The Daily Gamecock

USC hires McMaster for law school

SC politician takes $7,500 a month fundraising job

Former South Carolina attorney general Henry McMaster will temporarily lead alumni relations and fundraising for USC’s beleaguered law school, the university announced Monday.

McMaster started his new position last Wednesday. He will make $7,500 per month, and the contract ends June 30.

The contract could then be renewed, said Michelle Dodenhoff, USC’s vice president of development and alumni relations.

McMaster said the job would be “intense at times, and at other times it will be less demanding. It will not be 100 percent full-time, all the time.”

“I’ve had many opportunities over the years to make some good friends around the state, and this will give me an opportunity to rekindle those acquaintances,” McMaster said. “USC needs funds, and the state budget is getting cut more and more. My goal is to help the university as much as I can.”

McMaster’s first charge will be the law school, but he could help in other areas based on relationships he has within the community, Dodenhoff said.

The move comes at a critical time for the university’s law school. Candidates for the school’s dean position are in the process of visiting campus. A source near the search told The Daily Gamecock that McMaster applied to be the next dean and wasn’t named a finalist. Charles Bierbauer, head of the search committee, said applicants not in the top five were treated as confidential.

Provost Michael Amiridis told The Daily Gamecock earlier this month that officials will announce later this spring a decision to build a new facility or renovate the existing one. A renovated building would cost more than $50 million, while a new facility could cost almost $90 million, according to a comparative analysis presented at the February 4 Board of Trustees meeting.

McMaster will tour the state and meet with alumni of the school, updating them on development plans when decisions are made, Dodenhoff said.

Student Bar Association President Philip Land cheered the move.

“He has a proven fundraising track record, and I’m excited to see what progress he’ll make for the law school,” Land said.

USC officials have long talked of a new building to replace the current deteriorating facility, which suffers from a leaking roof among other problems. But previous fundraising drives have failed to gain steam. When a Blue Ribbon panel of experts visited last year, building issues were a top concern addressed in an eight-page report. Alumni outreach was also criticized in the report.

“That [building] strategy has been talked about so long, with so little tangible success to show for it, that supporters have become disengaged from participating in the advancement of other aspects of the school,” the panel concluded.

The school lost two development officials in the past few months to other career opportunities, Dodenhoff said. Active searches are ongoing for both positions.

“We needed someone who was already connected and engaged in the law school community,” she said.

McMaster is a graduate of the school and served as attorney general from 2003 until this January. He unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010. He lives near the Darla Moore School of Business and attends First Presbyterian Church. McMaster said he plans a return to private practice in the upcoming months.