Dr. Maceo Nance was the legendary president of South Carolina State University for almost 20 years. Facing many challenges, his leadership, wisdom, and diplomatic skills propelled him into being the right man at the right time to lead South Carolina State University into the future.
Maceo Nance was born in 1926 to Milligan Maceo Nance, Sr. and Louella Stewart Nance in Columbia. His high school education took place at Booker T. Washington. In 1942 he matriculated at South Carolina State College on a music scholarship playing the trumpet. World War II interrupted his studies, and he served in the U.S. Navy from 1943-1946. Afterwards he returned and finished his education at State in 1949 with a degree in English. He furthered his studies at New York University, where he received a Masters degree in 1953.
Dr. Nance’s first employment was at the S.C. State ROTC supply room. Later assignments came at the bookstore and the Student Center. In 1959 he became the business manager at SCSC where he served until being named the vice president for business and finance in 1967. Later in 1967 he was appointed as acting president. Being faced with challenges in the aftermath of an unpopular president, he set about with a comprehensive plan to reinvigorate SCSU. But this was interrupted in 1968 in the aftermath of a bowling alley protest that led to the death of three students. But Dr. Nance’s strong leadership afterward was widely praised, and he was named president in 1968, a position he held with distinction until his retirement in 1986. During that time he turned the college around academically and physically. Facilities were upgraded, and many new buildings were built. One of his greatest assets was his “people skills” in leading SCSU. Upon his retirement, he was bestowed with the title of President Emeritus, a testament to his excellent leadership.
In 1985 Dr. Nance was honored as the Citizen of the Year in Orangeburg for his outstanding contributions for the well being of South Carolina State University as well as for Orangeburg itself.
Maceo Nance married his college sweetheart, Julia Washington, and they had two sons, Maceo and Robert. He died in 2001 after many years of exceptional leadership and devotion to SCSU. At his funeral he was praised as a “man for all seasons” in leaving an indelible mark of progress at SCSU.