Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- SC Representive Jim Merrill (R) Berkeley County, and Representative Leon Stavrinakis (D) Charleston, have filed legislation that would merge the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina.
The combined school would operate under the name Charleston University.
Rep. Merrill and Rep. Stavrinakis say the proposal is a response to business demands for a workforce trained for the growing economy. The lawmakers also say the merged university's value and prestige would be greater than the sum of its parts.
The two lawmakers say in a news release that "The bottom line is, this merger is long overdue - it is right for business; it is right for higher education; it is right for the Lowcountry; it is right for South Carolina; and it is our obligation as legislators to deliver."
News19 has contacted both schools to get their response to the proposal. Mike Robertson, Senior Director of Media Relations at The College of Charleston, sent the following statement to News19: "The Board of Trustees welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with the General Assembly and all its stakeholders to discuss how we can work together to meet the higher education needs of South Carolina. For the past 18 months, President George Benson has publicly supported the merger of these two great universities. In taking this position, President Benson has spoken only for himself, and not on behalf of the College."
MUSC has not yet responded to News19.
Governor Nikki Haley told reporters Thursday afternoon she does not think the two schools should be forced into a merger. "This should be something where the two boards come together and make the decision together," Haley said.
According to the news release from Merrill and Stavrinakis , they have the support of SC Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt. Hitt is quoted saying, "Business recruitment and expansion in the Charleston region is one of the many keys to continued economic growth here in South Carolina. One of the challenges we face right now is how to better align the needs of the business community with our talent pool. Any proposal to create a full-scale, comprehensive research university in this region clearly makes sense for businesses in Charleston and across South Carolina."
The College of Charleston is the state's oldest college, founded in 1770, while MUSC started classes in 1824.