Who is in charge? No one ready to give in S.C. State University fight

2012-10-21T06:30:00Z 2013-03-27T18:30:47Z Who is in charge? No one ready to give in S.C. State University fightBy DALE LINDER-ALTMAN, T&D Staff Writer The Times and Democrat

All seems peaceful on the South Carolina State University campus as faculty and students attend classes and go about their business as usual.

But behind the scenes, two trustees are claiming to be chairman of the board, raising questions how the situation will be resolved if neither bows out. Both say they want a resolution, but neither seems ready to give up the job. Standing behind each is a team of trustees.

Dr. Walt L. Tobin says he’s the legitimate chairman and will continue to act as chairman.

“I’m not fighting this,” he said. “I’m just following procedure.”

Patricia Lott says she feels confident about the legitimacy of her chairmanship, although she doesn’t want the issue to play out in the media.

“I just want and hope the board can come together and settle this privately and not settle it in the media,” she said.

Tobin was named chairman on Sept. 27, following a three-way election in which he received five votes while Lott got four votes and then-Acting Chairman John Corbitt got two votes.

Six trustees later claimed the election was invalid. They called a meeting on Oct. 17 and elected Lott with a vote of 6-0.

Corbitt said that Tobin is not chairman.

“My position is, he cannot claim to be the legally elected legitimate chair if he did not receive a majority of the sitting board as required by the bylaws,” Corbitt said. “The bylaws do not require trustees to accept somebody as chair who did not receive a majority.”

Tobin and his supporters still say the meeting in which Lott was elected was illegal because they weren’t given five days notice.

However, Corbitt says that a quorum of trustees attended the meeting and that constituted a waiver of the required five-day notice.

Tobin supporters say the time to challenge his election was during the Sept. 27 meeting. According to the rules, they say, the election couldn’t be challenged once the meeting was over.

Dr. Dennis Nielsen, recently appointed to the board by Gov. Nikki Haley, said he’s standing behind Tobin. He said he didn’t attend the Oct. 17 meeting because it wasn’t valid.

“I certainly do support Dr. Tobin,” Nielsen said. “He’s a fine man, a very capable man. The reason I didn’t have a question about his election is ... when he was elected, there was no point of order raised and the gavel was passed and the picture was in the paper.”

Once that action takes place, the election is final and cannot be brought up again, he said.

However Nielsen said he wants to work with the board to resolve the issue.

“I have nothing against anyone on the board, and I want to work with them,” he said.

Everyone needs need to remember that the board should be acting for the welfare of the students and faculty, Nielsen said.

“We’re sitting here, stuck in the mud, and I don’t like it,” he said.

The board is made up of intelligent people who should be able to work together and move ahead, he said.

“If we can’t make a decision, I suppose someone above us is going to have to decide, and I don’t know who that is,” Nielsen said.

That really would be a shame, he said.

“If we can’t make decisions for ourselves, how can we make decisions for the university?” he said.

Trustee Maurice Washington says Tobin is chairman.

“My support for Chairman Tobin remains solid,” he said.

Like Nielsen, Washington said that the fact that Tobin was recognized publicly as chairman and received the gavel before the meeting was closed means that he is the legal chairman.

“Had the objection been raised before the gavel was exchanged and before the meeting was ended and before it was published in The T&D as our bylaws require, the outcome potentially may have been different,” he said.

“Some people are cherry picking the law and that gets them where they want to go,” he said.

The same group that wants to hold Tobin to bylaws requiring a simple majority, or six votes, to become chairman ignored another section of the bylaws in 2010, Washington said.

Tobin had been legally elected chairman that year with 7 of 13 votes, and some of the same people later voted to elect another chairman without following proper procedure to remove Tobin, Washington said. That would have required a two-thirds majority.

Washington noted that both Tobin and Lott are graduates of S.C. State who love the university and donate money and time to it.

He said he’s hopeful that the two can come to an agreement that “would be in the best interest of this university.”

Washington said he’s also “gravely concerned about how this situation will affect the university’s SACS accreditation.”

The Times and Democrat tried to reach trustees who called Wednesday’s meeting that elected Lott as chairman, but was only able to speak with Lott and Corbitt.

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

Copyright 2016 The Times and Democrat. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(24) Comments

  1. SCGuardian
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    SCGuardian - October 25, 2012 9:05 am
    SCSU needs to institute a strict "Code of Conduct or Creed" that applies to all From the President down the chain and to all Students with everyone held to it. The same should, also, be applicable to the BOT and its Politically Appointees.

    No exceptions and no violations permitted.

    This may sound harsh, but with correct discipline, enrollment will increase no doubt, and retainment problems will decrease. Higher Education will benefit because Academics will be the major goal for our Students.
  2. SCGuardian
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    SCGuardian - October 25, 2012 8:56 am
    She is in hiding. There is one good point: No radical or far-out changes for her benefit.
  3. SCGuardian
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    SCGuardian - October 25, 2012 8:44 am
    Seems that the BOT, which has been tasked with finding a New President, is in a locked position with each side wanting THEIR choice of who to name as the new SCSU President so that He or She will follow their bidding with no wavering. Boils down to two things: Power and total control of SCSU for their benefit.

  4. SCGuardian
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    SCGuardian - October 25, 2012 8:32 am
    Count me in. I do care.
  5. SCGuardian
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    SCGuardian - October 25, 2012 8:30 am
    Remember that this is a Republican State still living in the 1800's when "Cotton" was King. Just wondering when the standard description of a South Carolina Citizen, and, perhaps of the Nation, will become "Blond, Blue Eyed, and with Nordic Features". Sounds familiar?

    Rumor is that Fort Sumter is reading their cannon so that they can dispose of Cruise Liners entering the Charleston Port (sic).

  6. SCGuardian
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    SCGuardian - October 25, 2012 8:16 am
    No chance!!!! They ALL have proved themselves unworthy of being within the BOT. The best solution is for all to resign effective immediately.

    This is the problem with BOTs, Local School Boards, etc. Political Appointments cause more problems than they clear resulting in CHAOS in most cases. Also, there are far too many decisions and corruption that goes on in "CLOSED SESSIONS" which reflects back on SCSU negatively.
  7. law student
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    law student - October 25, 2012 8:13 am
    cont... Alumni aren't writing and checks. In my opinion, the schools needs DIVERSITY. I'm talking as far as professor, advisor, heads of department, definately on the board and etc. It seems as though no one really cares about SCSU except the STUDENTS, PARENTS, and ALUMNI. They really need to get it together, and right before Homecoming!!.. REALLY :(
  8. law student
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    law student - October 25, 2012 8:10 am
    Honestly speaking, I starting to think that they should dismiss that current board in its entirety. No wonder the class in run the way it is, because they can't get themselves together. South Carolina State University should be thriving at this point. It should have a variety of schools just as Howard University. All the board really cares about is MONEY MONEY MONEY! As a former undergraduate student, now a current graduate student; this is really an embarassment; and they wonder why
  9. SCGuardian
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    SCGuardian - October 25, 2012 7:51 am
    The person named will NOT be a viable President. He wasn't viable when he was an Interim President.
  10. SCGuardian
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    SCGuardian - October 25, 2012 7:49 am
    KKK! KKK! That is what you have on your mind! Your remark is an example why SC is still living in the days of the Civil War.
  11. Not Surprised at all
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    Not Surprised at all - October 23, 2012 1:42 pm
    Really DCM? 2012 and people are still spewing this crap! Unbelieveable!
  12. drbuzzard
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    drbuzzard - October 23, 2012 1:00 pm
    who let the dogs in?
  13. lowbottomdogg
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    lowbottomdogg - October 22, 2012 12:45 pm
    So glad my sons decided to go to Clemson and Claflin, respectively. These people are ruining my beloved alma mater!!
  14. truthorjustice
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    truthorjustice - October 22, 2012 9:07 am
    DCM" The Regional Medical center has an excellent Psychiatric Clinic. And, they take patients ithout referrals.
  15. pedingsgang
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    pedingsgang - October 21, 2012 6:45 pm
    DCM, this is the fifth time I've started this post.

    This makes me feel angry, upset, sad, incredulous, incensed, enraged, frustrated, distressed, and takes me to a place that I cannot find words for.

    This type of hatred and stupidity is the reason Jesus must come back... to save us from ourselves. God help us.
  16. Chris' Cloths
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    Chris' Cloths - October 21, 2012 3:41 pm
  17. DCM
    Report Abuse
    DCM - October 21, 2012 3:41 pm
    Blacks have never been able to lead or govern for others and be trusted with monies.
  18. Hogwash
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    Hogwash - October 21, 2012 3:15 pm
    Is there one OZ of Integrity left in Washington, Tobin and gang? Tobin did not get a majority and their own attorney confirmed it. What else does Washington want to steal? Oh, the next selection of a President. Let me guess, they want Dr. McIntyre!!!! Why? You guessed it.
  19. iDog76
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    iDog76 - October 21, 2012 1:08 pm
    SCSU has in its University Seal in Latin: Knowledge, Duty, Honor. Lott, Grant, Corbitt, Pinson, Duncan, Nance, and the Atty Wilborn have NO HONOR Lott wants the BOT to convene and privately settle this matter. Why won't she settle it and stand down because she believes she owns and deserves to be the chair. And we know why, because she intends on carrying on unseemingly matters as she has before. Congratulations to the Singing Trustee Grant who is famous: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGvyG
  20. wnernme
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    wnernme - October 21, 2012 12:17 pm
    Chair, Vice Chair, Co-Chair, are options. Make it happen! Seems to me this is about a power struggle! If the Board is truly/sincere about the progress of the School/Students/Faculty/Staff, then they would come together as intelligent (dare I say mature) adults and resolve this concern/issue and move on to the tasks at hand! Leadership is vital, Have to establish that before moving on. If you (Board) can't resolve this,..... Mediator!
  21. D-Line
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    D-Line - October 21, 2012 11:58 am
    This is going to hit everybody next year the Staff, Employee and Students. This is financial mismanagement if no one step down are move over so that they can move forward. The school will go under an a lot of jobs with it. No one is in charge because higher education is not on their list of things to support.
  22. ucan'thandlethetruth
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    ucan'thandlethetruth - October 21, 2012 11:23 am
    As a graduate of SCSU, and a parent of a current student this is embarrassing. Please stop this before the whole school is lost. How are you dealing with the decline of students at the school, how are you dealing with financial issues, and personel issues, deal with the real problems. Stop robbing the school before there is no school left to rob. By the way who is the new president at state I have not seen her in the paper, at the games, or out in the community selling school to the community.
  23. william61
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    william61 - October 21, 2012 10:38 am
    I really don't understand whats so hard about the situation. Students come to learn and get a higher education. Instead they get to see how a pack of immature self-serving adults act. Reguardless of who's in charge, the students loose. The people see outside of your comical self-centered world, less students next year will be order. I see only one way, you're all fired and not to return.
  24. justincase
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    justincase - October 21, 2012 9:36 am
    It seems as though no one has been "in charge" for several years now. All involved, the public too, are aware of the problems: lowered enrollment and financial mismanagement. Untill the board and admin target the real problems, as opposed to the process, there will be no noticeable change. If one board member cared, they would move on from this, let the other be the chair, and start making a plan. Since they don't, they won't.
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