South Carolina’s Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell will become the 22nd president of the College of Charleston. The school’s officials chose him this weekend over University of West Florida Provost Martha Saunders and Dr. Dennis Encarnation, a Boston business consultant.
McConnell will return to his alma mater starting July 1.
According to the school’s trustee chairman Greg Padgett, McConnell was their top choice despite student and NAACP opposition.
“We believe that Glenn McConnell is the best person to lead the College of Charleston, and we expect to quickly conclude the contract negotiations and formally introduce Lt. Gov. McConnell to the campus and the community,” Padgett said in a statement.
The college’s Faculty Senate released a poll last week showing a majority of the school’s professors and other faculty were against McConnell’s hiring, preferring a candidate with an academic background. The NAACP and other groups opposed the choice due to McConnell’s hobby of playing a Confederate artilleryman in Civil War reenactments.
But McConnell was undeterred, telling local media, “For me, it’s like coming home.”
McConnell assumed his current position when then-Lt. Gov. Ken Ard quit for breaking campaign ethics laws.
The move will likely leave the lieutenant governor’s office empty for about six months. Under the state constitution, Senate President pro tempore Sen. John Courson, R-Richland, is next in line to assume to the lieutenant governor’s post. But Courson has made it clear he does not want the job.
The election to replace McConnell will be held on Election Day, with party primaries on June 10. Former Charleston real estate developer Pat McKinney and Columbia businessman Mike Campbell have announced their candidacies on the Republican side, while State Rep. Bakari Sellers of Bamberg will run as a Democrat.