The president of the University of South Carolina resigned, effective Thursday, after he borrowed parts of a famous graduation speech from Adm. William McRaven, the former head of U.S. Special Operations Command, in a commencement address to his own students.
Bob Caslen said he squandered trust by failing to give proper attribution to Adm. McRaven after searching for the right words to tell graduates.
“I am sorry to those I have let down. 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,” the departing president said in a letter to students, faculty and staff that was obtained by WIS10 News.
CNN reported the speech passage in question was almost identical to one from Adm. McRaven’s address to University of Texas graduates in 2014.
“Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often,” the admiral, who led the raid on terrorist Osama Bin Laden, said seven years ago. “But if you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up — if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today. And what started here will indeed have changed the world — for the better.”
Making matters worse, Mr. Caslen also congratulated students from the University of “California,” instead of “South Carolina,” before swiftly apologizing to the crowd and saying he owed them pushups.
Mr. Caslen, an Army lieutenant general and former superintendent and president of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, said he is “grateful for the numerous letters, tweets, and texts of support from so many students, faculty, parents, and other constituents.”
The university said it will begin searching for a new president immediately.