South Carolina

McMaster’s involvement in USC presidential search could threaten accreditation

Watch: USC Student Government forum discusses upcoming Caslen vote

The University of South Carolina Board of Trustees will vote on candidate Robert Caslen's presidency Friday. Students gathered Wednesday to share their thoughts with the student body president, who will represent them.
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The University of South Carolina Board of Trustees will vote on candidate Robert Caslen's presidency Friday. Students gathered Wednesday to share their thoughts with the student body president, who will represent them.

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster’s involvement in the University of South Carolina’s presidential search could threaten the school’s accreditation, an official said Friday.

Accreditation matters because it provides legitimacy to a school’s programs and allows colleges to apply for federal funds.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS), which accredits USC, does not allow “external” forces to influence the school’s board of trustees. Although McMaster is, by law, ex officio chairman of the board, if he uses his powers of a governor, rather than his powers as a board member, to influence policy, it could threaten accreditation, association president Belle Wheelan said.

“While the governor is a member of the board, he has no more of a role than any other member of the board,” Wheelan said.

USC “may be out of compliance with standards,” Wheelan said.

Wheelan has reached out to USC President Harris Pastides, but since a court blocked the trustees from casting a vote until next Friday, no formal action has been taken.

Should the association decide to take action, it can issue a warning, place USC on probation or revoke the school’s accreditation wholesale, which has led to schools closing, according to a previous article from The State.

“I doubt (SACS) would just drop them, but that’s always an option,” Wheelan said.

McMaster spokesman Brian Symmes declined to comment.

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