Caslen Briefs Rotarians on University Issues

University of South Carolina president Bob Caslen updated Capital Rotarians on a host of items June 17 at the downtown club’s biweekly Zoom meeting. Topics ranged from possibly renaming iconic buildings to resuming fall classes on campus, and from football season prospects to strategic planning for the future. Caslen (in photo), a retired Army general who’s a graduate and former superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, became USC’s 29th president last Aug. 1.

He told Rotarians that:

(1) renaming Sims Hall on campus – a building named for a man who performed medical experiments on slaves – has been reviewed by a special committee, but the state’s Heritage Act requires a two-thirds vote in the General Assembly for such changes;

(2) resuming onsite classes is based on mitigating health risks through COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, social distancing, wearing masks in class and “responsible measures” to avoid disease spread to the community at large;

(3) the slate of Southeastern Conference football games likely will be played, but non-conference games may be decided on an individual team basis, and social distancing will impact stadium seating; and

(4) USC’s strategic vision is to become the nation’s premier flagship university, serving the needs and transforming the lives of the people of South Carolina.

Caslen said he and his executive team will work to recruit the best students, employ world-class faculty and staff, boost the school’s research status, improve systemwide integration of programs and campus infrastructure, and prioritize economic development.