It should come as no surprise that the selection of Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell as College of Charleston's next president has been met with protest. Students, faculty and others, including the NAACP, made their opposition known once McConnell's name was floated and as soon as he was named.
Because McConnell's southern roots run deep and he participates in Civil War re-enactments, the NAACP flagged him. Because he has no actual experience as a college president, faculty flagged him. Students and others alike point to what they see as the politics of the appointment and, certainly, their concern is understandable. College students, interesting enough, are often among the most cynical even though many would opine they do not have sufficient years under their belt to be that way.
But we believe those who have expressed their disappointment in the college’s board of trustees should give McConnell a chance to prove himself. As steeped in the state’s history as he is (he attended the college he will now lead), as much as he loves the Lowcountry and the Holy City itself, it is foolish to think McConnell sought and is taking the presidential post for self-serving reasons.
Doubters would be wise to recall how McConnell could have easily retained his powerful senate seat but instead accepted what was his constitutional duty to assume the lieutenant governor’s seat in the wake of Ken Ard’s disgraceful resignation. McConnell has all the makings of an honorable man, a statesman and one whose experience in Columbia might translate well in his new capacity as president of College of Charleston. Yes, he’s connected to Columbia, but doesn’t every state-supported college president want such a well-established connection? Does it give him an advantage? Perhaps, but again we suspect that advantage will be parlayed honorably.
It’s time to furl the protest banners and see what unfolds in a McConnell presidency. Those who oppose his appointment might soon find themselves thanking the trustees after all.