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Pastides set to temporarily lead UofSC as Caslen steps down

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 5:43 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The University of South Carolina will welcome back a former president to lead the school as it searches for a new president.

Harris Pastides will serve as interim president to fill the vacancy left by departing President Bob Caslen. Caslen submitted his resignation from the post Wednesday afternoon.

Caslen’s resignation takes effect Thursday.

Caslen faced criticism after failing to cite a source during a commencement address he gave over the weekend. He acknowledged on Monday that he quoted Adm. William McRaven from a speech McRaven gave in 2014 during a commencement address at the University of Texas.

Caslen acknowledged concerns from some students accusing him of plagiarism.

“Certainly and technically that’s exactly what it was because I use somebody else’s words without giving them attribution,” he said. “And that that fits the definition. That’s correct.”

Some UofSC students remarked on social media that if they plagiarize something, they could be subject to being expelled.

“They go to Student Conduct and there’s all kinds of different circumstances that would be in play, but that could be true,” Caslen said.

He also flubbed the name of the university, congratulating graduates of the “University of California,” then correcting it to “University of Carolina.”

READ MORE: UofSC president issues apology for not citing source in commencement speech

It was the second time this week he tendered his resignation to the school’s board of trustees. On Tuesday, the board rejected his resignation.

But the university then released a statement Tuesday night, saying in part that after “focused discussions” with Caslen, he had tendered his resignation.

UofSC Board Chair Dr. C. Dorn Smith III thanked Caslen and his wife, Shelly, for their service to the university “during the challenges of the last two years.”

In a letter to UofSC students, faculty and staff, Caslen called trust “the most important ingredient of effective leadership,” noting that when it is lost, “it is nearly impossible to lead.”

“I believe that is the case right now between the University of South Carolina and its president,” he wrote. “I’m sorry to those I have let down. I understand the responsibilities and higher standards of senior level leadership. When those are not met, trust is lost. And when trust is lost, one is unable to lead.”

He also thanked students, faculty, parents and others for “numerous letters, tweets and texts of support.”

University officials say a search for a permanent president will begin immediately.

Pastides retired as UofSC president in July 2019 after serving for 10 years.

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