SCSU trustee: President's inauguration cost at least $100K

2014-03-13T00:15:00Z SCSU trustee: President's inauguration cost at least $100K The Times and Democrat

A South Carolina State University trustee claims the inauguration of President Thomas Elzey cost at least $100,000, but the university says it doesn’t have a final accounting.

Trustee Anthony Grant said that a report he received about inauguration expenditures was incomplete.

“We spent upwards of $100,000 on the inauguration and we have an austerity program,” he said during Tuesday’s board meeting. But the report didn’t include food or personnel costs, according to Grant.

“As a trustee, I’ve raised concerns about austerity in the past – a number of us – in connection with the inauguration, and this fell on deaf ears,” he said.

Trustees approved a motion by a vote of 8-2 asking for a report on all expenses related to Elzey’s recent inauguration. Trustees Cathy Novinger and Pearl Ascue voted no and Bob Waldrep abstained.

The Times and Democrat asked for a copy of the report, but there is no document related to the inauguration, said Sonja Bennett, vice president for external affairs and communications.

“We do not have final expenses tally,” she said. “I’m not sure where Mr. Grant got the $100,000 figure.”

Bennett said one of the reasons the inauguration was held during Founder’s Week was to make it more cost efficient.

“It was better to do all at once, than to have two separate events,” she said.

It is unclear whether the other events held during Founder’s Week, including the First Lady’s Scholarship Luncheon and the Gala, as well as the March 1 inauguration, were included in the $100,000 cited by Grant.

The discussion about university expenses comes as the university is asking lawmakers for $13.6 million to meet operating expenses through June. Elzey has reported that some vendor bills are past due for 90 days or more.

The board is currently planning its annual retreat which, in previous years, has been held in cities across the state with the university footing the bill.

Novinger suggested cutting the normally two- or three-day conference to one day and offered the use of her office to the board free of charge.

It’s large enough and offers facilities to meet the needs of the entire board, she said.

“I’m just opposed to spending money at this point that we don’t have to spend,” she said. “I would also suggest that our board meetings here be timely so that people who travel so far don’t have to spend the night.”

The university’s austerity plan includes the board, Novinger said.

“For every penny we spend, we’ve got accountability just like Dr. Elzey does and everybody else,” she said. “This money could be spent elsewhere.”

Board Chairman Dr. William Small thanked Novinger for the offer.

“I certainly appreciate the economics of our intent to do this,” he said. “However, my position is the board needs what it needs.

“The problem is not the overnight cost. The problem is getting the business done.”

Trustee Dr. John Corbitt said he didn’t want to be rushed during the retreat.

“We all knew when we got elected we come here to do a job,” he said. “I’m not coming out here to just rubber stamp stuff. I want to have a discussion. I won’t be pushed or shoved.”

Grant said he thinks the retreat should be at least a day and a half. He questioned why there was money for an inauguration, but not the board retreat.

“If we can find dollars for an inauguration, we can find dollars for a retreat,” he said.

Following the public part of the meeting, trustees went into closed session to discuss personnel matters as listed on the agenda.

An issue entitled “Mid-Year Evaluation” was scheduled to be discussed in open session, but trustees voted to move it into closed session.

Small said the open-session matter dealt with clarification of the process of evaluating the president. The evaluation itself was to take place in executive session.

However, the president asked that the entire matter be moved into closed session and the board approved his request, Small said.

However, Grant said that trustees should hold an open discussion about the process.

“The president works for a state institution. The process is public and open except for the content,” he said. “We can talk about process without talking about content and that, in my opinion, is an open session discussion.”

Bennett later told The T&D later that the evaluation has not taken place. Trustees were talking about the process that was developed last summer by the board and the president.

It was then sent to the Agency Head Salary Commission for approval, Bennett said.

S.C. State General Counsel Craig Burgess said he had, “no comment on what actually was discussed in executive session other than it was a personnel issue related to president’s mid-year evaluation.”

Bill Rogers, executive director of the S.C. Press Association, said that the taxpayers have a right to know how leaders are evaluated. Discussing evaluation criteria is not a personnel matter that can be discussed in closed session.

“It’s a policy matter, not a personnel matter,” he said. “It’s a very suspect use of executive session.”

Trustees also met with a group of students to address a discipline issue that could lead to legal ramifications regarding the disciplinary matter, according to Burgess.

“The students were permitted to address the board in executive session because it involved a student disciplinary matter, which is expressly exempted from the open meeting requirement,” Burgess said.

