The College of Charleston's next president will be Andrew T. Hsu, currently the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at The University of Toledo.

Pending contract negotiations, Hsu will become the college's first non-white president, according to members of the college's Board of Trustees — a historic first for an institution that was chartered shortly after the Revolutionary War.

"Dr. Hsu has an incredible academic pedigree, possesses a wealth of experience that will serve him well in this role, and is incredibly passionate about representing the College of Charleston community," said board member Demetria Clemons, who made the motion to select Hsu on Wednesday.

The board unanimously voted for Hsu after discussing the choice behind closed doors Wednesday afternoon. Board member John Wood abstained without citing a reason.

Hsu is a former aerospace engineer who came to the United States from China after his family endured persecution during the Cultural Revolution.

After 38 years in the U.S., he told College of Charleston students and faculty at a Nov. 15 meeting that he wanted to ensure that the college continues providing a well-grounded liberal arts education, which he said is crucial to a democratic society.

Andrew Hsu (copy)

College of Charleston presidential candidate Andrew T. Hsu answers questions from students and faculty in the Stern Center Ballroom Thursday, November 15, 20118. File/Brad Nettles/Staff

At the open forum, Hsu said he also wants to improve the college's financial standing by building more local partnerships and encouraging more alumni to give. Currently, about 7 percent of alumni donate to the college; Hsu said he would like to bring that figure closer to 18 or 20 percent.

Before he began work at the University of Toledo, a public university in Ohio with 21,000 students, he served as dean of engineering at San Jose State University and associate vice president for research at Wright State University in Ohio, where he also served as the dean of the graduate school.

Board Chairman David Hay called Hsu "an extraordinary individual ... a scholar, a community builder, a fundraiser and a visionary leader.”

Hay called Hsu to break the news directly after the board meeting, which had lasted more than three hours.

"He said, 'Only in America could something like this happen.' It touched my heart," Hay said.

The other finalists were Rhonda Phillips, a tenured professor and dean of the Honors College at Purdue University, and Michael T. Benson, currently president of Eastern Kentucky University.

Hsu will serve as the historic public college's 23rd president. Previous President Glenn McConnell announced his retirement in January citing health concerns and has been replaced by interim president Stephen C. Osborne.

McConnell's presidency was troubled by controversy from its start in 2014. The board of trustees ignored the recommendations of its own search committee as well as massive protests by students and faculty to appoint McConnell, a well-connected alumnus with no prior experience in higher education. McConnell, who was the state's lieutenant governor at the time, had defended Confederate monuments during his time in the state legislature and also ran a Confederate memorabilia shop for years.

Under McConnell's watch, the college launched a new Top 10 Percent admissions program that aimed to increase diversity by recruiting the top students from under-represented high schools in the state. The college also quietly discontinued race-conscious affirmative action in its admissions process during the summer of 2016, only to bring it back under Osborne's leadership following a July 2018 exposé by The Post and Courier.

It also launched a new Collegiate Recovery Program to assist students dealing with substance abuse problems.

College of Charleston

College of Charleston students make their way to class Monday, October 29, 2018. Brad Nettles/Staff

Reach Paul Bowers at 843-937-5546. Follow him on Twitter @paul_bowers.