In an almost-unanimous vote, the S.C. State University Faculty Senate voted 19-3 to express their lack of confidence in the leadership of George Cooper, the current President of the school, declaring that Cooper had failed to:
--Provide and implement a compelling vision for the university.
--Adhere to shared governance by refusing to communicate with the elected representatives of the faculty.
--Uphold policy and to properly oversee the financial status, including the cash flow, of the university, as found by the outside financial consulting firm Elliott Davis.
The document also states that Cooper has "ignored public scrutiny regarding the University's financial status and has provided no answers or embarrassing answers to the public particularly, regarding the James E. Clyburn Transportation Center."
The document includes a closing appeal from the Faculty Senate that the no-confidence vote "warrants immediate attention and action."
The institution has been a source of considerable controversy, and Cooper is right in the middle of it.
Last June, Cooper was dismissed by the University's board of trustees, and then re-hired two weeks later when new board members were appointed. The ongoing issues with missing millions at the Clyburn Transportation Research center won't go away until a full accounting is made - an accounting which some allege Cooper has been stonewalling.
Given the resistance being put up to the inquiries into the missing funds related to the Clyburn Center, as well as the fact that Cooper believes the Faculty Senate, which is composed of representatives elected from the faculty of each department, "does not reflect the full faculty at South Carolina State University", we're doubting the President will take this resolution seriously.
State University has rarely been an institution that the state could be proud of, but in an era where money is scarce, continuing to take the "out of sight, out of mind" approach to this problem won't work. Governor Sanford had begun focusing efforts upon this troubled state institution, and news like this should make it clear that Haley and the General Assembly need to pick up where Sanford left off and demand the school run on par with any other public college or university in the Palmetto State.
The first step would be to send Cooper packing - again - and make sure that he doesn't come back.