C. L. Max Nikias (at right) stepped down Tuesday, effective immediately, as president of the University of Southern California. A university statement said that he would serve as president emeritus and a life trustee and would assist with the presidential transition.
In May, the university announced that Nikias would step down as president, amid anger over how he and other university leaders responded (or failed to respond) to a growing scandal over abuse of students by a campus gynecologist, George Tyndall, and other incidents in which the university is perceived to have failed to act on misconduct by powerful officials. The university said that an "orderly transition" was about to start.
But hundreds of faculty members signed a petition circulating last week asking why Nikias was still in office, and no announcements had been made about his departure. “We find ourselves in a state of turmoil and uncertainty,” the petition says. “President Nikias cannot be the one who stands up to greet new students at the Convocation.”
Wanda M. Austin was appointed interim president. She is a USC trustee who was from 2008 to 2016 the president and CEO of the Aerospace Corporation.