I believe Glenn McConnell will be a very hard-working and successful president of the College of Charleston and that he deserves our community's support.
He is an unconventional choice in some respects, although there is no uniform background for a successful college president. Ted Stern was a Navy captain and Alex Sanders had been a state legislator and a judge. Neither had previous experience in the management of academic institutions. They were unconventional choices as well, and were splendid and successful College of Charleston presidents. I believe Glenn McConnell will be, too. He speaks often about Ted Stern as a model. Glenn McConnell is a most earnest, honest and hard-working person when attending to his given responsibilities. He is a quick study, and in legislative matters soon became an expert in subject matter that was the focus of legislation. He felt it was his duty to become knowledgeable in that field of public policy under consideration, and indeed he did.
A very good example of this is when he became lieutenant governor. This was not a position he sought or wanted. The sitting lieutenant governor had to resign. Glenn McConnell personally preferred to remain as president pro tempore of the Senate. He had worked all of his life for that position and was respected and liked by Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, moderates and liberals. The president pro tempore of the senate is one of the most powerful governmental positions in the state; lieutenant governor is not powerful and substantially ceremonial. Glenn McConnell, however, felt it was his duty, as directed by the constitution, to assume the office of lieutenant governor. An interesting aspect of the office of lieutenant governor is a somewhat obscure and unusual duty to be responsible for the state's agency on aging. It was put there because legislators didn't know exactly where it should go. In a matter of months after assuming the office of lieutenant governor, Glenn McConnell became not only an expert in matters relating to aging and the needs of that population, but he became a most passionate advocate. All you had to do was mention aging to Glenn McConnell and you were headed for a thorough discussion of its aspects or initiatives he was leading and undertaking. It was an amazing transformation to watch. And that's exactly what will happen when he is president of the College of Charleston as it relates to matters concerning the college and higher education.
Glenn McConnell is a listener. He patiently hears people out, eager to hear both sides of an issue. He is also humble. The students will find him most approachable and likeable as will the faculty. And certainly the very high regard in which Glenn McConnell is held in the General Assembly will stand the College of Charleston in good stead when it comes to matters of state funding.
I know that Lt. Gov. McConnell has expressed his felt responsibility to substantially increase the diversity of the College of Charleston student body. This will be one of his goals. I know he will be successful. It is very important that he is. As a senator, he was a leader in the successful effort to create a beautiful and moving African American memorial on the Statehouse grounds. He is immensely proud of this achievement.
Glenn McConnell is a graduate of the College of Charleston. He credits his College of Charleston education for his success in life. Interestingly, he will be the first College of Charleston graduate to be president in 176 years. One might say it's about time.
In four months, Glenn McConnell will be installed as president of the College of Charleston. I know he will work hard to be a great president of the college. We should all get behind him. When he succeeds, the college and community succeed as well.
Joseph P. Riley Jr. is mayor of Charleston.