The University of Southern California has a new university president. Carol L. Folt, most recently chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will serve as the USC’s 12th president and the first female leader of the Trojans.
Folt will likely first tackle USC’s implication in a nationwide admissions-cheating scandal, in which more than 30 parents conspired with staff at universities to bribe college admissions exam administrators, pay and college coaches to describe the applicants as athletes, and even have others take exams on behalf of their children.
USC last week fired senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel and water polo coach Jovan Vavic, who were among those charged in an FBI investigation. Additionally, USC announced Monday holds on the accounts of students who may be involved with the scheme.
Folt will replace Wanda Austin, former CEO of The Aerospace Corp. and USC interim president. Austin has been in office since last year’s departure of President C.L. Max Nikias, in the wake of what many alleged was a mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations against former campus gynecologist George Tyndall.
In a statement released by the university following the Wednesday announcement, Folt called USC a world- class research university, and said she was grateful for the post.
“The lifeblood of every great university is its students, faculty, staff and students, and I am so looking forward to meeting with you and learning more about you,” she said. “The opportunities and potential I see ahead for USC are extraordinary.
“Of course, I also am aware that our community is deeply troubled by a number of immediate challenges,” she said. “I assure you that we will meet these challenges together, directly, decisively and with honesty and candor. This is a moment of responsibility and opportunity, and we will seize them both.”
Folt is no stranger to campus upheaval. In January, she resigned from her previous position in North Carolina after weeks of protest over a Confederate monument on campus. As one of her final acts, she ordered the removal of the monument from campus.
Folt also led Chapel Hill’s successful defense against allegations that that the university had set up several “no-show” classes that never met and required only one paper for completion.