C.L. Max Nikias, president of the University of Southern California, is stepping down from his post in the wake of a scandal involving a gynecologist accused of sexual misconduct towards students, particularly those of Chinese nationality.
The university’s Board of Trustees announced his resignation on Friday, but when it happens and who replaces him remain unclear, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Nikias, who held the position for nearly eight years, admitted that the university could have done better in handling complaints against Dr. George Tyndall, a former campus gynecologist who has been accused of sexual misconduct dating back to the 90s.
An internal investigation revealed that Tyndall had sexually harassed students, but USC allowed him to resign in private with an undisclosed amount in payout.
The university insisted that it had no legal obligation to report Tyndall to the California Medical Board, but it finally filed a complaint when the gynecologist sought to be reinstated earlier this year.
“In hindsight, we should have made this report eight months earlier when he separated from the university,” Nikias wrote in a community letter.
The outbreak of allegations against Tyndall sparked furor within the university, resulting to calls for Nikias’s resignation. Last week, 200 high-ranking professors signed a letter to USC’s Board of Trustees, arguing that he lost the “moral authority to lead” and failed to protect the academic community from “repeated and pervasive sexual harassment and misconduct.”
According to The New York Times, that letter gathered nearly 500 signatures by Friday, but the academic senate also called for his resignation, saying “new leadership is in the best interest of the university now and going forward.”
As such, Rick J. Caruso, a USC trustee, announced in a letter:
“President Nikias and the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees have agreed to begin an orderly transition and commence the process of selecting a new president. We recognize the need for change and are committed to a stable transition.
“There is nothing more sacred to this board than the well-being of our students. We will be guided solely by what is in the best interest of this great university.”
Nikias, who ascended to presidency in August 2010, has since been recognized for boosting the university’s fundraising capacity that led to higher academic rankings and research profile. He also expanded campus structures and overseas ties, especially in China and the Pacific Rim.
Featured Images via University of Southern California