Scandal-hit Southern California names Carol Folt as president

Leader takes reformer reputation to Los Angeles shortly after leaving University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill amid Confederate protest

三月 20, 2019
University of Southern California

The University of Southern California has named Carol Folt its president, choosing a seasoned leader experienced in controversy to revitalise the ambitious but scandal-sullied institution.

Professor Folt, the unanimous choice of USC’s 23-member presidential search committee to become its first female leader, headed the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for six years before leaving in January in a principled stance over a Civil War-era monument.

USC’s problems of late may be even more fundamental to the institution, which raised billions of dollars that fuelled an aggressive growth spurt and also stoked questions about its ethical bearings.

The previous USC president, C. L. Max Nikias, left under a cloud of scandal in August after cases that included a medical school dean exposed for a secret life of illegal drugs amid addicts and criminals, and sexual assault allegations against a campus gynaecologist.

Then, last week, the FBI uncovered a major bribery scandal that allegedly won dozens of students admission to elite US colleges, with USC by far the leading entry point.

Professor Folt, meanwhile, was pushed out of her job as chancellor at USC after she responded to long-running student protests over a Confederate monument on campus by ordering a middle-of-the-night removal operation without waiting for a decision by the UNC board of governors.

She may have yet more board challenges at USC. The highest-profile student associated with the nationwide admissions scandal is Olivia Jade Giannulli, whose mother, the Hollywood actress Lori Loughlin, is among those accused of paying bribes to secure their offspring’s entry to USC.

When the FBI announced the case last week, the 19-year-old Ms Giannulli was with a friend aboard the yacht of the friend’s father, Rick Caruso, a billionaire real estate developer who also serves as chair of USC’s board of trustees.

In a statement announcing the selection of Professor Folt as USC president, Mr Caruso was effusive in his praise of Professor Folt and her ethical bearing. “As I have come to know [Professor] Folt and how she thinks,” Mr Caruso said in the statement, “it is clear that USC has chosen a brilliant, principled leader with clarity of purpose and integrity to lead the university forward and upward.”

Professor Folt became UNC chancellor in 2013 – also the first female in that post – as the institution faced both academic and athletic improprieties. They included a National Collegiate Athletic Association investigation of UNC’s football programme, complaints of inattention to sexual assault cases, allegations of academic fraud in its Department of African and Afro-American Studies, and questions over travel expense claims by UNC’s top fundraiser.

She began a turnaround at UNC by helping to organise an independent investigation, then working with faculty to implement more than 70 reforms.



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