By February 26, 2015 0 Comments Read More →

SCSU President Sidelined (“Scapegoated”?)



S.C State University President Thomas Elzey Placed on Administrative Leave

S.C State University President Thomas Elzey Placed on Administrative Leave

SCSU President Sidelined (“Scapegoated”?)

Just eleven days after South Carolina State University (SCSU) trustees said they were standing behind the president of their embattled school, they reversed their position and voted to place President Thomas Elzey on paid administrative leave. Six of the ten members of the Board of Trustees for the University participated in the decision which was unanimous. Elzey was then replaced with an interim provost. Trustee John Corbitt who made the motion to remove Elzey from active participation in the school’s administration said he did so in the best interest of the University.  President Elzey made no comment concerning the vote.

Students wanted  state officials to give Elzey more time to fix the financial problems of the university. Former  student  newspaper editor Dana Brooks said, “They must have been expecting a miracle from him. There were years of financial mismanagement before he came.” Elzey’s supporters say the state’s failure to properly fund SCSU and then complain when the bills were not paid is part of a larger plan to close the University and allocate the funds on other institutions of higher education.

A 2013 report by the Association of Land Grant Universities found that between 2010 and 2012, historically black universities in 17 states, including S.C., received a total of $56 million less than they should have.  Changes in eligibility requirements have made it difficult for students to obtain Pell Grants and Parent Plus loans, the major financial assistance programs that help students pay for college. SCSU’s financial problems are derived in part from those  federal changes in  financial aid programs, a drop in state funding, and declining student enrollment. The University’s financial breakeven point in terms of student enrollment is thought to be 4,300 students; current enrollment has fallen below 3,000 students.

Elzey said earlier that while state and federal funding and school enrollment had declined, the school spent as if nothing had changed. However, State Senator Darrell Jackson said Elzey did not vigorously push forth his cost-cutting ideas.

State Senator John Matthews called the move to sideline Elzey unwise. “I don’t see what purpose it will serve. [Now] they’ve got to pay [Elzey] and not get anything out of him”, he said. S.C. State Treasurer Curtis Loftis agrees that Elzey should not be paid while on administrative leave; he also opposes a proposal to pay Elzey two years salary if he is terminated.

State Senators said the Trustees’ move doesn’t solve the problem. They are fast-tracking  a proposal to fire SCSU trustees. Under the Senate’s proposal, a temporary, five member board would be appointed by the legislature to oversee the University. The current board would dissolve when the new members are appointed and the new board would decide on the next president. It is expected that they will fire  Elzey.


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