Alumnus inaugurated as Charleston Southern’s fourth president

Charleston Southern University inaugurated B. Keith Faulkner as the university’s fourth president March 25 in a service in Lightsey Chapel.

Faulkner was unanimously elected by the board of trustees on July 25, 2023, and began his service as president in October. He is the first Charleston Southern alumnus to serve the university as president. Faulkner graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with a finance emphasis in 1998.

When Faulkner arrived on campus, he said he was focused on four things: Listening, Caring, Casting Vision, and Leading. He thanked the Charleston Southern faculty and staff and said, “This is a team dedicated to service above self.” He pledged to invest in people — in employees and the student body.

Program participants sit on the stage as Maxwell Rollins gives faculty greetings. Pictured on front row from left: Dean Murphy, chairman of the CSU Board of Trustees; B. Keith Faulkner, president of Charleston Southern University; Patty Faulkner, first lady of CSU; Tim Scott ’88, Senator (R-SC). Second row from left: Jairy C. Hunter Jr., CSU president emeritus; Dondi Costin, former CSU president and current Liberty University president; Melissa Essary, dean emerita of Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law at Campbell University. (Photo by Rick Esposito/CSU)

He said, “Casting a vision is not enough. Faith requires us to act. Walking in faith requires vision and action. Vision with action can change the world.”

Faulkner concluded with a challenge to the CSU family: “One who has hope lives differently. We are people of hope. We are respectful of our past with a laser focus on the future.”

Melissa Essary, dean emerita and professor of law at Campbell University Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law, worked with Faulkner at Campbell and gave the keynote address.

Essary said, “Sometimes you meet someone and you’re optimistic about who they appear to be. Sometimes, they are everything you hoped they would be and more. Meet Keith Faulkner.”

Among those bringing greetings from different groups was Maxwell Rollins, professor of business and director of graduate programs in the Nielsen College of Business. Faulkner is a former student of Rollins and also worked for Rollins in his DJ business. Rollins, representing the CSU faculty, said, “One of our Buccaneers has returned, and it is time for CSU to shine.”

Dondi Costin, former CSU president and current Liberty University president, B. Keith Faulkner, CSU president, and Jairy C. Hunter Jr., CSU president emeritus, stand together in a unique opportunity as the three of only four presidents since Charleston Southern University’s founding in 1964. (Photo by Daniel Taylor/CSU)

Faulkner’s service prior to accepting the position at Charleston Southern included serving in the U.S. Navy as a nuclear power plant operator and technician and an instructor. He had 20 years of higher education service as president, dean, and professor of law at Appalachian School of Law in Virginia; as dean and professor of law at Liberty University School of Law; as dean and professor at the Lundy-Fetterman School of Business at Campbell University; and as interim dean, vice dean, and executive associate dean for external relations at Campbell University’s Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law.

Before he stepped into higher education, Faulkner practiced law in the areas of insurance defense, criminal defense, estate planning, family law, and real estate litigation and transactions.

He earned a Juris Doctor and a Master of Business Administration from Campbell University’s Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law and a Master of Laws in litigation management from Baylor University School of Law.

— Jenna Johnson is executive director of Marketing and Communications at Charleston Southern University.