Hugh Leatherman proposes S.C. State University advisory committee in state budget

Posted by CASSIE COPE on May 8, 2014 

Hugh Leatherman

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Senate Finance chairman Hugh Leatherman wants to make an advisory committee of five current and former S.C. college presidents that would guide South Carolina Sate University through its financial turmoil part of next year's state budget.

The state's only historically black public college received a $6 million loan last week from state budget leaders for help with $13.6 million in unpaid and upcoming bills.

“This, at most, is a Band-Aid,” Leatherman said during Senate floor budget talks. "The university is bleeding to death and needs a tourniquet."

Leatherman said the advisory committee told him S.C. State could need at least three years to get back on track.

The committee is made up of former Clemson President Jim Barker, University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides, Francis Marion University President Fred Carter, former College of Charleston President Alex Sanders and former S.C. State president Ernest Finney.

They have met twice at Leatherman's request, but the Florence Republican wants to make them official with a budget amendment.

The committee -- working with four S.C. State trustees -- would develop a budget plan to reduce expenditures and stabilize the university, including recruitment and retention of students, the amendment said. The plan would also include expenses across all aspects of the university including administration, academics, auxiliary operations, public service activities and athletics. School trustees will need to follow their committee's recommendations to receive funding.

The proposal comes about a week after the Budget and Control board approved $6 million state loan to help stabilize its finances, a decision Leatherman opposed.

Senators will likely consider the proposal Thursday afternoon while discussing the budget.

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