January 26, 2022 – R. William Funk & Associates, which specializes in recruitment for roles in higher education, has assisted the University of South Carolina in the hiring of Michael Amiridis as its 30th president. Former president Bob Caslen recently retired. R. William Funk led the recruiting effort, personally interacting with the candidate pool, and reporting directly to the search committee and the university’s board of trustees. “The qualifications to be the next president of the university include higher education experience at a senior level, having ‘walked the walk’ in academic life, a commitment to issues of diversity and inclusion, expertise in budgeting and fundraising, taking joy in celebrating Gamecock athletics and a deep understanding and love of South Carolina,” said Harris Pastides, who had been serving as interim president for the school. “In selecting Michael Amiridis, the board has found that person.”
“We have chosen a scholar and administrator of the first order to lead our institution,” said C. Dorn Smith, board of trustees’ chair. “Dr. Amiridis understands the university community and has a demonstrated track record of leading a large organization to new levels of success. I wish to thank everyone in the university community who provided the board with valuable feedback during this important presidential search.”
Dr. Amiridis currently serves as chancellor of the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), which he has led since 2015. During his tenure at UIC, he focused efforts on enhancing the student experience, engaging with diverse communities, raising UIC’s national and international reputation, and creating a culture of entrepreneurship. Under his leadership, UIC saw six years of enrollment growth, surpassing 34,000 students in fall 2021, while winning national accolades for attracting an increasingly diverse student population. UIC achieved record sponsored research awards, exceeding $440 million in FY21.
Prior to his leadership at UIC, Dr. Amiridis spent more than two decades on the University of South Carolina’s Columbia campus, serving as a professor, dean of the College of Engineering and Computing, and the university’s executive vice president for academic affairs and provost before leaving for Chicago in 2015.
“I’m excited and honored to return to the University of South Carolina as its next president,” Dr. Amiridis said. “Through academics, research and its vibrant culture, the university system is critically important to the people of South Carolina and to the state’s future. I feel privileged to be able to lead this great institution.”
Founded in 1801, the University of South Carolina is the flagship institution of the University of South Carolina System and offers more than 350 programs of study, leading to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from 14 degree-granting colleges and schools. Currently, the university has an enrollment of about 50,000 students, with nearly 35,000 on the main Columbia campus, making it the largest university in the Carolinas. Its main campus in downtown Columbia has been categorized by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education: Doctoral Universities—Very High Research Activity.
Higher Education Specialists
R. William Funk & Associates is an executive search firm specializing in higher education executive recruitment. The firm has recruited chancellors/presidents for two-thirds of all public AAU universities. The firm has also recruited presidents or chancellors to more than one-half of U.S. News & World Report’s recently published “Top 30 National Universities.” Over time, it has conducted more than 425 searches for college and university presidents and chancellors as well as an even greater number of provosts, deans, and various vice presidents.
R. William Funk & Associates has assisted the Texas A&M University System board of regents in the selection of Katherine Banks as the sole finalist for the position of president of Texas A&M University. Dr. Banks is currently vice chancellor of engineering and national laboratories and dean of the Texas A&M College of Engineering. “The board was excited to know the search yielded tremendous interest and many qualified candidates,” said Elaine Mendoza, chairman of the board of regents.
The firm has been recognized by the Women’s Network of the American Council on Education (ACE) for its work in recruiting women and minorities to senior levels of higher education. Notably, the search firm has broken the color and/or gender line in president searches at more than 40 institutions around the country, making in one of the most highly sought after search firms across the sector.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media