How McConnell is playing nationally

In one venue, at least…

Slate runs a fairly even-handed (despite the Slate teaser, “IS A MAN WHO DRESSES LIKE A CONFEDERATE GENERAL UNFIT TO BE A COLLEGE PRESIDENT?”) piece that first appeared in Inside Higher Ed. There are no surprises in it. I just find it interesting to see how our controversies in SC play elsewhere, particularly in a case in which the protesters claim that McConnell’s selection will hurt out-of-state recruitment and the value of a College of Charleston education.

An excerpt:

Trustees at the College of Charleston are facing heat from faculty and students for picking South Carolina’s lieutenant governor as the college’s next president. In the process, critics say, the trustees brushed aside warnings that Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell’s promotion of Confederate history could damage Charleston’s reputation and turn away prospective students and donors.

In picking McConnell, the public liberal arts college’s trustees reportedly ignored the school’s own search committee, which did not recommend the politician—who has never worked in higher education—for president.

Backlash has been swift. Students rallied against McConnell’s selection Monday in the largest campus protest in recent memory. “This is 2014 NOT 1814,” one sign read. On Tuesday the student government voted no confidence in the college’s trustees. …

As you see, not much new. I just thought I’d share.

30 thoughts on “How McConnell is playing nationally

  1. Doug Ross

    Here’s something I wonder about – Senator McConnell is already receiving a SC state pension. What will the impact of his appointment to his new position have on his pension? Does this appointment bump up McConnell’s pension in any way?

    The highest paid non-coach is George Hynd, Senior Vice President, who makes $255,000.

    1. CJWatson

      The average retired state employee can earn no more than $10,000 per year from any further state employment before his/her state retirement check is reduced. There is of course, an exception for appointed and elected officials. This provision, which ended the TERI program, took effect Jan 1, 2014.

  2. Bart

    Historical battle recreations have never appealed to me. But, different strokes, etc. My concern is not his “hobby” or his fascination with things Confederate but the fact that he has no background or qualification to be president of CofC, none at all. If he is successful and becomes the next president of CofC, then Republicans had better shut the hell up about the unqualified people Obama has nominated for ambassador posts when none of the nominees has ever been to the country where they would represent the US. I think a few of them did spend the night in a Holiday Inn Express though.

    It may not be at the same level but bastardization of the process is the same.

  3. Doug Ross

    Two College of Charleston students were kicked out of a CofC women’s basketball game last night for holding up a sign critical of the board of trustees. Apparently the arena has a policy that signs are allowed only if they are positive. Apparently CofC law school hasn’t covered the first amendment yet. You can’t disallow some signs just because you don’t like them. Ban them all or none.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        The thin skin of the trustees, or those acting in their defense, reminds me of the thin skin of the chair of the police chief search committee. If you are fulfilling a public function, you gotta take some heat!

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Ok, without divulging my thoughts on the issue, just for fun, I’ll play lawyer for the College:

      Do you necessarily have the Constitutional right to attend a basketball game? No, you don’t.

      We, as the college, reserve the right to maintain a particular atmosphere at our athletic events that are event-appropriate. If you read the back of your ticket that you purchased, you will see that you are agreeing to certain terms in exchange for access to our event. Those terms allow the college to engage in what you may incorrectly consider viewpoint discrimination.

      We reserve this right to protect the atmosphere of our athletic events, where people come to watch a sporting event with the expectation that they may do so without undue interference from other ticketed individuals. Certain signs detract from the viewing experience as they cause controversy or are considered offensive. If you don’t comply with our college’s rules, your privilege of attending the athletic event will be revoked.

      We welcome diversity of opinion, but a ticketed athletic event is not the appropriate forum for all expression. Feel free to express your views in an appropriate area, but our ticketed athletic events are not such an area.

      1. Mark Stewart

        Bryan, I think you had to hold your noise to get through that explanation.

        Everything you said is probably legally correct, and the standards of conduct I would expect as a sports spectator (the only things worse than signs are umbrellas and ill-fitting ponchos). But this isn’t about that; the issue is did that action inflame resentment within the College against the Board/McConnell. It did. Plus, you can bet it will have the inverse effect – your argument opens most College-sponsored events to protest of this nature by students.

        McConnell better find a way of connecting with the student body. Kids can be hell on lightening-rod leaders. With this action, his job was made harder.

      2. Doug Ross

        There was only a single word on the sign that could be considered inflammatory. “Corrupt” – the sign said:

        Go Cougs! Fight our corrupt trustees!

        In order to be inflammatory, how many people have to be offended?

      3. Kathryn Fenner

        Government, and this is public college, cannot impose content based restrictions on speech. If the “negative” speech is being shouted, and any positive or negative speech that is shouted is banned (as if), fine.
        The government has to have a compelling interest to abridge free speech, and holding signs at a basketball game seems pretty tame.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          Again, as the advocate for the College:

          Yes, this is a public college. However, that is irrelevant for purposes of this discussion. A student-athletic basketball game is not the appropriate forum for certain speech or conduct, and the management at the game considered the large sign to be inappropriate for this event – and disruptive. These individuals intentionally violated the terms of their agreement when they purchased a ticket granting their admission. These individuals brought in a large sign, clearly prepared earlier. Frankly, it is unfortunate that they were even allowed to bring this sign into the arena, as it is our policy to prohibit all such large signs. Accordingly, once the individuals displayed the sign, were asked to either turn over the sign, or leave. They chose to leave.

