Gov. Henry McMaster announced Friday that he has appointed a former state senator to chair South Carolina’s higher education commission.
McMaster tapped former State Sen. Wes Hayes, a Rock Hill Republican who spent years as chair of the Senate Education Committee.
“Wes Hayes has served the state of South Carolina admirably for years, and, with his decades-long focus on education as a member of the General Assembly, he is the perfect person to lead the Commission on Higher Education as the agency continues its bold advocacy on behalf of South Carolina students,” McMaster said in a statement.
Hayes appears to be an effort to ease the current acrimonious relationship between the Commission on Higher Education and powerful lawmakers. House and Senate budget leaders have tried to muzzle the commission for taking what they consider too aggressive a position against college spending. McMaster vetoed an effort to weaken the commission last year.
The former senator replaces Tim Hofferth, who resigned amid controversy over a $91,000 pay raise for the commission’s interim executive director. That director Jeff Schilz resigned on Tuesday, after admitting the commission did not seek approval from the legislative-controlled Agency Head Salary Commission, as required by state law. Schilz had said agency staff did not realize the requirement.
Hayes representing District 15 in the Senate from 1991 until he was unseated in the 2016 Republican primary. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and the University of South Carolina School of Law.
“We have an outstanding higher education system in South Carolina that is vital to our economic development and to our quality of life. I appreciate being given the opportunity to work to make our system even better.” Said McMaster in the release.