“It was not a popular appointment on campus ...,” said Bill Moore, a professor of political science at the College of Charleston. “It was seen as a political appointment. He got the job because he was one of the good ol’ boys at the State House.”
That blistering commentary on the appointment of Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell as the next president of the College of Charleston is worth noting for one major reason: It’s not about Glenn McConnell.
No, that assessment from a faculty member was offered about the appointment of a previous College of Charleston president, Columbia’s own Alex Sanders. Say what you will about a long-time, influential politician getting a plum job as president of a state school while having no background as an academic or university administrator (and I’ll say more about that in a moment), but it didn’t start with Glenn McConnell.
The professor’s comment is taken from an otherwise fawning piece about Sanders that appeared in The New Yorker magazine in May 2002, when Sanders had stepped down from the presidency of the College of Charleston and was running for the U.S. Senate. The article, by well-known political writer Joe Klein, went on to suggest that Sanders could well take the seat held for the previous 48 years by the retiring Strom Thurmond.
As Klein wrote, “Sanders is well known and quite popular in the state. Lee Bandy, who has covered South Carolina politics for The State newspaper for thirty-six years, says that Sanders is doing surprisingly well and that the race may turn out to be a dead heat.”
Bandy died last year and isn’t here to defend himself, but I tend to doubt he predicted a cliffhanger. In any case, Lindsey Graham rolled over Sanders with a double-digit margin, 54 percent to 44 percent.
To be clear, I think both Sanders and McConnell are very smart, very capable men who were a cut above their fellow legislators (two cuts above in most cases). But neither of them was qualified to be named president of the College of Charleston.
What happened to professors with an understanding of the academic world, achievement in it and experience in university administration becoming university presidents? I guess that’s old-school, so to speak.
But should it be? Should we allow politicians with no background or qualifications for the job other than being politicians to be university presidents? I don’t think so, and it doesn’t matter whether the candidate is a beloved, storytelling Democrat (Sanders) or a controversial, Confederate-obsessed Republican (McConnell).
By the way, I think McConnell’s critics on that front miss the boat (no, not the Hunley). Along with being a master of Senate rules and parliamentary procedure, McConnell was also known during his time as that body’s chief power broker for being fair, principled and inclusive.
Further, due to his Confederate re-enactor and memorabilia dealer hobbies (his words), I expect he will make a concerted effort to assure that the College of Charleston heavily recruits minority students and provides the necessary scholarship funding and diverse campus atmosphere to retain them. While the NAACP might not like McConnell getting the job (and I’m not saying they should), they may well like what he does with it.
Of course, in the end what McConnell is there for is what Sanders was there for: Raising money through political connections. As Professor Moore went on to say in that New Yorker article: Sanders’ connections “helped get us some real financial support from the state legislature.”
Accordingly, perhaps Francis Marion University should go ahead and name The Beaz (former Gov. David Beasley) as its new president, while The Citadel could boldly go with the rehabbed T-Rav (former state treasurer and current Southern Charm star Thomas Ravenel). Clemson and S.C. State can sign up the two Jims (DeMint and Clyburn), and the University of South Carolina can just cut to the chase and appoint Steve Spurrier as the first combination Head Ball Coach/Head Egghead.
Sorry, Dr. Pastides, but that impressive academic career just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Fisher is president of Fisher Communications, a Columbia advertising and public relations firm. He is active in local issues involving the arts, conservation, business and politics.
Make Your Own Beer and Wine!
Come get started on your “liquid hobby” and help us celebrate our 46th year in the Columbia area. Bet Mar Liquid Hobby Shop: 736 St. Andrews Road.
A two-day outdoor art and crafts show celebrating its 38th year. Being held on September 5 & 6, 2014, Click for details
Back to School Tattoo Specials
Magnum Ink is offering 1/2 off all tattoos for students over 18 as well as 2 for $60 on letters or numbers for state employees. 1405 Rushmore Road, Suite B, right off of Broad River.
Accepting Applications for Shakespeare’s Kidz!
Students ages 10-16 are invited to join South Carolina Shakespeare’s new youth company, with classes running September 20th-December 11th followed by a final performance. Learn and hone audition skills, monologues, and scenes from Shakespeare and modern works! Contact Katie Mixon with questions about scholarships and applications: PKatieMixon@gmail.com.
Music Break at Music Farm Columbia
Join COR for an evening of networking for music and business leaders on September 3rd, featuring performances by Josh Roberts and the Hinges, Death of Paris, Fat Rat Da Czar, and Lazy A and the Green Thang. Free admission for musicians and members! Register here.
Delicious Downtown Breakfast
Tony’s is open for breakfast every day from 7:30-10:30! Conveniently located on Washington St. right off Main. Stop in for something filling and delicious before work! Follow us for updates on specials.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Pool Cleaning-Full and part time available. Must have a clean driving record, be organized and have a professional appearance. Starting Pay is $10.00 per hr, please call for an interview, please bring a copy of your Driving record and a list of all past employers with duration of employment listed as well as telephone numbers for references. Cal 803-865-1200
Company seeking carpenters, plumbers, masons work is year around with a 40 year old company. Starting pay is $10.00 but experienced individuals will be compensated accordingly. Must have a clean driving record and must bring a copy of your driving record to the interview. Please call 803-865-1200.
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com