South Carolina State eyes comeback under new president
- South Carolina State University President James Clark says better fiscal management and an emphasis on attracting students are the keys to helping the historically black institution regain its footing as a major academic enterprise following years of mismanagement and controversy.
- The school, which had its entire board replaced in 2015 and selected Clark, a former board member, as president in 2016, has reversed course after facing unprecedented enrollment loss, legal scandal and transition at presidential levels.
- Clark says building customer service and partnerships with community colleges and with the University of South Carolina and Clemson University will be important in establishing the school's future viability.
Schools like the University of Louisville and the City College of New York show that scandal and financial issues are the fastest way for states to step in to appoint leaders and make changes, for better or worse. South Carolina State could be viewed by many as justification for legislative intervention into colleges and universities. In two years, lawmakers replaced its board and handpicked its president without a search, which today, according to some, has benefited the school in boosting its revenue and coverage in the local media.
Public institutions facing similar circumstances may not be able to avoid similar situations, but keeping elected officials and alumni informed of challenges and opportunities is a major element in maintaining leadership autonomy and self-governance.