About 200 people gathered at the Statehouse in Columbia Wednesday to show support for former University of South Carolina trustee Darla Moore, who was removed by Governor Nikki Haley last week.
Haley instead replaced Moore with Lexington attorney Tommy Cofield, who supported her election campaign. The decision prompted an outcry among USC students, who created several Facebook pages to show their frustration.
That caught the attention of former Democratic staffer Katherine Muller, a USC alum from Greenville who worked on President Obama’s 2008 campaign.
Muller said she helped students put the rally together.
The students were venting and there was a petition, but there was nothing actually in the flesh. Because of my background in local politics… I said, “Man, I can do a rally. This will be really fun, because I like to get out and look you in the eye.”
During the rally, USC announced Moore would speak to students at the school’s Russell House ballroom Thursday.
Moore had served on the school’s board of trustees for 10 years since her appointment by then-Gov. Jim Hodges in 1999. She has donated more than $70 million to USC.
There are 17 members of the school board of trustees, of which one is appointed by the governor. The remaining members are selected by the Legislature to represent each of the state’s 16 judicial circuits.
Martha Susan was the USC student who first created the Facebook page “Students for the Reinstatement of Miss Darla Moore.” It currently has nearly 2,500 followers. She spoke briefly at the rally.
We respect the vision of Ms. Darla Moore and we want that vision to be continued. Our university is on the upswing and we want her to be a part of it. She’s been an amazing benefactor over the past 10 years since she was appointed to the board in 1999.
However, Wednesday’s event was sparsely attended, with only a few dozen people still there 45 minutes after it began. Muller said she hoped the rally would at least let the governor know that students weren’t happy about the move.
All of us felt very strongly about this. We decided to throw a party… people might have other engagements. But I think we got the attention that we needed.
Haley’s spokesman Rob Godfrey said the governor made the switch because Cofield “shares her vision.”