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USC president ousted in 2018 got a $7.6 million payout

July 16, 2020
C.L. Max Nikias quit amid faculty and student outrage over the handling of Dr. George Tyndall, a student health center doctor accused of abusing and harassing students

C.L. Max Nikias, who was ousted in 2018 as president of the University of Southern California (USC) amid a sex abuse scandal involving a onetime campus gynecologist, received a compensation package when he left that exceeded $7.6 million, according to newly released tax filings.

The Los Angeles Times reports that USC’s board says the payout was necessary to abide by the terms of Nikias’ contract and “in order to move forward with a leadership change.”

Nikias stepped down in August 2018 in the face of faculty and student outrage over the handling of Dr. George Tyndall, a student health center doctor accused of abusing and harassing students for decades.

“The board also agreed to certain other provisions to accelerate [Nikias’] departure prior to the end of his three-year term,” a statement from USC's board said. “The compensation reflects money owed to him for salary, retirement and other benefits, some of which date back to the employment agreement he entered into when he became President in 2010.”

[FROM 2018: University of Southern California president resigns amid scandal involving campus gynecologist]

Nikias remains a USC professor and a lifetime trustee. It’s unclear what USC has continued to pay him for his current role as engineering and classics professor and president emeritus. His predecessor, Steven Sample, was paid about $400,000 a year as president emeritus before his death in 2016.

The disclosure of the hefty payout comes as USC grapples with financial challenges. In addition to the devastating fiscal impact of the coronavirus, the university is contending with enormous legal costs stemming from lawsuits by hundreds of Tyndall’s former patients.

The university has already paid $215 million to settle a federal class action suit and faces additional financial exposure from more than 600 plaintiffs in pending cases.

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