USC says Pastides isn’t interim president yet. After Thursday, it won’t have one

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The University of South Carolina is now saying Harris Pastides is not officially the school’s interim president.

In fact, effective on Thursday, the school does not have a president.

After sending a news release Wednesday evening titled “UofSC President Caslen resigns; Pastides named new interim,” USC spokesman Jeff Stensland said Thursday that Pastides “is not officially interim president.”

Rather, USC’s board of trustees plans to approve Pastides — who has already told officials he would accept the interim role — for the position during a meeting on May 21 at 9 a.m., Stensland said.

“Pending the selection of an interim president by the full Board at a called meeting on Friday, May 21, all areas of university operations, including academics, student affairs, athletics and administration, will continue uninterrupted under the leadership of respective vice presidents or senior administrative officials,” Stensland said in an email.

Given that Caslen’s resignation is effective Thursday, May 13, according to an email he sent to students and employees, it’s unclear who will be steering the state’s largest university for the next week.

Public agencies, such as USC, are legally prohibited from making major decisions without holding public meetings and casting public votes, said Jay Bender, an attorney with the S.C. Press Association. When USC had announced the board had named Pastides interim president without holding a public meeting or a vote, it appeared to violate the S.C. Freedom of Information Act, Bender said.

Caslen resigned Wednesday after last week’s graduation speech in which he mistakenly referred to USC graduates as being from the “University of California” and plagiarized a portion of his commencement speech.