Will former USC President Caslen get severance pay? Board could discuss it Friday

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The University of South Carolina could decide as soon as Friday if former President Robert Caslen will receive severance pay.

Caslen’s official job offer letter — he doesn’t have a contract like an athletics coach would have — doesn’t mention severance pay or provide for contingencies if he resigns, according to the letter obtained by The State.

The State spoke to several board of trustee members Monday who declined to say whether they believe Caslen should receive severance or whether he is likely to. Two board members said the issue could be discussed at a board meeting on Friday.

When asked if the USC board will discuss severance for Caslen at Friday’s 9 a.m. meeting, university spokesman Jeff Stensland said the meeting’s agenda had not been set yet.

On Friday, USC’s board of trustees will hold a meeting in which they are expected to officially name former USC President Harris Pastides as the school’s interim president. USC had initially announced Pastides would take over as interim following Caslen’s resignation, but because of S.C.’s open meetings law, the board cannot hire an interim president without a public vote. Until then, the school does not have a president, and each department is being run by the university’s vice presidents, The State previously reported.

USC continued to pay Pastides after he retired. However, Pastides continued working as an administrator for the university, chairing a commission on renaming buildings and working in the Arnold School of Public Health. He is paid $375,000 per year, according to the S.C. Department of Administration. Caslen, a day after announcing his resignation, was no longer affiliated with USC. As president, Caslen made $650,000 per year, according to his offer letter.

Caslen resigned last Wednesday after outrage following a commencement address he gave in which he mistakenly referred to USC graduates as those from the “University of California” and plagiarized a portion of his graduation speech. Caslen was initially named president in July 2019.

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