Conyers named to permanently fill presidency at SC State
ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) — A retired Army veteran who has been leading South Carolina State University temporarily has been named to fill the post permanently.
The university’s Board of Trustees approved Col. Alexander Conyers’ appointment in a special meeting Thursday, news outlets reported.
Conyers, a 1989 graduate of S.C. State, had been leading the school since last July when trustees ousted his predecessor, James Clark.
“I am a man of faith, and I am certain that President Conyers has been chosen to lead this university for such a time as this,” board Chairman Rodney Jenkins said in a statement.
Conyers said he is honored to return to his alma mater, which he described as family, The Post and Courier reported.
“When I set foot on this campus as a student in 1986, I had no idea I would one day sit in the president’s chair carrying out the legacy established by the exceptional leaders who built S.C. State into the dynamic institution we know and love today,” Conyers said.
Conyers. S.C. State’s 13th president, takes the helm of the state’s only public historically Black university after a difficult few years for the institution. The school has struggled with declining enrollment for about a decade and is now the state’s second-smallest four-year college.
The enrollment woes have exacerbated financial concerns. The university’s accreditor put the school on probation in 2014, partly as a result of those concerns, and S.C. State didn’t regain good standing until 2016. Legislators have bailed out the university twice, forgiving $12 million in loans that were given to help it make payroll.
Trustees have praised Conyers’ work as interim president. He used federal COVID-19 relief funding to clear the past-due balances of roughly 2,500 students. That enabled 320 students to reenroll to finish their degrees, the university has said.
Conyers also launched a $1.25 million fundraising campaign.
“We cannot take our feet off of the gas,” Jenkins said. “Because of his leadership over the past nine months, this university has already begun its ascension as the first choice for men and women who desire to receive undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees in their chosen career fields.”
Conyers has spent most of his career in the Army. Before he was hired as S.C. State’s vice president for strategic alliances and initiatives last year, he served as the deputy assistant secretary of the Army overseeing the Army Review Boards Agency. Prior to that, he oversaw the Army’s largest military police brigade.