Lawmakers set to discuss College of Charleston, MUSC merger next - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Lawmakers set to discuss College of Charleston, MUSC merger next week

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A proposed merger between two historic colleges in the Low Country is sharply dividing lawmakers at the State House.

Next week a special Ad-hoc Committee will meet to discuss the possibility of merging the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina into "Charleston University."

Twin bills in the house and senate with the same aim get the colleges to merge and fill a crucial need in the state's workforce in science and engineering.

"One of the great needs we have in South Carolina is post graduate degrees," said Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Charleston. "When they combine the faculties they have, they'll be able to offer a greater product than they can separately."

With many high tech industries making a home here in South Carolina, the need is expected to grow, but at least three co-sponsors of the house bill have taken their name off the proposal because they say the merger could have a detrimental effect on the rest of the state.

"I just don't think flip flops and white jackets go together," said Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston. "What we don't want to do is hurt the medical university, and their statewide mission is to provide quality health care for South Carolina residents."

One of the bill sponsors said the cost of the merger could be in the millions.

"When they understand, this is a real proposal, we need real answers, then we'll understand exactly where the finances lie," Grooms said.

While regional business groups are in favor of the merger, many say the colleges' historic roots should be preserved.

The Ad-hoc Committee will hold its first meeting next week.

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