U.S.C. President Agrees to Step Down Over Scandal Involving Gynecologist

LOS ANGELES — The president of the University of Southern California, C. L. Max Nikias, agreed to step down Friday within the wake of a scandal over a gynecologist accused of abusing college students on the campus well being middle.

Rick J. Caruso, a member of the college board of trustees, mentioned in a press release that the board had “agreed to begin an orderly transition and commence the process of selecting a new president.”

“We have heard the message that something is broken and that urgent and profound actions are needed,” the assertion mentioned. “We will rebuild our culture to reflect an environment in which safety and transparency are of paramount importance, and to institute systemic change that will prevent this from occurring in the future.”

The choice adopted a name from college students, college and alumni for his resignation, which gained momentum this week when 200 high-ranking professors signed a letter to the college’s board of trustees. The letter mentioned Mr. Nikias now not had the “moral authority to lead” and had failed to defend college students and employees from “repeated and pervasive sexual harassment and misconduct.”

By Friday, the letter had almost 500 signatures. The tutorial senate had also called on Mr. Nikias to resign, saying “new leadership is in the best interest of the university now and going forward.”

There was no time-frame given for when Mr. Nikias would transition and it was unclear whether or not an interim president can be appointed.

After an inner investigation in 2016 discovered that the gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall had performed pelvic exams inappropriately and made sexually offensive remarks to sufferers, college officers selected to settle the matter quietly and didn’t report it to the state medical board.

Mr. Nikias, 65, turned president in 2010 and presided over the college at a time of great development, attracting worldwide college students and top-tier college whereas finishing a $6 billion fund-raising effort and opening dozens of recent buildings.

But he had more and more come beneath hearth within the final 12 months for his dealing with of a number of scandals on the personal college.

Last summer time, The Los Angeles Times reported that the previous dean of the medical faculty — a celebrated doctor and prodigious fund-raiser — had used medicine on campus and partied with prostitutes. Then, final fall, the person who had changed him was pressured to step down after the college admitted it had settled a sexual harassment case with one in every of his former researchers.

Ariela Gross, a legislation professor who spearheaded the school petition mentioned she was “thrilled” with the announcement and was hopeful it could carry “meaningful change.”

“We’re at a real crossroads for the univesity and this is the first step in starting over,” she mentioned. “Our voices were heard and respected and that is tremendous. The next step is how are we going to choose new leadership? Rather than send it out to a corporate search firm, are we going to respect strong academic values? We need to have a serious national search for someone who will take us to the next stage.”

Mr. Nikias had promised a full investigation of the scandal involving the medical faculty dean by an unbiased legislation agency final 12 months, however college and employees members grew impatient when the outcomes weren’t publicly launched. Many mentioned the dealing with of the allegations towards Dr. Tyndall was the ultimate straw. Critics had been particularly angered by the college’s failure to report the interior investigation to state authorities, former sufferers or the general public, saying it amounted to defending the picture of the college on the expense of placing college students in peril.

The trustees are principally alumni who donate tens of millions of to the college. The chairman of the board, John Mork, an vitality govt in Colorado, issued a short assertion Tuesday indicating “full confidence in President Nikias’s leadership, ethics, and values,” including that the manager committee “is certain that he will successfully guide our community forward.”

None of the 59 voting members have overtly criticized Mr. Nikias, however on Wednesday they introduced that they’d conduct their very own unbiased investigation and “vowed to hold people accountable for not taking appropriate action.” That investigation is predicted to proceed, officers mentioned.

Along with the uproar from college members, the college can also be going through a mounting pile of lawsuits from ladies who say Dr. Tyndall sexually abused and harassed them throughout medical exams and that the college failed to defend them. More lawsuits had been filed Friday and attorneys count on many extra ladies to be part of.

In a letter despatched to all college students and employees this month, Mr. Nikias admitted that college officers ought to have acted extra rapidly and decisively.

“In hindsight, we should have made this report eight months earlier when he separated from the university,” he wrote.

Mr. Nikias had lengthy centered on fund-raising on the faculty and set an bold aim virtually instantly after he turned president. At the time, the $6 billion marketing campaign was the most important ever for an American college. Mr. Nikias met the aim, and his success at bringing in cash raised the stature of the college globally, which in flip led to help from much more donors.

An electrical engineer and classicist who was born in Cyprus, Mr. Nikias turned an American citizen in 1988, three years earlier than becoming a member of the engineering college at U.S.C.

Mr. Nikias landed there simply earlier than racial unrest in South Los Angeles devastated areas shut to the campus. He later turned the dean of the engineering faculty and was appointed provost in 2005, which many noticed as a sign that he was being groomed for the college’s prime job. As president, Mr. Nikias continued the work of his predecessor, Steven B. Sample, reworking U.S.C. into an elite establishment with world attain. In latest years, it has ranked among the many prime three faculties in fund-raising, subsequent to Harvard and Stanford.

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