Speakers urge board of trustees to do the right thing'.

Holding signs touting "Principle, People, Prosperity and Process," dozens of University of South Carolina faculty, staff, alumni and supporters renewed calls for Friday's pending vote on a potential new university president by the USC board of trustees to be canceled.

Warning of consequences ranging from a loss of accreditation to a detrimental effect on recruiting, speakers including Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, student activist Lyric Swinton and Bethany Bell, an associate professor of social work and the university's Faculty Welfare Committee chair, took to the microphone on Wednesday under a blazing sun on the Russell House patio.

"Today is an event, but it's also a movement," Bell said. "Today our goal is to restore the integrity to the search process. We believe that the board members, the board of trustees, has the integrity to do the right thing. We know that the board of trustees has integrity, and we want them to stand up to Gov. McMaster."

The board of trustees is scheduled to vote on whether to install Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen as the successor to Harris Pastides, retiring in August after 10 years as USC president. Seen as the frontrunner of four presidential finalists approved by the board earlier this year, Caslen, a former West Point superintendent, was the only finalist with experience leading an institute of higher learning. But an outcry over a lack of diversity among the quartet of male contendersled the board to reopen the search in April.

Gov. Henry McMaster has pushed for a vote on Caslen. A board of trustees meeting hastily scheduled for July 12 to hold a vote was canceled after Circuit Court Judge Robert Hood issued a temporary injunction, noting that state law requires five days' notice of USC board meetings.

McMaster is the ex officio chair of the board of trustees, serving for the duration of his tenure as governor.

The board rescheduled a meeting for 10 a.m. Friday, the same day a hearing on the injunction is scheduled. The board will meet at the Pastides Alumni Center at 900 Senate St.

Speakers at Wednesday's gathering of a group dubbing itself Gamecocks4Justice referenced a letter sent to USC by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the agency responsible for the accreditation of regional higher education institutions, detailing concerns with the presidential hiring process. The organization's bylaws state that a school's governing body must protect it from undue external influence.

Jennifer Clyburn...

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