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USC President C. L. Max Nikias Steps Down, Wanda M. Austin Appointed as Interim President

USC’s C.L. Max Nikias stepped down as president today.

By Brian Hews

Tuesday Aug. 7, 2018 4:05 p.m.

The University of Southern California announced today that C.L. Max Nikias will step down as President, moving to President Emeritus and Life Trustee of the University.

This decision follows the announcement, earlier this summer, that the Board of Trustees and President Nikias had agreed to an orderly transition and that a Special Committee of the Board would commence a search for a new president. Amongst other responsibilities, Dr. Nikias will continue to assist with the transition of the incoming president.

Chair of the Board of Trustees Rick Caruso sent out a statement today announcing the appointment of Wanda M. Austin as Interim President.

Dr. Austin is a member of our Board of Trustees and is an internationally honored engineer who from 2008 to 2016 was President and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation.



“Dr. Austin’s appointment is an important and positive step forward as we approach the beginning of the semester. She is deeply committed to USC, and I know that she plans to devote time in the coming weeks to listen to the views of faculty, staff, students, and our broader community on what is needed to successfully move us into our next chapter. With her significant executive leadership experience and steady hand, Dr. Austin is an ideal person to steer the University on a clear path forward as we advance our ambitious initiatives, until a permanent president is named. She is a professional of impeccable integrity and character,” said Caruso.

Caruso continued, “The process to select the 12th president of USC is underway, and the Board of Trustees has retained Isaacson Miller, one of the nation’s most accomplished education recruitment firms with deep experience at the highest levels of academia. They will be joined by international search firm Heidrick & Struggles, who will serve in an advisory capacity to ensure we evaluate the broadest landscape of world-class leaders. Our goal is to complete this search within four to six months.”

Independent Investigation into the Student Health Center

Caruso addressed the issues surrounding the “former gynecologist at our student health center.”

“The Board and I are committed to an ambitious, aggressive agenda for change. As I have said previously, it is evident that the recent crises have resulted from systemic and cultural failures. Both the behavior and the environment that allowed it to persist are inexcusable and will no longer be tolerated. Most importantly, we must understand exactly why these failures occurred and take bold action to reform what is broken so that they never happen again. It is for this reason that at the end of May we retained internationally respected law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP to conduct a thorough, independent investigation into the issues. The O’Melveny team has made substantial progress, and to date has interviewed over 100 witnesses and collected 4.5 million documents. However, more work needs to be done, and the Board has authorized O’Melveny to continue the investigation until it is completed. We will have more to say on their work in the coming weeks.”