The president of the University of South Carolina has resigned after admitting he plagiarized parts of a weekend commencement speech – and even misidentified the school in an embarrassing gaffe.
Bob Caslen, 67, resigned Wednesday amid the plagiarism scandal that has rocked the state’s largest college, confessing that he took lines without attribution from a speech by Adm. William McRaven, the Navy SEAL who headed the mission to kill terrorist Osama bin Laden.
Caslen, who gave the speech Friday, initially apologized to students and faculty in a message Monday, saying he was “truly sorry” for sharing a “well-known” quote by McRaven without citing him. He also called his school the “University of California,” the Post and Courier reported.
Caslen, a retired three-star general and former West Point superintendent, had offered to step down over the weekend after two years on the job, but administrators rejected the offer, the newspaper reported.
Calsen then told university brass Wednesday he was indeed resigning, saying in a statement that “trust is the most important ingredient” of successful leadership, WIS-TV reported.
“I am sorry to those I have let down,” Caslen said. “I understand the responsibilities and higher standards of senior-level leadership. When those are not met, trust is lost. And when trust is lost, one is unable to lead.”
Caslen’s resignation to the university’s Board of Trustees is effective Thursday, university officials said.
“He just thought it was time to go, and I think that he was concerned about the support of the faculty and the students and everybody else, board chairman Dorn Smith told the Post and Courier. “We’re disappointed with the ways things worked out.”
Former USC President Harris Pastides will take over Caslen’s role on an interim basis, the newspaper reported.
Online critics, meanwhile, had fun at Caslen’s expense, with tweets saying he had “resigned from the University of California.”
“How does this dude still have a job on Monday morning?” another earlier tweet read.
Video of Caslen misidentifying the South Carolina school during the address shows the error prompted loud gasps from the crowd.
“What?!” one person can be heard saying loudly.
“Sorry about that, I owe you push-ups,” Caslen said.