Creating a New Board of Regents for SC State

S.475 would replace the current board of regents at South Carolina State University (SC State) with a new five member board with one member each appointed by the: Senate President Pro Tem, House Speaker, Senate Education Committee Chairman, House Education and Public Works Chairman, and Governor. The new board would govern SC State until at least June 30, 2018.

Like the other legislative attempt to replace the current SC State Board with the Budget (BCB) and Control Board, this bill does little to address the problems at the root of SC State’s financial troubles. The current university board of trustees was chosen by a committee of 8 legislators, it’s unclear why allowing a new legislative panel to choose new board members is expected to produce a better financial outcome than the original selection process. In fact, at least one of the legislators who would have the power to choose the new board under this bill also serves on the BCB which ignored the warning signs leading up to SC State’s fiscal meltdown.

Fixing financial management practices at public universities will require more than a change in leadership in existing boards of trustees. Lawmakers should consider more fundamental reforms such as establishing a State University Board of Regents to coordinate fiscal and other management practices across state funded universities. A report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and the SC Policy Council has found that the absence of a consolidated governance structure for higher education leads to institutional overlap and accompanying waste.

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