In what is likely a preview of upcoming legislation next week, the South Carolina House voted Tuesday to replace the board of trustees at financially struggling South Carolina State University.
The budget amendment approved in a unanimous voice vote Tuesday would only last for a year and would not take effect until July. So it is likely that lawmakers will hold a similar vote on stand-alone legislation next week. The amendment would replace the Board of Trustees with a five-member panel appointed by the State Fiscal Accountability Authority (previously known as the Budget and Control Board).
“This amendment creates an opportunity for stability at South Carolina State University,” State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, said on the House floor during Tuesday’s debate. Cobb-Hunter expressed frustration that the House had tried restructuring the board three years ago, but were stymied by SC State alumni in the Senate.
But the House’s only SC State alum State Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg, insisted that alumni had been sounding the alarm about problems at the state’s only public historically-black college for years. Govan said the legislature shared in the blame for problems at the school. “We needed to address some issues… address some Board of Trustees members who weren’t doing the right thing, who weren’t competent,” Govan said. “But this body continued to send them over and over again.”