DENMARK - The president of Denmark Technical College resigned Tuesday after less than a year and a half on the job.
Dr. Michael Townsend Sr. offered his resignation, effective immediately, during a special called meeting of the DTC Area Commission.
Following a closed, executive session that lasted about an hour, the commission unanimously voted to accept his resignation.
The State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education is currently probing the use of state purchasing cards at Denmark Tech, but Townsend says his decision to step down had nothing to do with that. He said he is simply pursuing another opportunity.
DTC Area Commission Chairman James Hayes told Townsend his service would not be forgotten.
"We certainly have enjoyed working with you here at this institution. I'm sure you're not going to forget about us. We're not going to forget about you," Hayes told him. "We certainly want to wish you well in your future endeavor.
"If you need help in any way, we'd be more than happy to do that."
None of the other commissioners had any further comment when asked by Hayes.
"It's been a great learning experience. I'm working with an outstanding area commission," Townsend said. He also recognized his executive team members for their efforts.
"I truly appreciate your time. I know that great things will continue to happen at Denmark," he said.
Townsend said later that, "There was another opportunity that I've been looking at. This is an opportunity that I had to go for." He said the probe had "nothing to do" with his decision to leave.
The State Tech Board did an initial review of DTC's purchasing card usage in March. The review found that $7,542.53 in purchases made between July 2010 and February 2011 were not adequately documented. Also, the review found $14,437 in unallowable purchases were made with the cards, including meals for staff, gasoline and gift cards.
The DTC Area Commission requested the state board to do the more in-depth review that is currently in progress. Mandy Kibler, State Tech vice president for finance, said she hopes to make a report available to the press in about a week.
Townsend said his administration worked closely with the State Tech Board to make sure any irregularities were corrected.
"We've done that as super partners. There are good people in our area. We have great students, and the biggest goal was to promote not only diversity, but also partnerships," he said. "We don't get the tax support from our serving counties. ... We should try to support our technical colleges."
Hayes would not comment on whether the purchasing card probe had anything to do with Townsend's resignation.
"I wouldn't want to go into all of that. I would just say that he just wants to move on. And there's an ongoing investigation surrounding those things at this point. But he decided it was best for him to move on," Hayes said.
Townsend had replaced former President John Waddell, who was fired by commissioners in August 2009.
"We just need to find the right person for the job. At this point, it's an ongoing effort but it's going to happen," Hayes said. "We want nothing but prosperity for this college and its students, and we're going to make sure that happens."
Orangeburg resident Delores Frazier, a 1967 DTC graduate, said she was delighted at Townsend's resignation. She cited the State Tech Board's financial review as the reason.
"I welcome Dr. Townsend's resignation wholeheartedly. There is no peace for the wicked," Frazier said.
Following the executive session Tuesday, the commission voted to offer the position of interim president to former DTC President Dr. Joanne Boyd-Scotland. Commissioner Peggy Faust voted against the appointment. The commission also authorized Hayes to begin the presidential search. The commission plans to meet with Boyd-Scotland on Friday.
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