Contact the writer: 803-533-5529

Copyright 2015 The Times and Democrat. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(39) Comments

  1. ccpsinsider
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    ccpsinsider - March 15, 2014 3:15 pm
    Under bush 581 soldiers died in Afghanistan
    1962 dead soldiers in Afghanistan under 0bama
  2. Chris' Cloths
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    Chris' Cloths - March 15, 2014 1:14 pm
    Bush wasted thousands of American lives on a nonsense war for oil and should have went to prison. Why isn't the Republican't party upset about all those lives lost.
  3. ccpsinsider
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    ccpsinsider - March 14, 2014 5:59 pm
    This 100k could have been put towards the ice hockey rink scsu wants to build to attractors students to enroll
    And the figure skaters who would come because of it
  4. BarkingDog
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    BarkingDog - March 14, 2014 12:55 pm
    Everybody has an opinion. Some ought to stick to what they do best. Choirs and music are also go venture. #justsaying
  5. claflinbro
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    claflinbro - March 14, 2014 12:33 pm
    If you click on the s.c state link at the top you wouldn't believe the number of articles that has been written about scsu in last few months. It has to be a record. How can you have over 50 to 100 articles written on one school in that short period of time. This is your home newspaper. The t&d should be ashamed. Most are repeat stories. The state newspaper would never do this to USC. Even though they have wasted 300 million of taxpayer money on Innovista.
  6. truthorjustice
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    truthorjustice - March 14, 2014 12:10 pm
    We have a seer among the posters. How would one know what party affiliation you might belong to?
    Also, the private donations did NOT take up ALL costs of the ignaugurations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    And, I wonder if some posters will say that the million dollar vacations are paid for with private donations?
  7. shinton06
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    shinton06 - March 14, 2014 12:54 am
    some do not want the Institution to prosper. The Times and Democrats does more harm than those who comment. If Times and Democrats doesn't get information then they cry freedom law! I can hardly wait for the day that SCSU will sue Times and Democrats!!!!
  8. shinton06
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    shinton06 - March 14, 2014 12:50 am
    Even if the entire weekend was $100,000 that is cheap for 4 events going on. None of you responded to articles when First Lady luncheon brought in over $7000, SGA presented the Institution with a $15,000 check, The founders day speaker who is an alumni gave $1000,000 to the Institution and the waiting number of donations from donors, private sectors, alumni, and friends to the Scholarship Gala 2014. I am sure there is more. However, I assume the rebuttal to this post because
  9. shinton06
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    shinton06 - March 14, 2014 12:47 am
    SMH!!!! It never fails! We never comment on the positive. The past month or two I have been watching to see where most of the comments go toward concerning this Institution and it is always the negative. You all let Grant get you worked up over a fabricated hypothetical number concerning Gala/Inauguration/Founders Weekend instead of waiting on the total from the Institution. Grant is disgruntled and on his way out as a BOT member therefore he is being manipulated on his exit.
  10. 1DogFocus72
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    1DogFocus72 - March 13, 2014 9:00 pm
    There is delusion in the forum. Surely, most of the persons don't run their households like Elzey is running SCSU, not to mention his attitude with faculty and staff!

