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Scrutiny Of SCSU Continues Despite The Appointment Of A New President
7/6/2016 2:14:27 PM

James E. Clark will replace Dr. W. Franklin Evans as president of SCSU
By Barney Blakeney

The appointment of James E. Clark as the 12th president of South Carolina State University comes as an abrupt surprise to many and a point of concern for some. Speculation abounds.

Two weeks after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) lifted its two-year-old probation of the institution, former Provost Dr. W. Franklin Evans, who had served as interim president, resigned. Evans replaced Thomas Elzey at the helm. Elzey’s March 2015 termination meant the university’s seventh presidential search in 29 years.

Clark becomes president after serving a year as a member of the interim board of trustees seated by the Gov. Nikki Haley and the state’s legislature. The seven-member panel charged with overseeing the institution’s operations until 2018 included Clark, its chairman Charleston businessman Charlie Way, Steve Swanson, Doris Helms, Milton Irvin, Donnie Shell and Jeff Vinzani.

Dismantling of the previously appointed board of trustees and the appointment of the interim board was to many either the first steps toward making South Carolina State University financially solvent or making it a satellite campus of one of the state’s larger university systems. One source said there is no distinction between the legislature and interim board. The interim board serves as the mouth piece of the legislature, the source said.

Other sources have said members of the interim board blatantly undermined Evans’ authority. Though Evans navigated the institution through the SACS probation and into financial solvency over the past year, he suddenly resigned, citing other professional interests as his reason and then is replaced with a member of the interim board who’s contract is guaranteed four years.

One SCSU alum asked why an interim board that only will be seated two more years awards a four-year contract to one of its members.

“The way to continue building confidence in the school as more alumni send their children there would be to leave Evans in place until a permanent board can hire a new president. We know that Historically Black Colleges and Universities around the country are being destroyed. Since SCSU was doing so well on the rebound, maybe this is the legislature’s ‘Plan B’. I feel like the legislature will be running the school.”

That view was shared by another source. “Nobody’s talking about the outcome for the university - how do we make the university competitive with others in the state? As institutions increasingly have to compete for funding and students, how will we repair a an institution that has been damaged?”

Visitor Comments

Submitted By: Doc Submitted: 7/27/2016
It's amazing that SCSU had a qualified Ph.D. Interim president who led the school through a crucial accreditation process as well as increased the school's population. However, the board decides to name their board colleague as president. Outstanding work Dr. Evans! We appreciate you so much!

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