CofC, MUSC re-enter talks of merger

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - An informal committee has been formed to study a merger between the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina. According to a statement released by the school Tuesday evening, the committee will consider how a proposed merger would allow for greater opportunities and more collaboration between the two universities. "The concept of a merger between the College of Charleston and MUSC has been raised in various discussions over the past three decades. In any discussions of increased collaboration between the two institutions, the idea of a merger emerges as one possibility," a statement from President George Benson's office read. It went on to say that Benson has mentioned several possibilities for the future of the College in a series of speaking engagements in the last few months. One of those possibilities included a merger of sorts with MUSC.

MUSC officials on Wednesday addressed the issue of the merger talks, saying a research facility that the merger of CofC of MUSC offers is "critical" to the city.

"The challenge is how to get from our somewhat fragmented collection of specialized institutions of higher education into a comprehensive network with more offerings at the graduate and professional level," university officials said.An email sent to students, staff and alumni clarified the reports released in Charleston media Tuesday. "As you know, the College and MUSC already enjoy a very collegial and cooperative relationship. Students, staff, and faculty at both institutions are engaged in a variety of joint initiatives and academic activities that benefit both our campuses and enrich our entire community. MUSC President Ray Greenberg and I have met quarterly for many years for the purpose of continuing to grow and strengthen the collaboration between our universities," the email read. Benson said the small committee made up of members of MUSC and CofC met to discuss greater collaboration opportunities, adding that Charleston Mayor Joe Riley has stressed the city's need to have a "comprehensive research university" for the city to continue to grow. Benson said members of the two universities were involved in all meetings called by Riley. Benson added that there is a history of merger talks between CofC and MUSC, citing efforts that did not come to fruition in the early 1980s and the late 1990s. "While neither of these efforts resulted in a merger of the institutions, both discussions produced outcomes that helped improve collaboration between the College and MUSC," Benson said.Benson closes the message to the College community stressing that the talks going on now are preliminary, adding that there are numerous steps and many sides to consider before moving forward. However, he said, the talks are to "ensure that the College we all know and love is strongly positioned for the future."