College of Charleston President Emeritus Theodore Sanders Stern, known for transforming the College from a small private college into a nationally recognized institution of higher learning, passed away earlier today in Charleston, South Carolina. Read more about Stern’s legacy.Ted.Stern

He had recently celebrated his 100th birthday.

“Ted Stern’s legacy as a campus and community leader is difficult to overstate,” said George Benson, president of the College of Charleston.  “We mourn Ted’s passing and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family. We have lost a dear friend and a great human being.”

Read a full statement from President Benson.


Stern served as president of the College of Charleston from 1968 to 1978. When he arrived at the College of Charleston there were 432 students enrolled and 28 faculty members.  With the College of Charleston facing a financial crisis, Stern worked with the South Carolina General Assembly to ensure the future of the College by turning it into a public institution. By the end of his presidency, the College enrollment had grown to over 5,300 students and 181 faculty members.

He was also is credited for admitting the first African American students to the College of Charleston.

Under Stern’s leadership, the College acquired approximately 80 buildings and constructed many of its most important facilities, including the Robert Scott Small Building, Maybank Hall, Physicians Memorial Auditorium, Buist Rivers Residence Hall, Rita Liddy Hollings Science Center, Grice Marine Lab, the Stern Center, and the Albert Simons Center for the Arts.

Stern helped introduce the College’s first graduate programs and South Carolina’s Governor’s School. He is also responsible for transforming College Way and Green Street into pedestrian walkways, and paving the College’s sidewalks with distinctive herringbone-patterned bricks.

In 1974, the College of Charleston honored Stern by naming the student union building after him.

The Ted Stern Cup, also named in his honor, is awarded annually to a graduating senior who exemplifies the character of the College of Charleston. The Stern Cup is one of the three highest awards that a student can achieve at the College.

“For decades, Ted Stern has been a friend and mentor to the entire College of Charleston community,” said Greg Padgett, chairman of the College’s Board of Trustees. “We will continue to honor and celebrate Ted’s legacy in the days and weeks ahead.”

Along with transforming the College of Charleston, Ted Stern also played a crucial role in shaping the City of Charleston.  Through his leadership, he was instrumental in the development of the South Carolina Aquarium, Charleston Place, and the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina.

As the first president of the board for the Spoleto Festival USA, Stern guided Spoleto through its early years to become one of the nation’s premier arts festivals.

Stern grew up in New York City and was a top-notch swimmer who nearly competed in the Olympics. A 1934 graduate of John Hopkins University, Stern enlisted in the United States Navy after college and earned a Bronze Star, one of our nation’s most important military awards.

Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time.

Quotes concerning Ted Stern:

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley:

“Ted Stern’s contributions to Charleston were of historic proportion. Truly one of the most influential leaders in our city’s history, his masterful, strategic and energetic guidance of the College of Charleston created a physical and educational transformation that will forever positively enhance our city and the College of Charleston.”

“Every important civic, cultural and economic initiative in Charleston  during the last forty years had Ted Stern’s guiding hand, vision and enormous creative energy. He was a naturally happy and positive person and his genuine kindness and thoughtfulness so surely touched everyone whom he knew. Charleston was so richly enhanced because he was a citizen of our community.”

South Carolina Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell:

“Ted Stern was a visionary leader at the College of Charleston bringing people together to work and instilling in everyone a vision of where the college could go. As Student Body President, I learned from him that leadership is not only about getting people to work together but having a common goal to achieve.”

Former United State Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings:

“Everything Ted touched in Charleston blossomed.”

Former C of C President, Judge Alex Sanders:

“I am fond of saying that the College of Charleston was founded by three men who signed the Declaration of Independence and three other men who were authors of America’s first Constitution. This is literally true. But there is a larger truth. The real founder of the modern College of Charleston is Ted Stern . . . as a practical matter, he is our Founding Father.”

South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell

“Ted was a figure larger than life because he gave more of himself than one could expect any single individual to give.  Every job he held, every board he served on, every personal interaction he had over his 100 years, were all rooted in the philanthropic spirit that served as the inspirational foundation of his life.  Through his infectious spirit and the great institutions he built over his 100 years, Ted’s legacy is one that will live on for centuries to come.”