Year 5: USC and Pastides

Pastides has no plans to leave USC: ‘The work is not done’

President says he has no yearning for another job

ashain@thestate.comAugust 26, 2013 

USC president Harris Pastides speaks with Cantey Heath, special assistant to the president in May.


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    What USC faculty and students want


    Former USC faculty senate chairwoman Sandra Kelly said the school needs:

    • Research labs. “It’s hard to get top-notch researchers without them.”

    • More classrooms – and larger ones. “We fight over classrooms. They’re packed.”

    Teaching assistants to help with grading. Some professors give fewer assignments because of the lack of help.

    Students USC student body president Chase Mizzell said students would like to see:

    • Improved quality in advisers and more clarity in course requirements in majors. He also suggests advisers should help students find ways to get internships and identify resources that better prepare them to find jobs.

    • More professors who are both scholarly and able to relate to students.

    • A new student union that includes all services – from student organizations to tuition payment offices. Ideally, it also would have a place for performances and classes.

    Andrew Shain

University of South Carolina president Harris Pastides says he has no plans to leave Columbia after five years leading the state’s flagship college.

“The work is not done,” he said. “I don’t covet being the president of another university.”

Pastides, 59, acknowledged he began thinking about what he would do after leaving USC with the recent decisions by presidents James Barker, 65, to retire from Clemson University and Ray Greenberg, 57, to leave the Medical University of South Carolina for a post at the University of Texas. (This month, George Benson, 67, also announced he would step down as president at the College of Charleston.)

But Pastides said he does not have an age in mind when he can see himself stepping away from the president’s desk. He said he will know it is time to step down when his energy runs out.

“I don’t want to be a tired, bedraggled president,” Pastides said. “I don’t want to be at 70 percent of my game and say, ‘I love my job, and I’ll do this forever,’ and have people say, ‘I knew him when he was at the top of his game.’ I’m going to leave before that.”

Pastides’ wife, Patricia Moore-Pastides, said she cannot see her husband taking another president’s job.

“These people who move to become president again: How do they have the same feeling about the second place?” she asked. “When you move, it’s for another reason. You want to be at another kind of university or for your own advancement. I’d like him to not have another presidency because it’s so all-consuming.

“I’d like for his last job to be something like part-time consulting that would give us time to travel around and see our grandkids.”

Pastides sees his next job as being at a foundation, with a mission such as promoting public health or greater access to higher education.

“It would be awfully nice to be giving away money rather than begging for it,” he said.

What’s next?

Some issues that Harris Pastides and his leadership team said they would tackle over the next few years at the University of South Carolina:

Finishing new buildings and expanding new programs: USC will open a new, $106.5 million business school building next year and a new, $80 million law school building in 2016. The university will continue expanding its online college and courses offered in an expanded summer semester.

Performance-based funding: Pastides is pushing for a new funding formula for state colleges that would eliminate reliance on historical funding levels. Instead, colleges would get state money based on their financial health, the number of South Carolinians they educate, their graduation rate and success in preparing students for the workforce. “The funding of public higher education has to get wiser for the taxpayers and for us,” Pastides said. Gov. Nikki Haley said Pastides is “not scared to prove the funding he deserves.”

Tuition: Pastides wants to meet with state leaders to find a way to tackle South Carolina’s high public college tuitions – seventh-highest in the nation, on average – and low state funding. S.C. schools get the third-lowest percentage of their revenue from state budgets.

“From government’s perspective, we’re to blame (for high tuition), and we believe they’re to blame. Let’s get together and say it’s not one or the other. What’s the right price of higher education in South Carolina? You can’t scale back quality. There’s not enough extra to trim back, so it’s either going to come out of families or from state tax revenue.”

Online education: Build USC’s presence around the world with online education courses in engineering, science and business.

K-12 : Pastides also mentioned the possibility of using USC’s growing online presence, expanding with its new Palmetto College, to help improve K-12 education in the state.

New research areas: USC will consider defining new research initiatives in terms of specific problems that people can understand, such as the causes of obesity, provost Michael Amiridis said. The last research initiatives, which came a decade ago under then-President Andrew Sorensen, were under the broad headings of energy, nanotechnology, the environment and medical sciences.

Public safety: USC will continue working with Columbia officials for a more secure city and campus, including the Five Points entertainment district that is popular with students. “We want to be ahead of this issue,” Pastides said. “There are going to be problems. You don’t ever want to look back and say, ‘We knew that was going to happen.’ ”

Building up

The University of South Carolina has undertaken nearly $600 million in construction and renovation projects since Aug. 1, 2008, when Harris Pastides started as president. A look at the projects, their cost and status:

Academic and research

Darla Moore School of Business building $106.5 millionUnder construction
Law school building $80 millionIn design
Close-Hipp Building renovations $30 millionIn design
School of Journalism and Mass Communications building $18 millionConstruction starts in January
Horizon building $58 millionUnder construction
Discovery building $45.1 millionUnder construction
Hamilton College renovation $15 millionIn design
ETV property acquisition $5.3 millionComplete
Booker T. Washington building renovations $2.45 millionComplete
Sumwalt Laboratory renovations $1.9 millionComplete
Broadcast studio construction $1.5 millionIn design
Coker Life Sciences laboratory renovation $1.15 millionComplete

Housing and student services

Patterson Hall renovations $32.6 millionComplete
Women’s Quad renovations $27.2 millionUnder construction
Student health center $27 millionIn design
Rutledge College and Legare-Pinckney renovation $11.1 millionComplete
Harper-Elliott renovations $4.2 millionComplete
Maxcy College renovations $4.1 millionComplete


Rice Athletics Center $11.7 millionComplete
Athletic Village infrastructure $16.6 millionUnder construction
Gamecock Park tailgating lot $15.5 millionComplete
Indoor football practice facility $14.5 millionIn design
Softball stadium $8 millionComplete
Williams-Brice Stadium video board $6.5 millionComplete
Tennis center $5.3 millionComplete
Outdoor football practice fields $3 millionConstruction starts later this year


Discovery parking garage $19 millionComplete
Horizon parking garage $15.5 millionComplete
Athletic village garage and maintenance facility $8.8 millionComplete


Spigner House renovation $1.1 millionComplete


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