The College of Charleston's Board of Trustees is committed to academic freedom and will not change the way books are selected for The College Reads! program.
If you go
What: College of Charleston board meetings
*When: Thursday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday 8:30 a.m. until board is done; Saturday 10 a.m. until board is done
Where: Thursday, most committees will meet in Alumni Center in the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance, 86 Wentworth Street; Friday and Saturday, the board meets in the Boardroom in Randolph Hall.
For more information: contact Mike Robertson at 953-5667.
*Some portions of some meetings will not be open to the public.
The board Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution affirming its commitment to academic freedom. Board chairman Greg Padgett said that means selections for the freshman summer reading program will continue to be made by a committee. The board and administration will not have to approve those decisions.
The board met Wednesday for the first of four days of meetings. In addition to the reading program, it will discuss a proposed merger with the Medical University of South Carolina, who will be the school's next president and other issues.
The reading program came under fire when members of the state House last month cut the school's budget $52,000, the amount of The College Reads! program, because they thought the selected book for the 2013-2014 school year, "Fun Home," by Alison Bechdel, was inappropriate for college freshmen.
In "Fun Home," which Bechdel has written and drawn in comic-strip form, she describes her childhood with a closeted gay father, who was an English teacher and owner of a funeral home; the trial he faced over his dealings with young boys; his possible suicide; and her own coming out as a lesbian.
It remains unclear if the money will be restored before the Legislature approves the final budget.
The ACLU on Wednesday released a letter written to the Senate Finance Committee, calling for the Senate to restore funding to the College and to the University of South Carolina-Upstate over the withdrawing of money for gay-themed books.
The letter was also signed by other organizations that defend First Amendment freedoms.
Faculty members and students grew concerned when senior administration earlier this year stopped payment on an order for next year's book, David Finkel's "The Good Soldiers." College President George Benson announced Friday that board members had had time to weigh in on the selection, and that he had approved the book.
The board's committees meet Thursday, starting at 8 a.m., and the full board meets Friday, starting at 8:30 a.m. and Saturday, starting at 10 a.m.
The 20-member group will meet with three presidential finalists - Jody Encarnation, Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell and Martha Saunders - Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. It will begin deliberating on who to hire as the next president Saturday afternoon. It's possible, but far from certain, that the board could announce the next president late in the day Saturday.
Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.