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September 3, 2014

USC’s No. 2 official applies for Florida State president’s job

In a letter to Florida State’s search committee, Amiridis said a consultant hired by the school approached him about applying to succeed Eric Barron.

University of South Carolina provost Michael Amiridis, the No. 2 official at the state’s flagship school, has applied to become president of Florida State University.

In a letter to Florida State’s search committee, Amiridis said a consultant hired by the school approached him about applying to succeed Eric Barron.

Amiridis is one of 39 applicants, according to the school. He submitted his resume Tuesday, the deadline to apply.

Amiridis declined to comment Wednesday. However, in the letter to Florida State, he said in his five years as USC’s provost he had collected experiences to lead a school like Florida State – even remarking “it is very difficult for me to imagine a complete campus experience without a vibrant athletics program.”

“(T)he great similarities between our two institutions in terms of their sizes and comprehensive nature, research awards and classification, rankings and desire to move up, development targets and athletic aspirations will help me ... hit the ground running,” Amiridis wrote. “I have a lot of respect for the academic success of Florida State University and I strongly believe that it deserves even more national and international recognition than it is currently receiving.”

Amiridis’ accomplishments at USC include: creating an “academic dashboard” to rate how the school was performing against its peers; adding 200 faculty members; and developing the online Palmetto College.

Amiridis earns $323,156 a year from the state and receives another $100,000 in annual supplemental pay.

“I strongly believe that academic leaders, regardless of the position they find themselves in ... can only be successful if they view themselves as primus inter pares (first among equals), build consensus around their plans and priorities and lead by example,” Amiridis wrote to the search committee.

Amiridis is facing competition from interim Florida State president Garnett Stokes and an influential Florida state senator, John Thrasher, according to published reports. No timetable for a selection of a new Florida State leader has been announced.

Florida State has 41,000 students. That is about 10,000 more than USC’s Columbia campus but less than the combined enrollment at all eight USC campuses.

Former USC provosts have gone on to lead other schools. James Moeser was chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the late 1990s and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 2000-08. Mark Becker is president of Georgia State University.

After working in the private sector, Amiridis came to USC as an assistant chemical engineering professor in 1994. He was promoted to chairman of the chemical engineering department in 2002 and dean of the College of Engineering and Computing in 2006. He was named provost in 2009 soon after Harris Pastides became president.

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