SC State Trustees Meet, Respond to Calls for Resignation

8:01 PM, Apr 26, 2012   |    comments
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Orangeburg, SC (WLTX) -- As South Carolina State University's Board of Trustees met Thursday, a state senator called for several of them to resign, but at least two of them say they don't plan to do that.

The board met without two familiar faces--Walter Johnson and Matthew Richardson. The two submitted a joint letter of resignation earlier this week saying the board couldn't change or work effectively.

"If I was in church I'd say the devil has not stolen our joy, the school stands strong," said the board's action chair John Corbitt.

"I'm just little sad that we lost those two board members," said Trustee Robert Waldrep.

The school has already removed Johnson and Richardson's name and pictures from a sign outside their conference room.

Richardson gave News19 a copy of a letter sent to board members in March. He asked the members involved in misconduct and self-dealing to step down.

Corbitt agreed that would be appropriate action, but said he wasn't involved in the investigation.

"We don't know who's under investigation except that they've told me that I'm not under investigation," said Corbitt.

A bill in the South Carolina House of Representatives is on to the Senate and if passed would end the terms of every trustee. A statement from the university's faculty said the legislation had little to no support.

"I think that's an inappropriate and knee jerk reaction to the situation and I think that if it was well thought out they would realize that we would lose a great deal of experience and some really competent people," said Waldrep of the bill.

Charleston County Senator Robert Ford has called for the resignation of three current board members: Robert Nance, Robert Waldrep, and Patricia Lott.

He sent copies of his letters to News19.

Ford also wrote a letter to Richardson who has already stepped down.

The senator questioned the judgment and ethics of the members in the rehiring of former President George Cooper after the school had already fired him.

Ford also said Nance had a politically motivated agenda as a District Director for U.S. Congressman Jim Clyburn.

"It can easily be argued that as a member of Congressman James E. Clyburn's staff that your agenda is a political one, thereby, violating a SACS standard," Ford wrote to Nance.

"I have not seen the senator's letter, the senator is entitles to his opinion, but I don't have any conflict of interest. I don't plan to step down. i'm here today doing the work of the board," said Nance.

"If Senator Ford'll resign first, I'll resign. My intent is to stay here and to try to solve the problems that we have at SC State and I've don't think that resigning is the best solution," said Waldrep.

Now even as the school deals with struggling enrollment, a criminal investigation and a host of other issues, Corbitt says the school is still standing strong.

The school is moving ahead with its search for a new president. A 16-person committee will go through applications from 22 people looking to find the right fit. They'll begin looking at those as soon as Friday.

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