Charleston Southern reigns in spending

COLUMBIA -- Charleston Southern University will tighten its financial belt after losing more than $10 million in former economics professor Al Parish's investment fraud scheme, but the loss does not appear to threaten the long-term financial health of the institution.

Parish recently pleaded guilty to swindling admirers, friends and his employer out of an estimated $90 million.

After the losses became public last spring, Charleston Southern trustees approved a plan to use rainy day reserves, reschedule non-urgent building projects and tighten spending overall. Specific projects and cuts were not outlined.

But a record number of students enrolled this fall, and those eligible for assistance will continue to receive their scholarships, faculty will continue to be hired and a merit raise program will be implemented as planned, according to statements by the university.

Charleston Southern spokeswoman Allison Osman said she could not comment on the Parish losses because they are the subject of lawsuits.

She forwarded the university's official statements from recent months about the losses and the university's response to them.

• In the May 18 update from President Jairy Hunter to parents, donors, alumni, board members, faculty and staff, Hunter stated that the university would not spend any money from its endowment until the lost funds have been fully restored.

• The $15.6 million endowment was reduced to $10.3 million by the Parish schemes, Hunter stated. The balance is invested with Bank of America Private Bank.

• Student scholarships funded from the endowment income will be covered from the operating budget until the endowment grows back to $15.6 million, Hunter stated.

The financial scandal has not dampened interest in attending the school; a record 3,286 students enrolled this fall, and a waiting list for admission was implemented for the first time.