College of Charleston and MUSC Denounce House Bill for Creation of Third Research School


College of Charleston faculty protested Monday against a S.C. House bill that would merge the public university with the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC.

"We have to look this carefully and throughly," Simon Lewis, a College of Charleston English professor, said. "We don't want to be forced into a merger against the will of faculty. ... I don't think a full-blown merger is a good idea. The two missions of the schools are so different," The State reports.

Lewis said that the professors will lose contact with their students and the school will have to battle with the state's other large research schools - the University of South Carolina and Clemson University - for government and grant funding.

George Benson, retiring College of Charleston President, expressed his support for the merger of 'Charleston University.' Benson said that the state's third comprehensive research university will spur economic growth in the region as well as in South Carolina.

The lawmakers plan to begin the merger of the state's third large research school, 'Charleston University' July 1 - an idea that has not gone down well with MUSC as well. The interim president feels that the medical school will lose its identity.

The school merger bill is co-sponsored by 11 Lowcountry Republicans and Democrats including powerful House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston; Republican Rep. Jim Merrill and Democratic Rep. Leon Stavrinakis. If the Legislature approves the bill, the proposed merger of 'Charleston University' is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2016.

 "We are confident this merger does not adversely affect either institution and, ultimately, the merged value and prestige of Charleston University will be greater than the simple sum of its parts," said the primary sponsors. "It is right for business. It is right for higher education. It is right for the Lowcountry. It is right for South Carolina, and it is our obligation as legislators to deliver," The Washington Times reports.

Although Gov. Nikki Haley approves the creation of Charleston University, she feels that the merger should not be forced upon legislatively.

 "Any proposal to create a full-scale, comprehensive research university in this region clearly makes sense for businesses in Charleston and across South Carolina," Commerce Bobby Hitt said. "An undertaking this large should come from collaboration of the two respective boards and their stakeholders, and we encourage those discussions."

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