McConnell’s salary still undecided as protests continue at CofC

By Ashley Barker
abarker@scbiznews.com
Published April 7, 2014

A decision on how much money the College of Charleston Foundation will contribute to incoming President Glenn McConnell’s salary has still not been made.

A foundation committee met Friday in closed session for more than two hours to discuss McConnell’s compensation package, but no action was taken.

The CofC Foundation — a nonprofit organization within the College of Charleston that accepts, manages, invests and distributes private philanthropic support — contributed $200,000 a year to current President George Benson’s salary on top of the $179,000 given to him by the state.

College of Charleston student group “Fight for CofC” called state legislators during another protest Friday afternoon to discuss the college’s board of trustees. (Photo by Ashley Barker)
College of Charleston student group “Fight for CofC” called state legislators during another protest Friday afternoon to discuss the college’s board of trustees. (Photo by Ashley Barker)
McConnell is expected to receive $188,000 from the state, and a petition circulating the campus is requesting the foundation only add $1. More than 800 people have signed a Change.org petition that says the $188,000 will allow McConnell to “live quite comfortably.”

Sharon Kingman, chair of the foundation board, said she expects McConnell’s compensation to be on the agenda for the next full board meeting, which is scheduled for May 16. The members are, however, looking into scheduling another meeting before then.

“We’ve had an excellent dialogue, as we always do, with the committed members of the foundation board,” she said.

Protests continue
The student group “Fight for CofC” held another protest just minutes after the College of Charleston Foundation meeting ended.

The group has protested the board of trustees and its decision to hire McConnell by staging a silent sit-in, holding a class walk out, organizing a letter-writing session targeted at legislators, and supporting no-confidence resolutions made by the Student Government Association and Faculty Senate.

On Friday, protestors handed out the phone numbers of various state lawmakers and a sample script for callers to read.

“I’m calling you today to express my concern about the relationship between the legislature and the College of Charleston’s board of trustees,” the script said. “The campus community cannot sit silently while our voices are being taken away from us.”

One protestor said he called four offices, but only one legislator was available. Another, while leaving a message, told a legislator’s assistant that she is embarrassed to go to the College of Charleston now.

After the call-a-thon ended, Morgan Koerner, an associate professor of German at CofC, thanked the students for inspiring him and many of his colleagues.

“It is now our responsibility to fight — whether behind the scenes or speaking out in public — to speak out to declare our solidarity with the students and fight for the brand and image of our college,” Koerner said. “This decision is going to hurt the school’s image. This decision has betrayed the school’s primary stakeholders: its paying students, its hard working staff, its dedicated staff, its alumni and its foundation.”

Koerner said the board’s decision to pick McConnell as the next president is “bad for business” and will not help Charleston grow and gain more national and international economic prominence.

“I’ve heard people say it’s a done deal. For those people, I say you are wrong,” Koerner said. “This is our school, and we don’t agree with the shenanigans of the board, and we’re going to take our school back.”

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

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