New FUNd Brings Fun, Joy to College of Charleston Campus

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To inspire the same joy that the late Denny Ciganovic brought to the College during his 23 years as director of the Career Center, Denny's FUNd is bringing fun events to campus this month.

Denny Ciganovic

Kind. Mischievous. Dedicated. Thoughtful. Funny. Dmitar Denny Ciganovic embodied all these qualities and so much more. During his 23 years (1992-2015) working as the director of the College of Charleston’s Career Center, he brought a smile to the faces of the many people he encountered along with imparting a wealth of knowledge that positively impacted the lives of faculty, staff and students.

Erin O’Dea Halford, director of MBA employer relations and professional development in the School of Business, exemplifies Ciganovic’s impact. Halford’s first job out of college was reporting to Ciganovic in the Career Center. To make her comfortable in her new role, Ciganovic made sure she met all the right people and guided her through all her responsibilities.

“Denny welcomed me in a way that felt like I had a new home,” says Halford. “He modeled the way and encouraged me to meet people where they are. I loved going anywhere with Denny because people gravitated toward him. He made everyone smile; his mission was to create happiness.”

Happiness and fun. Ciganovic encouraged Halford to get a bike to ride to work. He took her to the university’s annual bike auction, where she bought one that needed a bit of work. The next day she found her boss on the floor of the copy room tuning up her bike. Once it was fixed, a co-worker rode it through the halls and crashed, leading to one of Ciganovic’s infamous pranks — he festooned the scene of the accident with crime scene tape.

Denny Ciganovic was featured on the cover of the College’s employee newsletter in May 2011. (Photo by Leslie McKellar)

“If there were more Dennys in the world, we’d be a lot better off,” says Heath Hoffmann, professor of sociology, who frequently went to lunch with Ciganovic and would often find him waiting outside the restaurant in a costume. “If you ran into him on the street, you’d walk away feeling better. Denny really was the ripple; his positivity rippled out to everyone he met.”

When Ciganovic passed away last year, his wife Kay was encouraged by all that people shared about his positive impact on their lives, and decided to keep his legacy alive with the Dmitar Denny Ciganovic Endowed Memorial FUNd, affectionately known as Denny’s FUNd. The fund is truly unique and a boon for the College.

RELATED: Read about the newest “Salute to Student Affairs” award, the “Denny Ciganovic Putting Happiness to Work Award.”

“I want to bring additional support to the campus community to encourage sharing acts of kindness and engaging in fun activities to promote collegial relationships,” Kay explains. “Denny found humor with everyone and in the kindest of ways. So many people at the College absolutely adored him; I want his memory to live on in a way that’s fun and impactful.”

In 2024, Kay, together with her team of CofC “funologists,” launched a series of events focusing on faculty, staff and students.

The events involve author, speaker and minor league baseball team owner Mike Veeck, known as the “Fun is Good” guy. Veeck’s sessions support Ciganovic’s legacy by teaching students how to cultivate creativity for success in business and encouraging faculty and staff to look at how their jobs meet their personal core values — all while finding happiness and having fun. 

With all the things that Kay Ciganovic and her team of “funologists” have created, the College of Charleston campus community will certainly have playful partnerships in the future! Check out the events below!

Film Screening: The Saint of Second Chances
Monday, March 11, 5-6:30 p.m.
Rita Liddy Hollings Science Center, Room 101

The Netflix documentary, The Saint of Second Chances, shares the story of Mike Veeck’s family business in baseball and promotions. It also provides a great lesson on how to deal with failure and shows the enduring love and support of family, especially in times of tragedy. There will be a popcorn bar at the event.

Denny’s FUNd Launch: Putting Fun to Work!
Thursday, March 21, 3-4:45 p.m.
Catered reception to follow, 4:45-5:45 p.m. 
Stern Student Center Ballroom

Celebrate the launch of Denny’s FUNd, honoring the late Denny Ciganovic, who believed in the power of relationships, humor and happiness as the ultimate keys to success. Enjoy a session with Fran Zeuli and Mike Veeck of the RiverDogs baseball team. There will be giveaways, prizes and a lot of fun! Students, faculty and staff are asked to RSVP online, as limited seats available.

School of Business, Careers in Sports: How to Play and Win … Personally and Professionally
Friday, March 22, 9-11 a.m.
Stern Student Center Ballroom 

Join W. Night Train Veeck ’08, owner of several pro and minor league teams, along with “Fun is Good,” to learn the ins and outs of working in pro and minor league sports and how to tap into the secrets behind winning the whole darn game! This session is being generously sponsored by Denny’s FUNd, a new initiative across campus focused on sharing happiness at CofC. Students must register to attend this event on Handshake.

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