CIU honored with Community Impact Award

Dr. Mark Smith accepts the Community Impact Award as Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin (left) and CIU Professor Andre Rogers look on. (Photos by Kierston Smith)
January 16, 2020

The North Columbia Business Association has recognized Columbia International University with the Community Impact Organization of the Year Award for the school’s work on improving the Monticello Road corridor leading to the CIU campus.

CIU President Dr. Mark Smith accepted the award at the January meeting of the Mayor's Roundtable Luncheon.

In the two and a half years that Smith has led CIU, he has made it a priority to improve CIU’s neighborhood in North Columbia, purchasing seven properties and transforming the formerly blighted area into a commercially-viable district. One of the first properties revitalized now houses a Richland County Sheriff’s Department substation with plans for a Dairy Queen restaurant/convenience store combination on another property.

Smith said that when he came to CIU he brought community leaders together to consider priorities for improving the neighborhood. Since then, crime has been reduced, the CIU basketball teams are assisting local schools with reading programs, and residents from the neighborhood have been hired as CIU employees. He especially noted a neighborhood resident who served jail time, and as a result could not find a job.

“For three years he has worked in our maintenance department and loves his job and is there every day on time and we love him to death,” Smith said drawing applause from the crowd at the luncheon.

Smith also drew applause when he described CIU’s $5000 down payment incentive to employees to buy a home in the neighborhood, and added an exclamation point to his neighborhood commitment when he said:

“This president’s heart says this. Any university that doesn’t invest in its neighborhood should go out of business. We’re going to invest heavily.”

Columbia International University consistently ranks among the Top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report. Excitement is growing on campus with increased enrollment and new academic programs such as the Master of Arts in Global MigrationRequest information on enrollment at CIU and Columbia Biblical Seminary or call (800) 777-2227, ext. 5024.