Formal review of UofSC presidential search launched by accreditors

Formal review of UofSC presidential search launched by accreditors

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The accreditation agency of the University of South Carolina informed school officials it will undergo a formal review of the hiring process that led to Bob Caslen becoming president.

In a letter dated Oct. 2, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) said it found “evidence of a significant accreditation-related issue.” (Read the full letter at the bottom of this story.)

Worst-case scenario -- that means the university’s accreditation could be in jeopardy.

This comes after the agency reviewed information submitted by the school defending itself against allegations that UofSC’s board did not “protect the institution from undue influence by external persons or bodies” during its recent search for a president.

Emails and text messages obtained by WIS show Gov. Henry McMaster and his staff worked closely with members of UofSC’s Board of Trustees to help Caslen become the university’s president.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, WIS obtained hundreds of messages between members of the board of trustees, McMaster, his chief of staff, Trey Walker, and others.

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Many have criticized Caslen’s hiring as a political move.

UofSC officials have until Nov. 4 to give SACS other documentation related to the recent presidential search.

The board for SACSCOC will conduct a formal review of that process in December 2019.

If that review finds error with the presidential search, the school could be sanctioned or even lose accreditation.

SACSCOC’s president, Dr. Belle Wheelan, provided the following context:

“Our Board always has five (5) options for action:

  1. To find that all is well.
  2. To place the institution on Monitoring to make sure it continues to be in compliance with our standards.
  3. To place the institution on Warning.
  4. To place the institution on Probation.
  5. To drop the institution from membership.”

It’s unclear what any of this would mean for Caslen’s presidency.

Read the full letter:

UofSC released a statement saying:

“The University of South Carolina and its Board of Trustees will continue to work with the Southern Association of Colleges and School (SACS) in its examination of the presidential search process. Our institution is committed to SACS’ Principles of Accreditation, good governance, and continuous improvement. In that spirit, we have enlisted the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) to review our Board policies and practices. The Board will use the findings and recommendations from the AGB consulting team to strengthen board governance practices.”

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