MUSC board opposes merger with College of Charleston

By Ashley Barker
Published Feb. 17, 2014

Medical University of South Carolina leadership prefers a collaboration with the College of Charleston over the proposed merger.

The university’s board of trustees unanimously passed a resolution last week against a merger that calls for the creation of Charleston University. Board member Michael Stavrinakis, owner of Manny’s Neighborhood Grille, abstained from the vote. He is the brother of Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, who introduced the bill calling for the merger of the two institutions, which was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

During its Thursday meeting, MUSC board members received feedback from the president of the MUSC Faculty Senate, the president of MUSC Physicians, the vice president for development and college deans. Student Government Association leaders, including three who are CofC alumni, also spoke during committee meetings.

All agreed that a “legal merger would not accomplish economic development without seriously jeopardizing the futures of both schools,” according to a statement from the university. Legal counsel told the board the bill could result in “violations of the state constitution and could violate bond covenants for both institutions,” the statement said. It’s unclear which parts of the constitution and bond covenants were referred to by the attorneys.

MUSC leadership said other options for collaboration would be less costly, more effective and would preserve the missions, cultures and reputations of both schools.

“Overall the committee’s findings suggest that a focused strategy that leverages structured collaboration between MUSC and the College of Charleston, in addition to the strengths of higher education programs throughout the state, would better support the increased need for engineering and technology programs beneficial for the economic development of the Lowcountry and be the most prudent and the most cost-effective approach,” the university said in a statement.

Bill H 4632 was introduced into the S.C. House of Representatives on Feb. 6. It says the current college would be known as the “Charleston University George Street Campus,” and the current university would be known as the “Charleston University Medical Campus.” According to Rep. Stavrinakis, the bill is the result of a year-long process of evaluating how to best position both schools to enhance and secure their positions in the future.

The majority of faculty members at CofC do not support the proposed merger. A faculty survey in January found 57% of the more than 400 who responded do not support a merger.

Reach Ashley Barker at 843-849-3144 or @AshleyNBarker.

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