Legislation threatens S.C. State, SACS says

2012-05-18T04:15:00Z Legislation threatens S.C. State, SACS saysBy DALE LINDER-ALTMAN, T&D Staff Writer The Times and Democrat

Sen. John Matthews and Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter may not agree on the process to follow, but they both say the South Carolina State University Board of Trustees has to be restructured and it has to be done during this legislative session, which ends on June 7.

The two Orangeburg County lawmakers, who discussed the university on “This Week in the State House,” also agree that the vehicle for change is a bill introduced by Rep. Jerry Govan. His bill originally would have ended the terms of all board members on June 30 and created a smaller board.

Cobb-Hunter co-sponsored the bill by Govan, also an Orangeburg County Democrat. She later penned an amendment calling for the current trustees to be removed, with a transition board put in its place until a new board is elected in 2014. Her version was approved over Govan’s objections.

But Matthews is calling for changes to Cobb-Hunter’s version.

He cited a letter from Belle Wheelan, head of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, that says the legislation could threaten the university’s accreditation.

Matthews said that he will propose amendments to work out those problems, and he expects the bill to be on the floor of the Senate by next Wednesday.

Cobb-Hunter said she knew nothing of a letter from SACS.

“This is news to me,” she said. “There is absolutely nothing that any of the supporters of my amendment intended to do to jeopardize the university’s accreditation.”

She said that after reading the letter, she and her co-sponsors would respond to SACS.

The letter, which Wheelan addressed to Govan, said that the legislation does not define the grounds for removing trustees nor the process that will be followed, as required by SACS standards.

Additionally, the letter said that the bill could violate SACS standards by requiring the transition board to fire the president. University trustees are to be responsible for the selection of the university’s chief executive officer, and the governing board is to be free of influence from political, religious or other external bodies.

Matthews said he will send copies of his amendments to SACS for evaluation “so they won’t violate any accreditation policies.”

But Cobb-Hunter noted that she had “conversations with SACS” when she drafted her amendment and does not believe it violates SACS standards.

“I would suggest to you, my amendment doesn’t do that,” she said. “Number one, for cause, quite frankly, the investigator has given us cause for removal” of the trustees.

Cobb-Hunter said that former State Law Enforcement Division Director Reginald Lloyd, who is conducting an internal investigation at the university, said that “the entire board needs to go.”

Lloyd was not saying that all of the board is guilty of criminal activity or anything else, Cobb-Hunter said. Instead, he meant board members failed in their responsibility if they did not speak up when they knew things were happening that shouldn’t.

Cobb-Hunter said she could not say if she would support Matthews’ amendments since she does not know what they are.

Matthews said he disagreed with removing all the board members at once. He noted that three members have already resigned, two board members are up for re-election and several more will be up for election in 2013.

The legislature could almost have a new board within a year or two, he said.

But Cobb-Hunter said that she’d consulted the National Alumni Association, which has surveyed its members and they’re supporting removing the entire board and starting over.

Matthews said he also intends to propose a constitutional amendment to allow one-third of board members to come from outside the state.

Currently all board members must reside in the state.

Govan has already proposed such an amendment in the House of Representatives.

Contact the writer: dlinder-altman@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5529.

