The College of Charleston has offered to pay Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell $300,000 to work as president of his alma mater, the school revealed Friday.
The college’s foundation agreed to the trustees’ request to supplement McConnell’s $188,000 annual state salary with an additional $112,000.
McConnell’s pay would start July 1, based on a letter trustees chairman Greg Padgett sent to foundation chairwoman Sharon Kingman that the school released. A final contract has not been signed, college officials said.
McConnell, 66, would earn $79,000 a year less than current president George Benson, who is leaving June 30 after seven years. Benson earns $179,000 in state pay and $200,000 from the foundation that raises and invests money for the school.
Still, McConnell is getting a raise to run the 10,500-student school. He earns $46,544 as lieutenant governor and receives $48,515 in state retirement pay, according to his state economic disclosure filings.
He will earn less than the presidents at smaller S.C. public colleges – including Francis Marion, Coastal Carolina and S.C. State. Some presidents have led their schools for years.
McConnell has never worked in higher education. He was an attorney and ran a memorabilia shop that sold Confederate items.
Most notably, the Charleston Republican spent more than 30 years in the state Senate, including serving as its leader for the last decade. He was elevated to lieutenant governor in 2012 after Ken Ard resigned.
McConnell’s appointment has drawn criticism on the downtown Charleston campus. His Confederate sympathies, including support for keeping the Confederate flag on the State House grounds and Civil War re-enactments, angered students, faculty and alumni who fear his past might hurt the school’s future.
McConnell said he brokered an agreement to get the flag off the State House dome and the war re-enacting is a hobby. Several African-American state lawmakers have said they support him and called home a friend to minorities.
As College of Charleston’s president, McConnell said he wants to make the school the state’s third full-fledged research university while keeping its liberal-arts core. A bill approved out of a S.C. House panel this month has started the process to making the college eligible to become a research university.