Volume 2 | Issue 1
Spring 2010

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Hayden B. ‘Benny’ Renwick’s legacy: Mentor and be mentored

By Hope Baptiste

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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 continues today.

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.

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Harold Woodard

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 that day.

“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.