A very sad story occurred this weekend at the College of Charleston. Glenn McConnell, a Confederate civil war devotee and proponent of flying the Confederate Flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, has been named the president of the historic college.
Located in Charleston, S.C, the College of Charleston was founded in 1770 and chartered in 1785, making it the oldest college or university in South Carolina, the 13th oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the oldest municipal college in the country.
The founders of the college include three future signers of the Declaration of Independence (Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton and Thomas Heyward) and three future signers of the United States Constitution (John Rutledge, Charles Pinckney and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney).
It is said that the college was founded to "encourage and institute youth in the several branches of liberal education." Extraordinarily, the man who is taking over the leadership is not even an educator, much less a liberal.
Glenn McConnell was the president of the state Senate until he was elevated to the lieutenant governor’s office due to a resignation. He was never elected to the position. He will arrive on campus with opposition of the faculty, students and community leaders opposed to his support of highly controversial Confederate Civil War causes and his lack of academic experience.
McConnell once operated a civil war memorabilia store in Charleston and sold products with names like Dixie Dew bottled water, and hot dogs with names like The Dixie Dog, The Union Dog, The Mason Dixon Dog and The Good 'Ol Rebel Dog.
As a state senator has led the charge in preserving the Confederate submarine, the H.L. Hunley, shepherding millions of dollars to the preservation project. "The Hunley is more than a submarine," McConnell has said. "It is a message that continues to tell us that duty, honor and valor will endure forever."
McConnell fought to keep the Confederate flag flying of the South Carolina Statehouse and was instrumental in getting the flag moved to an even more prominent spot on the statehouse grounds. The controversial flag still flies today.
“We will teach generations to come about the honor of these people and if they are going to choose the road of trying to stereotype us as racists and as hate mongers, then we are forever divided,” he once said.
McConnell is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, wears civil war uniforms and plays war games with enactors.
Protests came from Charleston-area NAACP leaders and students while trustees met last week to consider McConnell.
The faculty, fearing the school would lose its 244-year identity as liberal arts school under an economic-development mandate, passed a resolution asking for a president with a university background.
In his letter to the presidential search committee, McConnell wrote that he has fundraising and economic development experience.
“While I do not have a teaching background, I have over the course of my life gained varied experiences that help qualify me for this challenge,” he wrote. He cited efforts to raise money to recover and restore the confederate submarine.
How the College of Charleston could appoint a man like McConnell to its top job is beyond belief. I imagine the school will lose many students and many who might have attended the historic college will change their plans. His appointment is a disgrace to higher education.
It is another sad story about how misguided and incompetent many in positions of authority in South Carolina have become. They are clearly in the process of destroying their greatest institutions.