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firing an entire university

The legislature of South Carolina has allowed a budget to pass that will shut down South Carolina State University for a single year. According to news reports, the legislature tabled debate on a motion that would defund SCSU and close it for a year while they work on the finances:

The Higher Education Subcommittee’s plan would shut down the university on July 1, 2015 for fiscal year 2015-2016 and reopen in 2017. That plan would suspend all athletics programs, fire President Thomas Elzey, dismiss faculty and state employees, terminate the Board of Trustees.

During that year of closure, a Blue Ribbon Committee would look at the school’s finances, rehire necessary staff, reconstitute the athletics programs, and set curriculum before reopening the doors.

The state would also foot the bill for the university’s debts and loans.

Whoa.

Satellite campuses of state schools are occasionally closed and/or merged for all kinds of reasons. But I think this is a first in that the legislature intends to continue funding SCSU at a later time, just with different management. This happens occasionally with private colleges who might close and then re-open, as has happened with Antioch College. An interesting question is (a) whether the South Carolina legislature will approve this policy and (b) if successful, how often legislatures will use this procedure to manage other state college campuses.

Higher ed geeks, use the comments.

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Written by fabiorojas

February 12, 2015 at 12:01 am

Posted in education, fabio, leadership

7 Responses

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  1. I don’t know if the faculty are organized there but this might be a neat union-busting, tenure-busting tactic. Rehire people with a different status: non-tenured, non-organized, lower pay and benefit.

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    SocProf

    February 12, 2015 at 12:26 am

  2. It’s South Carolina…no unions to speak of as it is a ‘right to work’ state. Some people may recall that the workers of Boeing in Washington a few years ago were upset over the possible move of one of their factories to SC because of the extremely low wages, lack of unions, and strong tax breaks the state was promising the corporation, which many argued was evidence of ‘internal outsourcing’ of good jobs whereby companies move to Southern states for similar reasons they may outsource jobs to another nation: for the labor and profit advantages. But hey, this way they don’t have to worry about the accusation that they are taking away jobs from Americans, just using the political system in their favor.

    There’s a long, contentious history in Orangeburg (where SCSU is located) between whites and blacks. This is the site of the (in)famous Orangeburg Massacre during the CRM, and there’s continuing segregation reflecting lack of change for decades. Some people note that the staunch resistance in and around SCSU and Orangeburg during the CRM has kept a grudge against the black community in and around the town and university, including funding decisions for university improvements.

    One interesting item to note about SCSU and the strong racial history of the university and the state: Strom Thurmond was a quiet donor and parent of an alumae who attended the university. Even though he was pro-segregation, many in his camp supported HBCUs to sustain separate and unequal educational systems in the South.

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    hillbillysociologist

    February 12, 2015 at 12:45 pm

  3. Interesting that this is the first I’ve seen of this. It isn’t in my Chronicle feed, not showing up in FB news links. Is this because it is a Black school? Because it is in South Carolina and may as well be on another planet as far as national academic networks are concerned? The news story makes it sound like the proposal is more of a rhetorical turn in an ongoing battle.

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    olderwoman

    February 12, 2015 at 3:04 pm

  4. Thank you for the comments. I suspect that this story is much more complicated than what was depicted in the news item. This is another example of HBCU’s slowly being chipped away and also a story of a difficult fight between SCSU and the legislature. A quick google search reveal persistent budget fights and the current budget may be overturned in the full legislature.

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    fabiorojas

    February 12, 2015 at 5:44 pm

  5. I cringed when I saw this post. There is so much local context behind the proposal to close SCSU, and the author doesn’t know the first of it — like for example the basic and extremely salient detail that SCSU is an HBCU. The follow-up comment only makes it worse. Don’t blame your ignorance on the way a local TV station reported an ongoing story; it’s your fault for not doing any background research. And please don’t continue to comment on a situation after you’ve shown that you know nothing about it. A “quick google search” is not enough.

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    sandlapper

    February 12, 2015 at 11:30 pm

  6. Sandlapper: If you would like to provide additional context, please do. This is a completely serious request.

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    fabiorojas

    February 12, 2015 at 11:32 pm

  7. […] is the scariest thing on the entire […]

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