COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - South Carolina State University's Board of Trustees say they will continue to honor the president's contract as the school's future remains uncertain. On Thursday, university officials met for hours to discuss plans to move forward and overcome its mounting debt.
"Bottom line, our first obligation is to our students," said President Thomas Elzey. "We're committed and continue to take steps necessary to ensure they receive the quality education that they deserve from this university."
No decision was reached Thursday about SC State University's future.
"We do not panic given the situation we find ourselves in, explained Dr. William Small, the chairman of the Board of Trustees. "We're going to be solid. We're going to be deliberative. We're going to do the work of SC State University in a way that needs to be done."
Elzey and the Board of Trustees say they will work with the General Assembly and its committees to improve the university's current finances and develop a viable plan for the upcoming year. Elzey says despite several publicized reports, the university never asked for a $50 million from the state.
"If we were to receive $50 million over five years, what kind of efforts this university could take to restabilize itself and that money would have been distributed if it were received. We didn't formally request it."
He says they are addressing long standing concerns of falling enrollment and finances.
"We are taking measured steps to address the size of our faculty, our tenured faculty. We are also being very conscious of the fact that we do not want to violate the accrediting bodies or the outstanding requirements of any of the accreditors of any of our academic programs."
Students say they're trying to stay hopeful and support a school...that has been good for them.
"I worked hard for this school to get in and be in the band, said freshman Jamari Williams. "If I have to start over at a different school, it's going to be hard for me."
"I feel as if me and my institution can get through this," said Kedrick Pasley, a junior. "We can fight through this. We've done everything we can. We're going to keep pushing."
According to the university, Elzey inherited around $13 million in debt when he took the position in 2013.