COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The chairman of the University of South Carolina’s Board of Trustees pushed back against a claim the governor influenced who would be the next president of the college.
Before the board even voted for the president, accreditors with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) expressed concerns of political influence on the presidential search.
Three days later, board members voted to elect Caslen as president with a vote of 11-8.
SACS gave the board until Aug. 10 to respond to its letter, but Chairman John von Lehe responded early, with a letter dated July 26.
The chairman said it was he, and not Gov. Henry McMaster, who pushed for the vote on Caslen in July.
He said he called for the vote because the board learned Caslen had another job offer and not because of McMaster’s calls to board members around the same time, expressing support for Caslen.
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Lehe also said Caslen had been the board’s favorite candidate since his interview in late April.
“It remains my view that each member of the Board voted for or against Mr. Caslen based solely on their independent judgment of Mr. Caslen’s qualifications to lead the University of South Carolina or their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the search process,” Lehe wrote. “I am not aware of Governor McMaster’s support of Mr. Caslen –which he has the right to express –affecting the vote of the Board.”
It’s unclear whether SACS will ask for further documentation from the Board of Trustees.
The vote to elect Caslen was mired in controversy, with the university’s biggest donor calling for the presidential search to start anew and one trustee publicly saying he no longer supported Caslen.
Read the full letter to SACS from Lehe below: