South Carolina State University trustees tabled a vote on tuition increases among several other items during a teleconference meeting on Tuesday.
The agenda included votes on finance and operations committee resolutions for 2019-20 tuition increases for undergraduate and graduate students.
In addition to an update on enrollment, the agenda also included the consideration of resolutions: revising undergraduate and graduate transfer policies; revising the university organizational chart; approving the construction contract for the Charleston 1890 Extension Center and approving the student code of conduct and tenure and promotion recommendations.
The board was presented with a revised agenda at the meeting that included budget discussions and approval of a proposed 2019-20 budget for the university.
Trustee Hamilton Grant made an initial motion to table all votes because none of the items had first gone through their respective committee meetings as dictated under the board's bylaws.
After a lengthy discussion among board members, Grant later amended his motion to include only a vote on the Charleston 1890 Extension Center, with the board to schedule another special meeting following meetings of the university's academic affairs/1890 research and extension committee, student affairs and athletic committee and its finance and operations committee.
Grant said, "I'd like to amend the original motion. So I would move that we table all the votes with the exception of the Charleston contract until we have gone through their appropriate committees to be voted on at a later time."
The motion was seconded by Trustee Monica Scott and then received unanimous approval.
Board Chairman Milton Irvin made a motion to approve the Charleston 1890 Extension Center contract. The motion was seconded by Trustee Rodney Jenkins, with all board members voting in favor with the exception of trustees Doward Harvin and Grant, who both abstained.
"What makes it difficult to me is that I wasn't on the board in 2003, nor was I a part of the process. So from my standpoint, it's hard to vote on it without knowing the history and having the opportunity to use the history," Harvin said.
Irvin said, "Now it appears that since there's not an immediate sense of urgency as I was under the impression ... we will go through the committee structure. The committees would have to meet very soon, and then we will ... go through the approval process."
Jenkins said, "We got to try not to get to this point again where even though the window is tight to make some critical decisions," the university would not want to have decisions made regarding issues such as tuition and graduation in such a way that students register "under one number and may come in in August under another number."
"We really need to think about that, or maybe I hadn't seen something that might have gone out before. I just thought I'd throw that out for information," he said.
Grant said, "I know this may not have been the intent; however, when we have important matters such as the ones that were sent out on the agenda that did not go through committee -- and I'm so glad that we're going to put these through committee -- it can give the perception that we're trying to push things through. ...
"I would just simply ask that we give more credence and reverence to the documents that discuss how we govern ourselves."
Trustee Donnie Shell said, "I agree with Trustee Grant. In the future, Chairman Irvin, could we just make sure the things that need to go through committee go through committee before we call a meeting?"
Irvin said, "I have no problems with that. OK? I mean, really. I believe in the committee structure."
Delbert Foster, executive director of the S.C. State 1890 Research and Extension Program, said construction on the Charleston center hopefully will begin Aug. 1 and be complete by September 2020. The university is building the center through federal dollars received by its 1890 program.
A $5.1 million contract was awarded to Charleston-based Linden Construction for the building of the center.
Foster said university officials will meet with the project's contractor and architects on July 12, after which a rendering of what the facility will look like will be released.
"It's a research extension center. It's a community center. We've built three. We built one on campus, one in Elloree and this is the third one in Charleston. We expect to move in the one on campus by the end of July and the one at Camp Daniels at the end of August," Foster said.
The university broke ground on a $2.7 million 1890 Research and Extension Community Center on campus in June 2018. It will be used for community classes as well as office space. The building will be paid for with grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture 1890 Facility Grant Program.
A $3.3 million grant from the USDA has enabled the university to construct a center in Elloree. The 15,000-square-foot facility will include research laboratories, a nutrition lab, training rooms, a community multipurpose meeting space, classrooms and a technology room.