Letters cited in Elzey's firing detail disconnect between SC State board, president

Letters cited in Elzey's firing detail disconnect between SC State board, president

ORANGEBURG COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Two letters cited as the reason why South Carolina State University ultimately terminated the contract of Thomas Elzey paint a clearer picture of the dysfunction that existed between the Board of Trustees and the president.

The first letter, dated Jan. 16, 2015, was from the board chairman to Elzey. The letter was just weeks before lawmakers voted to shut the school down for one fiscal year in an effort to shore up the school's finances.

In the letter, Chairman William Small, Jr. writes about low morale among staff due to the impact of further cuts and layoffs.

"Board members are receiving calls from employees regarding administrative decisions impacting their families, their futures and their future employment association with South Carolina State University," Chairman William Small, Jr. wrote.

Small goes further and asked Elzey why the board hasn't been informed if layoffs or terminations are being considered.

"At the conclusion of our discussion last Wednesday, we certainly did not anticipate any significant reduction in force type activities occurring without some continuing consultation and sharing of information on the matter," Small wrote.

Another point of contention between the board and Elzey was the president's schedule.

The letter references an instance when the power at the school was close to being cut off and how the board had trouble locating Elzey.

"When it was necessary to respond to prevent the power to the University from being cut off, you were in Atlanta," Small wrote. "Of this we were not aware."

Small then said he looks for Elzey to provide the board with a schedule of "projected activities" before wishing the president well in the closing note.

The second letter, dated Feb. 25, 2015, is once again from Small to Elzey. Small claims Elzey has demonstrated a "lack of respect towards the Board and its proper functions."

"These Board perceptions are exacerbated by reports, from various sources we deem reliable, that you make disparaging comments about the Board to University faculty and have made public statements to the effect that you were 'declaring martial law,'" Small wrote.

The letter claims Elzey isn't consulting the board about financial presentations made to lawmakers, funding issues, and employment decisions.

The board chairman also calls into questions Elzey's fundraising plan and goals, explaining in the letter that the board is basically without the necessary information to do its job.

In a court hearing last week and attorney for Elzey told a judge he has received a satisfactory evaluation just weeks before being placed on administrative leave.

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