South Carolina Faculty, Staff Encouraged To Mute Resistance To New President

Will they listen?

Faculty and staff at the University of South Carolina are reportedly being told to tamp down their opposition to newly elected president Robert L. Caslen.

Will they listen? Or will they continue burning the canoes in the hopes of undermining Caslen – and weakening the university – following his controversial selection as the school’s next leader last month?

Battle lines are already being drawn within the anti-Caslen “opposition.” And the debate over whether to fall in line or keep the fires burning is intensifying as the school approaches a pair of key deadlines. In two weeks (on Friday, August 16), faculty are scheduled to report to campus. The following week (on Thursday, August 22), the fall semester is scheduled to begin.

We wonder … what will be the musical accompaniment for these two upcoming dates? A soothing, campfire-style rendition of Kumbaya? Or a jacked-up “Bombtrack” courtesy of Rage Against The Machine?

We shall see …

Caslen’s candidacy to lead the school – championed by governor Henry McMaster – bitterly divided its governing board and attracted overwhelming opposition from faculty, staff and students. As a result of this opposition, Caslen was initially shot down for the job back in the spring. But McMaster bided his time. He waited until students were out of town on summer break and then made another push to install Caslen – which in addition to blunting the general’s grassroots opposition also turned out to be an incredibly savvy political move.

Oh, it also worked …

(Click to view)

(Via: U.S. Armed Forces)

Still, Caslen (above) is entering an environment in which most of his core constituencies are aligned against him. And even though he has said all of the right things on his recent post-selection charm offensive, many of his enemies remain unmoved.

And some of those enemies appear to be loaded for bear …

Or is it deer?

Meanwhile, the school’s biggest donor has decisively weighed in against Caslen. This raises another key point: Even if Caslen is successful in rallying students, faculty and staff around his vision for the future of the institution (a highly doubtful proposition under the circumstances) will it matter if donors desert the school en masse?

We are not ready to call Caslen’s situation untenable … but it is certainly not good. In fact, we would argue the struggling South Carolina football team has an easier road ahead of it in 2019 than Caslen (and the Gamecocks are facing arguably the toughest schedule in the nation).

Also worth watching? The next-level trolling of Clemson University supporters, who are expected to continue fanning the flames in the event Caslen’s detractors ramp up their campaign against him in the fall.

Our view on all this? We don’t really have one. Given our support for the privatization of higher education, it would be hypocritical for us to choose a side in a political spitball fight over the university’s leadership. We want the politics (and the taxpayer funding/ government loan guarantees) taken out of higher education, period.

In other words, we want this to become a private sector issue …

Having said that, we will continue to keep our readers abreast of this narrative as we get closer to the start of the fall semester.

UPDATE: South Carolina provost tells dissenters to stand down …



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