NFL star Josh Norman names new endowed scholarships in honor of two Coastal Carolina University professors

Robin Russell, Josh Norman and Linda Kuykendall

Former Coastal Carolina University football All-American Josh Norman has announced that two of the three endowed scholarships he recently established as part of his $1.5 million donation to the University will be named in honor of his two favorite professors in the Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts.

The Robin E. Russell Scholarship will support students in the Department of Theatre, and the Linda P. Kuykendall Scholarship will support students in the Department of Communication, Media and Culture. The third scholarship is named the Joshua R. Norman Walk-On Student-Athlete Endowed Scholarship.

“Professors Russell and Kuykendall were the foundation of my educational experience while I was a student at Coastal Carolina University,” Norman said. “I have never forgotten their willingness to understand who Josh Norman truly is, and I wanted to give back to my two most important professors. Their persistent faith in me is why I wanted to honor them with the scholarships in their names and for their departments.”

Russell is an associate professor of theatre in the Department of Theatre. She joined CCU’s faculty in 1995 and has directed countless theatre productions.

“It has always been my goal to be a strong advocate for every student who walks through my door,” Russell said. “One of the many joys of teaching is to learn from each of my students. From Josh, I learn humility. I am so humbled and overwhelmed by this beautiful honor.”

In addition to teaching and directing, Russell served for many years as the host of “Coastal Now,” a University-produced show that showcased events on campus as well as interviews with students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the University. She began her career as an intern at the Folger Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C. Her performances for the Shakespeare Theatre included “Richard III” with Stacey Keach, “Othello” with Avery Brooks and Andre Braugher, and “Fuente Ovejuna” with Josie de Guzman. Russell earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from CCU in 1985 and a master’s degree in acting from the University of South Carolina in 1991.

Kuykendall is a senior instructor in the Department of Communication, Media and Culture. She has taught speech and communication at CCU for 32 years. Kuykendall pioneered the structuring of the communication major at CCU and has been instrumental in its growth. Her teaching expertise includes oral communication, small group communication and business communication.

“I feel honored and privileged,” Kuykendall said. “It’s heartwarming to know Josh wants to help students academically. Coastal Carolina University clearly had an impact on his academics, it wasn’t just football.”

Kuykendall is an experienced consultant and has conducted workshops and seminars for Apple USA, Trans Louisiana Power and Light, Thomas and Hutton Engineering, S&ME Engineering, Tyson Sign Inc., WCI Corp., Burroughs & Chapin, and medical and legal professionals. She earned a master’s degree in communication from the University of Southwestern Louisiana.

Dan Ennis, dean of the Edwards College, said the gift reveals Norman’s respect for Russell and Kuykendall and is a testament to the impact they had on him as a student-athlete.

“This gift creates a terrific opportunity for students to study in the Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts,” Ennis said. “Josh was a pleasure to work with as a student, and we’re all very proud of his accomplishments both on and off the field. It is typical of his generosity and character that he wants to give back to CCU.”

Norman’s donation is the largest gift ever given to the University by a former Chanticleer student-athlete. A majority of his gift has been designated for the Brooks Stadium expansion project, which includes increasing seating capacity to at least 20,000, and adding luxury suites and an upper deck to the west side of the stadium. In recognition of his philanthropic generosity, CCU announced during Homecoming on Nov. 3 that the athletics field house at the stadium has been named the Marrio and Josh Norman Field House, after Josh and his brother, Marrio, who also played football for the Chanticleers.

A native of Greenwood, S.C., Josh Norman played cornerback at CCU from 2008-11. In 2012, he became the third-ever CCU football player to get drafted into the NFL. Norman is in his third year as a starting cornerback with the Washington Redskins. He previously played four years with the Carolina Panthers, who drafted him with the 143rd pick overall in the fifth round of the 2012 National Football League Draft. Norman helped lead the Panthers to Super Bowl 50 during the 2015 season and was also selected for the Pro Bowl that same year.

“Through Josh’s example of philanthropy, we’re reminded to always reach back and lend a hand to assure the success of others,” Russell said. “Josh is a beautiful soul who will undoubtedly end up a star on the field and the stage.”

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