The current chief of South Carolina’s college oversight agency says he will step down, roughly a month after state lawmakers called for his resignation over a pay raise they said was improper.
Commission on Higher Education interim director Jeff Schilz informed the agency’s governing board of his decision on Tuesday. “I feel the time is right for me to step away from the CHE,” he said in a resignation letter. “While we have accomplished a great deal together, I have always believed that the ideas are more important than those who serve and, now, a fresh perspective and new energy.”
Schilz worked for CHE as the agency, long perceived as a relatively-submissive college regulator which rarely rejected construction or program requests, tried to focus on reigning in tuition and fees. However, the aggressive tactics of former Chairman Tim Hofferth angered some legislators, particularly when CHE began requiring the University of South Carolina and Clemson to get more private donation money on athletics projects.
Those legislative opponents had a chance to fire back after the commission approved Schilz’s 54 percent salary increase in a closed-door executive session — an apparent violation of state open records laws. The law also requires the legislative-controlled Agency Head Salary Commission have the final say on the pay for most government agency chiefs in South Carolina
Schilz told a Senate panel last month the lack of notification had been a mistake and staff did not realize the additional committee approval was required. He said his salary has returned to its previous levels. Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman, one of CHE’s legislative critics, called for Schilz’s resignation for the large raise.
Hofferth also resigned as chairman after the unauthorized pay raise was revealed.