"The reason why we're all here is to be teachers," says communication professor Vince Benigni, sitting in his office at 7 College Way. Going on his 11th year at the College, Benigni has continued to take on more roles, both in academics and athletics, that will continue to bring growth and exposure to the school.
Along with his teaching (undergraduate and graduate courses) and advising duties, Benigni's roles at the College include Communication Graduate School Director, and NCAA Faculty representative for the College. He is also teaching a graduate course this summer and is looking to expand the graduate school. Benigni has also been involved in organizing new events such as the communication department's internship fair and senior banquet, the Student Athletes Faculty Experts (SAFE) Advising Program for student athletes, and he's been the advisor for the Public Relations Student Society America.
While he says he enjoys all his roles at the College, Benigni continues to do all he can for his students and the department. His main goal, he says, is to continue to work with undergraduates, and to help the Department of Communication be the best it can be.
A Pennsylvania native, Benigni earned degrees from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Slippery Rock University, both outside of Pittsburgh. He would come South to earn his doctorate at the University of Georgia.
For 10 years he worked in college athletics as a sport information director (SID). At the U.S. Naval Academy he worked closely with future NBA Hall of Fame member David "The Admiral" Robinson. From Annapolis, Benigni went to Virginia's Mary Washington College where he was SID for the school's 22 sports.
He came to Charleston in 1999 and has witnessed and been a key part in much growth and advances in the Department of Communication, one of the College's largest academic programs. Benigni teaches various public relations and other communication courses, including sports writing.
"I believe our Department is as good as any in regards to reaching out to students, providing opportunities, a wonderful internship program, so we have a very good support system," Benigni says.
Benigni strives to be a team player in his everyday life and teaching, using his skills to try to make everything he is involved in better. He believes it is the most important part of what he does here at the College.
"Some people see the professor as just the class period, research, and office hours," he says. "I think the real professor is the one that I strive to be, is one that looks at the totality of the experience, and one that students remember for what you did for them outside of the teaching. Although the teaching is important, it's also about what were you able to do for the student in terms of life skills and understanding bigger pictures."
Former student Arielle Alpino says she loved Benigni's public relations class. "He worked to make you feel included, and to make sure everyone was happy," she says.
Filling different roles in the department and at the College has helped Benigni reach larger groups of people on campus. Of his far-reaching influence, he says, "If I can utilize those skills and impact lives and serve as many people as possible, I think that is where I am best served, as being a team player who knows their role and is able to be helpful and bring people together."
Benigni was the principal author of "True Maroon: A History of College of Charleston Athletics" published in 2008. He is currently leading a research project studying how college sports are affected by Internet communities. He says the research is ongoing and he hopes to soon be publishing.
"Right now, I'm where I want to be, I'm enjoying my role, and I believe I can make an impact," Benigni says. "Yet I try to stay true to the mission of the communication department."
Benigni continues to use both his administrative and teaching roles daily to impact his students and the greater College of Charleston community. His forward thinking and vision of the future continues to drive the Department to even greater progress and quality.
(Philip McCandies contributed to this article)