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SCSU Alumni Rallies Support And Demands Success
8/27/2014 4:08:01 PM

Vernell Brown
Staff Reports

Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, alumni and advocates for South Carolina State University gathered at the campus Aug. 16 to show support for the state’s only publicly supported historically Black university. The institution in recent years has been assailed by a number of challenges including inconsistent leadership, corruption, fiscal mismanagement and crime.

SCSU National Alumni President Vernell Brown said they sponsored the Bulldog Pride March and Rally to demonstrate to South Carolina’s governor, legislators and citizens they support SCSU because of its value to the state and nation. SCSU graduates have gone on the provide exemplary service to the state, its communities and the nation, especially through the military ROTC program, she said.

In recent years challenging issues at SCSU have emerged that include inconsistency in its executive administration, corruption among staff and board of trustee members, faltering academic programs, fiscal mismanagement of its budget and building program and last month, its accrediting organization announced the institution has been placed on a one year probation to get its act together.

As SCSU struggled to surface from a myriad of challenges with a new president appointed only last year issues of corruption, a homicide committed on campus and fiscal insolvency that required the administration to seek over $13 million from the legislature threats to its accreditation loomed as the straw that could break the camel’s back. But supporters are undaunted.

Board of Trustees Chairman William Small Jr. said SCSU supporters must tell the university’s story. Many factors have contributed to the challenges that confront the institution. Some of those factors were perpetuated by those now demanding accountability, he said.

“Everybody understands we didn’t get here by ourselves,” Small said. The remedies prescribed to rectify deficiencies at SCSU are too narrow, he said, and the issues that challenge SCSU are larger than repairing long standing budget woes. He said current focus on financial oversight ignores the fact that the institution always has been subject to that oversight from various sources.

While SCSU never was intended to be a competitive university among the state’s corps of higher education contenders, its record of sustained achievement has been complied against incredible odds, Small said.

Despite fiscal challenges (some at the crux of accreditation issues) alum members point to the contributions SCSU has made to the our society and the administration’s efforts to address them.

“I’m sure we will come through this,” Brown said. “Our president is addressing them with a team that includes staff and consultants. The students are depending on us so we must come out of this with the right results.”

SCSU Alumni chapters across the nation will continue their mission of fundraising and recruitment. Those elements are paramount to resolving the institution’s financial crises, Brown said. Additionally, alumnus will continue their campaign advocating state legislators to support SCSU.

Charleston alumni chapter president Michael Allen whose daughter is entering her third year at the institution, said like any parent would be, he is concerned about the challenges facing the institution where his daughter will receive her degree. But as graduates of SCSU, he and his wife are confident the school will overcome its challenges. Since 1896 it has overcome challenges, he said. As a parent and an alum their job is to demand the administration’s success, he said.

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