The resolution has little legal power, but sends a strong message to lawmakers considering the idea.
The proposed merger introduced in legislation filed last week would create “Charleston University” as a new research school. Charleston Mayor Joe Riley and other prominent Lowcountry lawmakers would like to see the merger happen. Those in favor of the proposal say the area needs a comprehensive research university, especially with Boeing now established in the Lowcountry.
MUSC Board of Trustees Chairman Tom Stephenson says the board is unanimously opposed to the medical school merging with C-of-C. Stephenson says there are a number of reasons why it is a bad idea. But that the first reason is that it does not make any sense. “We’d be diverted from what we do…which is health care,” he said. “We are not an engineering school and we are not a computer school.”
Stephenson says MUSC is a medical school of some renown and he says it has a reputation worth protecting. “Parts of MUSC are on a par with Duke and Johns Hopkins. It’s no exaggeration,’ says Stephenson. “MUSC is the finest university in South Carolina. No other university has the national prominence MUSC has and we don’t want to be diverted from that.”
MUSC’s resistance to a merger with the College of Charleston is not to be taken as a slight. Stephenson says Charleston is a fine liberal arts school. But “we don’t see any synergies when you throw the two schools together.”
Stephenson says he realizes that the legislature could order the two schools merge, since both are state entities. But he thinks lawmakers know how MUSC feels about the proposal. “We’ve told the legislature what we think. I hope they listen.”
When the MUSC Board of Trustees voted to oppose any merge, board member Michael Stavrinakis abstained. His brother is State Rep Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, who is co-sponsoring the merger bill.
Sheree Bernardi of Charleston affiliate WTMA filed this report