The University of South Carolina board has a favorite candidate to be the university’s next president, according to media reports.
Thad Westbrook, chair of the USC Presidential Search Committee, told the faculty senate Wednesday that one candidate stood out above the rest, the Charleston Post and Courier and campus newspaper The Daily Gamecock. Westbrook did not identify the candidate.
The preferred candidate is the only one who plans to meet with faculty senate, according to media reports.
Westbrook said that is because presidential searches throughout the country are competitive, and USC doesn’t want to risk losing a quality candidate by drawing the process out.
Reports said Faculty Senate Chairwoman Audrey Korsgaard expressed confidence Wednesday in the favored candidate, and said faculty senate would likely approve of the candidate.
The State has reached out to Westbrook and Korsgaard for comment.
Westbrook said more information will be released in the next few days, reports said.
Given that Friday was the last day of classes — students take finals between Dec. 6-13 — it seems likely crucial steps in the presidential search will occur as students are either away from campus or busy taking finals.
The emergence of a favored candidate mirrors the 2019 process, in which former USC President Robert Caslen made the list of finalists, despite not having the required terminal degree. He was later approved through an up-or-down vote forced by Gov. Henry McMaster.
In 2019, when McMaster forced a vote on Caslen, it was done in July, when many students were on summer break.
The preference for Caslen, held by many but not by all involved in the decision-making process, was not made public until later in the process.
The search for a new USC president has ramped up in recent weeks, after the search committee met behind closed doors with 20 candidates in Atlanta to conduct interviewss.
The search hit a snag after the meeting when business magnate and mega-donor Lou Kennedy left the search committee.
“It sounded to me, the way (the board chair) was commenting, they already had the fix in,” she told The State.