Columbia Mayor Stephen Benjamin to Speak at Claflin’s Forum on Inclusive Excellence

Feb 23, 2017

Claflin University will host the Vice President’s Forum on Inclusive Excellence on Monday, February 27 at 7 p.m. in the Arthur Rose Museum.  City of Columbia Mayor Stephen Benjamin will be the guest speaker.  Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler will also participate in the program.

The Vice President’s Forum on Inclusive Excellence is presented by the Division of Student Development and Services at Claflin.  The purpose of the event is to highlight Claflin’s ability to incorporate the diverse backgrounds, traditions, and experiences of faculty, staff, and students in realizing the goal of an inclusive community that values excellence in scholarship, teaching and learning, and student development.  

Contact Devin Randolph (803-535-5301 / for more information or to RSVP.

“The forum will focus on student intellectual and social development, encouraging a welcoming community that engages diversity in student and organizational learning, said Dr. Leroy Durant, vice president for Student Development and Services at Claflin. “We also want to acknowledge our acceptance of the cultural differences all students and faculty bring to the educational experience.”

Since being elected mayor in a record turnout election in April 2010, Mayor Steve Benjamin has made it his mission to create in Columbia the most talented, educated and entrepreneurial city in the Southeast.  Re-elected by a 30 percent margin in November 2013, Mayor Benjamin's administration has been characterized by his firm belief in Columbia's potential and intense focus on job creation. In his first term alone, his leadership helped cut unemployment in the metro by roughly half and secured billions of dollars in new regional capital investment in the midst of a national recession.

Benjamin was 29 years old in 1999 when he was appointed to Governor Jim Hodges' cabinet as director of the state's second largest law enforcement agency, the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.  A decade later in 2009, Benjamin drew national attention by representing prominent radio host Tom Joyner and securing a pardon for Joyner's great uncles wrongfully convicted in the death of a 73-year-old Confederate veteran and executed in 1913. In a landmark decision, the South Carolina Board of Paroles and Pardons voted unanimously to grant the posthumous pardon, the first for South Carolina in a capital case.

Benjamin was asked to speak at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, where he talked about the importance of instilling in his daughters that they can do anything  they set their minds to, even becoming President of the United States.

In addition to serving as Mayor of Columbia, Benjamin also serves as Second Vice President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and as Chairman for Municipal Bonds for America. He teaches a class at the University of South Carolina Honors College titled “Columbia, South Carolina: Building a Great City” and is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi and Sigma Pi Phi fraternities.  He serves on numerous boards including the Columbia Urban League, Benedict College, Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce and he is a founding board member of the Eau Claire Promise Zone.

Benjamin is married to The Honorable DeAndrea Gist Benjamin, Chief Administrative Judge (Common Pleas) for South Carolina's Fifth Judicial Circuit. The two are the proud parents of daughters Bethany (11) and Jordan Grace (9).

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