Medical University of South Carolina Board of Trustees members are expected to cast public votes Thursday to ratify an earlier decision to hire Dr. David Cole as the school's new president.

Cole was selected as the next MUSC president after the board voted by secret ballot over the phone last month.

Board Chairman Tom Stephenson said he will ask members to cast public votes on Thursday during a scheduled meeting.

"Some in the media have questioned the legality of our vote, so I've proposed taking an open vote," Stephenson said.

All but one board member cast their votes for a new president confidentially over the phone April 17. Board member William Bingham voted publicly for Dr. Cole.

Cole, current chairman of the MUSC Department of Surgery, received 10 votes from the 17-member board, according to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Post and Courier.

Dr. Joanne Conroy, chief health care officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges, received seven votes.

For decades, the MUSC Board of Trustees voted for presidents by secret ballot. The April vote was the first time board members cast anonymous ballots by phone.

Stephenson contends the process is legal, but S.C. Press Association Attorney Jay Bender raised concerns that secret ballots violate state law.

Stephenson does not expect the outcome of the board's decision to change.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.