The orb at the top of the Maxcy monument, as seen from below

Pastides appointed interim UofSC president; Board names search committee

The University of South Carolina Board of Trustees unanimously selected Harris Pastides as the interim president of the university system and the state’s flagship research campus in Columbia on Friday (May 21) at a special meeting following last week’s resignation of former President Bob Caslen.

Pastides is a familiar figure, having served the university as president for more than a decade prior to retiring in 2019. During his tenure, the university set new records for external research funding, completed a billion-dollar capital campaign, experienced significant growth in both student enrollment and campus infrastructure and forged new industry partnerships. Prior to being named president in 2008, Pastides served as South Carolina’s vice president for research and health sciences, and dean of the Arnold School of Public Health.

“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.”

Trustees also on Friday outlined a plan to launch immediately an international search for the university’s 30th president, pledging a fair and equitable process to identify a diverse pool of world-class candidates to lead the eight-campus system.

“Our goal is to attract an experienced leader who can continue the tremendous momentum of the UofSC System. 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,” said Board Chair C. Dorn Smith III, M.D. 


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.

Harris Pastides, UofSC Interim President

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. In accordance with policy, the following individuals will serve 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 III, 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), chair of the Beaufort Faculty Senate (Jayne Violette), chair of the Columbia Faculty Senate (Mark Cooper), chair of the Upstate Faculty Senate (Lisa Johnson), chair of the Palmetto College Campuses Faculty Senate (Ernest Jenkins, Lancaster);
  • President of the USC Columbia Student Government Association (Alex Harrell);
  • Several non-voting advisors were appointed to the search committee to represent additional stakeholders and to provide valuable perspectives, including a representative from the UofSC Alumni Association (Robin Roberts), a representative of USC’s Foundations (James Bennett), community members (Lou Kennedy and David Seaton), a UofSC System staff representative (Lauren Smith) and the dean of the College of Engineering and Computing (Hossein Haj-Hariri); 
  • 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.

For additional information visit the presidential search site.



About the University of South Carolina System

From the Upstate to the Lowcountry, and from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the shores of the Atlantic, the University of South Carolina system is transforming the lives of South Carolinians through the impact of our eight institutions across the state. The university’s flagship campus in Columbia has 60 ranked programs according to U.S News & World Report and serves as a research hub for the entire state. Four-year campuses in Aiken, Upstate and Beaufort deliver world-class educational opportunities and increased access to brighter futures outside the state’s capital city. And Palmetto College expands the university’s reach even further with two-year regional campuses in Lancaster, Salkehatchie, Sumter and Union plus a variety of online degree options available to anyone in the state and beyond, ensuring that South Carolinians have multiple avenues to reach their higher education goals no matter where they live.

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