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The Honorable J. Derham Cole, Jr


The Honorable J. Derham Cole, Jr. has been selected to serve as interim chancellor while a national search is conducted for USC Upstate’s next chancellor.

A former State Representative for District 32 in Spartanburg County, Cole joined USC Upstate in 2018 as associate vice chancellor for finance and administration, bringing more than 15 years of business and law experience to his position. Since his arrival, he has become well-versed in the overarching goals of the university’s strategic plan and has worked closely with departments across campus to facilitate progress and a culture of continuous improvement.

USC Upstate’s profile externally has been fueled by optimism, coalition building and partnership. Cole has played a significant role in carrying this message to key community and legislative leaders whose support and vision are critical to USC Upstate’s success. His background as a lawmaker provides the university with a voice at the State House who can shepherd the projects that will ensure our growth.

In addition to his years of public service, Cole spent 15 years in private law practice, representing businesses on a variety of complex matters. He earned a B.S. in Business Economics from the University of South Carolina Honors College and a joint Juris Doctor/Master of International Business Studies from the University of South Carolina School of Law and the Moore School of Business.

Gov. Henry McMaster awarded Cole the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, in 2018. He was named Legislator of the Year by the S.C. Human Service Providers Association in 2016.