Amid growing pressure from Avery students and local chapters of the NAACP to admit Black applicants, the College of Charleston’s Board of Trustees decided to avoid desegregation by changing the College’s status from a municipal college to a private institution. As H. L. Erckmann advised fellow trustee Paul M. Macmillan, “I have been giving very serious thought to the predicament in which we as Trustees would be placed should an attempt be made in the Federal Court to allow colored students to enter the College. We would certainly be in a very strong position if the title to this property were placed again in ‘The Trustees of the College of Charleston.’” While some southern universities and colleges were just a few years from desegregating, the College of Charleston’s Board of Trustees dug in its heels.
In 1949, the College and the South Carolina State Legislature set in motion plans to transfer the College’s deed from the city of Charleston to the Trustees. The transfer resulted in the College forfeiting significant financial support from the city. To preserve segregation, the administration preferred to take on a more precarious financial position as a private institution rather than accept African American students.
In addition to sustaining significant financial losses, the College also lost the opportunity to welcome a diverse cohort of students who could have further enriched the College’s campus life. Avery Normal Institute and nearby Burke High School students—denied admission to the College of Charleston—not only pursued their college education elsewhere, but they also became lawyers, civil rights activists, community leaders, and a state legislator. Their absence was the campus's loss.