CofC board seeks approval to offer doctorates

By Ashley Barker
abarker@scbiznews.com
Published March 25, 2014

In addition to selecting a new president Saturday evening, the board of trustees at the College of Charleston also discussed the proposed merger with the Medical University of South Carolina.

In a statement of position, the board agreed it has an obligation to “preserve and protect the college’s identity,” including retaining “‘College of Charleston’ as the undergraduate name of this institution.”

Legislation has been introduced to merge the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina.
Legislation has been introduced to merge the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina.
(Photo provided by the College of Charleston)
The board also requested authorization to offer targeted doctoral programs to help meet the economic development and research needs of the Lowcountry.

“The board understands that any expansion of the college’s research and academic activities, including new degree programs, will require additional financial resources, along with careful planning, the support and approval of the college faculty and administration, and the support and approval of the Commission on Higher Education,” the board statement said.

Members of the board also decided to commit to meeting the needs of the economy by “facilitating greater research activity at the college and, where appropriate, developing new academic programs to include new graduate programs.” However, the college’s commitment to the undergraduate liberal arts and sciences, as well as the “student-focused community” will be maintained.

The board also agreed to continue to support “existing collaborations and pursue new collaborations with other higher education institutions.”

House bill 4632 and Senate bill 1021, known as the Charleston University Act, were introduced earlier this year. They call for CofC and MUSC to become one research university before July 1, 2016.

Saturday was the first regular meeting of CofC’s board since the two bills were introduced, according to board Chairman Greg Padgett.

“Today the board has taken the important step of affirming the importance of the college’s identity, traditions and undergraduate teaching mission, while also affirming the importance of meeting the economic development and educational needs of our community, region and state,” Padgett said.

In February, MUSC’s board of trustees unanimously passed a resolution in opposition to the proposed merger. Board member Michael Stavrinakis — brother of Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, who introduced the House bill — abstained from the vote.

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

McConnell to push for University of Charleston

After the board meeting, soon-to-be-president Glenn McConnell said talk of a merger gives the college a chance to revisit the University of Charleston, an institution already within CofC that could be used to create new graduate courses.

“We have an opportunity to use that as a platform to engage in advanced studies and collaborations with other universities,” McConnell said. “The College of Charleston doesn’t need to be absorbed. It can remain a vibrant college and can also be a place for the University of Charleston.”

McConnell said advanced degrees and expansion of the current curriculum could fall under the University of Charleston while the liberal arts core would remain for CofC.

“We have to be open to that; we have to be open to change,” he said, adding that the format of Claremont Colleges in California is something he is watching closely.

“We need to build a consortium of collaborations with other colleges like they do,” McConnell said.

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

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