Pink flowers bloom on campus

UofSC announces new hires to lead academic and research efforts

The University of South Carolina announced two key leadership hires on Thursday (April 14), selecting the University of Kentucky’s College of Public Health Dean Donna K. Arnett as the new executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, and South Carolina health researcher Julius Fridriksson as the school’s vice president for research. 

Both positions were approved at the university’s Board of Trustees meeting.

“With these hires, we have proven leaders who will take the university to new heights in achieving excellence in student instruction and groundbreaking research,” said interim President Harris Pastides. 

President-elect Michael Amiridis, who begins his tenure in July, said, “We are fortunate to have professionals of such high caliber to lead the university in its next chapter, and I look forward to working with each of them.”

I’m honored to be chosen for this important role at the University of South Carolina.

Donna K. Arnett
Donna K. Arnett

As Kentucky’s public health dean since 2016, Arnett has provided oversight for the college’s academic offerings, worked to expand extramural funding and conducted the college’s first comprehensive strategic plan. Prior to joining Kentucky, Arnett was associate dean and chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and is a past president of the American Heart Association. 

“I’m honored to be chosen for this important role at the University of South Carolina,” Arnett said. “My goals are to ignite student success, listen to the faculty and students about how innovations brought on by the pandemic’s remote instruction might shape the future of teaching and learning, build upon the university’s already strong academic offerings and foster a climate of inclusive excellence across campus.” 

The provost oversees all the schools and colleges on the Columbia research campus, which collectively offer more than 300 degree programs, from bachelor’s to doctorate degrees. 

Arnett, who will begin Aug. 1, has published more than 700 peer-reviewed papers and two books, focusing her research on cardiovascular health. She earned a nursing degree from University of South Florida, a master’s in epidemiology and biostatistics from South Florida, and a doctorate in epidemiology from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Arnett is a native of Kentucky who grew up in Tampa, Florida.  

It is a great privilege to be in a position to make sure my fellow faculty members receive the targeted, effective help they need to excel.

Julius Fridriksson
Julius Fridriksson

Fridriksson, a stroke and aphasia researcher with the Arnold School of Public Health, has served as interim head of the Office for Research since July 2021. He is director of the NIH-funded Center for the Study of Aphasia Recovery, which conducts groundbreaking research to help stroke victims recover from brain damage. 

“It is such an honor to have this opportunity to serve as a steward of the University of South Carolina’s research enterprise. I look forward to continuing the work my team and I began last summer, especially ramping up our primary mission to enhance faculty development throughout the university system. Consistent investments in faculty mentorship, professional development, funding and other supports will pay dividends in research productivity and build a strong culture of research excellence. It is a great privilege to be in a position to make sure my fellow faculty members receive the targeted, effective help they need to excel,” Fridriksson said.

A native of Iceland, Fridriksson joined South Carolina in 2001 and is a SmartState Chair and Distinguished Health Sciences Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. He also serves as co-director of the McCausland Center for Brain Imaging. He earned a bachelor’s degree in communicative disorders from the University of Central Florida, a master’s in speech-language pathology from Central Florida and a doctorate in speech and hearing sciences from the University of Arizona. 

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