The Daily Gamecock

Statehouse moves to vote on filling 4 vacant board of trustees seats

<p>FILE—The south entrance of the South Carolina Statehouse on Jan. 17, 2022. The College and University Trustee commission convened on Jan. 10, 2023 after deciding who would move forward in the screening process to be eligible for the final stage of voting.</p>
FILE—The south entrance of the South Carolina Statehouse on Jan. 17, 2022. The College and University Trustee commission convened on Jan. 10, 2023 after deciding who would move forward in the screening process to be eligible for the final stage of voting.

The College and University Trustee Screening Commission convened on Tuesday, where officials confirmed the trustee candidates that would move on to the final voting stage taking place before the joint assembly later this spring. 

The eight-member commission unanimously found Alexander English, D. Benjamin Graves, Henry L. Jolly Jr., J. Patrick Anderson, D. Hollis Felkel, C. Brody Glenn and Reid T. Sherard qualified to replace current board members.

There are five returning board members, including first judicial circuit trustee Charles H. Williams III, third circuit trustee C. Dorn Smith III, John C. von Lehe Jr. of the ninth circuit, 11th Judicial circuit trustee and chair Thad H. Westbrook as well as 12th circuit trustee C. Edward Floyd.

Last year, the board faced heavy criticism over their handling of issues like the university's two presidential searches and large buyouts of former head football coach Will Muschamp and former men's basketball coach Frank Martin. 

Sen. Richard A. Harpootlian, D-Columbia, previously proposed a bill to restructure the board of trustees that failed to pass the state senate. During Tuesday's session, he specifically expressed concerns that board of trustees member C. Dorn Smith III resides outside his circuit and about Smith's lack of cooperation with University President Michael Amiridis.

“[Smith] routinely bypassed the president of the university and talked to department heads specifically on numerous occasions, the head of the athletic department without going through the president about matters he had no business discussing,” Sen. Harpootlian said.

The commission is in charge of the selection of members of the board of trustees for all public universities in South Carolina. Trustee members for USC serve four year terms with elections every two years.

Board of trustees running must reside in a vacant judicial circuit and pass approval from the commissions eight members as well as approval from the state's general assembly. 

All returning board members were unanimously voted to progress except for Floyd, who received two dissents, and Smith, who received one.

Sen. Harpootlian claimed he would not vote for Smith when the candidates are voted on by the full General Assembly.

“I have to say this has been the most difficult year we’ve had as far as screening out candidates,” chairman Rep. Bill Whitmire, R-Walhalla, said.

Commission members Sen. John L. Scott Jr., D-Columbia, and Rep. Seth Rose, D-Columbia, further expressed a desire to restructure the board of trustees. 

“I think the way the board is made up, I think the size of the board, the lack of diversity of the board are all things that trouble me,” Rep. Rose said. 

The final stages of voting will take place before the joint assembly later this spring. 


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