Orangeburg -- South Carolina State University has hired a replacement for a department chairwoman who is now suing the university.

Charlie Spell will serve as interim chairman of the Department of Education, the school announced Wednesday.

His predecessor, Evelyn Fields, has filed suit against the university, alleging that her contract to continue leading the department was revoked after the faculty senate she led criticized the administration. The university, through its attorney, has said Fields' allegations are not true.

Fields' lawsuit includes several strongly worded exchanges between Fields and Joyce Blackwell, S.C. State's vice president for academic affairs.

Blackwell praised Spell's qualifications Wednesday. "Dr. Spell ... has an understanding of what will be required of students in the Teacher Education program as they prepare for the Praxis (certification) exam and subsequent certification, two areas where our students could improve," she said.

While the university announced Spell's position on Wednesday, state Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston, called on Senate President Glenn McConnell and state House Speaker Bobby Harrell, both R-Charleston, to have the House and Senate education committees and the S.C. Commission on Higher Education meet to "devise a remedy to address these urgent issues at S.C. State University."

Ford said he wants the legislative leaders to call for an emergency session of the General Assembly to present the findings of a Legislative Audit Council review of how the university has used federal money directed to the school's James E. Clyburn Transportation Center.