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Pastides to step down as USC president next summer

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University of South Carolina president Harris Pastides will retire from his post in the summer of 2019.

Pastides made the announcement during the annual State of the University address today, the university said in a news release.

“No one can expect the good fortune to serve in any position for 10 years. It’s a significant amount of time in any personal career, let alone a college president serving in turbulent times,” Pastides said.  “But as important a milestone as this is for me personally, it’s more importantly a reminder about the ways we’ve stood strong and resilient through many challenges and many storms to create an even greater university from the great one it was 10 years ago.”

Harris Pastides will retire in the summer of 2019 as president of the University of South Carolina. (Photo/File)Pastides came to USC in 1998 from the University of Massachusetts as a professor and dean of the Arnold School of Public Health. He later served as vice president for research until succeeding Andrew Sorenson in 2008 as the university’s 28th president.

During Pastides’ tenure, enrollment across the USC system has grown by 25% to more than 51,000 students, the university said. The Columbia campus has seen the number of freshmen increase by 26% during that period, as well as a 70% increase in applications.

The university’s African-American graduation rate has increased by 17% to 75%, more than double the national average. Tenure and tenure-track faculty has increased by 25%.

Since 2008, USC has produced 62 National Science Foundation Research Fellows, 65 Fulbright Scholars, 19 Goldwater Scholars, two Truman Scholars, one Marshall Scholar, and a 2017 Rhodes Scholar. The university also said it has received record research funding during that period, including $258 million in sponsored awards last year.  

Pastides also oversaw a record-setting $1 billion fundraising campaign in 2015.

“Our university is fortunate to have had more than a decade of innovative and impactful leadership from president Harris Pastides,” USC board of trustees chairman John von Lehe Jr. said. “He met challenges head on and turned them into successes. It wasn’t enough to survive; he insisted that this institution thrive. And thrive we have.”

Pastides said he will focus on improving student safety and expanding on-campus housing options during his final year in office. He said he plans to remain involved with the university and said interaction with USC students provided him the most satisfaction during his career.

“There is little doubt that the greatest rewards came from the students,” Pastides said. “There is nothing more powerful and more motivating than a conversation, a high five, a selfie, or a ‘thank you’ from a Gamecock student. … Serving our undergraduate and graduate students, here and throughout the system, and watching them graduate has been the privilege of my lifetime.”

 

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