COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) -The University of South Carolina Board of Trustees is expected to meet Friday morning to discuss what’s become a contentious search for the school’s next president, but it’s not clear yet if the board is planning to take a vote on a previously announced finalist, retired Lt. General Robert Caslen.
A lot has happened leading up to Friday’s meeting. The Board of Trustees was initially scheduled to meet last Friday, but one board member complained that the meeting violated state law because not enough notice was given. A judge agreed and the meeting was canceled, which also put off the scheduled vote for Caslen.
He’s being considered for USC’s next president, but not without some backlash. Some believe that Governor Henry McMaster is unfairly pushing for a vote for Caslen.
The governor tells WIS-TV that it’s time for the university to move forward.
“President Pastides has done an excellent job for ten years, but he gave his announcement almost a year ago, today, almost a year ago that he was leaving. We have vacancies in the top echelons of the university – the financial officers, the provost. No one is going to come and apply for those jobs until we get a president,” says Governor McMaster, who also says this process, “has gone on now for almost a year and it is time to vote.”
The governor says the process, so far, has cost about $137,000.
The ongoing search has brought a lot of attention to the school recently. This week, outgoing president, Harris Pastides, received a letter from the agency responsible for the school’s accreditation. The letter questions if there has been undue influence.
That’s something USC’s largest donor is also questioning. The namesake for the university’s business school, Darla Moore, sent a letter to board chairman regarding the presidential selection process.
In the letter, she says in part: “Not one constituency of the university is in favor of the current process including the donors who are the lifeblood of the university's future. The process should be started over to find a qualified candidate without the current controversy. To do otherwise is to do irremediable damage to the university."
Still, the governor says he’s confident Caslen will win the vote, saying, “As chairman of the board, according to the law, as chairman – ex officio of the board – it has been my honor to talk to many of the trustees. I think I’ve spoken to all of them to give them my opinion. General Caslen is precisely what we need at the University of South Carolina, right now. He is a nationally recognized leader. I think he’s going to win the vote.”
The USC Board of Trustees will meet at 10:00 AM, Friday, at the Alumni Center.