Caslen announces executive appointments
By Jeff Stensland, firstname.lastname@example.org, 803-777-3686
University of South Carolina President Bob Caslen announced two new hires Monday: new Chief of Staff Col. Mark Bieger, and James Smith, who will serve as interim special assistant to the president.
Bieger is a decorated combat veteran who brings a wealth of executive planning experience to the new role, including serving as executive officer to the commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific and chief of plans in U.S. Central Command. Most recently, Bieger served as chief of staff at the U.S. Army Military Academy at West Point, New York.
While at West Point, Bieger supervised more than 200 civilian and military personnel and was responsible for an annual budget of $160 million. He also coordinated major construction projects, campus IT upgrades and supervised the school’s communications and diversity efforts.
"I am proud to announce Mark Bieger as chief of staff and welcome his family to the university,” Caslen said. “Mark shares my priorities of high character, academic and research excellence, diversity and inclusion, and he is the perfect choice to lead my team. He is a leader whom I have worked closely with before and whom I have the utmost trust and confidence in. A decorated combat veteran, Mark possesses extraordinary leadership and administrative experience, and he is ready to work with every university stakeholder and partner, especially our great students, to not only make college more accessible and affordable but to make the University of South Carolina the nation's preeminent flagship institution of higher education."
Bieger is an Arizona native and a 1991 graduate of West Point. An Army Ranger and troop commander during multiple deployments, Bieger earned numerous commendations for his service, including the Silver Star, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and the Army Achievement Medal.
The university powers the state's economic development engine, there is tremendous momentum behind it thanks to gifted students, researchers and faculty, and I can't wait to get to work with President Caslen and the entire Carolina community to make a difference for students and keep the university moving in the right direction.
Chief of Staff Mark Bieger
Bieger and his wife, Amy, have three sons and lived in Columbia while he was stationed at Fort Jackson from 2012-14.
"Amy and I are as excited as we are grateful to be back in South Carolina,” Bieger said. “The university powers the state's economic development engine, there is tremendous momentum behind it thanks to gifted students, researchers and faculty, and I can't wait to get to work with President Caslen and the entire Carolina community to make a difference for students and keep the university moving in the right direction."
Smith, an attorney and former state lawmaker, joined the university in 2019. He most recently served as executive director of Military Programs and Strategies with Palmetto College. In his new role, he will coordinate executive outreach efforts to external university partners and stakeholders.
Smith is a 1990 graduate of South Carolina and earned his law degree in 1995. He represented Richland County in the South Carolina House of Representatives for 22 years, serving as assistant minority House leader and minority whip. He was the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor of South Carolina.
Smith began his law career at Nelson, Mullins, Riley and Scarborough before starting his own practice and has served on the boards of multiple civic and charitable organizations.
"I am honored to be a part of President Caslen's team, and I am ready to serve our students and faculty,” Smith said. “If we stay focused on President Caslen's priorities — academic excellence, research, diversity and inclusion — there is no limit to what we can achieve when we work together with university officials, business leaders and policymakers."
In between practicing law and serving in the State House, Smith also served as a JAG officer in South Carolina Army National Guard for eight years. He later became an enlisted infantry officer, serving in support of Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan with the 218th Infantry Brigade where he was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. He is currently a major and assigned to the Joint Operations Center, South Carolina Joint Forces Command.
James was an invaluable asset when I first took over, navigating the complex dynamics among faculty, student body, alumni, legislators, local politicians and leaders of influence. I have grown to trust him and to count on his judgement, as I recognize the need to continue to build these relationships.
President Bob Caslen
Caslen praised Smith’s record of public service in announcing his new role at the university.
"James Smith has devoted his life to serving the people of South Carolina — as a combat veteran, state legislator and community leader — and I am proud that he has agreed to serve on my team. James was an invaluable asset when I first took over, navigating the complex dynamics among faculty, student body, alumni, legislators, local politicians and leaders of influence. I have grown to trust him and to count on his judgement, as I recognize the need to continue to build these relationships. James has helped to make this university stronger, and I look forward to working with him as we continue to better serve our students, researchers, faculty and the people of South Carolina."
Smith and his wife, Kirkland, have four children and reside in Columbia.
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