Press release from USC
Robert “Bob” Caslen, a retired lieutenant general and the former superintendent and president of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, was selected the 29th president of the University of South Carolina on Friday (July 19).
Caslen was chosen by the university’s Board of Trustees to lead the state’s flagship university system, succeeding Harris Pastides, who is retiring after leading the university for more than a decade.
“In selecting Bob Caslen, the board has chosen an experienced leader with the skills needed to raise our institution to even greater heights,” said board Chairman John C. von Lehe Jr. “He has a deep commitment to serving students, building on our strengths in research and teaching, and making our alumni proud.”
As president, Caslen will lead the university’s main Columbia campus as well as seven other system institutions around the state and two medical school campuses. The university is the state’s leading educator, enrolling more than 50,000 students throughout the system.
“I am honored to be chosen to lead this great institution. I fully recognize the challenges the board addressed to get to this point, and I am grateful for their support and confidence,” Caslen said Friday. “I will work tirelessly to listen to all of our students, faculty, staff, board members and all our constituents to understand their concerns and issues, and I will actively seek their advice. From talking with many people, it is clear the University of South Carolina is on track to be the preeminent institution of higher education in America today, and I will work to move this university and system in that direction, ensuring South Carolina continues to deliver a world-class education to students while making the state a better place to live. I am eager to start meeting with students, faculty and staff, and my goal is to work collaboratively with our entire university and system community to address challenges, to build confidence, respect and trust, and to create new opportunities. I also want to thank those who supported my candidacy and promise to lead this institution with the highest integrity, respect and character.”
During his time at West Point, the academy was recognized as the nation’s No. 1 public college by U.S. News and World Report and Forbes magazines. Through the establishment of Centers of Excellence at West Point, Caslen developed an integration between Army applied problem sets and West Point research and intellectual capital. He created the Army Cyber Institute to build skills and leaders. He won support of Army leadership and of Congress to build over $2 billion in capital expenditures.
Caslen retired from the Army in 2018, following a 43-year military career that included stints as the chief of the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq, where he was the senior military commander in Iraq after the drawdown of U.S. and allied forces in 2011.
After leaving the military last year, Caslen became the senior counsel to the president at the University of Central Florida with the task to drive organizational, regulatory and cultural change at UCF.
He earned his bachelor’s degree from West Point, a Master of Business Administration degree in finance from Long Island University and a Master of Science degree in industrial engineering from Kansas State University.
Caslen believes in building diverse, inclusive teams as a way to get the best outcomes. His record includes a demonstrated commitment to diversity, and during his tenure at West Point he appointed the first woman to serve as the commandant of cadets, the first woman to serve as a dean at West Point and the first African American female cadet to serve as first captain of the Corps of Cadets.
“I value diversity in teams, because the ideas contributed from multiple perspectives make an organization stronger as a whole. Just as I have done throughout my career, I will build teams at the University of South Carolina in which everyone is treated with dignity and respect,” Caslen said.
The University of South Carolina is a globally recognized, high-impact research university committed to a superior student experience and dedicated to innovation in learning, research and community engagement. Founded in 1801, the university offers more than 350 degree programs and is the state’s only top-tier Carnegie Foundation research institution. More than 50,000 students are enrolled at one of 20 locations throughout the state, including the research campus in Columbia. With 56 nationally ranked academic programs including top-ranked programs in international business, the nation’s best honors college and distinguished programs in engineering, law, medicine, public health and the arts, the university is helping to build healthier, more educated communities in South Carolina and around the world.