The S.C. Senate's failure to give the College of Charleston the latitude to offer more post-graduate degrees was little short of an outrage.
Certainly the nonsensical justification for its inaction was outrageously off base.
Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler, R-Gaffney, expressed concern that the University of Charleston bill, which had wide-ranging support, could allow the College of Charleston to acquire the Charleston School of Law, which he declared to be bankrupt.
Who knew that the C of C was in the market for a law school? Or that CSOL was "bankrupt"?
CSOL board member and founder Ed Westbrook has said the privately owned school has been and will be fiscally sound. Besides, the work he and other school leaders are doing is aimed at making it a non-profit.
Rep. Leon Stavrinakis called Mr. Peeler's concerns "a red herring." The Charleston Democrat said it was made abundantly clear that the University of Charleston was not in the market to acquire CSOL. Moreover, the Legislature has demonstrated no interest in a second state law school.
Rep. James Merrill, R-Daniel Island, said Sen. Peeler's judgment has been clouded, and suggested that the Upstate senator's behavior is stoking regional animosities.
In doing so, unfortunately, Mr. Peeler could harm his own constituents. The reason Lowcountry legislators recommended broadening the C of C's parameters was so that it could better respond to industry needs for employees with specific higher degrees.
Those requests could come from businesses interested in the Lowcountry, or elsewhere in the state.
And if the C of C were to ask permission to offer a degree that is already being offered elsewhere, the state can say "no."
Business recruiters say that if the University of Charleston were in a position to fill unmet educational needs, South Carolina would be more appealing to business and industry and would enjoy more of the money and jobs they bring.
As time grew short in the Legislature's three-day extension of the session, then-Senate President Pro Tem John Courson demurred for more time.
The House, however, had no qualms about passing the measure overwhelmingly, and a majority of the Senate committee considering the proposal was on board. Some conjecture that Sen. Courson was passed over for another term as president pro tem for helping block the bill.
Meanwhile, Glenn McConnell, the college's incoming president, has learned that the Legislature's approval might be unnecessary for some of the desired expansion - that the Commission on Higher Education has authority to grant it.
That is encouraging, for now. But if the C of C is going to become a research university, it will need the support of the Legislature. Let's hope members acknowledge that the expanded University of Charleston is a good idea for a state that professes to be eager to improve its educational and economic standings.
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