  11. ProgressforSCState
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    ProgressforSCState - March 13, 2014 6:05 pm
    BarkingDog, stand up tall and tell Elzey to his face what you think about his organizational plan. A few months ago, Idog76, thought this same organizational plan was so strong that NO ONE should ever come behind Elzey and change it. This was before the plan was even made available to the public. Interesting…Anyhow, go ahead. Tear it apart. But, don’t be a coward and tear it apart behind his back under a screen name.
  12. Jynx46
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    Jynx46 - March 13, 2014 6:00 pm
    Please... Hugine is part of the problem why SCSU is in this financial mess now. He may have had a surplus when he took over but what about when he left? Would you have complained for an inauguration for Warrick? Btw... what is the Orangeburg Way?
  13. Jynx46
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    Jynx46 - March 13, 2014 5:54 pm
    Amen! Certain Alumni don't care. I've said from day one that the ones that post their negativity often on here have no interest in contributing to the positive image of SCSU. The old BOT was all about "Us against Them", and certain alumni are the same way. They have no interest whatsoever in trying to help this administration succeed, all because "our favorite" did not get the job as Prez. Yet the claim they love SCSU. Yeah Right! Elzey is not that bad.. and they know it.
  14. ProgressforSCState
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    ProgressforSCState - March 13, 2014 5:50 pm
    Jynx, you are correct. Moreover, Dale; the author of these exhilarating articles has several people who will run her down to feed her these silly “news” stories. Because we don’t understand the process, SC State University alumni and employees have helped make this a big advertisement business for the T/D. How? Glad you asked…Thousands of readers tune in to see the SCSU “crazies air their dirty laundry” on the World Wide Web a couple of times per week. The ad salespeople use these numbers to sell internet ads. When you look over to the right of the homepage of this site, SCSU articles are always leading the stats for most read and/or most comments. This translates into $ for the T/D.
  15. Jynx46
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    Jynx46 - March 13, 2014 5:33 pm
    Why? b/c its prob one of the most qualified that SCSU has ever had and its not loaded with hires with connections to the "in-crowd" of certain SCSU alumni? Thats why many, including Grant, are deliberately trying to sabotage the office of the Presidency? Would Grant and certain alumni, including yourself, had a problem with spending money on an inauguration for another hire? Should have SCSU not had an inauguration at all? Is your alma mater not worth it? Or no just b/c it's Elzey?
  16. 1DogFocus72
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    1DogFocus72 - March 13, 2014 5:26 pm
    I agree with Rogers. The iitems on the agency head are process not evaluation now. This is not Elzey mid-term evaluation now. Did Elzey want transparency? Yes! Two things will be evident: The hiring board slackness in crafting it or an authentic, legitimate written evaluation.

    Go ARKANSAS Beat CAROLINA,!
  17. Jynx46
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    Jynx46 - March 13, 2014 5:20 pm
    By the way.. the 100,000 is just a number that Grant threw out there. He has no documentation of cost. Grant knows that the T&D sensationalizes everything "SCSU" and would make a headline of it. The T&D should be ashamed of themselves b/c every little accusation, hearsay, etc is not headline worthy. You never see other state institutions such as Wintrhop, Coastal Carolina in the headlines every day. If someone accuses Elzey of taking too many bathroom breaks, The T&D will make it headline. SMH
  18. BarkingDog
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    BarkingDog - March 13, 2014 4:57 pm
    Let's not be fooled with Elzey and window dressing. This is the kind of CEO that you have to go "out into the deep." You'll not find the answers follow with thought patterns like one of the posts. Tony, GO OUT INTO THE DEEP!

    We are with you on that. SCSU spending money it doesn't have. Wait until I rip that organizational chart and its personnel to shreds.
  19. ccpsinsider
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    ccpsinsider - March 13, 2014 4:56 pm
    Still it was a colossal waste those millions could have fed starving families in Bangladesh
  20. DrLainey
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    DrLainey - March 13, 2014 3:56 pm
    The post said that the sandwich was thrown away on campus. Since this article in about SCSU, one should be able to assume that the sandwich was thrown away on the SCSU campus.
  21. DrLainey
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    DrLainey - March 13, 2014 3:54 pm
    The Inauguration of the POTUS is paid for with private donations. It doesn't come at the expense of the taxpayers.
  22. ProgressforSCState
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    ProgressforSCState - March 13, 2014 3:27 pm
    If you all would get as excited about some of the positive things on campus as you do about the negative foolishness, we probably would get our enrollment up pretty good. Our PR/Communications department has improved tremendously. Our website has looked better than ever lately! The news, pictures, and information are updated several times a week. We are receiving tweets, Facebook announcements and so forth. We have never been more informed. The department is working their tushies off to clean up their image. As for the inauguration weekend, let’s talk about what went right. The gala was great. More scholarship dollars were raised than has been for some time. No one can remember the last time it was attended by so many people. The committee was obviously very conservative with spending and if you compared last year’s souvenir book to this year’s book, it is very noticeable that improvements were made in the larger donor areas. If you all attended the gala, you had an opportunity to hear about even more great things that are happening by way of our students. There have been several positive articles published in this paper in the last couple of weeks. But, guest what? No comments. Why not? We love adversity. We THRIVE on it. If you have something to worthwhile to say to the president, send him an email. I talk to people daily who ready these comments for entertainment. The articles don’t make us look nearly as badly as some of your comments…just saying…
  23. iDog76
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    iDog76 - March 13, 2014 2:09 pm
    I agree with Tony. Elzey has a disregard for others' money, clearly he believes he can do as he wishes. BOT need to check its Bylaws. Budgets are not at the will of Elzey with this financial exigency. Where is the Reduction in Force. It's no way SCSU will secure 1900 new freshmen. In the History under Hugine it was 1318. Over 600 did not return. They may wish to get two enrollment experts we know to help them. Sad SCSU.
  24. claflinbro
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    claflinbro - March 13, 2014 1:56 pm
    Repugs need to stop all that lying. Do a fact check and get your info straight. Typical repugs and demobats trying to convince people by lying.
  25. ccpsinsider
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    ccpsinsider - March 13, 2014 12:35 pm
    Pres. Obama's inauguration cost $173 million but that was only four times as much as the inauguration cost for George W. Bush
  26. ccpsinsider
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    ccpsinsider - March 13, 2014 12:32 pm
    No wait there is no such thing as a free lunch
  27. ccpsinsider
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    ccpsinsider - March 13, 2014 12:28 pm
    Because it was in an orangeburg county public school where 99% of all students are free lunch
  28. bruindog88
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    bruindog88 - March 13, 2014 12:00 pm
    You can't be serious.
  29. bruindog88
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    bruindog88 - March 13, 2014 11:53 am
    When will the State Legislature get rid of Corbitt, Grant and the rest of the old guard idiots that are still on the BOT? Grant just might be worse than Washington and Lott put together. Corbitt has been on the board forever and hasn't done a darn thing. Now all of a sudden, he won't be "pushed or shoved" because he needs time. I can't wait until these fools are sent packing.

