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Carol L. Folt to lead University of Southern California as campus' first female president

In the wake of multiple scandals, the University of Southern California's Board of Trustees announced Wednesday that it has unanimously chosen Carol L. Folt as the school's 12th president, CBS Los Angeles reports. The university issued a press release saying she was selected after a seven month long process. In a press conference that streamed online, Folt said "let's make it right" in response to USC's alleged role in massive college admissions scandal. 

Folt, the former chancellor at the University of North Carolina, will take the helm at USC beginning July 1. She will be the first female president in the school's history. Folt will take the reins from Wanda Austin, who has served as interim president since the resignation of Max Nikias last May. 

Carol Folt
Carol Folt in a photo from Oct. 22, 2014. AP

"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. "Of course, I also am aware that our community is deeply troubled by a number of immediate challenges. 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 was forced to resign from UNC in January over controversy regarding a Confederate statue on campus. Her last act as chancellor was to order that the statue be removed.

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

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Folt will have her work cut out for her, as 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 allegedly paid millions of dollars in bribes to get their children admitted.

"I haven't heard any voice of complacency since I've been here ... that's actually music to a new president," Folt said at Wednesday's news conference. "It's, let's make it right, let's make it better but let's do that so we can achieve all the things people want to do."

"We have worked hard to try to turn a corner, to make a change," Caruso added. "Today firmly cements the fact that there is a dramatic cultural change in this university."

USC Special Announcement by USC on YouTube

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

In August of 2018, USC revealed that it had hired and fired former California Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, a Democrat from West Los Angeles, as a professor. USC asked the U.S. Attorney's Office to conduct a criminal investigation into a recent 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.

In April 2016, Carmen Puliafito stepped down as dean of the USC Keck School of Medicine after it was revealed he had partied with underage girls and provided drugs to his girlfriend, who was a prostitute. The California medical board later ordered Puliafito be stripped of his license to practice medicine.

In November 2016, Dr. Rohit Varma, a noted ophthalmologist, was named dean to replace Puliafito. He resigned less than a year later amid a report that 15 years prior, USC reached a financial settlement with a female researcher who accused him of sexual harassment.

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