[image-1] The College of Charleston wants to hear from its students, faculty, staff, alumni, and from any other Charlestonians with a burning desire to comment on the school’s search for its 23rd president in an online survey.
“The online survey is intended to provide an opportunity for members of the extended College of Charleston community, including our 86,000 alumni around the world, to provide input on the desired traits, characteristics, credentials and qualities of our next president,” says CofC spokesperson Mike Robertson.
College president Glenn McConnell, 70, announced his retirement on Jan. 29. The former lieutenant governor and state senator was appointed to the post in 2014. His selection by a previous search group sparked protests and sit-ins from students and faculty worried about his penchant for Confederate memorabilia and past defense of barbecue barons fond of the antebellum South.
“I thought he was the worst person to pick if you wanted to conduct a university that serves the entire population of the state and which has historically under-served the African-American population of the state” said Joe Kelly, a literature and composition professor at the College, in an interview with Post & Courier. “But that was my initial (thought), before he came on board. I would count myself among those whose minds he changed about that.”
The school’s Board of Trustees will conduct the search for McConnell’s replacement with the help of an executive search firm that has yet to be announced. On Jan. 30, the university, which boasts 10,863 total students, announced the creation of a presidential search committee to preside over campus-wide listening sessions and recommend candidates to the Board of Trustees.
At a Feb. 1 panel at the College of Charleston, the audience erupted into prolonged applause when moderator Joy Reid of MSNBC turned the conversation to McConnell’s retirement.
“I would say that CofC students were very vocal when the President was hired and I’m gonna leave it like that,” said Dr. Patricia Lessane, executive director of the university’s Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture during the panel. “You can look at our wonderful leadership, but it is majority white male.”
The search committee consists of six members of the Board of Trustees, a dean, and a professor. It consist of only two non-white members. Only one member of the Board of Trustees is not white.
The survey will remain online until April 9, five days after the end of the campus listening sessions on April 5.