CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — College of Charleston President Glenn McConnell intends to retire following the end of current school year in Summer 2018, school officials announced Monday morning.
McConnell, 70, informed the college's board of directors of his decision on Friday, citing health concerns and his age, according to a news release.
“My age and health played a significant role in this decision,” McConnell said in a statement published by CofC. “Over the past two months, I have taken a hard look at the challenges ahead as well as my physical abilities and energy long term to do this job and to meet other responsibilities I have at the same level as in the past. I have concluded that I should retire. I did not come to this decision lightly, but I know in my heart that it is the right thing to do."
College officials praise advances made in alumni relations and fundraising under McConnell's leadership, plus CofC's addition of top-level (Ph.D, etc.) degree programs and new undergraduate degree programs, as well as McConnell's help in securing more state funding from the General Assembly.
McConnell's tenure has included controversy regarding campus "party" culture and criminal behavior involving Greek life.
McConnell in August 2016 suspended all alcohol-related activities by fraternities and sororities after "a series of dangerous behaviors" reported to campus officials in the early days of the fall semester.
Ultimately, five fraternities were suspended from the campus community between September 2016 and August 2017:
- Alpha Epsilon Pi in September 2016, after two brothers were accused of raping a girl at a party. The victim later sued both the College of Charleston and the fraternity;
- Kappa Alpha Order in September 2016, after a former chapter president was arrested in Charleston as part of a major drug bust;
- Sigma Nu in October 2016, over alleged drug, alcohol, and hazing violations;
- Beta Theta Pi in June 2017, over alleged drug, alcohol and hazing violations; and
- Pi Kappa Phi in August 2017, after a former pledge filed a lawsuit, claiming he was brutally beaten and received death threats.
McConnell, a former State Senator and Lt. Governor, faced backlash from students, faculty and civil rights groups when the College of Charleston chose him as its president in 2014. Criticism's stemmed from McConnell's stance on the Confederate Flag.
McConnell later announced his support of Gov. Nikki Haley's call to remove the flag from display on Statehouse grounds following the Emanuel AME shootings.
McConnell is a Charleston native and College of Charleston alumnus, having served as student body president during his time as a student.
CofC board members say they intend quickly to begin a search for McConnell’s successor.