LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — C. L. Max Nikias has officially stepped down as USC president.
The move was confirmed by Board of Trustees Chairman Rick Caruso.
Trustee Wanda Austin will serve as interim president as the university searches for a new president.
USC has been embroiled in a scandal involving Dr. George Tyndall, a former gynecologist at the school who is accused in multiple lawsuits of sexual misconduct.
A petition called for Nikias’ resignation following accusations that the school failed to act after complaints of misconduct involving Dr. Tyndall.
Nikias announced in May that he would leave his post following the series of scandals involving doctors tied to the university. He will assume the title of president emeritus and life trustee.
Austin is a member of the USC Board of Trustees and former CEO of The Aerospace Corp.
“The board and I are committed to an ambitious, aggressive agenda for change,” Caruso wrote in a letter to the USC community. “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.”
Nikias became the university’s 11th president in August 2010. Caruso said the university has already hired education-recruitment firm Isaacson Miller to lead the search for a new president. The university has also retained the international search firm of Heidrick & Struggles in an “advisory capacity” to assist with the search, Caruso said. The Board of Trustees has also formed a Presidential Search Advisory Committee that is expected to solicit public input through “listening sessions” and the establishment of a presidential search website.
Caruso said he hopes to have the search completed in four to six months.
“As I have said before, it is critical that this process embraces your perspectives to help guide the committee in identifying the most qualified and talented person to lead our university forward,” Caruso wrote in his letter.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)