University of South Carolina Union will welcome USC President Harris Pastides as the commencement speaker for the university’s Commencement Exercises. They will be held on Saturday, May 4 at 6:00 p.m. in the First Baptist Church sanctuary at 405 East Main Street.
Since 2008, President Harris Pastides has led USC’s flagship system of eight institutions in 19 geographic locations to higher achievements and unprecedented growth. During President Pastides’ tenure, the university has seen its South Carolina Honors College named the best honors college in the nation and celebrated continual top national academic program rankings, including 47 current programs in undergraduate and graduate international business, public health, engineering, nursing and others. The university has also garnered record levels of research funding and surpassed a $1 billion capital campaign goal under his leadership.
A steadfast advocate for a superior student experience, President Pastides encourages engagement beyond the classroom through leadership, service learning, international experiences, internships and undergraduate research. Under his leadership, innovative programs such as Palmetto College, On Your Time graduation, Gamecock Gateway, Gamecock Guarantee and the Gamecock Student Athletic Promise provide greater access, flexibility and affordability to South Carolinians seeking a higher education degree. In addition to establishing record-setting enrollment, more than 100,000 degrees have been awarded system-wide during his presidency.
In 2016, President Pastides became one of seven Fulbright alumni to receive the inaugural Global Changemaker Award, given in recognition of his ongoing commitment to transform society and humanity through his work. The son of Greek immigrants, President Pastides also received the prestigious 2017 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which pays homage to the immigrant experience and the contributions made to our nation by immigrants and their children. In 2017, he also received the South Carolina Urban League Whitney M. Young Award for his trailblazing work to promote civil rights and equal opportunity.
Today, President Pastides serves on many local, state, national and international boards, including the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, the U.S. Fulbright Program (chair), the University Research Associates (chair), the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium (chair), and the South Carolina Institute of Medicine & Public Health (chair).
He is a past chair of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors and currently serves as president of the Southeastern Conference.
Prior to being named the University of South Carolina’s 28th president, he joined the university’s faculty as dean of the Arnold School of Public Health in 1998 and was later appointed vice president for research and health sciences. Earlier in his career, President Pastides was a professor of epidemiology and chairman of the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He received two masters’ degrees and a Ph.D. in epidemiology from Yale University. President Pastides and the first lady, Patricia Moore-Pastides, live on the university’s historic Horseshoe.
Attendance at Commencement is by ticket only. Guests who arrive after 5:50 p.m. will not be admitted into the sanctuary. The ceremony will begin promptly at 6:00 p.m. No children under the age of six will be admitted into the sanctuary. All guests are invited to the reception in the Main Building Lobby immediately following the ceremony.