College of Charleston President Glenn McConnell announced to the campus community on Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, that he plans to retire from his position this summer.
McConnell, who was installed as the College’s 22nd president in July 2014, said he notified the school’s Board of Trustees of his intentions last Friday.
“My age and health played a significant role in this decision,” McConnell said in a message to campus. “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. As an alumnus of the College, I love and respect this great institution and its people too much to not give the energy needed and my full and undivided attention every single day in the years ahead, especially as we approach the 250th anniversary of our founding.”
Under McConnell’s leadership, the College has continued to enhance its academic offerings and attract highly qualified students from throughout South Carolina and around the country. During his tenure, the university saw increases in both philanthropic generosity and alumni engagement, which culminated in BOUNDLESS, the university’s most successful fundraising and engagement campaign in school history. Other significant achievements include securing legislative approval for the College to offer terminal degrees, such as doctoral degrees; increasing state appropriations for college operational expenses from the South Carolina General Assembly; obtaining approval from SACSCOC for reaccreditation (without any recommendations for improvements for the next 10 years); expanding the downtown campus footprint with the acquisition of property in the WestEdge development; and making several innovative changes to the curriculum, with new undergraduate degrees in commercial real estate finance and meteorology, new graduate degrees in creative writing (M.F.A.) and in community planning, policy and design as well as an expansion of offerings for the College’s growing School of Professional Studies (which targets adult learners).
“The College owes a huge debt of gratitude to President McConnell,” said Board of Trustees Chair David Hay. “He has been an effective and charismatic leader, and while we wish he could stay on longer, we respect that he must do what’s best for his own health. In my time working side by side with President McConnell, I was always impressed by his commitment to leading with a sense of honor and integrity. Those two words – honor and integrity – are the hallmarks of his administration. And his love for this institution is real and infectious, and that passion will be hard to replicate. However, as President McConnell outlined in his message earlier this morning, in the life of a university, presidents change and the institution continues on. We, as your Board of Trustees, will work tirelessly to find the right person to lead this institution.”
Hay said the board intends to move swiftly to organize a search process for McConnell’s successor and that those plans will be communicated to the extended university community within the next few days.
A native of Charleston, S.C., McConnell earned his bachelor of arts in political science from the College of Charleston in 1969 and his J.D. degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1972. As a student at the College, he served as student body president and as a member of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. The McConnell Residence Hall on the College’s downtown campus is named in his honor.
McConnell’s tenure as president of the College of Charleston caps a remarkable career of public service. Prior to his presidency, McConnell was a central figure in South Carolina politics, having been elected to the S.C. Senate in 1980 and serving in several key leadership posts. In 2001, he was elected the first Republican president pro tempore of the S.C. Senate by a bipartisan vote. In March 2012, as the incumbent Senate president pro tempore, he ascended to the office of lieutenant governor upon the vacancy of that office.
“I want to thank each one of you for the opportunity to have worked for and with you,” McConnell said in his message to campus. “Your selfless dedication to our students and their personal and intellectual growth is what distinguishes the College of Charleston from all the rest. And it is this commitment to that sacred mission that will always propel the College forward – through seasons, through generations of young minds, and, yes, through presidents. Informed and strengthened by our deep history and rich traditions and galvanized by the bright and boundless future, the College’s greatest days lie ahead.”