It’s been a long time coming. And now, after 134 years, an alumnus will once again occupy the president’s office in Randolph Hall. Certainly a lot has changed since Nathaniel Russell Middleton ’28 (that’s 1828) guided the College from 1857 to 1880. But, more than a century later, the core mission remains the same: provide the best education possible. And president-elect Glenn McConnell ’69 understands the power of a College of Charleston education to shape lives.
“As I told the Board of Trustees during my interview,” McConnell says, “the College of Charleston is in my DNA. Any success I have enjoyed throughout my legal, business and legislative careers started with the excellent liberal arts education I received at the College.”
McConnell, who grew up in Charleston, studied political science at the College and served as student body president. He earned his J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1972. McConnell was first elected to the South Carolina Senate in 1980 and went on to hold several key leadership posts, including chairman of the rules committee and chairman of the senate judiciary committee. In 2001, he was elected the first Republican president pro tempore of the S.C. Senate by a bipartisan vote. During his legislative career, McConnell earned a reputation as a skilled parliamentarian and mediator who was able to forge political compromises between opposing sides and bring people together. As the incumbent senate president pro tempore, he ascended to the office of lieutenant governor in March 2012 because of a vacancy in the office.
McConnell comes to the presidency adorned in institutional honors, having served as the 2013 May commencement speaker and having been awarded the Founders Medal (the highest award bestowed by the College) in 1992. And unlike any other president in the history of the College, he already has a building named for him: the Glenn McConnell Residence Hall on Wentworth Street, the building project for which he played a critical role in obtaining funding.
But honors aside, McConnell brings an intricate knowledge of the state and its political culture that only a few College presidents have possessed.
“Having worked with him for over 30 years,” observes Senator Hugh Leatherman (Florence), “I know firsthand of his intellect, integrity and ability to bring together disparate parties; I know he will do an outstanding job.”
And Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley Jr. agrees: “He understands, firsthand, the great heritage of the first municipal college in America and one of the great colleges in our country. Senator McConnell is an excellent leader and a tireless worker. I know he will guide the College of Charleston to even greater heights.”
And greater heights is exactly what McConnell has in mind for the College.
“I look forward to serving and leading my alma mater in a new chapter in its history marked by greater diversity, sustainability, relevance and accountability,” says McConnell. “When future graduates reflect upon their lives, I hope they, too, will value their experience at the College as one that propelled them to success no matter what personal and professional paths they choose.”