Board of trustees elects new USC president.

The University of South Carolina board of trustees elected a contentious candidate as the school's new president on Friday despite calls from faculty, alumni and USC's largest donor to reopen the search process.

At a specially called meeting in Columbia, the board elected Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr. to replace Harris Pastides, who is retiring after 10 years.

A motion to elect Caslen passed with 11 yes votes, eight no votes and one vote of present.

"Shame on you," said a woman after the vote, and an extended chant of "Shame! Shame! Shame!" broke out among those gathered outside the filled-to-capacity meeting room at the Pastides Alumni Center.

The vote came after two weeks of controversy surrounding Caslen's candidacy. Caslen was one of four finalists identified by a search committee, but the university decided to reopen the search after an outcry over a lack of diversity among the four male contenders.

However, Gov. Henry McMaster, who serves as ex officio chair of the board, pushed for a vote on Caslen.

Before the vote, board chair John von Lehe said the body takes concerns about Caslen's candidacy and the election process seriously, but that those concerns "must be weighed against Gen. Caslen's considerable qualifications."

The board met one week after a previously scheduled meeting was canceled because of a court order. A Richland County Judge determined the public was not given five days' notice of the meeting, in violation of state law.McMaster requested the meeting last week for the board to vote on Caslen, a former West Point superintendent.

About 300 students, faculty, alumni and community members attended the meeting or waited outside the meeting room.

USC student body president Luke Rankin told the board he has heard from students who both support Caslen and who oppose him. The students' objection is more about the election process, he said, noting the vote came during USC's summer session, when few students are on campus.

"My role is to be the voice of the students," Rankin said. "They believe our voice has been left out of this process."

Board member Charles Williams, at whose request the injunction was issued, spoke against a vote on Friday.

"I think this board is asleep," Williams said. "I think this board is denying consequences they have created. We're in a helluva mess. The damage is done. It's just a question of how much more damage there's going to be."

Board member and S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT