USC names one of its own as president

Published: Jul. 9, 2008 at 6:26 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 18, 2008 at 12:37 PM EDT
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Dr. Harris Pastides
Dr. Harris Pastides

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The University of South Carolina has named its new president, and it's one of their own.

The board met Friday morning in an executive session to discuss the three finalists before voting unanimously to name Dr. Harris Pastides as the new president of the university.

"I have been on a 10 year journey with many of you," Pastides said. "And it's extra gratifying to have been selected as an internal candidate, knowing how deep and how strong and how diverse the competition was."

He'll be replacing Andrew Sorensen who is taking a tenured job at the university. Sorensen called Pastides a "man of remarkable integrity and vision" Friday.

USC Trustee Michael Mungo said Pastides' insider knowledge will help him out when he becomes president.

"As compared to an outsider, we would lose eight months while they learned all the new people, the system -- all of us, so it makes a great deal of difference," Mungo said.

About a year and a half after coming here, Pastides played a critical role in securing one of the biggest private donations in USC history -- a $10 million gift from Columbia businessman Norman Arnold.

In five years as vice president for research, Pastides helped boost funding by 69 percent, which was a record level last year.

Pastides said he will waste no time moving USC forward.

"Speed matters," Pastides said. "Because the challenges ahead are not slowing down. We face and we must embrace, as Martin Luther King said, the fierce urgency of now."

Pastides, who also is director of the USC Research Foundation, joined the university as dean of the Arnold School of Public Health in 1998 and served in that position until 2003.

Previously, he was a professor of epidemiology and chairman of the department of biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

A native of New York City, Pastides earned his bachelor's degree in biological sciences from the University of Albany and his master's in public health and his doctorate in epidemiology from Yale University.

The other finalists were Janie M. Fouke and Geri Hockfield Malandra.

Fouke is the University of Florida's former senior vice president for academic affairs now developing international plans at the school.

Malandra is the vice chancellor for strategic management at the University of Texas System.

It took the trustees about six months and 11 meetings to whittle down a group of 81 nominees or applicants after Sorensen announced he would be retiring.

Pastides had been a contender for leadership positions at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Georgia State University, but withdrew his name from consideration saying there was something special about the opportunity at USC.

"There are very few universities in America that make as big a difference in the educational, economic and cultural fortunes of their state as this university makes in this state," Pastides said.

Pastides now becomes USC's 28th president since its inception in 1801. He takes office in August.

For more information on the search, visit http://www.sc.edu/presidentialsearch/.

Reported by Jack Kuenzie

Updated by Logan Smith