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Professor Vince Benigni

Professor Vince Benigni

Cougar Students and Sports Benefit from Comm Prof's Zeal
By Philip McCandies

"I'm a person who likes to be involved, but I also am a person who wants others to know I understand and listen too," says Communication Professor Vince Benigni. For the last seven years, he has not only lived up to those words but has gone above and beyond in his willingness to help others.

Sports has been and continues to be a big part of his personal and

professional life. "I like to watch sports for the story," Benigni says. He is, no question, a sports junky.

He says his enjoyment comes from watching the perseverance of the coaches and athletes whether while watching on TV or dealing with face-to-face as an advisor to many C of C student-athletes.

At the ripe young age of 24, Benigni, a Pennsylvania native, was fortunate to work with major media outlets such as CNN and Sports Illustrated. This during his tenure as a the assistant sports information officer at the U.S. Naval Academy--this while Annapolis was home to a midshipman named David Robinson who would be college basketball's player of the year in his senior season, and then go on to a Hall of Fame NBA career with the San Antonio Spurs. Benigni was Robinson's media liaison and rubbed elbows with the highest levels of our nation's sports media.

After working at Navy for two years, Benigni had the opportunity to move up as sports information director at Mary Washington College in Virginia which had 22 sports in its athletics program.

But academia would lure Benigni from the sports fields to the classroom, as a student, then a professor. He came to the College of Charleston in 1999 after earning a doctorate in mass communication from the University of Georgia. While at UGA, he served a three-year research assistantship with the prestigious George Foster Peabody Awards, considered the world's premier broadcast award. His previous degrees came from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (Journalism) and Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania (English).

Here at C of C, Benigni's research focuses on how to effectively teach public relations. "I am really focused on how to integrate public relations methods into teaching," he says. His manuscript, "Teaching Public Relations Campaigns: The Current State of the Art" has been published by journals in various forms. Journalism and Mass Communication Educator has published his research titled, "To Evolve: Analyzing Student Choice in the Introduction to Public Relations Class."

He also satisfies his ongoing love of sports with research projects that have involved the Ty Cobb (baseball) Museum in Georgia, and the history of Pittsburgh's old Three Rivers Stadium. Benigni is also heavily involved with C of C athletics as a Cougar Club board member and, as mentioned earlier, a faculty advisor to C of C athletes. He works with the young men and women on time management and priority setting issues, among other areas.

Former student-athlete and current assistant men's basketball coach Troy Wheless says, "He teaches from the understanding point of view, and relates well to those who are around him. He lets you know that he understands what point of view you are coming from."

On top of all of these activities and interests, Benigni advises C of C's Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). And he is a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Public Relations Research and Journalism and Mass Communication Educator.

"One thing that would surprise the students and faculty who have not had time to get to know me personally is that I am a different type of person," Benigni says. He believes that the hardest thing for a person to do is be involved and to have people know that you are listening and understand them.

"My appreciation for what I do comes from my appreciation of what coaches and players go through, because with every winner there is a loser," he says.

Benigni and his wife Mendi have a daughter Grace who keeps them busy with music recitals, basketball and soccer practices.