USC president resigns amid physician abuse scandals: 5 notes

Alyssa Rege - Print  | 

Los Angeles-based University of Southern California President C. L. Max Nikias, PhD, resigned Aug. 7, less than one week after more than 600 professors issued a letter calling for his resignation before the academic school year begins later this month, according to The New York Times.

Here are five things to know about the announcement:

1. Dr. Nikias, who had served as president of the institution since 2010, agreed to step down from his position in May. However, a timeline for his departure was not revealed at the time.

2. In USC Board of Trustees Chairman Rick J. Caruso's Aug. 7 announcement regarding Dr. Nikias' resignation, he said the board appointed Wanda M. Austin, PhD, to serve as interim president of the institution until officials find a permanent replacement. She is the first African-American individual and the first woman to lead the university.

3. Dr. Nikias' resignation comes almost one week after more than 650 USC professors called for changes to leadership in an Aug. 1 letter to the board of trustees.

4. The university has been rocked by a series of high-profile sex abuse scandals during Dr. Nikias' tenure. Two past deans of the Keck School of Medicine of USC resigned after reports of their alleged misconduct surfaced. Former dean Carmen Puliafito, MD, allegedly used drugs on campus and partied with prostitutes, according to the report, while his successor admitted to settling a sexual harassment case with one of his former researchers.

5. Most recently, USC came under fire for its handling of complaints against university gynecologist George Tyndall, MD, who allegedly sexually harassed hundreds of students during his nearly 30-year tenure at the institution. An internal investigation into Dr. Tyndall revealed he had inappropriately conducted pelvic exams and made offensive comments to patients; however, USC officials reportedly settled the matter quietly and did not report Dr. Tyndall to the Medical Board of California.

To access the full New York Times report, click here.

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