A South Carolina House panel decided Wednesday to designate an existing part of the College of Charleston as a research university instead of forcibly merging the college with the Medical University of South Carolina.
Both Charleston schools would remain separate under the proposal, approved by a special ad hoc committee. But a component of the College of Charleston would be made into a research institution. That entity now exists as the University of Charleston, South Carolina.
The research university would be a separate section from the College of Charleston in the state’s budget, the amendment stated, and the College of Charleston would remain a four-year liberal arts college.
The College of Charleston would be preserved and the research university component would be used to offer graduate-level courses and expand research work that needs to be done in the Lowcountry, said state Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston.
“It’s the best idea yet,” said Shirley Hinson, director of government relations for the College of Charleston.
The research university would provide opportunities for students to pursue graduate and doctoral programs, she said.
The College of Charleston would continue to collaborate with other schools, including the University of South Carolina, The Citadel and the Medical University of South Carolina, she said.
The Medical University of South Carolina is also supportive of the decision, said Mark Sweatman, a representative of that school.
“The merger was not ideal,” Sweatman said. “Proximity does not mean the two should be one.”
With the merger idea off the table, Sweatman said MUSC is willing to work with the College of Charleston and its next president, Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston.
A second amendment, which also passed, would ensure the University of Charleston, South Carolina, would not duplicate degree programs already offered by other higher education institutions in the Charleston region.
The amended bill now heads to a date with the House Ways and Means Committee, tentatively scheduled for next week.