When she spoke to students and others at the Russell House today (and yes, the turnout for this was SRO huge, unlike at the rally yesterday), Darla Moore acted with the class you would expect. No whining or moaning or pointless lashing out.
But boy, did she make her voice heard. You can watch the whole speech here. After thanking those present, particularly the students (and she made it clear on multiple occasions that her message was for the students rather than the media and university honchos on hand) for their “encouragement, your kind sentiments and your support,” she went on to “reaffirm my love for the USC, my support for the USC and for the state of SC,” and to speak of the “shared obligation to move this institution forward not only for ourselves but for generations to come.”
Saying she was not there to talk about “the wonder of me,” and adding, “This is also not about money,” she went on:
By your reaction, you have ignited what I believe is the collective consciousness of this state to an issue that is far more fundamental to the state’s future than any other challenge that we face. And this is about having the courage, and the singular focus to understand the critical importance of a strong, progressive and properly resourced higher education system — and I mean from technical colleges to research universities — and the role it plays in securing a bright and productive future for all of us….
We can compete at the highest level.
Just because I no longer serve on the board does not mean for one second that I will be deterred in my efforts to expand our reach for excellence.
And I’m sure y’all have noticed that I don’t need a title or a position to speak out; I just need a voice, my vision and a forum to be heard.
Just like you did this week…
Then, in her one directly defiant statement toward the governor — and by implication, toward her replacement, whom the governor said she picked because he shared her “vision,” she said:
I’ll not allow our university to become a discounted graduation mill. I want you to be proud of your degree; I want you to be first in line for the best jobs available. And I want you to stay in South Carolina, to be a part of our effort to make our state great.
Excellence is our standard, and it must be maintained even if there are those who would offer policies that would dumb us down….
Finally, she said:
This is very personal: There’s been speculation that I would take my checkbook and go home. I want you to know that my commitment to USC is as strong as ever.
She then demonstrated that by hauling off and giving another $5 million:
Ousted trustee Darla Moore told USC students today that she does not plan to take her check book and go away. Instead, Moore – removed from USC’s board by Gov. Nikki Haley – said she would give the school $5 million to start an aviation research center named after Ronald McNair, killed in the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.
Like Moore, McNair was a native of Lake City.
USC had sought the money from the state to, it said, capitalize on Boeing’s plans to build 787 Dreamliner aircraft in Charleston.
However, House budget writers, faced with a $700 million shortfall in state money, killed the request, which Haley opposed as premature.
Moore is USC’s largest single benefactor ever. Her removal by Haley, who named a campaign donor to the USC board, has angered many USC students and graduates.
Key to photos below:
- There were plenty of honchos on the front row, but Ms. Moore repeatedly said she was there to speak to, and take questions from, the students.
- The view from the back of the ballroom.
- The view from the front (hey, you’re not paying extra for captioning here).
- Taking questions from students.
- President Harris Pastides was slightly mobbed by media afterward. He was very diplomatic, as I would expect him to be. He said he appreciated that the governor called to explain her decision — which was the first time I’d heard that she had (and marks the first thing I’ve heard of her doing properly — the first thing I’ve seen of her showing respect to anyone involved — in this whole affair).
- Yep, that’s Will Folks, all dressed up. I don’t recall having seen him this way. By the way, he said that while he sides with the governor on this issue, he was favorably impressed by the way Ms. Moore handled it.