Columbia College – Edicts, Advice, and Change

By Tammy Davis


Truth be told, I didn’t want to go to Columbia College. I had Charleston on my mind.

My father told me I could go anywhere I wanted, but if he was paying I was going to Columbia College. I headed west on I-20 instead of south on 26

I’m thankful for my time at Columbia College. I was surrounded by smart people who gave me good advice.

The English Department gave me my foundation and fueled my dream of becoming a writer. Dr. O’Neal, Dr. Bill Mishoe, Barbara Johnson, Mike Broome – I worked to please them all.  I listened to them and learned from them.

I was feeling pretty good about my path as an English major when my father issued another edict. He told me I could major in whatever I wanted, but if he was paying I had to get certified to teach something. My father’s example of foreshadowing: “You never know when you might need to support yourself. Get your teaching certificate, and you’ll always have a job.” Thirty years later as a single mother, I am very, very thankful for my father’s good common sense.

Everybody’s favorite education professor, Don Patenaude, changed everything when he handed me The Water is Wide, Pat Conroy’s novel about teaching on Daufuskie Island. My fate was sealed. I checked the boxes with methods and statistics classes, but Don Patenaude gave me my heart for teaching.

Even though it wasn’t my first choice, I’m thankful for my father’s orders.  I appreciate my college days.

Columbia College has been in the headlines recently with its decision to allow male residential students. They will keep their women’s-only status by letting students choose to attend co-ed or single-gender classes.

Social media is blowing up with people who are outraged and offended. They claim to love the school while they bash it publicly. I don’t know enough about the reasons for this change, but I know this: if you love something, if you really love it, you support it publicly.

My father and my professors gave me good advice while I was a co-ed, and now I hope to share some advice with the younger generation. It’s ok to ask tough questions but ask them privately. If you must ask them via social media, at least keep it respectful. Bashing your school on social media is not cool. Rather than criticizing, volunteer to help. If you think you can do a better job with town hall meetings or communications, offer your services. Call me old-school, but negative, nasty posts rarely solve problems.

I’ll continue to follow the school’s updates, and I’ll read the emotional posts. Every person has that right. I respect it, but I don’t agree with that approach. I choose to give my alma mater the benefit of the doubt that they are doing the best they can. I choose to support publicly and ask questions privately.

That might be a good lesson for all.



Tammy Davis is a proud graduate of Columbia College, Class of 1988. She is sincerely grateful for the English Department and for Don Patenaude. Her first book, Chin Up Buttercup, is available on Amazon and Kindle.