As an alumnus, former student body president and Alumni Board member, I was disappointed by the board of trustees’ selection of Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell as the 20th president of the College of Charleston. Beyond Lt. Gov. McConnell’s polarizing persona and dubious fondness for “historic” pastimes lies a flawed system of appointments, selections and elections within public colleges.
Most of the 20 members of the college’s board are elected by the General Assembly. The governor appoints three — one of whom traditionally is recommended by the alumni association. The Faculty Senate and Student Government presidents (or designated representatives) serve as ex officio members with no vote. Mr. McConnell has significant influence over the Legislature, which ultimately appoints trustees, thereby generating a conflict of interest.
This system is broken. An educational institution should be governed by independent stewards, students, alumni and faculty. The current construction ensures misrepresentation and cronyism. That the most powerful politician in the state is selected — without a waiting period or the endorsement of the search committee — should surprise no one.