University of Southern California
Carol Folt has been selected to be the new president at USC.

University of Southern California hires its first-ever female president

March 21, 2019
Carol Folt is the former chancellor at the University of North Carolina.

In the wake of multiple scandals, the University of Southern California in Los Angeles has named Carol L. Folt as the school’s 12th – and first female – president.

CBS Los Angeles reports that Folt, a former chancellor at the University of North Carolina, will take the helm at USC beginning July 1.

Folt will succeed Wanda Austin, who has served as interim president since the resignation last May of Max Nikias.

“When people come here they think anything is possible,” Folt said. “And there probably isn’t a city other than L.A. that can claim that as strongly. This is where dreams grow, this is what USC symbolizes to me. And so to be a part of that is such a gift.”

[Read Folt's message to the USC community.]

As a student, Folt spent two years at Santa Barbara City College and then got both her bachelor’s degree in aquatic biology and master’s degree in biology from UC Santa Barbara. She followed that up with a doctorate in ecology from UC Davis.

Folt began her academic teaching career as a biology professor at Dartmouth College, where her husband still teaches.

“As I have come to know Dr. Folt and how she thinks, it is clear that USC has chosen a brilliant, principled leader with clarity of purpose and integrity to lead the university forward and upward,” said Rick Caruso, chair of the USC Board of Trustees.

Folt was forced to resign from North Carolina in January in the midst of controversy over a Confederate statue on campus. Her last act as chancellor was to order that the statue be removed.

USC has been plagued by a series of scandals over the past few years. Earlier this month, USC was one of several elite schools named in the nationwide admissions bribery scandal in which wealthy parents paid millions of dollars in bribes to get their children admitted.

In January, a former USC men’s basketball assistant coach pleaded guilty for his role in a pay-for-play scandal in which schools would funnel money through shoe companies to a player in exchange for their commitment.

In May 2018, the university revealed that longtime former USC gynecologist George Tyndall was being investigated for sexual misconduct. Since then, hundreds of women have come forward accusing Tyndall of misconduct and alleging that the school tried to cover up his behavior. That scandal prompted Max Nikias to step down.

In August 2018, USC revealed that it had hired and fired former California Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas as a professor. The university asked the U.S. Attorney’s Office to conduct a criminal investigation into a suspicious $100,000 donation from a campaign fund controlled by his father, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. The 30-year-old Sebastian Ridley-Thomas was hired by USC as a professor despite not having a graduate degree.

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