Hayden B. ‘Benny’ Renwick’s legacy: Mentor and be
By Hope Baptiste
Hayden B. Renwick
When Hayden Bently “Benny” Renwick ’66 (M.Ed.) joined
the staff of Carolina’s admissions office in 1969, there were
only about 100 African-American students enrolled. By the
time he was promoted to associate dean in the newly formed
Office for Student Counseling in 1973, black student
enrollment had topped 900 and continued to grow.
But Dean Renwick wanted to do more than just bring top black
applicants to Chapel Hill, he wanted them to succeed and
graduate. This was his mission, or more aptly, his calling.
He instituted a minority mentoring and tutorial program on
campus that set the stage for the vibrant, robust programs
offered by today’s Center for Student Success and Academic
Counseling. Initiatives like the Writing Center, the Learning
Center, the Office for Student Academic Counseling, the
Academic Support Program for Student Athletes and the Summer
Bridge Program all promote academic excellence, help increase
retention and improve the campus climate for diversity among
minority students in general, and Native American and
African-American undergraduates in particular.
More important, they enable students to foster enduring
relationships with peers, faculty and administrators.
Renwick also made sure to recognize and reward the efforts of
“his” students with an annual awards program acknowledging
all African-American and American Indian students who earned
a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, a tradition that
To honor Dean Renwick’s life and legacy, UNC has launched The
Renwick Initiative an effort to create a $250,000 endowment
to support the programs he began in earnest: The Minority
Advisory Program and the Academic Achievement Awards.
Though Renwick passed away in September 2009, his
legacy is well tended by one of his own—alumnus Harold
Woodard, ’78, ’81, who has served as the associate dean and
director of the Center for Student Success and Academic
Counseling since 1995.
“Dean Renwick made a huge impression on me even before I was
even officially enrolled,” Woodard said. “Somehow, in a
mix-up with another applicant, the admissions office thought
I had declined my acceptance and so cancelled my
registration. A family friend whose son had just completed
his freshman year at UNC told me to go see Dean Renwick and
he would know exactly what to do. I did and in a few minutes,
it was squared away.
“I was really struck by that — he didn’t know me, I just went
to his office and he welcomed me, took time to help me and
brought his knowledge and experience to bear on my particular
situation like it was the most important thing he had to do
“Benny did more than just fix an administrative problem for
me that day. He took a personal interest in me, forged a bond
that I’ll always treasure and significantly influenced how I
interacted with others from then on.”
According to Woodard, Renwick had an innate ability to
inspire, a special talent for dealing with people in a
meaningful and genuine way, and the tenacity to accomplish
what he set his mind to. “And he engendered and encouraged
those traits in every student he came across in his 40-some
years on campus,” Woodard said. “No one could ever duplicate
his commitment to our students, but every day I aspire to
come somewhere close.”
With a mentor like Renwick, success is pretty much assured.