          There is no absolute right to attend a ticketed college basketball game, and you can be removed for any reason the management of the event deems appropriate.

          We hope these students speak out and have their voices heard in more appropriate venues in the future.

  4. Juan Caruso

    The Confederate sub Hunley has become nationally known due to publicity and traveling displays in every region of the U.S., and has created tourism with a more positve historical twist than “secession and slavery” for which SC was not only branded a cultural pariah in 1861, but has been a politically incorrect one since 2008.

    “As Chairman of the Hunley Commission, Lt. Governor McConnell has worked tirelessly to memorialize the lives of the men, who gave their lives to test the limits of technology and to fight for their cause of freedom, aboard the H. L. Hunley. ” –

    Bravo, even to a bigheaded, opportunist lawyer-politician. The real question is how might his immense, over-inflated ego come to harm his alma mater, if he is installed.

    1. Rose

      Their “freedom,” but not others with the wrong skin color.

      Historical reenactments can be extremely interesting and educational – I’ve enjoyed several from different time periods. Glorification, however, is the problem. The events should be commemorated, not celebrated. McConnell’s reputation is that of celebrating the Lost Cause, and that would seem to be very harmful to CofC.

      I’m amazed – but shouldn’t be – by how many people who scream that the war was over states rights instead of slavery have never actually read the “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union,” which was issued by South Carolina shortly after the Ordinance of Secession. It very clearly and repeatedly puts forth that the primary reason for secession was the desire to continue the state’s right to own slaves. Nor have they read Robert Barnwell Rhett’s “Address to the People of the Slaveholding States.”

      One section from the Immediate Causes:
      “We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.”

      1. Juan Caruso

        Thank you, Rose. I am one who had never read the December 24, 1860 declaration, nor knew of its existence.

        Because I place such significant value on the the joint principles of open-mindedness and skepticism, I will do my homework.

        Though you may not realize it, however, I have never seen any discrepancy in the legitimate rights of 50, individua sovereign states clearly established in our U.S. Constitution and subsequently reinforced by the Supreme Court in numerous rulings with either the cause nor the outcome of the War Between the States.

        Those who adopt the opposit view either unwittingly or unintentionally cede the superiority of those 50 states, for example, to the nations known as the European Union. That notion is bankrupt on its face.

        Sorry if you think otherwise, Madame.

  5. Karen Pearson

    It’s not Mr. McConnell’s love of Civil War re-enactments that bother me. That’s simply one way of expressing interest of that time in our history. My concern is that he seems to have a tin ear when it comes to current racial sensitivities. It’s ok to dress like a Confederate General during a civil war re-enactment. It’s not ok to brush aside the hurt/distaste current people in our state feel for the flag. They/we see it as a reminder, or even a celebration of a slave state. That he can see it as a reminder of the sacrifices made by Confederate soldiers does not change that.

  6. Harry Harris

    The lack of credentials and experience are the glaring shortcomings in my view, not his shortsightedness in terms of provincialism and racial perceptions. If he gets it and accepts a contract, he will have to work hard at showing he can do the job made harder by the lack of confidence from the workforce and students. The choice makes the trustees look much more suspect to me than former Sen McConnell.

  7. Karen Pearson

    I don’t have a problem with his credentials. The main job of a college prez is to raise money for that college. He has the contacts and a very social personality (as in old fashioned southern gentleman). He can raise money.

    1. Doug Ross

      Then why are the backgrounds of every other college president in South Carolina non-political? Why doesn’t every college just hire the best salesman or ex-politician available?

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        It’s more complicated than that. Big research institutions, unlike CoC, may need someone more familiar with research funding issues…or it just happens that the candidates when the job becomes open have strong academic credentials. McConnell, as a lawyer, has a doctoral level degree, for what it’s worth.
        I get to wear the same fancy hood my husband, the professor, and Pastides get to wear, just different color lining for law.

        1. Doug Ross

          Would you hire a college President to run a law firm? All of the other college presidents have extensive backgrounds in educational institutions.

          If he’s just there to raise money, hire him as a lobbyist or fundraiser.

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            Why not? Lawyers are not always very good administrators. Indeed most are not. Some are. I dare say I would make a great administrator.

        2. Mark Stewart

          If attorney’s get to wear doctoral-level hoods, it’s because an attorney wrote that bit of rule-making. Law is a Master-level accomplishment, for almost all lawyers.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            On the issue of the regalia, I kind of feel like an impostor wearing the doctor-hood thing. I don’t think lawyers are doctors in any way. Heck, I don’t even think Ph.D. holders should call themselves “doctors” unless they can prescribe medicinal marijuana or something.

            Doctors are doctors.

            But hey, I’m just a guy who thinks lawyers should generally avoid saying things that make the general public think, “What a self-important a**hole.”

            1. Kathryn Fenner

              I was responding to the diss on McConnell’s academic credentials. I never styled myself “esq.” for example…though back before I typed my own letters getting secretaries not to do so was a lost cause.

            2. Doug Ross

              It’s not his academic credentials that is the primary concern. it is his academic experience. His resume doesn’t come close to any other SC college president.

          2. Kathryn Fenner

            It is the terminal degree, Juris Doctor, and takes more than two years, unlike most masters—heck some Masters only take one.
            I worked just as hard as my husband did for his PhD, just in a lot less time. He played a lot of ping pong, juggled and sang Renaissance choral music…

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