December 21, 2014

Jeb Bush to speak at USC graduation next month

Jeb Bush (File)

Jeb Bush (File)

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will be the commencement speaker at the University of South Carolina’s graduation ceremony next month.

The school announced Monday that Bush will speak at 3:30 p.m. on December 15 in a ceremony for roughly 1,900 students receiving a baccalaureate, master’s or professional-degrees. The school will also award Bush an honorary degree in public service during the ceremony. Graduates from USC’s satellite campuses will also get their degrees at the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia.

The announcement comes as the Republican is reported to be considering a run for the White House in 2016. Many potential GOP presidential candidates have been circulating through the state the past six months. Bush himself was in South Carolina last month, campaigning with Gov. Nikki Haley at stops in Lexington and Greenville.

He’s the third Bush to speak to USC graduates. His father, former President George H.W. Bush, spoke at USC’s 1990 commencement. His brother, former President George W. Bush, spoke to graduates during the spring 2003 commencement ceremonies. His mother Barbara has also received an honorary doctorate from the school.

Jeb Bush served as governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007, becoming the state’s first two-term Republican governor.

Charleston School of Law president resigns after one week

Only eight days after the school announced she would be taking the helm, the Charleston School of Law’s incoming president has said she wants no part in the “vitriol” at the struggling school.

Maryann Jones had been announced as the private law school’s new leader just last week.

Several area media outlets reported that Jones sent an email to CSOL’s co-owners Robert Carr and George Kosko saying that she would not sign a contract with the school.

CSOL’s leaders have spent more than a year attempting to sell the school to InfiLaw System, which owns three other for-profit law schools around the country. The sale has been strongly criticized by alumni and faculty, who claim InfiLaw is a diploma mill with lower academic standards. The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education has pushed to delay the acquisition, while the American Bar Association has allowed it.

In her email, which was also sent to Dean Andy Abrams, Jones said she did not want to enter an environment that she considered toxic.

“I truly only wanted to help,” the email stated. “The level of vitriol, with all sides making me a lightning rod for an unfortunate situation that was not of my making, makes this truly a situation that I am unwilling at this stage of my life to undertake.”

Carr and Kosko are pushing the sale, while a third co-owner Ed Westbrook is hoping to create a nonprofit that would instead take over the school and all three initially supported her hiring. But the Charleston Post & Courier reported Westbrook had sent Jones a heated letter accusing her her of supporting the InfiLaw purchase when she had promised to be objective.

Jones had previously served as dean emerita of Western State University College of Law in California.

Carolina-Clemson Blood Drive reaches 30th year

Red CrossParticipate in the rivalry and help save lives.

That is the theme of the 30th annual Carolina-Clemson Blood Drive, which begins Monday and runs through Friday November 21 at both schools’ campuses. All University of South Carolina and Clemson University students, faculty, staff, alumni, and fans are encouraged to participate in the drive.

American Red Cross spokeswoman Krystal Overmyer said the blood drive comes at a good time.

“It’s a time when our regular donors can’t make their usual appointments because they’re traveling and spending time with family during the holidays,” she said. “This is great time for donors to roll up their sleeves, show their school pride, and make a difference for patients by making that appointment to ensure that there is enough blood on the shelves for the holiday season.”

Over the past 30 years, the universities have collected about 100,000 pints of blood, which the Red Cross said potentially saved up to 300,000 lives.

USC has won the competition for six years straight, but the competition has always been close. Over the past 29 years of the drive, USC leads the competition 15-14.

Overmyer says a number of particular less-common blood types are needed, especially O-negative, A-negative, and B-negative blood.

The Red Cross estimates someone in the U.S. needs blood every two seconds.

Legislators unsure right now what rural school funding reform would look like

Sen. Wes Hayes, R-York, said  (File image)

Sen. Wes Hayes, R-York, said he expects a solution would end up requiring more funding (File image)

The state Supreme Court has ordered lawmakers and school districts to revamp how rural schools are funded in South Carolina.

But those parties involved aren’t sure yet what change would look like or when it would happen.

The court ruled 3-2 Wednesday in favor of eight predominantly poor rural districts who had filed a lawsuit against the Governor’s Office and state legislators in 1993. Those districts were the last remaining entities out of 29 involved in the original lawsuit. The justices sided with the districts by finding South Carolina had not met the requirement to provide a “minimally adequate” education for students in their districts.

But the justices were specifically vague in potential solutions, beyond ordering both sides to come back before the court “within a reasonable time” after crafting a plan. The ruling did hint that the justices believed South Carolina was underfunding preschool and other early education programs.

State Sen. Wes Hayes, R-York, chairs the K-12 education finance subcommittee in the Senate. The longtime senator said he had been expecting a decision from the court at some point, but said the state’s leadership would need to reach a consensus on what to do next.

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Coroner: USC student killed in apparent murder-suicide

Authorities now say they believe a University of South Carolina student found dead with a man in an off-campus apartment complex Tuesday night was the victim of an apparent murder-suicide.

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts identified the two dead as 20-year-old Diamoney Greene and 21-year-old Brandon Early. Watts said the evidence at the scene indicates Early shot and killed Greene before turning the gun on himself.

A Richland County Sheriff’s Department spokesman said the bodies were discovered inside a unit at the Copper Beech Apartments Tuesday night. A roommate came home to the apartment that evening and discovered the bodies, but the coroner said he believes the shootings occurred at least a day earlier. Deputies said Early and Greene were in a relationship, but they were not aware of any previous domestic violence incidents involving the two.

Greene was a sophomore criminal justice major at the school. WLTX-TV reported that she had recently transferred from South Carolina State University, where she was a cheerleader. WCIV in Charleston reported she was a native of St. Stephen, while Early was from Goose Creek.

“Patricia and I are deeply saddened by the tragic death of Diamoney Greene, a member of our Carolina family,” USC President Harris Pastides said in a statement. “Our heartfelt prayers are with Diamoney’s family and friends during this difficult time. As our campus grieves the loss of a promising young life, USC will make counseling and support services available to our Carolina community.”

Copper Beech is an apartment complex that caters primarily to students located about 3 miles southeast of the University of South Carolina main campus.

Bill Dubensky contributed to this report