The university’s Board of Trustees has chosen Wanda M. Austin as Interim President as it continues to search for a new head. Nikias has been assigned the role of life trustee.
“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,” USC statement reads.
The university had faced sharp criticism for ignoring the reports of abuse by 71-year-old doctor George Tyndall for decades. The previous lawsuits have also accused the school of allowing Tyndall to resign quietly with a financial settlement in June last year, after an internal probe found him guilty of inappropriately touching the genitals of patients.
A petition started by students and alumni also sought removal of Nikias for not taking seriously the safety of women on the campus.
“Nikias fails to provide transparency to students; his decisions have jeopardized student safety. Under his leadership, cover-ups have spoiled the USC reputation and have hindered real change on campus to keep students safe,” read the petition which received 4,228 signatures.
While referring to the Tyndall abuse, Rick J. Caruso, Board of Trustee’s chair at the university expressed his commitment for change and said that the behavior and environment that allowed the abuse happen won’t be tolerated any longer.
“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,” he wrote in a letter to USC community.
Meanwhile, fifty-four former undergraduate and graduate students who attended the college from the 1980’s through 2017 filed a lawsuit last month taking the number of victims seeking justice to 279.