Pastides appointed interim UofSC president; Board names search committee

Interview with Dr. Harris Pastides
Interview with Dr. Harris Pastides
Published: May. 21, 2021 at 12:34 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - The man who served as president of the University of South Carolina for a decade is back in that role on a temporary basis.

Harris Pastides will serve as interim president until a successor for former President Bob Caslen is selected.

The university’s Board of Trustees unanimously selected Harris as interim president at a special meeting Friday.

“I’m excited to serve in this interim role and look forward to helping the university through this transition,” Pastides said. “Despite change, our university will always remain focused on the mission of service to our students and the people of South Carolina. Now is the time for us to come together as one community to reaffirm our support of that important work.”

The board also detailed a plan to launch an immediate international search for the university’s 30th president. The board pledged “a fair and equitable process to identify a diverse pool of world-class candidates to lead the eight-campus system,” a release from the university states.

“Our goal is to attract an experienced leader who can continue the tremendous momentum of the UofSC System,” Board Chair Dr. C. Dorn Smith III said. “That means attracting the best students in South Carolina and beyond and enhancing the quality of life for our state’s residents through teaching, research and innovation.”

The Board approved a set of new policies in 2020 to strengthen overall governance, protect trustees from external political influence in decision making and improve the presidential search process.

The board named the following people as members of the search committee:

  • Eight voting members of the Board of Trustees, including Thad H. Westbrook, Alex English, Brian C. Harlan, Leah B. Moody, Emma W. Morris, C. Dorn Smith, Eugene P. Warr Jr. and Mack I. Whittle Jr. Westbrook will serve as search chair;
  • Five faculty members from the of the university system, including: Aiken Faculty Assembly Chair Alexandra Roach, Beaufort Faculty Senate Chair Jayne Violette, Columbia Faculty Senate Chair Mark Cooper, Upstate Faculty Senate Chair Lisa Johnson, Palmetto College Campuses Faculty Senate Chair Ernest Jenkins;
  • UofSC Columbia Student Government Association President Alex Harrell;
  • Several non-voting advisors were appointed to the search committee to represent additional stakeholders and to provide valuable perspectives, including:

By policy, the secretary of the university and of the Board of Trustees will staff the presidential search.

The Board plans to interview executive search firms with strong national reputations about providing assistance with identifying candidates of the highest quality.

Caslen announced his resignation last week after admitting he had inadvertently plagiarized a portion of a speech he gave at weekend commencement ceremonies.

Pastides served as president of the university from 2008 until his retirement in 2019, and was succeeded by Caslen.

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