Presidential qualifications lie in the eye of the beholders.
So as you behold the spectacle of Glenn McConnell campaigning to become president of the College of Charleston, don't assume that only academicians can handle such a demanding task.
McConnell, an attorney, former long-time president pro tem of the S.C. Senate and current lieutenant governor, makes his case for why he wants to become leader of his alma mater (Class of 1969) in a guest column on Page A11.
As you ponder McConnell's candidacy to replace George Benson, who's stepping down on June 30, also ponder the assets these other prominent personages could bring to that ivory-tower gig:
Arthur Ravenel: 1950 College of Charleston grad served in S.C. House, U.S. House, S.C. Senate and on Charleston County School Board. Real estater showed quirky creativity by naming West Ashley subdivision he created Lenevar - his last name spelled backward. While Glenn McConnell Expressway is impressive, it's no match for majestic Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.
James B. Edwards: Also a 1950 C of C grad, became oral surgeon, state senator, governor, U.S. Secretary of Energy and MUSC president. Admirably early supporter of Ronald Reagan's presidential ambitions. While a grand bridge is named for Ravenel and a busy expressway is named for McConnell, an outstanding elementary school is named for Edwards.
Joe Riley: 1964 Citadel grad in his 10th and (he says) final term as Charleston mayor. Asked during interview published in Sunday's Post and Courier about rumors that The College of Charleston and The Citadel "are eager" to have him work for them after he leaves City Hall, Riley replied: "Both have communicated with me, and I'm interested in both."
Hey, Riley's run the Holy City for nearly four decades.
So why couldn't he run the College of Charleston?
Mark Sanford: Though this 1983 Furman grad returned to Congress last year, he still seems fixated on some state issues that he pushed as governor. In a guest column in Sunday's paper, he rightly warned about the folly of giving large economic incentives for large retail businesses. Unlike McConnell, he can't be fairly accused of overrating the importance of maintaining S.C. Senate's excessive clout.
Jenny Sanford: 1984 Georgetown (University, not High School) grad expressed initial interest in C of C presidency last in August. Successful investment banker, driving campaign-manager force behind then-husband Mark's remarkable political emergence when he won 1st District House seat in 1994 and his later back-to-back gubernatorial-election victories, and bestselling author for her tell-a-lot book about her marriage's high-profile breakup. Illinois native can't be fairly accused - as former CSA Galleries store owner McConnell is - of nostalgia for Old South times (and flags) not forgotten.
John Kresse: Brooklyn-born 1964 St. John's University grad won nearly 80 percent of games as C of C men's basketball coach from 1979-2002. While no elementary schools, bridges or expressways are named for him, John Kresse Court at TD Arena is. Can't be fairly accused, as McConnell can, of preferring participating in Civil War re-enactments to watching basketball.
David Beasley: Bragged, while governor, that he once ran a 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds. Quickly fast-talked way out of that blatantly bogus boast. Lost 1998 re-election bid in part because of brave effort to remove Confederate flag from Statehouse dome. So again, unlike McConnell, can't be branded a Stonewall Jackson diehard. USC grad (but ex-Clemson student) bolstered scholarly credentials after governorship by serving as a fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
But before applying for the C of C president's job, keep in mind that it's a grueling grind.
You must raise lots of money. You must hire and keep high-quality (and high-priced) help. You must get money from a Legislature that over the last decade has demoted higher education to much lower-priority status.
The price is all right
Still, Benson's salary is about $366,000.
Sure, that's chump change compared to the $1.3 million Clemson's paying assistant football coach Chad Morris, who has produced a mere five offensive touchdowns in his three games (all losses) against South Carolina.
Yet 366 grand is a lot more than lots of us are making.
Hmm. Would the school's Board of Trustees consider the outside-the-box presidential qualifications of a former C of C student (but 1975 Trident Tech and 1979 Clemson grad) who's been in the newspaper business for 3½ decades?
Then again, nothing's named for him.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is email@example.com.
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