South Carolina State University’s president, Thomas J. Elzey
The South Carolina State University’s Board of Trustees has unanimously voted to place its president, Thomas J. Elzey on paid administrative leave. The decision to place Elzey on paid leave was announced Feb. 23 after a closed-door vote took place just 11 days after the financially crippled university’s trustees released a statement of so-called confidence, stating that they would be standing behind their president, according to the New York Times. But members of the Legislative Black Caucus along with a group of the university’s alums wants Elzey removed.
The announcement comes after lawmakers proposed shutting down the state’s only public Historical Black College or University (HBCU) for one fiscal year due to the institution’s current financial deficit of more than $17 million.
Several reports state that the States House Ways and Means Committee are currently discussing different proposals to part ways with the entire board of trustees as well. According to South Carolina’s local channel WYFF, the school will gain an entirely new board that would be appointed by Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman (R-S.C.) and other lawmakers.
Some trustees have argued that the school’s financial crisis was spawned by the state’s lack of financial support. A report by the Association of Public Land Grant Universities in 2013 found that HBCUs in 17 states, including South Carolina, received $56 million less than they should have in state funding compared to several predominantly White universities or colleges, according to NPR.
If Elzey is fired without cause, he could receive more than $400,000 since he has three years remaining on his contract, The State reported. The interim provost of the school, W. Franklin Evans has been named as the acting president.