The Daily Gamecock

'It's a true homecoming story': USC President-Elect returns to Columbia, his home of more than 20 years

Michael Amiridis speaks at a press conference in Columbia, SC. Amiridis was named president of the University of South Carolina on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022.
Michael Amiridis speaks at a press conference in Columbia, SC. Amiridis was named president of the University of South Carolina on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022.

USC President-Elect, Michael Amiridis, will finish the school year at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) and return to Columbia to take office as USC's 30th University President this summer. 

Prior to taking the job at UIC, Amiridis worked at USC for more than two decades. Student Body President Alex Harrell said Amiridis' return is "a true homecoming story." 

"We got exactly what we were looking for with the presidential profile, and it's so refreshing to see somebody come to this campus — who's been here, who knows this school, who knows the state, who knows the community — to come here and be able to dive right in and embrace it and understand the student population," Harrell said. "I'm really excited to see that relationship start to form, and hopefully, it'll be a good one."

During his first press conference after being named the President-Elect, Amiridis said he is the only member of his family who hasn't attended the university. 

“For us, the opportunity to return to South Carolina to make a difference, to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones was one that we simply won’t pass up," Amiridis said. 

The President-Elect said that though things have changed since he left for UIC, the university's importance in the community has stayed the same.

“In fact, I would argue that the work that this university does to educate students, to produce cutting edge scholarship and research, to address the difficult questions of our time... cultural landscape is more indispensable now than it has ever been before,” Amiridis said.

Amiridis said he is committed to diversity and inclusion efforts both in his morning Q&A sessions and during his speech. 

“We need to focus on the public good that the university represents. We need to ensure that our campuses better reflect the rich diversity of the state and through the impact of ourselves and our teaching, we need to improve the quality of life in South Carolina and we need to build the future of South Carolina,” Amiridis said. 

He said he and his wife arrived in Columbia on Wednesday, Jan. 12 and that he officially decided to accept the position in recent days. 

As several key roles in USC's administration have not yet been permanently filled, Amiridis said finding a new provost is his top priority. He said he sees these vacant positions as an opportunity to “build a cabinet." 

Interim university President Harris Pastides — who is a personal friend of Amiridis' — said Amiridis has every characteristic the university president should have. He also said the fact that Amiridis has been at USC before is “icing on the cake.” 

“The fact that he knows and loves this university, knows and loves the Palmetto State, will allow him to spend the next few weeks and months preparing truly to embark on what I believe will be the greatest chapter of success, excellence and accomplishment that our university has ever known,” Pastides said. 

- Stephen Pastis contributed to reporting in this article. 


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