The Daily Gamecock

USC hires new VP Prakash Nagarkatti for $325,000 a year

Respected researcher now highest-paid vice president at university

A longtime administrator and researcher at USC’s School of Medicine will now head the university’s overall research efforts, pending final board of trustees approval.

Prakash Nagarkatti, formerly associate dean of USC’s medical school, will earn $325,000 a year in his new role — making him the highest paid vice president at USC. Bill Hogue, who earns $270,000 as the university’s chief technology officer, currently holds that title.

President Harris Pastides said Nagarkatti, who has won tens of millions of dollars in grants at the medical school, can boost the university’s research intake, which is vitally important during times of budget duress. USC has broken records in research funding for the past two years, according to statistics provided by the university.

Nagarkatti is now the second highest paid academic administrator at USC; Provost Michael Amiridis, the university’s chief academic officer, earns $310,000 a year. Nagarkatti received a 15 percent raise from his approximate $280,000 salary at the medical school, according to President Harris Pastides. Stephen Kresovich, the university’s previous vice president for research who left the post in June, earned $275,000 a year.

“He’s one of the most productive scientists in the university, and I couldn’t ask him to take a pay cut or to keep the same salary,” Pastides said. “You need to reward someone for taking on more duties.”

Kresovich left his job in June 2011 after a 22-month stint and returned to the classroom as a SmartState Endowed Chair that links “research and economic development.” Kresovich came to USC from Cornell University for the VP position  

Kresovich said he wasn’t interested in talking about the specifics of why he left the VP job, but that his current research is where he felt he could “contribute the most to the university.”

Pastides said Kresovich chose to step down based on his “own professional judgment given who he was and the system we have here.”

Pastides said Nagarkatti has a proven track record in the medical school and he believes Nagarkatti will “shatter all research records.”

In an interview with The Daily Gamecock, Nagarkatti said he would encourage researchers to form “interdisciplinary teams” to tackle complex problems.

That sort of collaboration is especially important in winning federal grants and contracts, which have reduced in recent years.

About 8 percent of applications for federal dollars are now granted, Nagarkatti said.

“If you have 10 investigators from different colleges looking at the same problem, we become nationally competitive with other universities and attract those funds that will help us do the research that takes us to the next level,” Nagarkatti said.

Another goal for USC’s research unit will be to provide more technology and seed money for researchers to begin work, Nagarkatti said.

He wants to acquire “cutting-edge technology” and provide the conditions conducive to world-class research. USC has awarded him a start-up package in the millions to begin his initiatives, but its exact terms have not been determined.

“The $227 million in grants and contracts we took in last year is significantly more than state appropriations or even athletics,” Pastides said. “And you want to push that number forward. So you have to pick the person who best in your judgment can do that.”


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