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

(19) Comments

  1. iDog76
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    iDog76 - May 19, 2012 1:07 pm
    abattiste, there's the evidence: "certain people" based on what? The first job of any leader is to ensure that he has a good working relationship with his board; that's elementary. When a leader like the former prez begins to choose and pick which trustees he will work with and those he won't, he loses. In fact, his job is to guide them. "Diplomacy is the art of letting someone have your way!" But, these qualities can only be found in great leadership. SCSU has not had that.
  2. abattiste
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    abattiste - May 19, 2012 11:37 am
    iDog76, you are dealing with the response on a personal level. It is not about who likes and dislikes the members, we are talking about who has not worked with the best interests of the university at heart and who has tried to micromanage the administration and those who have done nil. Again, since cause is there, then we need to move on and remove them. No president should have to work with the BOT as it is now composed. As long as certain people are on the BOT there will be problems.
  3. iDog76
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    iDog76 - May 19, 2012 11:10 am
    abattiste, please read the BOT Bylaws. If there is cause, BOT can be removed. It seems they are removing themselves, those that have caused the greatest havoc. Your challenge has always been you "dislike" certain trustees and you believe your "dislike" is "cause"(like and dislike are used relatively speaking here). That's not fair or equirable. When you served as SCSU National Alumni President, all of the people did not "like" you, but that was not "cause" to remove you.
  4. abattiste
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    abattiste - May 19, 2012 1:07 am
    iDog76, what do you suggest be done? It is very easy to critique what others have done, but you should be able to offer alternative ideas. For me, the bottom line is to operate within the SAC rules and regulations and clean house. Very few of the persons on the sitting BOT have the desired credentials and the same goes for having the best interests of the university at heart. SACS says if you have cause, you can dismiss them. The investigator says there is cause. Case ended.
  5. iDog76
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    iDog76 - May 18, 2012 11:03 pm
    Is there anybody out there who can run for Matthews's, Cobb-Hunter's, and Govan's seats when they're up? Instead of working in the best interest of SCSU, they are further driving SCSU in the ground. They are clearly in violation of SACS principles as Dr. Belle Wheelan states in her response to Govan. Cobb-Hunter also misrepresented the position of SCSUNAA. Enough already. The board is to blame; it should have had the Interim President in place. Everybody knew Cooper had to go!
  6. USC4life
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    USC4life - May 18, 2012 4:35 pm
    I luv Oburg.... please review the vid on ETV....she did contact SACS by phone.
  7. LLC
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    LLC - May 18, 2012 2:19 pm
    The members of the SC General Assembly selected all of the members of the board of trustees except the Gov.s' appointee. The Board members who are selected to serve receive the largest number of votes cast by the House & Senate. The process is very political. Matthews, Cobb-Hunter, and Govan are usually at the forefront when the selections are being made. They have driven this process to the point that they don't like the rules that they have to play by.
    HELP THE PEOPLE IN THE CORRIDOR OF SHAME
  8. I_LUV_OBURG
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    I_LUV_OBURG - May 18, 2012 11:04 am
    Hunter wasnt the one that contacted SACS.
  9. USC4life
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    USC4life - May 18, 2012 10:54 am
    Some of these responses are recycled. Hunter has the right approach...contact SACS and take it from there.
  10. justincase
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    justincase - May 18, 2012 10:43 am
    It is evident that neither SACS nor the legislators really know what goes on at SC State. They continue to "recycle" the same worn out people who hold no clue as to what to do. As we watch televised interviews, all emphasize the transportation center, nuclear engineering etc. But what do these entities do for the average student or faculty or the enrollment issue? Students do without and the faculty do it for free. It is time to fess up and join the 21st century.
  11. Bunny
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    Bunny - May 18, 2012 9:50 am
    Let's stop messing around. GET RID of ENTIRE BOT now!!!!!!!!!
    The Students, Faculty and Staff deserve better................
  12. I_LUV_OBURG
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    I_LUV_OBURG - May 18, 2012 9:20 am
    Link to President's Cabinet:

    http://www.scsu.edu/aboutscstate/administration/presidentscabinet.aspx
  13. I_LUV_OBURG
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    I_LUV_OBURG - May 18, 2012 9:19 am
    Cherokee: You said reduced the bloated cabinet to 5 VPs and directors. There are 7 divisons at the University and of that, there are only 5 VPs. Right now, there is no VP of finance and Dr. Teal is serving the dual role of Pres./VP Academic Affairs. Check the Org. chart. http://www.scsu.edu/files/SCStateOrganizationalStructure2012.pdf
  14. Atlanta1
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    Atlanta1 - May 18, 2012 9:17 am
    It is clear that the board must go. I think, in the long run SCSU will benefit significantly and it will position itself to become a great university. However, it must be done properly. I think the change is needed. The road is rough right now. The media is in full attack mode. Hang in there, it gets better. I graduated from SCSU. The education I received there has allowed me to accomplish great things. If allowed, I will be one of the out of state applicants to apply for a BOT seat.
  15. USC4life
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    USC4life - May 18, 2012 8:28 am
    economic hawk....matthews does not want to keep the board but it must be done in compliance with sacs.
  16. cherokee
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    cherokee - May 18, 2012 8:02 am
    PS: Target the bloated Cabinet at SCSU. If the University Administration was streamlined and, say, reduced to a total number of 5 Veeps and Directors, then we could save millions in costs, and still operate much more efficiently than ever before. A side benefit would be the ousting of those associated with the "Good Old Boys Gang" and , maybe, the disbanding of this despised "Gang".
  17. cherokee
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    cherokee - May 18, 2012 7:52 am
    Definitely at least one Board member MUST go. His last name begins with a "W". He has far too much influence with running the University the way he wants to, definitely not the way it should be run. PS: He is a member, in good standing, of the "Good Old Boys Gang" who actually rules SCSU.
  18. economic hawk
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    economic hawk - May 18, 2012 7:05 am
    If Sen. Matthews had input choosing the previous board...and it is said, "the whole board needs to go"...and there were previous bad results from the board...then why does Sen. Matthews want to keep the board...One word "CONTROL"...again, it is asked to Sen. Matthews, "where is the beef?...where did the money go"...or is the honeypot turning sour?....Sen. Matthews...it is time to let go...that is, if you really want to save SC State University...let the people advance, not you...
  19. TwoCents
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    TwoCents - May 18, 2012 5:05 am
    Hunter seems on target with removal of all members despite their oolitical allies. If members did no wrong run for the seat and answer questions Loyds report raises. State is to historically significant and economically important to allow idiots to remain on the board when they are why things are wrong. Better to embarrass a few than continue to covet up incompetence
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