Lieutenant Governor Glenn McConnell confirms he will accept the offer to become the College of Charleston’s 22nd President.
The confirmation comes just hours after the Board of Trustees at the College unanimously selected McConnell to lead the school. Officials said it took board members around two hours to make the decision. While the decision was unanimous, two board members were not present to cast their vote.
“We believe that Glenn McConnell is the best person to lead the College of Charleston, and we expect to quickly conclude the contract negotiations and formally introduce Lt. Gov. McConnell to the campus and the community,” said Greg Padgett, chair of the Board of Trustees.
The road to McConnell’s new position, however, didn’t come without controversy. For weeks, students and activists groups spoke out against McConnell, saying he wouldn’t be a good fit for the college.
As word spread around campus Saturday night, dozens of students gathered in the Cistern Yard to speak out against the board’s decision .
“I feel like I’ve been betrayed,” Virginia Whorley said. “I spend my money here, and I expect the people we put in charge to listen to us. It is a board for a reason.”
Some of the students said they are worried with his seeming lack of educational background.
“I was completely shocked,” Devon MeNeely said. “First of all, he’s not very qualified. He has no higher ed experience, as a secondary ed major, I don’t feel that is a good person to represent our school.”
Other said they are worried his enthusiasm with the Civil War could tarnish the College of Charleston’s liberal arts education.
“Our minority population is incredibly small, and when you have someone whose backed certain policies like keeping a Confederate Flag up at the State House and owned a Confederate memorabilia store, that’s not the best image,” Joe Suthers said.
McConnell urged all of those who are concerned to look at his record.
“Look at my record, not at the rhetoric,” McConnell said by phone Saturday. “My record has been about diversity; it’s been about bringing people together; it’s been about solving problems; it’s been about moving forward with progress.”
While students said the Board of Trustees did not listen to their concerns, McConnell said he will.
“I know what it takes about listening to different constituencies and bringing people together, and that’s what I’ve done,” he said. “You don’t have to like me, but please respect the fact that I’m with you and trying to bring the student experience to a greater level.”
Some students agree that, while some may disagree with the decision, it is best to work together to better the college’s reputation.
“Everyone wants Mr. McConnell out,” Jasmine Wilson said. “I don’t want Mr. McConnell out. He’s here. He’s going to stay. I want to make the best of this for him and for myself.”
McConnell will be placing out-going president George Benson who steps down in June.