CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - During his final days as president of the College of Charleston, Glenn McConnell expressed his thanks to his alma mater.
In a tweet posted Friday morning, McConnell thanked the CofC campus community and its alumni for their support during his four years as president of the college.
"It's been a great honor of my life to lead my alma mater," McConnell said in the post.
McConnell, 70, announced his retirement at the end of January, citing his age and health as factors in his decision.
"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," McConnell said in a statement on Jan. 29. "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."
McConnell took office in July 2014 after CofC board members unanimously selected him from among three candidates.
But more than 200 students protested that decision, criticizing McConnell for his participation in Civil War reenactments and support of the Confederate flag. Members of the NAACP called him "the face of the Confederacy" in the state.
As McConnell announced his plans to retire, CofC Board of Trustees Chairman David Hay said in a memo the college was grateful for McConnell's work and wishes he could stay longer.
When he was selected, McConnell said it felt like coming home.
"Probably if I had not gone back for commencement maybe I would have just said, 'It's for somebody else,' but I went back to commencement as a speaker, and I saw those students faces, and I saw the families out there excited over their accomplishment, and it was like a trip back in time for me," McConnell said in 2014 when he was named the college's new president.
A Charleston native, McConnell earned his degree in political science from the college in 1969.
He was later elected to the South Carolina Senate in 1980 and stayed in office for 32 years. In March 2012, he reluctantly became the state's 89th lieutenant governor when then Lt. Gov. Ken Ard resigned in a corruption scandal.
Just after McConnell was sworn in as lieutenant governor, lawmakers passed a resolution to place his portrait high above the senate floor in honor of his work for the people of South Carolina.
Hay said he intended to move "swiftly" to organize a search process for McConnell's successor.
McConnell's final day in office will be Monday, according to CofC spokesman Mike Robertson.