South Carolina State Trustees Retain Clark as President, Blasted By National Alumni Association

A special meeting of the South Carolina State University Board of Trustees that was expected to yield action on the status of President James Clark concluded this afternoon with Clark remaining as president, drawing a heated response from the university’s alumni.

SCSU National Alumni Association President John Funny, who serves as an ex-officio member of the trustee board and was not included during two executive sessions called during the meeting, blasted the lack of action on Clark.

The association and members of the university’s faculty senate have both issued votes of no-confidence in Clark, who the groups say has overseen plummeting enrollment and a lack of strategic planning for the institution.

Funny’s full letter reads:

Today’s meeting of the Board of Trustees with no action on the employment of James E. Clark as president of the University is sad and disappointing—in fact it is a horrific position. 

Currently, our enrollment is at its lowest in the history of the University; our fundraising effort is lacking if there is one at all; we have no comprehensive marketing and public relations plan; we have no comprehensive infrastructure and campus master plan in place. All of these systemic ailments are derivatives of failed leadership of the president of the University. The president has lost the confidence of the Alumni Association, students, faculty, and staff alike. 

The University remains a ship on high seas in the midst of stormy weather with no effective and qualified captain at the helm.  We need the Board of Trustees to evaluate the data associated with the last five years under the leadership of James E. Clark.  And, if the Board of Trustees identifies University advancements that are being overlooked by the alumni association, please share this data so that we may have a different perspective on this matter.  Otherwise, the Board should be acting in a capacity to serve in the best interest of the University and the Students, not in the interest of external influence, such as legislators, which is an SACSCOC violation.

Members of the National Alumni Association have always offered untiring support of our alma mater and will continue to do so. However, it is imperative that the Board of Trustees understands and recognize that as key stakeholders of the University, we deem today’s non-action as unacceptable. 

If the Board truly believes it has the growth and development, and advancement of the University at heart, and in particular the needs of our students in mind, the Trustees will rethink their non-action and ultimately do the right thing. Doing anything else (or accepting the status quo) is unwise and quite frankly leaves one foolishly believing that doing the same thing will deliver different results. We all know this NOT to be true.

Clark received a two-year extension last summer, a move that was largely criticized in a unanimous vote of no confidence from the alumni association.