COLUMBIA -- Mick Zais, president of Newberry College, announced today that he will run to be the next state Superintendent of Education.
Zais, a Republican, said his focus would be to encourage teachers and place excellent principals in school as well as to bolster literacy in elementary schools and make sure more students graduate high school.
Superintendent of Education Jim Rex, a Democrat, is running for governor.
Parents must be empowered to have choice, Zais said. He said he would support tax credits for private tuition, but added that he wants to run the public school system and improve it, not oversee private schools. What's more, he said, the decision to allow tax credits or vouchers is up to the Legislature, not the state's education chief.
Zais, 62, graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He served for 31 years as a paratrooper, ranger and brigadier general. He has a doctorate in psychology and was served as Newberry College president for 10 years.
Under his presidency, Zais said he Newberry enrollment doubled and endowments are at an all-time high, among other achievements. The college was named one of America's best colleges by U.S. News and World Report for the second consecutive year.
Zais also noted that Newberry College ended the fiscal year with a surplus and avoided tuition increases this year, while other institutions blamed the recession for tuition hikes.
Frank Holleman of Greenville, Elizabeth Moffly of Awendaw, Timothy Moultrie of Columbia, Brent Nelsen of Greenville and Kelly Payne of Columbia are also interested in making a run.
Nelsen, also a Republican, announced today that U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint has endorsed his bid for office.