Dondi E. Costin, the U.S. Air Force’s chief of chaplains, has been selected as president of Charleston Southern University.
On July 1, Costin will succeed Jairy C. Hunter Jr., 76, who has led the university the past 34 years and will become president emeritus.
Charleston Southern University (CSU), with 3,600 students, was founded in 1964 by the South Carolina Baptist Convention. Costin, 53, will be CSU’s third president.
As chief of chaplains in the Pentagon, Costin leads 2,000 chaplains and chaplain assistants in the Air Force Chaplain Corps, serving more than 664,000 active-duty, guard, reserve and civilian forces in the U.S. and overseas.
A native of Wilmington, N.C., Costin holds the rank of major general, with 32 years of commissioned service since his 1986 graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. He will retire from the Air Force upon assuming CSU’s presidency.
Costin has earned seven advanced degrees, including a doctor of philosophy in leadership and a doctor of ministry in church growth, both from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and a master of divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
He also holds master of arts degrees in counseling and in religion from Liberty University and its theological seminary, respectively, in Lynchburg, Va., and two master’s degrees from Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala.
Costin is a combat veteran who has deployed in support of numerous contingency and humanitarian relief operations across the world. Before becoming Air Force chief of chaplains in 2015, he had served as senior chaplain for Pacific Air Forces based in Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, from 2012-2015 and senior chaplain for Air Forces Central based in Qatar from 2011-2012. His military decorations include the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal.
Among his other Air Force assignments, Costin was assistant professor of aerospace studies at Texas Christian University from 1992-1996, teaching courses in leadership, management, political science and military history.
Charleston Southern trustees unanimously elected Costin April 13 on the recommendation of a 17-member search committee of trustees, alumni, students, faculty, staff, athletics, external relations and development personnel, assisted by CarterBaldwin Executive Search of Atlanta.
The search committee selected Costin from more than 60 qualified candidates, said Jerry Williams, committee chairman and trustee chairman.
“The committee unanimously agreed to recommend Dr. Costin because of his passion to lead the university in accomplishing its vision of integrating faith in learning, leading and serving,” Williams, a retired banker from Richburg, S.C., said. “We believe he is the right fit for our university, and everyone is confident that he will take CSU to the next level of excellence.”
Costin said he and his wife Vickey “could not be more thrilled to join the CSU family in its drive to develop leaders of character by integrating faith and learning in an environment of academic excellence. I am honored to follow in the footsteps of CSU’s legendary president, Dr. Jairy Hunter, who has transformed Charleston Southern into the jewel it is today. I look forward to leading this team to build upon the firm foundation he has laid in hopes that, with God’s help, the best is yet to come.”
Founded as the Baptist College at Charleston, it was renamed Charleston Southern University in 1990. CSU offers 48 undergraduate and eight graduate programs.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston from reports by Charleston Southern University staff.)