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2nd man quits South Carolina college panel after criticism

November 29, 2018

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The interim director of South Carolina’s college oversight agency is leaving after state lawmakers questioned his pay raise of more than $91,000.

Jeff Schilz of the South Carolina Higher Education Commission told the agency’s board Tuesday he is resigning, news outlets reported. Schilz said he will stay two more weeks to assure a smooth transition.

“I feel that the time is right for me to step away from the CHE,” Schilz wrote in a letter to CHE commissioners. “A fresh perspective and new energy are needed to advance the reforms necessary to bring affordability, balance and sustainability to the state’s higher education system.”

He’s the second official to leave the commission in the last two months, after his raise became an issue.

Former chairman Tim Hofferth resigned in October, after one of the state’s most power lawmakers urged him to quit because of his approval of the raise that took Schilz’s salary from $166,280 per year to $257,767 annually.

State Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman of Florence called the raise illegal, and said Hofferth and Schilz should resign.

Schilz repaid the two months of additional money he had received after Leatherman’s complaint.

Hofferth had defended the raise, writing Leatherman that it was approved by the commission. Two commissioners told senators at a public hearing last month they did not recall approving Schilz’s raise.

Leatherman and House Ways and Means Committee chair Brian White of Anderson have also questioned the use of higher education commission foundation funds to pay for part of the increase.

Schilz was part of a movement by the commission to hold the state’s 33 public colleges more accountable for increased construction spending, rising tuition and growing enrollment of out-of-state students.

That criticism was not well-received by university leaders and some lawmakers.

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