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President of Clinton College in Rock Hill on administrative leave, acting president named

In this May file photo, Clinton College President Elaine Copeland greets those in attendance for the Rock Hill school’s commencement ceremony at the Kenneth Monroe Transformation Center.
In this May file photo, Clinton College President Elaine Copeland greets those in attendance for the Rock Hill school’s commencement ceremony at the Kenneth Monroe Transformation Center. Jeff Sochko

Clinton College has an acting president, and apparently has had one for several weeks, but officials at the Rock Hill school have declined to say why the longtime president, Elaine Copeland, is not currently serving.

Classes at the historically black college, which has been open in Rock Hill since 1894, start Aug. 7 and registration for students is scheduled for next week.

The school’s website and other information, including a board of officers inside the administration building, list Copeland as president.

At the school’s offices Friday, Lester McCorn told The Herald that he is “acting president” of the college. McCorn said Copeland is on administrative leave but declined further comment.

Copeland has served as president since 2002, according to the school’s website states.

When reached by phone Friday, Copeland declined comment on her status, referring all questions to her lawyer, Beverly Carroll of Rock Hill.

Carroll on Friday declined to discuss specifics of the ongoing dispute except to confirm that Copeland is on administrative leave after first being told she was suspended. Carroll described the action as without cause. Carroll said three administrators, including Copeland, were first told by board members in June that they were suspended with pay, then advised later they were on administrative leave with pay.

“We believe it was a totally inappropriate suspension or administrative leave without basis,” Carroll said.

McCorn, pastor of an African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church according to his Facebook page, and several members of the Clinton College trustee board declined to comment. All said only the board of trustees chairwoman, the Rev. Mildred Hines, could address the issue.

Hines is a bishop with the AME Zion Church that supports the college.

In an email to The Herald late Friday, Hines stated:

“Clinton College has placed certain administrative employees on administrative leave with pay pending the results of an internal review. As this is an ongoing personnel matter, the College cannot provide further comment at this time.”

McCorn’s Facebook page shows that he has said he was appointed “acting president” June 21. The Facebook page also shows several entries where McCorn refers to himself as acting president of Clinton College.

Carroll said she has met with the college’s lawyers and confirmed it is her understanding that McCorn is considered by the college as “acting president.”

The Herald was told that Boykin and Davis law firm in Columbia is representing Clinton College. Efforts to reach lawyers at the firm were unsuccessful.

Clinton College, located on Crawford Road in Rock Hill, changed from a junior college to include four-year programs in 2013. It has about 150 students, according to Cappex, a college decision services website.

Clinton is a private school and remains supported by the AME Zion Church. It has hosted several big names and events over the years, including a visit by the Rev. Jesse Jackson in 2015.

The school also was part of a national news story almost a year ago. Two students at the college were among four people killed and dozens injured in a football team bus crash in North Carolina in September 2016.

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