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Greek-Born Michael Amiridis Selected as President of University of South Carolina

February 12, 2022

COLUMBIA, SC – The University of South Carolina (UofSC) announced that Michael Amiridis, chancellor of the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) since 2015, is UofSC’s president-elect. His term as the 30th university president begins this summer.

Born in Kavala, Amiridis was selected unanimously on January 14 by the university’s Board of Trustees to lead the state’s flagship university system.

Prior to leading UIC, Amiridis spent more than two decades on the UofSC campus in Columbia. He served as a chemical engineering professor, department chair, dean of the College of Engineering and Computing and, from 2009 to 2015, the university’s executive vice president for academic affairs and provost.

Amiridis earned his PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1991.

During his tenure at UIC, Amiridis focused on enhancing the student experience, engaging with diverse communities, raising UIC’s national and international reputation, and creating a culture of entrepreneurship. UIC Is part of the University of Illinois college system and is home to one of the nation’s largest medical schools. It is the most comprehensive institution in Illinois, offering over 240 degree programs, and is the state’s flagship university in health sciences.

Under his leadership, the school boosted student enrollment and saw six years of record campus enrollment, surpassing 34,000 students in fall 2021, while winning national accolades for attracting an increasingly diverse student population. Amiridis also completed a successful capital campaign that raised more $750 million in donations for UIC.

As a researcher, Amiridis earned the National Science Foundation’s award for early-career scientists and engineers in 1999, was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012, and was elected a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 2015.

Amiridis replaces interim President Harris Pastides, born in Astoria to Greek-Cypriot immigrants, who came back to the university in May 2021 after previously serving as president for more than a decade.

“The qualifications to be the next president of the university include higher education experience at a senior level, having ‘walked the walk’ in academic life, a commitment to issues of diversity and inclusion, expertise in budgeting and fundraising, taking joy in celebrating Gamecock Athletics and a deep understanding and love of South Carolina,” Pastides said in a press release. “In selecting Michael Amiridis, the board has found that person.”

Amiridis, 59, is a native of Greece and a U.S. citizen. He earned his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki in Greece in 1985. He and his wife, Ero Aggelopoulou-Amiridis, have two children, Aspasia and Dimitri. His wife and children also have ties to UofSC. Aggelopoulou-Amiridis earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from the university, while Aspasia earned her bachelor’s degree in 2019 and Dimitri is a member of UofSC’s class of 2022.

“I’m excited and honored to return to the University of South Carolina as its next president,” Amiridis said. “Through academics, research and its vibrant culture, the university system is critically important to the people of South Carolina and to the state’s future. I feel privileged to be able to lead this great institution.”

Amiridis said he is committed to academic excellence and supporting research that is essential to South Carolina and beyond, while also increasing the diversity of the university’s student body, faculty and staff.

“When we’re talking about academic excellence, I think the key is to ask the questions: Are we innovative enough in what we teach? Are we meeting the needs of our students where they are? How do we organize our degree programs? How do we mentor and guide our students, especially our first-generation and low-income students?”

“We need to help (first-generation students) navigate the system. We need to have targeted services towards these students and keep in mind that the most important thing that we do to change the world and build the future — I will insist on this — our goal is to be building the future of the state of South Carolina. The most important thing that we have to do is to help the students from low socioeconomic backgrounds to advance through knowledge,” he said.

More information is available online: https://sc.edu/.

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