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S.C. State University Trustee: Entire Board Should Be Replaced

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A longtime trustee at South Carolina’s largest historically Black university says the school’s board should be replaced.

Maurice Washington told The State of Columbia for a story Sunday that three years of conflict with presidents, accreditation troubles and a pending state audit of how the school used federal funds show South Carolina State University’s board is not functioning properly.

State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, also called for the governing body to be replaced this summer. Trustee Martha Scott Smith has submitted her letter of resignation to Gov. Mark Sanford and Sanford spokesman Ben Fox told the newspaper the governor expects to get the resignation of board member Karl Green in the near future.

But board chairman Jonathan Pinson says he and other trustees want to move the university past its leadership problems that began in 2007 when the board refused to renew the contract of then-president Andrew Hugine and had to pay $60,000 to settle a lawsuit.

The board voted this June to fire Hugine’s successor, Dr. George Cooper, then less than a month later reversed itself when two trustees opposed to Cooper were replaced.

“To continue to play this stuff out in the paper is just wrong,” Pinson said. “This train is going to move forward down the tracks. You can throw as many stones at it as you want, but it’s moving. We’re going to get beyond this.”

In 2008, the university was warned by accreditation group Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to improve a range of problems from fundraising to academics. One of the problems cited was a failure to maintain a clear distinction between trustees and the administration.

Last month, the state’s financial watchdog agency agreed to review spending by the university on a transportation research center.

Several lawmakers asked the Legislative Audit Council for a review after school officials could not account for millions of state and federal dollars planned for the James E. Clyburn Transportation Center at S.C. State.

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