Board members at the University of South Carolina are moving to fast track the hiring of Michael Amiridis as the school’s next president, multiple sources familiar with the hiring process told me this week.
“After last time, they are looking for a fait accompli,” one source familiar with the process told me. “And a familiar face.”
“Last time” is a reference to the bitter divisiveness preceding the hiring of the school’s former president, retired lieutenant general Robert Caslen. “Familiar face” is a reference to the twenty-one years Amiridis spent as a professor, researcher and administrator at South Carolina from 1994-2015.
Caslen was controversially tapped for the South Carolina job in the summer of 2019 after governor Henry McMaster and his powerful allies on the university board convinced a narrow majority of trustees to appoint him.
That scandal-scarred search process – which enraged students, faculty and staff – nearly resulted in sanctions for the school.
How did Caslen’s tenure end? Not well …
Caslen was forced to resign from his post in May after this news outlet exclusively reported on allegations of plagiarism in a commencement address.
What sort of background would Amiridis bring to the job?
A chemical engineer, the native of Greece has been chancellor of The University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) since March of 2015. Amiridis’ bio touts “a six-year pattern of record campus enrollment” at UIC as well as “the development and implementation of a 10-year capital plan to bolster UIC’s physical infrastructure.”
It also notes “a new historic record in research awards,” eclipsing the $400 million mark in grant money.
Prior to taking the UIC job, Amiridis spent six years as executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at South Carolina under Harris Pastides – who led the school from 2008-2019 and has been serving as interim president since Caslen’s resignation in May (another controversial hiring).
As I noted at the time, Pastides’ reign was marred by soaring tuition increases, skyrocketing debt, rabid political correctness and out-of-control spending on non-core functions of government (including a spectacularly failed “economic development” scheme that set taxpayers back by tens of millions of dollars).
All of that continued under Caslen, who presided over stagnant academics, backsliding athletics, further liberal indoctrination and all manner of additional taxpayer-funded speculation.
Would any of that change under Amiridis?
Prior to becoming provost under Pastides, Amiridis was dean of South Carolina’s college of engineering and computing from 2006 to 2009 and chair of the department of chemical engineering from 2002 to 2006. He came to South Carolina in 1994 as a chemical engineering professor after briefly working for an international chemical manufacturing company.
Amiridis received his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki in Greece and his doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
While my sources tell me Amiridis is being pushed by several deans at the university as well as “multiple” board members and donors, several sources close to the board debunked the report that his candidacy was being “fast-tracked.” Others flat out refuted the contention that Amiridis was “the guy.”
“He is 100 percent not ‘the guy,'” one source close to the board told me, adding that the “leadership” of the board had already settled on another candidate.
Sounds like another goat rodeo in the works …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that “We Are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates’ lid pictured above).
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