South Carolina State’s Public Failures Give Power to HBCU Stereotypes
[mpoverlay]Falling enrollment, mismanaged government funding, financial disarray, inconsistent leadership, disgruntled students and non-supportive alumni. If there’s a stereotype about HBCU culture, South Carolina State University either currently embraces it or is bracing for its impact.
And sadly, its current leadership has no idea how bad it looks for them outside of Orangeburg.
Local media around the school and throughout the state are making a daily example of SCSU on how not to run an institution of higher education, with today’s grenade coming in the form of a full chronicling of South Carolina State’s downfall. Even worse, the article openly suggests that part of SCSU’s self-destruction is a result of white lawmakers in the state being wary of publicly involving themselves in the school’s affairs, for fear of being called racist.
State Sen. Robert Ford, a black Charleston Democrat, has said his white colleagues generally take a hands-off approach to S.C. State for fear of being called racist. And Rep. Chip Limehouse, a white Republican from Charleston, has said many white lawmakers see the school as their black colleagues’ turf.
This hands-off approach likely contributed to the school’s recent upheaval and a string of problems. Among other things:
The school’s board of trustees fired President George Cooper in June 2010, but a board with two new members rehired him two weeks later.
Cooper fired eight high-level administrators in February for conduct unbecoming of a state employee, but the school never released details of what these people did. (Post and Courier)
SCSU’s strongest allies, students and alumni, are the first to question leadership and direction of the institution. No effort has been made to deliver to these groups facts about the investigation, or timetables on when issues will be solved with or without their input. Tuition continues to rise and credibility continues to plummet, so much so, that even its greatest ally, Rep. James Clyburn, has publicly questioned the board’s leadership.
South Carolina State remains a quality academic destination, with a mission that serves valuable needs for the State of South Carolina and a population of students that otherwise, would be criminally underserved without it. But short of a campus executive – an administrative assistant or internal director of some kind – willing to step forward with truth about what really ails the institution, it will be decades before anyone again takes the school or its mission seriously.