Bob Caslen has made headlines for all the wrong reasons many times since he became South Carolina’s president in 2019. His latest from the university’s spring commencement ceremony may cost him his job.
No offense to university presidents, but they’re awfully easy to tune out when they take the podium during graduation ceremonies. Caslen caught everyone’s attention quickly by congratulating “the newest alumni of the University of California.”
UofSC President Bob Caslen has apologized after welcoming new graduates during a recent ceremony as “the newest alumni of the University of California.”
— ABC News 4 (@ABCNews4) May 9, 2021
The slip-up was an honest mistake, one that drew attention to a much more heinous act. During his address to the graduating students, Caslen shared the following inspirational message:
“Know that life is not fair, and if you’re like me, you’ll fail often. But if you take some risks, step up when times are toughest, face down the cowardly bullies and lift up the downtrodden, and never, never give up — if you do those things the next generation and the generations to follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today. And what started here, today, will indeed change the world for the better.”
That message is a carbon copy of what Naval Admiral William H. McRaven shared at Texas’ 2014 commencement ceremony. The closing remarks by the decorated military hero who orchestrated the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden instantly gained fame nationwide.
Caslen apologized in an email to students, stating he failed to provide proper attribution. There is probably no greater sin on a college campus than plagiarism. He committed the act and is willing to live with the consequences.
Caslen has submitted his letter of resignation to the school’s board of trustees but it has not yet been accepted. Some Gamecock fans are crossing their fingers that Caslen will be gone. His tenure has been a wild roller coaster ride, particularly in athletics. His loose lips nearly sank Muschamp’s ship before athletic director Ray Tanner was ready to move on, creating a chaotic “he said, she said” finger-pointing game between the president and multiple local newspapers. He also ruined the school’s relationship with their top donor and made a mess with Frank Martin, succinctly detailed here in The Athletic.
The University of South Carolina has transformed into a punchline under Caslen’s tutelage, and frankly, it’s sad to see it near an end.