Glenn McConnell is a name associated with many things – from his time as one of the most powerful politicians in South Carolina to the recent scandals resulting from his run for presidency of the College. On March 13 at 2:45p.m., students and non-instructional staff asked McConnell questions about his past experiences and vision for the College’s future during a forum in the Stern Center ballroom.
When former Lt. Governor McConnell stood behind the microphone, he addressed why he returned to the College. He believes that the College needs to be taken into the future. The way to do that, in his opinion, is by merging MUSC and the College together to take advantage of the resources Charleston has to offer and attract money to the institution.
“We have to start attracting money – not begging for it,” McConnell said. He spoke disdainfully about what he calls the “beggar’s model” which will supposedly create a tuition height. “How do we end up with donations?” McConnell asks. “We get people excited about what we’re doing.”
When asked why he supports the merger McConnell said, “I think we will end up in a stronger suit… We’ll be forced to do something that might be good.”
McConnell said, “We want Ph.D’s [to compete with Clemson and USC]. We ourselves can be a research university but that doesn’t mean we have to throw everything out.”
Even though McConnell stated in his opening that “we need to hear from the students,” he seemed not hear the brunette student ask how he can support the merger when a majority of the student body is apprehensive about it.
McConnell replied by saying, “You’re looking at it internally over the next 10 to 15 years. Decisions are made by looking 10 to 15 years up the road. For this school to maintain its excellence, it has to change its model.”
While McConnell dreams of bringing the College into the future, attendees of the open forum were more interested in the controversial topics that currently surround the College. SGA Vice President Chris Piedmont asked whether or not McConnell would stand up for academic freedom if he were currently in office when the S.C. legislator Garry Smith attempted to punish the College for assigning Fun Home as the College Reads book. “I would cast my tie vote against the house,” McConnell said, “not try to inflict harm because of somebody’s opinion… It’s very frustrating to hear the debate and not engage with it. ”
He continued to say, “Academic freedom is academic freedom. I think you should be exposed to it whether you like it or not.”
More questions about current controversy filled in. The NAACP recently protested against McConnell’s potential presidency on March 10 because of his connections to Confederate causes.
A debate flared up between McConnell and a woman about the Confederate flag controversy who then asked amidst the exchanges, “You think slavery should be remembered as well?”
McConnell replied that there is human trafficking in this state and he said, “I’d rather be doing that than bringing up an old fight.”
The discussion then turned to diversity. McConnell said, “Six percent [of African Americans attending the College] is too low – I don’t think anyone can argue with that.” McConnell’s plan is to reach out to rural and low socioeconomic areas with guidance counselors. “We have to put an infrastructure in place,” he said.
While the forum focused on controversy, McConnell wants to work on problem solving. “The Senate is about problem solving,” he said, “Slowly, we’re losing it. It’s become more about the politics than the next problem.” If McConnell is appointed by the Board of Trustees, at this rate, it can be guaranteed he will put those problem solving skills to use.