- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2020

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina State University’s national alumni association has expressed no confidence in the school’s current president following a decision by the board of trustees to extend the leader’s contract.

In a virtual news conference held Friday, the South Carolina State University National Alumni Association said extending President James E. Clark’s contract would be an “unhealthy decision” for the university, The Times and Democrat reported.

Alumni Association president John J. Funny said Clark had failed to attract a network of “unrestricted large donors,” and also pointed to concerns with enrollment numbers and the university’s online presence. Funny said the group had brought these issues to the board twice but saw no action.

“We cannot identify any measurable or positive results from the efforts of President Clark from his tenure,” Funny said. He added that the vote of no confidence was based on “the state of affairs of the university” and not on Clark.

The university’s trustees voted Thursday to extend Clark’s contract through June 2022, with a performance-based renewal option in the future, news outlets reported.

The association says it wants the board to issue Clark a one-year contract extension instead, and establish a national search committee to find a new president.

Board Chair Rodney Jenkins defended the trustees’ decision and said in a statement that keeping Clark would provide “continuity of operations” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We acknowledge and consider all feedback received from stakeholders,” Jenkins added.

Clark was named president of the historically black university in 2016. His appointment came after the Legislature fired the entire board of trustees over financial mismanagement that had placed the university’s accreditation on probation.

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