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Univ. trustees address $10M projected loss

CHARLESTON, S.C. (BP)–Charleston Southern University’s board of trustees, in a special session April 17, mapped out a five-year plan for “moving forward” following the projected loss of more than $10 million in investments with Parish Economics LLC.

The board also approved the establishment of a task force to review the university’s investment policies and procedures.

As its first order of business, the board unanimously affirmed Jairy Hunter, president at Charleston Southern for the past 23 years, and “his continued leadership” at the university, which is affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

The board also reaffirmed its Oct. 31 decision to extend Hunter’s contract through the 2012-13 academic year.

Charleston Southern had filed suit on April 5 against Parish Economics LLC and its owner, Al Parish, a former CSU economics professor, to protect $10.6 million that the university invested with Parish Economics.

The investment included $5.3 million from CSU’s endowment of $15.6 million and $5.3 million from current operating reserves.

Parish, 49, is now in jail and accused of losing as much as $134 million from as many as 300 investors.

The five-year plan, according to a Charleston Southern news release, is expected to “strengthen the university’s mission, secure student scholarships, protect faculty and staff positions, enhance the quality of education and student life, and restore the endowment.”

This will be accomplished through “prudent use of funds from contingency operating reserves, rescheduling of non-urgent capital projects, and careful budget spending measures,” the news release stated. The plan leaves in place previously planned merit salary increases for university personnel, faculty promotions and new faculty and staff positions.

Charleston Southern will hold to the 5 percent increase for tuition, room and board for fulltime students in 2007-08 that was approved in October, which the university news release said is consistent with last year’s increase.

At the board meeting April 17, Debbie Williamson, CSU vice president for enrollment management, said the university has its highest enrollment ever -— 3,135 students —- with student deposits for the 2007 fall term up 45 percent over a year ago.

“Charleston Southern remains strong and committed to its mission of promoting academic excellence in a Christian environment,” Hunter emphasized to the board.

At the board meeting, Rutledge Young, the university’s attorney, brought the board up to date on current legal proceedings. Later, in a telephone conversation with South Carolina’s Baptist Courier newsjournal about a lawsuit filed against Charleston Southern by investors in Parish Economics claiming negligence on the part of the university, Young said that such a claim is “very difficult to prove” especially in light of the “statutory protection” afforded charitable organizations.
Don Kirkland is editor of the Baptist Courier, newsjournal of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, on the Web at www.baptistcourier.com.

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