    btw, We need more fiscally sound BOT members like Mrs. Novinger.
  30. DrLainey
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    DrLainey - March 13, 2014 10:39 am
    It doesn't matter that it was less than at other colleges. SCSU is in dire financial straits. This was a ridiculous waste of money. What did all that money buy?
  31. DrLainey
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    DrLainey - March 13, 2014 10:38 am
    And just how do you know taxpayer money paid for the sandwich?
  32. claflinbro
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    claflinbro - March 13, 2014 9:42 am
    Medicmom, I saw a kid throw a sandwich away the other day on campus. I was so upset....taxpayer money going to waste. I tell you kids today.
  33. 2ndGenerationBulldog
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    2ndGenerationBulldog - March 13, 2014 8:51 am
    Two observations: 1. Most of this Inauguration was covered by the layoffs of 8 people a couple weeks ago. 2. If what SCGuardian says is true, we saved $900,000 on President Elzey's inauguration.


    Why are y'all complaining?!
  34. medicmom72
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    medicmom72 - March 13, 2014 8:37 am
    That university deserves whatever fate deals it. $100,000 plus isn't chump change to me or a lot of other ppl.
  35. claflinbro
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    claflinbro - March 13, 2014 8:17 am
    This has to be the cheapest inauguration ever. Compare this to others in the state and this is like eating at Mcdonalds.
  36. SCGuardian
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    SCGuardian - March 13, 2014 8:12 am
    Grant deliberately is causing problems within the BOT and within SCSU as if he was politically selected and inserted into this Board with the intent of doing such harm.

    Washington, however, was doing his thing for his own personal reasons and personal gain.
  37. SCGuardian
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    SCGuardian - March 13, 2014 8:03 am
    Hugine Inauguration: Excess of 1million including loss of Alumni Fundraising money. Destruction of President's Mansion when initial design location for Hugine Suites changed at his orders. Loss of State Property when expensive interior fixtures of Mansion were given away to Family and Friends. Repeat hiring, without bids, of Companies, involving Family and Friends, who never completed required work. Destroyed Alumni Checks over $50,000 never deposited. And the list goes on!
  38. Chris' Cloths
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    Chris' Cloths - March 13, 2014 7:45 am
    What a waste. You just can't have a party when you school is in financial ruin. 200k in extra prez salary, 100k for a party, new vp salaries, etc. You cut jobs totaling 60k, in order to pay for a party. That is not the Orangeburg way. This is turning into a bad experiment. When Hugine took office we had a surplus for things like this. As one of the "smart" BOTs said, the chickens have come home to roost, and they are roasting in a oven for a party and coming out with caviar.
  39. Jynx46
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    Jynx46 - March 13, 2014 2:07 am
    Anthony Grant is the new Maurice Washington of the BOT. He clearly has a vendetta against Elzey and is displaying divisive behavior of the past BOT that chose to try and "one-up" one another rather than do what was best for the Univ. Grant voted to keep Cooper, and lost the vote to keep Warrick so since his choice for Prez is not in, now his sole purpose is to be disruptive. Did he ever question the cost for Hugine & Coopers Inauguration? This inaug was much less fanfare than theirs.
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