Haley donor replaces Darla Moore on USC Board of Trustees - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Haley donor replaces Darla Moore on USC Board of Trustees

Darla Moore (Source: sc.edu) Darla Moore (Source: sc.edu)
Thomas Cofield, who will replace Moore on the board (Source: Cofield Law Firm) Thomas Cofield, who will replace Moore on the board (Source: Cofield Law Firm)

By Logan Smith - email | bio

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Governor Nikki Haley has removed philanthropic businesswoman Darla Moore from the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees, and replaced her with a donor to Haley's gubernatorial campaign.

Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said Moore's removal happened on March 10, but was not made public until Tuesday. "As is the case with many of our appointees, the governor looked for a fresh set of eyes to put in a critical leadership position –- a governor's appointee to the USC board," said Godfrey.

That "fresh set of eyes" is Lexington attorney Thomas Cofield, a Columbia native and USC graduate who Haley appointed to Moore's former seat. State ethics reports show Cofield gave $4,500 to Haley's gubernatorial campaign.

Moore graduated from USC in 1975, and quickly rose to prominence in the business world before becoming vice president of the Rainwater corporation. She has pledged $70 million to the university's business school since 1998, for which the school was renamed after Moore.

"I'd like to see [USC] become once again a nationally-recognized business school where excellent, excellent world-class business managers came from," Moore said in 1998.

Moore clearly succeeded in her goal. In fact, on the same day news of Moore's removal broke, we also learned the Moore School's graduate international business program is again ranked number two in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

"The importance of Darla Moore's philanthropy cannot be overestimated," said USC Board Chairman Miles Loadholt. "Her constant push for excellence not only at a state level, but in a global context, will be a standing legacy and among her many contributions to the university."

Haley's surprise move elicited strong reactions on both sides of the issue. No one questions Haley's authority as governor to name someone else to take Moore's place on the board, but many think it was an insult to someone who has given a lot of money to help the university.

"Looking at it from the perspective of a student, it seems incredible to me that someone on the board of trustees for this university could be replaced with someone that fits a political agenda," said student Kyle Ritter, who emailed Haley about his disapproval.

Some students said Haley's decision was just wrong. "As a student at this university, specifically at the Darla Moore School of Business, I'm disgusted, embarrassed and definitely don't think that it's a good decision in any way for our school or any of the students here," said Ritter.

"As someone who's such a part of this university's community, it's I don't think a smart decision," agreed Greg Waller. Students began an online petition to reinstate Moore within hours after learning of her removal.

"Each governor deserves the chance to appoint board members that share his or her vision to a board," Haley posted on her Facebook page Tuesday evening. "Being that there are 19 board seats, and that a governor has but two appointments, we believe it's entirely appropriate to put people in those slots who share our vision for the university."

"We have a great deal of respect for Ms. Moore and everything she has done for the university and our state, and we look forward to her future service," added Godfrey.

So far it is unclear what that future service may entail, but Business School Dean Hildy Teegen said she has no reason to believe Moore will decrease her support. "She recognizes how important having a world-class business school in South Carolina is important to helping advance passions and interest that are central to her, like improving per-capita income for all South Carolinians," said Teegen.

You can see a full interview with Teegen about Moore's removal on Newswatch, which airs Sunday at 10:00am on WIS.

Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved.

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