CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A bill has been filed with the South Carolina House of Representatives seeking to merge two downtown Charleston universities in order to create a full-scale comprehensive research university.
Filed Thursday by Representatives Jim Merrill and Leon Stavrinakis, the legislation would unite the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina. The new entity is tentatively being called Charleston University.
According to a statement released by the two representatives, the merger "is a response to business demands in the Lowcountry to create a workforce to match our growing economy and ensure the long term excellence" of the two schools.
The bill calls for leaders from each school to work together in creating a merger plan that would be successful.
"We are confident this merger does not adversely affect either institution, and ultimately, the merged value and prestige of Charleston University will be greater than the simple sum of its parts," the statement continues.
Both representatives say the merger is "long overdue," and is right for business, higher education, the Lowcountry, and South Carolina.
According to a release, the legislation was sent to the House Ways and Means Committee, and the sponsors will be asking for the bill to given consideration as soon as possible.
Mike Robertson, Senior Director of Media Relations for College of Charleston, says that although the college's Board of Trustees has not yet had the opportunity to discuss the bill, they would "welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the General Assembly" to discuss how they could work together to meet the higher education needs of South Carolina.
The bill is supported by House Speaker Bobby Harrell, who says "a full-scale comprehensive research university in Charleston is not just good for the Lowcountry's economic future but our entire state's."
Mayor Joe Riley also supports the plan for Charleston University releasing the following statement:
"A comprehensive research and graduate degree granting university is essential for the future economic success of the Charleston region. A Charleston University containing the Medical University of South Carolina and the College of Charleston will only enhance both of these institutions. Having eventually PhD programs in chemistry, physics, computer science, aeronautical engineering, perhaps a law school, and even more are the model for the future of a healthy, vibrant region. I commend Representatives Merrill and Stavrinakis for introducing their legislation today that would create the Charleston University. This is an idea whose time has come."
Thursday a spokesperson with MUSC says the school is still working on a statement in response to the proposed bill to merge the university with the College of Charleston.