State Senator asks university president to resign

By Jody Barr - bio | email

ORANGEBURG, SC (WIS) - South Carolina State University faculty members have a message for President George Cooper: it's time to go.

The report was eight pages long. The word "failure" showed up 20 times. SC State's Faculty Senate, chaired by Dr. Evelyn Fields, voted Thursday to send Cooper a message: the faculty has "no confidence" in Cooper's administration. "That means he's got to go," said State Senator Robert Ford, "If he loves SC State, if he loves South Carolina, he should resign on his own."

State Senator Ford sent Cooper a letter Monday, asking him to resign. The faculty's resolution stated Cooper's administration failed to "demonstrate effective leadership" and is responsible for SC State's "constant demise."

"Once the faculty senate did what they did last Thursday, he should have packed up Friday morning and said, 'Listen, I love this institution. I'm not fit to be president. I'm leaving.'," expressed State Senator Ford.

SC State staff pointed to Cooper's public handling of questions surrounding more than $30 million to build the James Clyburn Transportation Center. The faculty said Cooper provided "no answers," and when he did, the president provided "embarrassing answers." The project is 12 years behind schedule and construction started six months ago. It's the only center out of 36 in the country that remains unfinished. State Senator Ford said the building's namesake shares some of the blame. "Congressman Clyburn has a lot to do with that," he said, "He's an alumni at SC State. He brought in the $50 million. He should have demanded more accountability."

State Senator Ford along with nine other lawmakers asked state auditors to track down the millions. The audit started in August. Ford said it should be finished by April. The findings, according to the state senator, will be humbling. "You are there for the public," he said, "You are there to serve the public, and apparently people don't understand that yet. But we're going to make them understand when this audit comes out."

WIS News 10 called SC State's press contact, Erica Taylor, to request an interview with President Cooper. Ms. Taylor said she'd call the president, then return our call. So far, WIS News 10 still has not heard back from the university.

As for Cooper's future, the Board of Trustees has not scheduled a meeting to address the vote of no confidence.

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