carved wooden crosses and a metal replica of the university seal.

Presidential Medallion

The Charleston Southern University medallion features the university seal in brass with a brass chain. The medallion is a symbol of the president’s authority and is worn by the president at formal university ceremonies such as graduation and the opening chapel.

Academic Dress

The history of academic dress dates back to the 14th century. Their use was presumably for warmth in the unheated building during European winters. Now, they are reminders of the years of work required to earn academic degrees. The color and pageantry of the academic regalia prevalent in the United States today was fixed by convention in 1895 and revised in 1932, 1959, and 1986.

There are three basic academic gowns. The gown for bachelor degrees has pointed sleeves and is worn closed. The gown for master degrees has oblong sleeves with slit openings at the elbow and the base hanging down. It is worn with a hood, and the color indicates the discipline of the degree. The doctoral gown is tastefully ornamented with colored velvet down the front and three chevrons on the bell-shaped sleeves. Only presidential gowns have a fourth chevron on the sleeves. Both the master’s and doctor’s hoods have a velvet border, with the doctoral hood being the more elaborate. A gold tassel on the doctor’s cap replaces the black on the master’s and bachelor’s caps. President Faulkner will wear the specially designed CSU presidential gown.

The colors lining the hoods worn by the faculty are those of the institution granting the degree and the velvet border indicates the branch of knowledge in which the degree was acquired. The colors for the subjects are:

Arts & HumanitiesWhiteBusinessDrab
EconomicsCopperEducationLight Blue
Fine ArtsBrownLawPurple
Library ScienceLemonMedicineGreen
PhilosophyDark BluePhysical EducationSage Green
ScienceGolden YellowTheologyScarlet

Past Presidents

John Asa Hamrick


John Hamrick was elected the founding president of the Baptist College at Charleston (now CSU) in 1964 and served until 1983. During his tenure, the student body grew to more than 2,000 students, and the main campus buildings were built. Hamrick was previously the pastor of First Baptist Church of Charleston and founder of the First Baptist Church Day School. He was active in the South Carolina Baptist Convention and was a cofounder of the South Carolina Baptist Historical Society.

Jairy C. Hunter Jr.


Jairy Hunter was elected second president in 1984. The school grew considerably during his tenure. Hunter initiated a strategic planning process, numerous fundraising programs including the Board of Visitors and the Legacy Society, achieved university status and oversaw a name change to Charleston Southern University, opened 16 new buildings, and added graduate degrees to the curriculum. Hunter was previously the vice chancellor for business and for development at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Dondi E. Costin


Dondi Costin was named third president in 2018. During his term, the university added the first doctoral degrees in education and physical therapy, launched South Carolina’s only aeronautics program, and added programs such as chaplaincy ministry, and engineering. Facilities for STEM programs and the first residence hall to be built in three decades opened. Costin led the university through the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to coming to CSU, Costin was chief of chaplains for the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a major general.