South Carolina State University President Thomas Elzey talks to the Tom Joyner Morning Show about the news of the potential closing of SC State amid financial troubles. Though Elzey says that the school has its issues, closing it, even temporarily, would permanently cripple the institution, the only public HBCU in the state.
“We have long term debt because we’ve built facilities and built dormitories like any other institution. So we have about $65M in debt. That’s normal debt. What they’re proposing to do is not practical. It will jeopardize the university’s accreditation. It will put our student’s future in jeopardy. Students would not be able to graduate and it will devalue the degree of South Carolina State University. It’s not a practical approach to the financial problems facing our institution. ”
Elzey says that selling the school would also be a mistake because who would it sell to and what would it sell for?
“We have done an economic impact analysis and this university has over $187 million dollar impact on the region. It makes no sense to sell the school or sell the property of the school. While it’s something that people might think might be possible it makes no sense to do that either.”
Elzey says that the decision to close the school was done by a 3-member subcommittee in the South Carolina state legislature. The school has mounted a social media campaign #killthebillSCState on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to raise awareness of the proposal and hopefully stop any further action. Elzey believes that they have enough votes to stop the bill in the state legislature. But if the school does close, it will be the end of South Carolina State.
“The school is much too valuable to the state, to the region and to our students,” Elzey says. “[Closing] will kill our accreditation,” says Elzey. “You can’t apply to get student loans. You can’t get a license [to operate] and you can’t use your undergraduate degree to apply for graduate school. It devalues the degree of our 30,000 alumni. Its unfortunate that this kind of negative approach is being taken, while we are taking efforts to try to right-size the university and receiving the support that we should get from our alumni and our friends.”
While it has been reported that Gov. Nikki Haley’s office has not received straight answers from SC State leadership, Elzey says that’s patently untrue.
“The Governor’s office has seen all the audits and all the reports that we have produced,” says Elzey. “We have provided them with any and everything that they want. The basic operations of my administration has been total transparency. So they have received everything that they wanted. They have looked us over through and through. They know where we are. We requested $13 million last year and to this date, we’ve received over a fraction of that amount.”
Elzey says that its been a challenges with cuts to the school’s financing as well as the struggle it has been for students and their parents to afford college with the cutbacks in student loans and the restrictions on eligibility for Parents Plus loans. The 119-year-old institution says that although they are down, they are not out.
“We’ve asked for our alumni and friends to continue to step up and support the university, to donate to the university we have an annual fund and we’re looking for improve our annual giving level and we’re looking forward to being the School Of The Month on the Tom Joyner Morning Show in July. We’ve asked our alumni and friends to call the South Carolina state legislature to let them know that the school is important and that we should not even be talking about closing down.”
Click the link above to hear the entire interview to hear what solution Tom Joyner has come up with to help South Carolina State.
(Photo: SC State Facebook)