House bill introduced to add students to university boards

By Ashley Barker
Published April 30, 2014

Three S.C. representatives have introduced a bill that would include students on the decision-making bodies of higher education institutions.

House bill 5152 — introduced by Reps. Bakari Sellers, Joshua Putnam and Leon Stavrinakis — intends to add two student members that are elected by the student body to the board of trustees of each public four-year university. The two students must have lived in the college’s community for at least one semester prior to the being elected.

The institutions included in the bill are the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, The Citadel, the Medical University of South Carolina, Winthrop University, South Carolina State University, the College of Charleston, Francis Marion University, Lander University and Coastal Carolina University.

The student trustees would serve for one calendar year, and the term would immediately end if the student withdrew from the school or graduated. A student trustee vacancy would be filled by the student body in a special election.

The Citadel’s board of visitors is currently composed of 14 members: the governor, the adjutant general and the state superintendent of education along with 11 graduates of The Citadel. Seven of the graduates are elected by the General Assembly, three are elected by the Association of Citadel Men and one is appointed by the governor.

MUSC’s board of trustees consists of the governor or a designee, 14 members elected by the General Assembly and one member appointed by the governor.

CofC’s board of trustees is composed of the governor and 19 trustees — 17 are elected by the General Assembly, one is appointed by the governor and one is appointed upon recommendation of the College of Charleston Alumni Association.

The bill, titled the “Student Empowerment in College Governance Act,” was introduced and referred to the House Committee on Education and Public Works on Tuesday. If it becomes law, the act would take effect in the 2014-2015 school year.

Sellers, Putnam and Stavrinakis did not return messages seeking comment.

University of Charleston bill sent to Senate

The S.C. House approved a bill designating the University of Charleston, South Carolina, as a research institution and sent it to the state Senate today.

By a vote of 98-5, the House agreed to allow the University of Charleston, a graduate entity already within the College of Charleston, to participate in the S.C. Research Centers of Economic Excellence.

The bill requires the university to submit a mission statement to the state’s Commission on Higher Education and to not duplicate any degree programs offered in the Charleston region. CofC would remain a four-year liberal arts college and would keep its own separate budget.

Through the Research Centers of Economic Excellence Act, the University of Charleston would be eligible for incentives and given access to “certain powers relating to raising capital from the private sector to fund certain endowments related to research.”

Legislators initially introduced a bill that would have combined the Medical University of South Carolina and CofC into a new entity called Charleston University. Earlier this month, they amended the bill to keep the two institutions separate and to, instead, grow the University of Charleston.

Incoming CofC President Glenn McConnell and MUSC Board of Trustees Chairman Tom Stephenson were both against the proposed merger and have said they support the expansion of the University of Charleston.

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

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