Finalists named in search for SC’s next higher ed oversight agency director

Fall leaves surround the grounds of the South Carolina State House Tuesday Dec. 4, 2018, in Columbia, SC.
Fall leaves surround the grounds of the South Carolina State House Tuesday Dec. 4, 2018, in Columbia, SC.

South Carolina’s higher education oversight agency has named three finalists to be the group’s next executive director.

The finalists for executive director of the S.C. Commission on Higher Education include an attorney for a for-profit college in Baltimore, a high-ranking Missouri education administrator and the co-founder of a conservative policy group.

Roughly 60 people applied for the position. Of those, the five-person search committee made up of CHE board members interviewed six people and chose three finalists, interim executive director Mike LeFever said. Those finalists are:

  • Mary J. Broadwater, assistant divisional counsel, Laureate Education Inc., Baltimore, Maryland
  • Rusty L. Monhollon, assistant commissioner for academic affairs, Missouri Department of Higher Education, Jefferson City, Missouri
  • Oran P. Smith, co-founder, senior fellow and secretary of the Board of Directors, Palmetto Promise Institute, Columbia

CHE did not hire a search firm to recruit candidates. The only advertising the agency did was placing a notice on the state’s job postings website, LeFever said.

“The finalists represent the very best from an extremely talented pool of professionals,” said Charles Dalton, the commissioner from Greenville and chair of the five-member search committee. “We look forward to introducing them to South Carolina’s higher education community before selecting the next Commission leader.”

LeFever took over at the commission after his predecessor, Jeff Schilz, received a $91,500 raise that some lawmakers called illegal. Schilz and former CHE board chair Tim Hofferth were forced out amid the fallout, according to a previous article from The State.

LeFever had said from the beginning that he did not want a permanent role. LeFever, who previously worked as the head of S.C. Independent Colleges and Universities, said he is ready for a break.

“This is my third retirement,” LeFever joked. “Hopefully it sticks.”