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ORANGEBURG, S.C. —In the midst of a budget crisis at the South Carolina State University, the university president has been put on paid administrative leave.
SC State announced Monday afternoon that Thomas J. Elzey is now on leave. The move comes after Legislative Black Caucus asked that Elzey step down.
Trustees named interim provost W. Franklim Evans acting presidents of the university.
Leaders at the university met behind closed doors in an executive session Monday afternoon. Elzey was at the meeting, but walked out a few minutes later and wouldn’t comment.
The announcement follows state lawmakers voting in favor to table a proviso that would have shut the school down for one fiscal year due to lingering financial problems. Lawmakers and alumni are frustrated that the school has $11 million in unpaid bills and doesn’t appear to have a clear strategy to pay off its debt.
A proposal introduced Senate President Pro Tem Hugh Leatherman would replace the school’s entire board with a temporary one appointed by him and other lawmakers. Co-sponsors include two senators who graduated from South Carolina’s only public historically black college.
In the proviso’s place, representatives on the House Ways and Means Committee approved another plan.
If that plan is adopted by the state legislature with the budget, the new proviso for SC State would put the school in the hands of the State Fiscal Accountability Authority. According to lawmakers, that committee would have the power to remove members of the school’s Board of Trustees as well as SC State’s president if it saw fit.
The new proviso has a long way to go and the budget still has to be considered by both chambers of the legislature before it goes to the governor’s desk.