An audit of The Citadel came up with a number of recommendations for the betterment of the school and its governance, many of which can be done in house. But one of the most important — broadening the makeup of The Citadel’s Board of Visitors — would require the action of the Legislature. The Legislative Audit Council makes a good case for a change.
Unlike all other governing boards of South Carolina’s public colleges and universities, The Citadel’s 11 appointed board members must by law all be graduates of the military college. As the Audit Council observed, “Changes could be made to increase diversity, ensure equal geographic representation and allow for the involvement of individuals who have vested interests in the college, but are not graduates of The Citadel.”
The LAC continued, “While The Citadel is the state’s only military college, it is not so unique as to justify its governing board being much different from those of other public colleges and universities.” The restriction limits the talent pool of potential board members, the LAC concluded.
Seven board members are chosen by the Legislature, one by the governor, and three by the college’s Alumni Association. The governor, the adjutant general and the Secretary of Education are ex officio members of the board, but recently have had little involvement with it, leading the LAC to recommend legislative action that will allow each to appoint a replacement.
The Citadel didn’t respond to the recommendation for broader board representation, only noting that such decisions would have to be made by the Legislature. Certainly, it won’t happen if lawmakers listen to the Board of Visitors. The audit reported that a survey of current and former board members found that 93 percent support the current membership restrictions.
In contrast, about 75 percent of Citadel faculty members who were surveyed endorsed the concept of a more broadly representative board.
The LAC recommended that The Citadel board be chosen from around the state, as required at other state colleges. The audit suggests that seven board members be selected, one from each of the state’s congressional districts. That proposal recognizes that The Citadel should have a membership that more accurately reflects its designation as the Military College of South Carolina.